Teak is the ultimate choice for outdoor wood furniture. The crème de la crème. Everyone wants teak. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to care for it. That’s because there’s a lot of advice out there – and some of it conflicting or confusing. One thing we know for sure. The worst teak furniture care advice we’ve ever heard is also quite commonly given. It goes like this: “Don’t worry about teak. You don’t have to do a thing.” And while that statement is very close to being true, this is a case where a “miss is as good as a mile”.
Let’s do a quick reality check. Teak furniture is gorgeous. It lasts forever. It costs a bit more. That doesn’t really sound like something you want to put out on the patio and forget about. It does sound like something you want to take care of. Because it’s one of the few possessions that your grandchildren will cherish as much as you do. And they will. Just as long as you follow the best teak care advice we can give you: take ten minutes to learn what your options really are when it comes to taking care of teak furniture…
You see, it is precisely because teak outdoor furniture lasts for decades that you DO want to take care of it. Because things happen over time. Like color changes. Teak is never painted, and not even routinely sealed. That leaves the wood itself open to the air – and the resulting reaction slowly covers the beautiful, buttery orange of new wood with a patina of silvery grey we associate with aged teak. Eventually the silver darkens to a dull gray, and then a dark gray-green.
You can manage that color change with a variety of options, including oils, stains, and sealers. Each method will preserve that rich orange color by slowing the development of the gray patina, but none of them stop the aging process entirely. Let’s start with oils.
Typically, teak oil itself is used. Teak oil is the magic elixir that prevents rot, mold, and mildew –giving teak its legendary longevity. Not to mention its power to resist water damage. Teak oil is easy to apply. No brushes or sprayers required. Just use a rag and rub it in. What a way to express the love you feel for your teak furniture! Teak oil treatments do not last that long, however. You’ll want to give your furniture 3 or 4 applications every year.
Stains are similar to oils. Again, it’s a hand-rub process. Stain does last a bit longer. Once a year will do it. The big advantage of stains is that you can change the basic color of your teak. With stains the original dark orange will always show through – whatever the color – so, unless you’re an expert with color blending, you need to prepare yourself for the possibility of surprise when everything dries. (Think turquoise stain over orange teak…) Not to worry too much, you can always sand off the stain, get back to the natural color – and start over!
Finally, sealers give you the option of applying a clear coating. In a certain sense, sealers provide the most protection. Oils and stain soak into the wood itself. Sealers sit on top of the wood’s surface like a thin coat of armor. Here again, sealers do wear away and need to be applied annually. The good news is that if you do decide you want that go with that classic silver teak look, simply stop applying the sealer every year.
Whichever method you choose for managing the color of your teak furniture, there’s one last thing you need to know about. Cleaning! Chances are, your teak is sitting outside all year long. And things do fall from the sky. Dust and grit. Sap droplets from trees. Birds will make their contributions. And animals will leave their marks. All of this “stuff” can mar the color you’re trying to achieve. Covers at night make a big difference. But in the end, you will want to get your stiffest cleaning brush (not wire) and bucket of cleaning solution (get one designed for teak) and give your family heirloom the pampering it deserves with a good scrubbing a few times a year.