Outdoor Teak Furniture FAQs

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People have many questions about teak furniture: How to take care of a teak patio set? How to clean it? How to treat teak wood? Should I use teak oil? Should I use a sealer? Are there any good alternatives to teak?

In an effort to give the best advice on teak outdoor furniture care and buying tips, we’ve put together this page to answer all of the most frequently asked questions regarding teak furniture and teak wood.

What is teak wood furniture?

Teak wood furniture is hardwood furniture made from the wood of the Tectona grandis tree. The common English name for this tree species is “teak”. It is a deciduous tree that is native to India and Southeast Asia and is now cultivated in other tropical areas such as Central America. Teak wood furniture can be either indoor or outdoor furniture depending on its intended use. The properties of teak wood make it particularly well-suited to use as outdoor furniture, where it has a longer lifespan than most other varieties of wood.

What type of wood is teak?

Teak is a hardwood. It is one of the most dense hardwoods available. Teak has a large amount of natural oil that protects the wood from the inside out. Teak will appear a golden-brown color when it is freshly cut timber, and the surface of the wood will have a slight oily feel. Over the course of time, oil from the surface layer of the wood will evaporate and the exposed wood’s color will fade to reveal a silver-gray patina. When it is freshly milled, teak wood can have a leathery scent. It is a relatively easy wood for carpenters to work with. The natural oil content of the wood provides it protection from rot and termites.

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What is teak wood used for?

Teak wood is highly valuable for its use in shipbuilding, construction, and furniture making. In the days of wooden ships, teak was one of the preferred woods to use because of its natural resistance to water damage and protection from certain sea-born pests. These days it is still a popular wood for boat decking—both for the reasons already stated and also because of its natural beauty. Teak trees grow very tall (up to 30m) and straight, which makes it a good timber for building construction. The wood also has the advantage of resistance to damage from termites. As such, it was used extensively in Southeast Asia for building houses, wooden temple buildings, and other large structures. One of the most famous teak buildings is the Vimanmek Mansion in Bangkok, Thailand. Teak is also a very popular wood for both indoor and outdoor furniture. Because of teak’s resistance to weather damage, it is the longest-lasting and most expensive wood commonly used in outdoor furniture construction.

What is the best teak wood?

The best teak wood is Grade A teak. This term is used to signify the heartwood from the center of a mature teak tree. This wood will have the highest density and have the greatest concentration of oil.

What do the grades of teak mean?

There are three grades of teak wood—A, B, and C. Grade A teak refers to heartwood of fully mature teak trees. This wood will be dense with a high concentration of natural oil. Grade B teak is immature heartwood that does not contain oil in the same density as grade A. It is found in the outer portion of the heartwood.  Finally, there is grade C wood. This is the sapwood that is growing on the outer edge of the tree. It will be lighter in color and less dense. Grade C teak wood lacks the protective oils that give value to the more expensive grades of teak. When you look at a cross section of a teak log, it is easy to see the difference between the darker heartwood and the lighter sapwood.

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How do you identify good quality teak wood?

The highest quality teak wood is grade A teak, which is the heartwood from the center of a mature teak tree. New grade A teak should have a dark golden color. It will have wood grains that are closely spaced and it should feel slightly oily to the touch.

Is teak wood water resistant?

Yes. More specifically, grade A teak wood is protected from water damage due to its high content of natural oil. You can leave teak wood furniture outside in the rain and snow, and it will not rot. Water resistance is also why teak wood is used on boat decks and for making shower furniture items.

Can a teak stool get wet?

Yes. Teak shower stools are meant to get wet because they are designed for use in the shower. It is however best to not leave water pooling on your shower furniture as it can cause the finish or natural color of the wood to fade quicker. A little bit of care will go a long way regarding maintenance for a teak shower bench.

Why is there mold on my teak furniture?

Mold on teak furniture is probably due to neglecting to clean it or applying oil to the surface unnecessarily. Good quality teak wood furniture is not going to rot on you—the interior of the wood is self-protected by the natural oil of the teak tree. However, it is possible for mold to appear on the outer surface of the wood if the climate is sufficiently humid. A good thorough cleaning once a year should really be enough to prevent mold growth in most climate zones. The other possibility is that you have applied an oil to the wood surface. Many people think this will protect the wood, but the oil can actually create a moist environment that encourages the growth of mold. Rather than oiling, consider using a sealer.

Can teak furniture be left outside in winter?

Yes, it can. Teak wood furniture is quite heavy. Not many people want to carry a large dining set in and out of their garage each year. You should get a large furniture cover to keep snow from piling up directly on the surface of the wood. Make sure you get a good quality furniture cover that will breathe rather than a poorly designed one that may trap moisture within. A good cover is not very expensive when you consider the money invested in a furniture set, so it’s definitely worth it.

Does teak outdoor furniture need to be treated?

No, teak outdoor furniture doesn’t need to be treated. However, many people fall in love with the golden honey-like color of new teak wood and wish to treat their furniture set with something to preserve or restore this color. Teak oil is a very temporary solution. A better approach to long-term care is to use a teak sealer. If you don’t mind your furniture fading to a gray color, however, then no treatment is needed outside of regular cleaning.

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Does teak wood need to be oiled?

No, teak wood does not need to be oiled. This is probably the largest single misconception that new buyers of teak furniture have. They hear about teak furniture and teak oil, and then they assume that the wood needs the oil. In truth, grade A teak wood is already saturated with its own protective oils. Applying more oil to the surface will not protect the wood, it will only give it a short-lived color boost.

What can I put on outdoor teak furniture to preserve the wood?

Good quality teak furniture already contains its own protective oil from within the wood itself. This is why teak is so expensive in the first place. The wood doesn’t actually need anything to preserve its structural integrity. The golden color of new teak that so many people love, however, will fade in time, and there are some products you can apply to the wood surface to slow this fade to a near halt. Teak protector and teak sealer are the two best options.

How do you keep teak looking new?

To keep teak furniture looking new, you have to stop the wood surface layer from oxidizing. The natural process of exposure to the environment causes loss of teak’s natural oil from the very outer layer of the wood. This results in the golden honey-brown color fading to a silver-gray slowly over time. Teak sealer creates a barrier which prevents the loss of oil from the wood’s outer surface. A regular routine of sealing the wood every couple years should help your furniture keep its color. To fully restore the original color, all you need to do is sand the wood down a small amount to expose the fresh wood within.

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How should you treat teak wood furniture?

It depends on how you want the wood to look. If you are fine with your furniture fading to a silvery gray color, then simply clean it on a regular basis and it will be fine. If you want to keep the golden color of new teak wood, then you should try using a teak sealer, with repeat treatments every year.

How do you care for teak outdoor furniture?

First you need to give it a good cleaning at least once a year. Commercial teak cleaning products are great for this. A soft-bristled scrub brush is key for bringing out the glow in the wood. After this, if you wish to preserve the wood’s color from fading you should apply a teak sealer. Make sure the wood has dried fully after cleaning before you seal. For the very best results, re-seal the wood every year.

How do you restore teak outdoor furniture?

The key to restoring teak wood furniture is sanding. By sanding away the very outer layer of wood you can expose the fresh wood underneath. The fresh wood inside good quality teak will have the golden color of new teak due to the wood’s natural oil content. It is important to clean the wood thoroughly before sanding. After returning the furniture to its former glory, you may like to apply a sealer to prevent the wood from again fading too quickly.

How do you protect teak patio furniture?

Teak wood itself is very string and doesn’t need to be protected per se. However, you can protect the outer layer of wood from fading and losing its beautiful honey-like color too quickly. For this, you can use a sealer or you can use a product such as Golden Care Teak Protector. The results will be similar.

What is the best teak protector?

Golden Care Teak Protector is a highly recommended product. It is best to use it after having cleaned the wood with their Teak Cleaner first.

How do you clean teak garden furniture?

Golden Care Teak Cleaner is a highly recommended product for cleaning teak patio furniture as it is specially formulated to not only clean, but also brighten the wood. You should get the wood wet using a regular garden hose. Do not use a high-pressure sprayer on teak wood. Apply the cleaner to the wood and give it a few minutes to work its magic. With a soft-bristled brush you want to scrub in the direction of the wood grain. Rinse of the wood with plain water, and allow to dry completely.

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What is the best teak cleaner?

Golden Care Teak Cleaner is the most highly recommended product formulated specifically for cleaning teak wood in order to bring out its natural glow.

What is teak oil made of?

So-called “teak oil” is usually made of a combination of linseed oil, varnish, and mineral spirits. The exact formula depends on the manufacturer of the product. They are not all the same. The only thing the teak oils definitely all have in common is that they contain no oil from the actual teak tree. “Teak oil” is simply a marketing term—not a name based on the ingredients.

What is teak oil used for?

Teak oil is intended to be used on hardwoods such as teak in order to prevent the wood from looking dry and fading to a gray color. Teak oil is very good at temporarily sprucing up the color of teak wood. However, the effect does not last very long. The furniture owner will have to continuously reapply teak oil every few weeks or months to keep the fresh appearance they desire.

What does teak oil do?

Teak oil gives hardwoods a nice, warm golden color by soaking into the very outer layer of the wood. What it does NOT do is protect the wood from damage or restore oil to the wood’s interior. On the contrary—in the case of teak wood—the solvents that make up a portion of most so-called “teak oils” will actually cause the wood to lose some of its natural oil that is hiding below the surface.

How do you apply teak oil to patio furniture?

If you wish to apply teak oil to patio furniture, you should do so with a sponge or cloth rag after the furniture has been cleaned and given time to completely dry. You want to use only as much as is needed to completely cover the surface of the wood. Work along the direction of the grain. Wipe up any excess oil that doesn’t get absorbed by the wood. Then allow the furniture a full day to dry before using. Do not leave oily rags crumpled up as this can be a fire hazard. Cotton rags soaked with teak oil have been known to spontaneously combust. They must be disposed of safely.

How long does teak oil need to dry?

You should allow any furniture treated with teak oil a full 24 hours to completely dry before using. Depending on which brand of teak oil you use, it may be dry to the touch in about 4-6 hours.

What is the best teak oil for boats?

TotalBoat Teak Oil is a good choice if you want to apply a teak oil to your boat.

Is teak oil good for outdoor furniture?

Teak oil is not really recommended for teak furniture, but it can be useful for outdoor furniture made from other hardwoods such as maple, oak, mahogany, or walnut.

What is the best teak oil for outdoor furniture?

TotalBoat Teak Oil can be used on outdoor furniture as well as boats. It is a classic teak oil formula that soaks into the wood. When buying a teak oil you have to be very careful. You will notice that many are actually what is called a “teak oil finish”, which is a good sign that you are dealing with more of a chemical cocktail than natural oil.

What is the best oil for outdoor hardwood furniture?

The best natural oil for outdoor hardwood furniture is probably tung oil. This is because tung oil provides water resistance to the wood treated with it. Tung oil also gives wood a very beautiful golden color. The main drawback to tung oil is that it requires many coats to be applied properly, and the raised grain needs to be sanded down after applying a coat. Each coat also requires significant drying time, which means it could take up to a week or more to properly treat a furniture set with tung oil.

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Wood sample with tung oil finish

If you want to use an oil that is easier for an inexperienced woodworker to apply, then TotalBoat Teak Oil should be OK. For teak wood exterior furniture, though, I would still recommend applying a sealer as a better option.

What’s the difference between teak oil, tung oil, and Danish oil?

Tung oil is a natural oil from the nuts of the tung tree. 100% pure tung oil is a great wood finish that gives waterproof protection. It is, however, labor intensive to apply properly because it requires several coats with sanding between each coat. Teak oil and Danish oil are both simply marketing terms used for a wide variety of oil/varnish mixtures made by many different manufacturers. They are usually based on linseed oil, which is the oil of the flax plant seeds. To the linseed oil, some combination of varnish and mineral spirits is usually added to arrive at what will be labelled and sold as either “teak oil” or “Danish oil”.

Where can I buy teak oil?

Any large home and garden supply store should carry teak oil. It is even easier to simply order teak oil online from sellers at Amazon. This lets you compare many sellers to find the best price, and you also have the convenience of home delivery.

What should you seal teak wood with?

Teak wood should be sealed with teak sealer. One of the best you can buy is Semco Teak Sealer.

Which is better—teak oil or teak sealer?

Teak sealer is better for your outdoor furniture in the long run. An annual application of teak sealer will prevent outdoor teak furniture from oxidizing and losing color. Teak oil will give furniture a beautiful but short-term golden glow. The major downside to teak oil is that it can create the ideal host environment for mildew and black spots to grow on the wood’s surface.

How do you seal teak outdoor furniture?

If you wish to seal teak furniture, you should use a product such as Semco Teak Sealer. Clean and allow your furniture to dry first. The sealer can be applied with a foam brush. For the initial application, you should apply a second coat right away. Wipe up any excess sealer from the wood surface after each coat. It should dry to the touch in about an hour. Then you want to to wait 24 hours before using the furniture.

Can you use Thompson’s Water Seal on teak furniture?

You could use Thompson’s Water Seal on teak furniture if you really want to, but I would recommend using a sealer that has been specially designed for use on exterior teak wood such as Semco Teak Sealer.

What is the best teak sealer?

Semco Teak Sealer wins my vote for best teak sealer you can buy. A once a year treatment will keep your teak patio furniture looking great. It is also available in several colors, with Honey tone being the most popular.

What is the best stain for outdoor teak furniture?

A typical wood stain is not something that you want to use on outdoor teak furniture. If you wish to use a product that will impart some color to the wood and protect it at the same time, then I recommend one of the color varieties of Semco Teak Sealer.

What is the best finish for teak wood?

Depending on your preference, the best finish for teak wood may be no finish. If you like the natural gray color that teak will fade to over time, then no finish is actually necessary. If you want to maximize retaining the woods color with a simple once a year maintenance job, then I recommend Semco Teak Sealer. For indoor teak furniture, if you have the time and energy to do the job right, then 100% tung oil will give your furniture a really beautiful protective finish.

Why should I get a round teak patio table?

A 5-piece round patio table and chair set is perfect if you are a small family, couple, or single and you want an outdoor dining set for regular use. It is also the ideal choice if your patio space is limited. Large 9, 11, or 13 piece dining sets that have a long rectangular or oval table are great if you intend to entertain for a large number of guests. If, however, your gatherings tend to be more intimate, then a smaller round table is better. With a round table you also have many more options of placement because you don’t have to worry about perfectly aligning the table at a right angle to the patio.

Are Adirondack chairs comfortable?

Yes, Adirondack chairs can be very comfortable. The design distributes your body-weight over a greater area and allows you to lean back without destroying your lower back. It is almost the perfect chair design to just sit back and chill out.

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Why are Adirondack chairs so expensive?

Not all Adirondack chairs are expensive, but when they are expensive it is because you are paying for top of the line quality materials. In particular, Grade A teak Adirondack chairs are not going to be cheap. However, the investment in this lawn furniture will be worthwhile. Good quality Adirondack chairs are something that you can get daily enjoyment out of for literally decades. The wide armrests are the perfect spot to place your coffee mug, beer bottle, ash tray, sandwich plate, wine glass, paperback novel, birding binoculars, or whatever other accessory you use to enjoy your free time in your backyard.

What are some good alternatives to teak?

The two best alternatives to teak are shorea wood and eucalyptus. You can find outdoor furniture items made with either of these two woods that will save you around 30% the price of similar teak wood furniture. There is not that big of a drop in quality when choosing a shorea or eucalyptus alternative.

Where can I buy teak patio furniture on sale?

Check out various furniture sellers who list their products on Amazon. It is a buyer’s market because you have many sellers all competing for the same customer group. This means they are often discounting the prices of their teak furniture in order to attract customers to choose their furniture over rival sellers.

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Where do I find the best deal on teak dining sets?

Amazon is your friend when looking for good deals on teak dining sets. The law of supply and demand means that sellers on Amazon will keep their prices fairly low in order to attract customers to buy from them instead of the other guy. Sometimes you can also get lucky checking classifieds such as Craigslist, and find someone selling a used set of teak patio furniture. Often it is the case that the seller has neglected the furniture and doesn’t realize its true value. They might sell you an old grey and spotty teak furniture set very cheaply, which you can then clean and sand down to expose beautiful golden wood, and end up with a fantastic teak dining set at a huge bargain.

What is the best rated teak patio furniture?

This 9-piece teak patio dining set from Bayview Patio is one of the highest rated sets available. It has many excellent reviews from satisfied customers and even comes complete with a complimentary set of seat cushions. Read our full review to learn more about this great set.

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