Robert De Niro's love affair | Teak vs Acacia | 170-years-old and still standing
Ok, after last month’s sobering post about the future of the world's teak forests - if certain countries don’t get a handle on teak theft (read the post here if you missed it)…
I’m gonna keep it light and fun this month.
Starting with Robert De Niro.
Are you a fan?
No matter, De Niro is a big fan—a real big fan—of the “king of woods.” Teak of course.
He’s spent millions on it.
Robert De Niro’s love affair with teak
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t love teak furniture and décor.
But Robert De Niro takes it to a whole new level.
Nobu Hotels is an international chain of luxury hotels and restaurants that De Niro owns together with celebrity Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Hollywood film producer Meir Teper.
At last count, there are 15 Nobu Hotels. They span the globe from Malibu to Miami Beach, from London to Spain, from Brazil to Saudi Arabia, Toronto and Tel-Aviv.
And everywhere you look there's teak.
Nobu Ryokan is a perfect example.
Located on the beach in Malibu, California, this cozy Japanese-themed 16-room inn is a celebration of comfort, elegance and teak.
From floor to ceiling, everywhere you look there is teak.
There’s even a Japanese soaking tub, tub butler (a caddy that spans the width of the tub), and a sitting stool—all made of teak.
Photos courtesy of Nobu Hotels
Pretty neat, huh?
Now for a bit of wood wisdom…
Teak vs Acacia: Which to buy, the pros and cons
There’s a lot of acacia products out there.
Practically anything made of teak, or any other wood, can be made of acacia.
To the untrained eye it might be difficult to differentiate teak from acacia.
The differences in color and grain are subtle…but discernible to the well-trained eye.
Is this teak… or acacia?
Before I give you the answer…
Let’s talk acacia.
There are over 1,300 acacia tree varieties growing around the world. Seriously, 1,300!
And they're most abundant in Australia and Africa.
The name acacia comes from the Greek word ἀκακία, meaning “thorny Egyptian tree.”
It’s also known as thorntree, Asian walnut, whistling thorn, and wattle.
As you can see below, an acacia tree looks nothing like a teak tree.
While a teak tree can reach over 130 feet in height, roughly 9 stories high…
An acacia tree is just a stubby, thorny overgrown shrub.
Ok, so I’m biased.
Yet, acacia does have its merits.
It’s somewhat similar to teak in regard to durability, strength and even water resistance.
But it just doesn’t have those qualities to the same degree as teak. And that’s not just biased me speaking. It’s a fact.
Comparing teak to acacia is like comparing a Ford to a Bentley.
They’re both cars. They all have four wheels, doors, an engine and a transmission.
But while a Ford can be found on every road in every city, not so a Bentley.
The reason being, a Ford is affordable, and so is acacia.
Bentleys and teak, on the other hand, are premium products and priced accordingly.
This is due primarily to their qualitative differences, but also their availability. Scarcity, by any other word.
Acacia is abundant. It grows like a weed. Everywhere, easily and quickly. It’s a highly renewable, naturally sustainable resource.
Teak trees, conversely, are slow growers. And teak forests must be nurtured, sustained and protected.
Acacia’s grain and color
Acacia’s grain patterns can be nearly straight or wavy—which you may also find in teak, but to a lesser degree.
Acacia can have interlocking grain patterns (lines that overlap).
Acacia will also contain a lot of knots due to the high number of branches that grow from acacia trees.
Plus, acacia comes in many different colors and patterns—all in the same piece of wood.
It can have a light amber color—similar to teak’s honey brown color—and a dark mahogany color.
So if you want a consistent look, acacia may not be for you.
Acacia care and maintenance
While it’s regarded as water-resistant, it’s not naturally so.
Acacia needs to be waxed to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood.
Teak is naturally water resistant—which is why down through the ages it’s always been the first choice among boat builders.
Also, acacia outdoor furniture, if left untreated and exposed to repeated rain, moisture, or snow, will eventually swell, warp and crack.
Not so with teak. Teak requires no waxing, top coating or any other treatment.
Left out in the elements—from desert heat to tropical rainfall and mountain snow—teak will lose none of its hardness, density, strength and durability.
“The main difference between acacia and teak is that acacia has much lower natural oil content—and thus lower density. Teak can last for decades even untreated, but acacia will need some protective treatment to get your money’s worth.”
Jim Ryan, teakpatiofurnitureworld.com
Teak, however, will develop a silver/grey patina over time—but that color change is purely cosmetic. In other words, the quality of the wood is unaffected.
Acacia’s change of color over time is less noticeable.
Because of its low oil content, acacia is also a better candidate for staining.
Teak will not accept stain as readily, owing to its high oil content.
Then again, why in the world would you want to stain teak? It's a beautiful wood!
Bottom line: qualitative differences aside… the choice between teak and acacia often comes down to price.
Pure and simple, acacia costs way less than teak.
Oh, wait, almost forgot!
Here’s what acacia looks like….
And this is teak…
Now, to prove teak’s outstanding water resistance and durability, check this out…
170 years old and still standing
The U Bein bridge in Burma (now Myanmar) is the oldest teak bridge in the world.
Three quarters of a mile long and still is use today.
Consisting of 1,086 teak pillars, its construction began in 1849 and was completed in 1851. Nearly 10 years before the start of the American Civil War.
If ever you had doubts about the durability, longevity and water-resistant properties of teak, the U Bein bridge, one of Burma’s most photographed tourist attractions, should put those doubts to rest.
If you found this month’s Teakster post mind-boggling, fascinating, and time well spent… share it with someone you think may enjoy it as well.
And don't forget to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you.
Until the next time… stay teak strong!
P.S. In these extremely trying times, please do the right thing. The smart thing. Covid-19 ain't no joke. Take precautions to keep yourself and everyone you care about safe and healthy.