Iroko Has Many of the Same Uses as Teak But Stands on Its Own Two Feet

When the price of teak began to go up substantially, everyone from lumber companies to woodworkers started looking harder at alternative woods to teak. One wood that can be used in place of teak is iroko. Although iroko lumber started out as a teak substitute, it now holds its own place in the market.

Wood Characteristics of Iroko

The heartwood of iroko is very durable. Iroko wood works easily with most machine or hand tools. The presence of calcium carbonate “stones” will add wear to cutting surfaces. Some tearing may occur with interlocked grain; experts recommend a reduced cutting angle.


The color of iroko wood varies from light brown to golden orange to dark brown Like many woods, the sapwood is a lighter color – pale yellow. The darker heartwood, like teak, darkens with age in shady conditions but bleaches in the sun. According to the Woodworking Network, experts say that the fact that iroko bleaches in the open air and sun makes it a good substitute for teak in uses like boat building and outdoor furniture.

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What is Iroko Wood Used For?

Iroko is often used in ship and boat building and exterior furniture. It is also used in cabinetry, interior and exterior joinery, and carving. It is used to make decorative veneers and plywood. It is also used as a structural timber and its properties make it popular for use as railroad ties, piling and other marine work. Iroko is also used as domestic and parquet flooring and can be used as a decking wood.


How Does Iroko Compare as a Teak Substitute?

Iroko lacks the greasy feel of teak and yet has enough similarities to make a good substitute for teak. Iroko is harder but slightly weaker than teak. Among the uses they share are garden and park bench seats. It is also used for counters and laboratory bench tops and draining boards, because of its durability in wet conditions.


Special thanks to the Hardwood Distributor’s Association, the Woodworking Network, and the International Wood Products Association for providing information for this blog.