What is the Best Oil for Treating Teak Outdoor Furniture?

Living Accents 5 ft Outdoor Teak wood bench

High quality teak furniture is a significant investment. You want it to look the best it can. So if you’ve recently purchased some to outfit your patio, you may be wondering:

“What’s the best oil for treating teak patio furniture?”

The quick answer is: None

If you shop for teak furniture online, you may be getting bad advice unintentionally. Amazon has a huge selection of outdoor teak furniture available from a wide variety of brands and sellers. It’s a great place to comparison shop and find a good deal on quality teak patio furniture. However, when you read the reviews that some customers leave, you may get the impression that teak oil is helpful or even necessary to protect teak wood.

Most teak items on Amazon have positive customer reviews, and I believe it’s due to the inherent superiority of teak to other wood types. Naturally, people are impressed when their item first arrives, and so they write a nice review to let others know that they were happy with their purchase. The only problem I see, is that quite a few people mention in their customer reviews how nice their teak furniture looked after they “oiled it up,” “protected it with teak oil,” “put on a couple coats of oil,” etc.

When “Teak Oil” isn’t Teak Oil

It’s very unfortunate that so many people think they need to treat outdoor teak furniture with teak oil. Because the truth of the matter is that it’s totally unnecessary. To begin with, grade-A teak wood is already full of its own natural oils that protect it from the weather, pests, and rot. That oil is always inside the wood—a coat of oil added to the exterior won’t soak in and penetrate the wood to protect it. In fact, by adding commercial “teak oil” to teak wood, you may end up depleting the natural oil that was there to begin with. This is because the “teak oil” you buy in the store is actually a mix of linseed oil and solvents. It’s only called “teak oil” because it’s marketed to be used on teak, not because the oil comes from teak wood, which it doesn’t. The solvents in the teak oil can actually break down and damage the real teak wood oil that was in your furniture to begin with.

The coating of linseed oil will at first give your furniture a nice healthy looking golden glow. It will make your teak look young and fresh. Impressed with the color of your teak, you may rush out and recommend to everyone else to treat their teak furniture with oil. But just wait a few weeks or months until the oil dries up and fades. Now your teak doesn’t look so fabulous anymore. So you apply oil again. It looks better for another month before the fading start once more. So you go back to oil it again. It’s an endless cycle.

If you insist on oiling your outdoor furniture, 100% Tung Oil would be a better choice, although proper treatment with Tung Oil is an involved process that takes many days to complete, and you’ll still have to reapply it frequently.

Why is Teak Oil Harmful on Teak Outdoors?

If it were only a matter of an excess amount of extra work, then you may still feel it’s worth it to have that golden hue to the teak wood’s finish. However, teak oil can actually lead to damage of the exterior of the wood. This is because the moist environment provides the perfect habitat for mold and fungus to grow. After using oil for several months you may start to notice little dark spots on the wood’s surface. This is caused by fungus growth that feeds of the surface oil.

How to Keep Teak Looking Beautiful?

Well then, if you’re not going to treat teak patio furniture with oil, what should you do to keep it looking beautiful? Teak naturally fades from a golden tan to a silver gray through oxidation. It will begin a few weeks after keeping your furniture outdoors. After a year it should pretty much be a gray color. If you learn to appreciate this natural color of aged teak, then all you really have to do to keep your teak furniture looking good is give it an occasional good cleaning. A light scrub with a Teak Cleaner is perfect for this.

How to Preserve Teak’s Golden Color?

Additionally, if you want to try to keep the golden color around longer, then after cleaning you can treat the teak wood with a Teak Protector. It’s not needed to extend the life of the wood, but it will allow you to reserve the golden honey tone of new teak that many people love. If you made the mistake of applying teak oil to your patio furniture, don’t panic. Just give it a good cleaning to remove the oil and then apply Teak Protector afterwards if you wish to do so. Another option is to lightly sand the very outer surface layer of the wood. This will expose a new layer of fresh wood that will have a golden tone.