How to Restore Teak Outdoor Furniture

how to restore teak patio furniture

Has your outdoor teak dining set seen better days? Restoring worn-out, weathered teak furniture to its former glory is not as difficult as you think. The key to teak restoration is hiding in plain sight. The secret is in the wood.

This guide will help you easily bring back that glorious golden glow that you fell in love with when you first bought your teak furniture.

Teak is a naturally dense hardwood that is infused from the inside with protective oil. When the wood is freshly cut, the oil content at the surface gives teak a lovely golden color. But, after some time, this color fades out and leaves teak with a silvery-gray hue.

This graying process naturally occurs when teak is left outside exposed to the weather. It’s simply due to this protective oil evaporating from the outermost surface layer of the wood.

A gray, weathered teak table being restored to beauty.

Now you may initially think that you could just replace this oil by applying a few coats of teak oil that you buy in the store. But this is doing it backwards. The right way to restore teak wood is to work from the inside out.

Unfortunately, that “teak oil” stuff which comes in a can isn’t actually oil from the teak tree—it’s usually a compound based on linseed oil. It will make the wood color pop for a short time, but will soon go back to gray at best. At worst, it will encourage the growth of mildew on the surface, and your table and chairs will develop black spots.

The better option, if you want to fully restore the lovely golden color characteristic of new teak wood is to sand down the outermost layer. This will expose the fresh wood inside your furniture that still remains saturated with natural protective oil. To keep that color from fading so quickly this time around, a teak protector will do the job much better than so-called “teak oil”.

To restore your old teak patio furniture let’s start by getting the right equipment together. Then we’ll follow a simple 3-step process:

  1. Sanding
  2. Cleaning
  3. Protecting

Get the Right Equipment

To do a teak furniture restoration job right, you’ll need the following tools and equipment:

Step 1: Sanding

Start out by sanding with 80-girt paper to remove the weathered, gray colored surface layer of wood. Have a number of sanding pads handy—especially if working on a large piece of furniture—to replace when needed. Depending on the shape of your furniture, you may need to sand some areas manually, such as the rungs of chairs or small spaces between slats on a bench.

After you’ve finished sanding, rinse the furniture down using the garden hose. Make sure to use just a standard spray attachment rather than a high-pressure sprayer, as those can damage the wood.

Step 2: Cleaning

Next, you want to give the teak wood a thorough cleaning. Follow the directions on the bottle for the particular Teak Cleaner that you’ve bought. In general, you’ll want to apply the cleaner to the wood while it’s still wet and use either a soft bristled scrub brush or a Scotch-Brite pad to work the cleaner into the wood. Then let it sit a couple minutes to allow the deep-cleaning action to work. Wash off the cleaner with the garden hose and leave the furniture in a sunny spot to allow it to dry.

Once the furniture is dry, use the 150-grit sandpaper to make the surface nice, soft, and smooth to the touch. Go over it once with a dry rag or sponge to remove any dust from the sanding. Now you’re ready to apply the Teak Protector.

Golden Care Teak Cleaner

Step 3: Protecting

We highly recommend Golden Care Teak Protector for this job. It’s a water-based formula that will help to maintain the original color of teak wood by acting like a sunscreen to prevent UV rays from penetrating and drying out the wood’s outer surface. As an alternative to a teak protector, you could also use a Teak Sealer at this stage, which essentially will have the same effect.

Using a sponge, apply the protector in an even coat, making sure to get at every surface and corner of the wood. Wait 24 hours after applying the protector to allow it time to completely dry and set before using your furniture.

Golden Care Teak Protector

When to Restore Outdoor Furniture

There’s no wrong time to take on a furniture restoration job. If you’ve picked up a worn-out looking secondhand patio set on sale, you’ll want to refinish it as soon as possible. Just don’t forget to take some “before” photos so you can be wowed by the change afterwards. If the previous owners had known how easy it is to restore teak furniture, they probably wouldn’t have sold it for so cheap.

Otherwise, for outdoor teak furniture that you already own, springtime is the ideal time of year to perform a maintenance routine. When done right, you’ll see that your furniture keeps looking beautiful throughout the whole summer season.

When winter rolls around, cover your patio furniture with a high quality furniture cover that won’t trap moisture. This will help prevent the growth of any mold or fungus on the surface, and it will make your cleaning job easier come next spring.

Restoring Indoor Furniture

If you’ve got indoor furniture to restore, that’s a different subject. Indoor wooden furniture doesn’t get exposed to the elements in the same way as outdoor furniture, so you have many more options when it comes to wood finishing and restoration.

For indoor teak furniture, tung oil is a really great option as a finish because of the beautiful look and feel of the wood that will result.

Keep Your Teak Looking Beautiful

Depending on your climate, you may only need to repeat this furniture maintenance routine once every couple of years. But for absolutely fantastic looking teak furniture, you’ll want to freshen it up good once each spring.

If you haven’t badly neglected your furniture set, you should be able to safely skip the sanding step. In that case, just start of with using a teak cleaner before protecting/sealing the wood.

The more consistent you are about cleaning your teak furniture going forward, the less drastic the actions you’ll need to take during restoration.

Here’s to the long-life of your teak furniture and a summer filled with fun times entertaining in the backyard!