Posted on February 18 2018
Teak is known for its durability and solidity, requiring little maintenance even under severe climatic conditions. It not only withstands weather and wear better than any other wood; it is also resistant to moisture, rot and insects.
Teak wood products are categorised into outdoor and indoor uses. Both indoor and outdoor teak furniture are finished in several ways, including totally natural, oiled, sealed, and varnished. As indoor teak furniture gets less abused than outdoor teak furniture, maintenance is relatively less demanding.
How do I maintain my teak furniture?
To keep indoor teak furniture looking rich and beautiful, a thin coat of teak oil is all that’s needed. Oiling can be done about 3 times a year, with a bit of teak oil and a dry cloth. Do make sure that the furniture has been wiped down with a damp cloth and dried before oiling.
Occasionally, you can use a mild soap solution to clean your furniture. To help protect your wood against mould, mix white vinegar and water (with a few drops of lemon juice for fragrance), and wipe your furniture down. If you don't mind the smell of vinegar, you can also use undiluted white vinegar.
Note: test your cleaning solvent on a discreet area of your furniture before cleaning the rest of your furniture.
How do I restore the colour of teak left outdoors?
- Wash outdoor teak furniture with little soap and water to get rid of the oxidation as well as the dirt on the surface.
- Let the wood dry overnight.
- Sand the wood with fine grain sandpaper. 320 grit is recommended. Sand lightly to avoid scratching and follow the direction of the grain when sanding. Do not sand against the grain. The original color of the teak will start to return right after sanding.
- Use a dry cloth to wipe away any residue from the wood. The wood must be clean before applying the teak oil.
- For the maximum effect, use a brush lightly and evenly and apply the strokes a minimum of three times. Between coats, allow one hour to pass so that the oil can fully saturate the wood. After the oil becomes dry you should clean the surface oil off of the wood, which will not affect the color since that oil has already penetrated into the pores.
Before coating or oiling, teak wood needs to be completely clean. This can be done using a very soft brush/cloth with some warm mildly soapy water. Thereafter, rinse the teak with clean water.
Oiling is not about protecting the teak furniture. Instead, it is used to enhance the beauty of teak wood, maintaining its warm appearance and tones. In other words, it is used to keep the furniture from weathering to a soft grey colour. In order to maintain the colour of the teak, it is only required to oil approximately three times a year.
Oiling requires multiple coats. Continue to oil the furniture, wiping away any excess until the teak wood can no longer absorb the oil. The teak furniture should have a matte finish without any shiny spots.
Note: Oiling is only necessary for varnished wood. For unvarnished pieces, oiling is not required as this may cause discolouration if not applied evenly. Simply wipe down your unvarnished piece with a damp cloth, and allow the natural teak oil to do the rest.
Sealing and Varnishing
Sealing is a process normally applied to wood during the manufacturing process, or if you've sanded down an existing piece to give it a fresh look. Sealing the wood prevents moisture, dirt or bacteria from penetrating while sealing in natural oils and resins. Unfortunately, the oils and resins may already be lost. Therefore, the initial step in applying a sealer to old teak is to restore the oil content with a thorough application of teak oil.
Clean and bleach the wood to an even colour, then oil it until it stops absorbing. Wait at least two weeks to let the resins dry before applying the sealer. After two weeks, wash the wood and let it dry completely. Apply the sealer after removing all surface oil as sealers need an oil free surface to attach to.
Also used as a substitute to sealing, varnish offers genuine protection for the wood. Wood coated with varnish will not dry up and split as easily, neither will it absorb moisture and rot, nor be affected by dirt and pollution, and is unstained by greasy spills.
Teak used outdoors will gradually weather into a handsome silver grey. On the contrary, teak used indoors, away from natural sunlight, will gradually become a darker shade of brown over a period of time - perhaps six months to a year. These natural colour changes do not affect the quality and durability of the teak furniture.