Buying teak patio furniture is a good investment. You should be able to enjoy your outdoor teak furniture for many years, and possibly even hand it down to your children or grandchildren. Furniture made from teak wood does not require much maintenance. Still there are a few things you should know. The most important question is probably whether or not you should use teak oil on outdoor teak furniture—and if not, which product should you be using instead of teak oil?
The Facts About Teak
Teak is in a class by itself. It is more durable than almost every other type of hardwood available. It is very heavy and dense, and it is resistant to insects and moisture. This is mainly because of the natural oils that are found in the heartwood of mature teak trees. But this oil that is already in the wood is not the same thing as the “teak oil” that is marketed for outdoor furniture, which doesn’t come from the teak tree at all. If you thought that you had to go out and buy teak oil to replenish your furniture’s natural oil as it dries out, you’re not alone. It’s a very common mistake, but it’s one that can actually harm your teak furniture.
Don’t Use Teak Oil On Outdoor Teak Furniture
Teak outdoor furniture does not need any additional oil to last for decades. Treating your furniture with teak oil will not help extend the life of the furniture. All it will do is make the teak wood dependent on continuous reapplications of oil to prevent the wood from drying out. This is because the “teak oil” you buy is really a mix of mostly linseed oil and solvents. When you apply it, the wood will have a nice color for a short time, but the solvents actually act to degrade the wood’s natural oil faster. So it dries out and fades, and you’ll just have to reapply more oil in an endless cycle. Teak furniture that gets oiled is also more likely to have mildew growth and may have problems of uneven coloring when it ages. The natural oil that exists below the surface of the wood is already sufficient to protect it from the elements, but there are some things you can do to help preserve the appearance of your furniture.
The Graying Process of Teak Wood
Teak furniture that is left outdoors will naturally begin to slowly change color from the golden honey tone of new wood to a silver gray. This process begins a few weeks after the wood is new. It is caused by the evaporation and oxidization of the natural oil from the wood on the exposed surface. During this weathering, some uneven coloring and slight cracks in the wood may show up. This is a natural process that should even out over time, and is simply a result of expansion and contraction of the wood due to changes in the weather and environment. Eventually your teak furniture will become a handsome silvery gray color.
How to Keep Teak Furniture Honey Colored
The process of teak turning gray is natural and merely cosmetic. It does not affect the longevity of your outdoor furniture. However, many people prefer the golden honey color of new teak. The golden color fades when the natural oils in the surface wood evaporate. If your teak furniture has already faded in color, it is possible to restore this honey color by scrubbing the surface of the wood using a teak cleaner. If the color has faded greatly, or the wood has deep stains, then a light sanding will expose a fresh layer of golden wood just below the surface. After cleaning, you can apply a teak sealer to prevent the color from fading any further.
A highly recommended cleaning product that you can use is Golden Care Teak Cleaner. It is actually a two-in-one cleaner and brightener, so it will remove any dirt and residue from the surface of your furniture, while brightening the wood to bring out its natural color before applying a sealer.
The best rated sealer on the market is Semco Teak Sealer, which comes in both clear and tinted versions. Sealer will help protect the teak wood from UV rays and exposure to oxygen, so the warm golden tone of the wood remains for up to a year. It’s recommended that you clean your furniture again and reseal it annually in order to get the best long-term results.
General Teak Furniture Care Tips
It’s good to clean your teak furniture occasionally to prevent any buildup of dust or dirt. You can use a garden hose on a low pressure setting to wash the dirt off. Then, using a soft bristled brush, scrub the surface gently with a solution of warm water and mild detergent, or else you can use a specialized teak cleaner such as Golden Care Teak Cleaner. Then rinse again with water. Wipe the surface dry with a towel afterwards.
You may want to use a furniture cover to protect your outdoor teak furniture, especially in the winter or if your home is in an area that gets a lot of dust. If you choose to do so, be certain to use a furniture cover made from a breathable material. Don’t use a plastic cover that will trap moisture. This increases the chance of mildew growing on the surface of the wood. For the best results, only use furniture covers made from tyvek.
What to Do About Stains On Teak Furniture
Stubborn stains like coffee or red wine can be removed by a light sanding of the very top layer of your teak furniture. You can start with a medium grade sandpaper and then finish off with a fine grade to make the surface of the teak nice and smooth. Sanding is another way to bring out the golden color of teak wood because you are exposing a fresh layer of wood that is still saturated with natural oils.
If you have just bought a new teak dining set or Adirondack chair for your patio, please don’t be in a rush to treat it with teak oil. The products sold as “teak oil” are actually mostly composed of linseed oil, and not oil from teak wood. It is true that applying teak oil will temporarily bring out a rich golden color in your teak furniture, but it will also deplete the wood of its natural oils. So you will need to continuously reapply oil every three or four months for the lifetime of your furniture. It is much better to allow your teak furniture to naturally fade to gray, or use a teak sealer to maintain the look of new teak.