TEAK vs. SYNTHETIC MARINE DECKING
Comparing CARBON FOOTPRINTS
TEAKDECKING SYSTEMS® is the premier North American manufacturer of pre-assembled and pre-trimmed custom-built teak decks and interior flooring for yachts, super-yachts, mega-yachts and cruise ships. Our headquarters are located in Sarasota, FL, and encompass over 100,000 ft². We produce over 120,000 ft2 of teak decks annually.
In America and elsewhere, people have become consumers of vast quantities of plastic. Everywhere you look you see plastics of various types replacing more traditional materials. In some cases, plastic offers some advantages over traditional materials, such as wood. Plastics can be molded into complex shapes, and designs can be repeated accurately at lower costs. Plastic has all but replaced carving, and many interior trim items, such as moldings, decorative accents and picture frames. When people are interviewed about their preferences in this area, almost all say they would rather choose wood, but plastics are more economical! Are they really?
Are synthetics really more economical?
When considering the cost of plastics vs. wood, one must also consider the impact of either product on the environment.
The most important greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), but others include water vapor (H2O), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Forests and wood products, especially teak, can effectively reduce greenhouse gases in several ways. Growing teak trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store the carbon so efficiently that about half the dry weight of a tree is carbon. This carbon remains locked up in the wood, even when we use it for manufactured decking.
It is estimated that every person in America produces, either directly or indirectly, over 20 tons of CO2 annually. Teak trees are one of the most efficient in absorbing this CO2, which would otherwise be vented into the atmosphere. Teak remains a renewable resource, due to policies and legislation which ban or severely restrict harvesting in natural forests in all the countries within teak's natural range. Logging in teak plantations is conducted according to a strict selection system and replanting guidelines, which result in insuring more efficient growth of the remaining trees. As a result of teak forestry's long experience with harvesting under this system, teak management is generally well regarded in terms of environmental sustainability.
Plastic manufacturing and disposal emits huge quantities of volatile organic compounds, known as VOC's, into the atmosphere, contributing to the "greenhouse effect". The term "greenhouse effect" refers to the way trapped heat from the earth warms the atmosphere. If you've ever walked into a real greenhouse, even on a cool sunny day, you know how much warmer it is inside. This is how the name "greenhouse effect" originated. Heat from the sun reaches the Earth through the atmosphere, and warms the surface. This stored heat is then sent back out of the atmosphere as infrared radiation; however, as this radiation has a different wavelength than the incoming radiation, less of it can penetrate the barrier of specific atmospheric gases, known as greenhouse gases. This and other processes result in the condition we call "global warming" and the climate change which results.
When you are planning a new or replacement deck for your vessel,
don't be misled by advertising claims about benefits of synthetic decking. Teak is truly environmentally-friendly, and its timeless
warmth and beauty cannot be matched by any other material.
Ref: Department of Energy, 2009 The Society of the Plastics Industry, 2009 American Plywood Council, 2008
Department of Forestry, 2007 Myanmar National Forest and Management Practices Statement, 2005
Environmental Protection Agency, 2008