Decorating & Design

March 18, 2009

Maintaining Outdoor Teak Furniture

Teak is a dense and extremely durable hardwood with a high oil and wax content. Teak furniture is ideal for outdoor patios, porches and backyards, as its oily quality makes it impervious to water, mildew and wood-eating insects. While teak can be expensive, the initial investment will guarantee attractive outdoor furniture that, if cared for properly, can last up to 80 years.

Teak furniture is very easy to maintain. If exposed to the elements and left untreated, teak will take on a beautiful, silver-grey patina after about 6 months. This change in the wood’s appearance does not affect the structural integrity of the furniture. You may also notice other changes in the wood, such as a lifting of the grain in the arms and legs and the appearance of small cracks — this is normal when wood expands and contracts as a reaction to weather fluctuations.

Untreated teak furniture requires little maintenance other than an annual cleaning to remove dirt and dust. To make up a cleaning solution, add 1/4 cup dishwashing soap and one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water and scrub furniture with a soft bristle brush. Finish by rinsing the furniture thoroughly with fresh water. To remove stubborn stains such as wine or oil, sand with a fine grade of sandpaper making sure to work with the direction of the grain.

While the silver-grey colour of weathered teak adds to its rustic appeal, some may prefer to restore the furniture to its original deep honey colour. This can be done, with some effort, and will need to be repeated on an annual basis if the furniture is exposed to sunlight throughout the summer months. Here’s how:

  1. Wash teak pieces with soap and water and a soft bristle brush; allow to dry.
  2. Apply a teak brightener to restore the original colour then rinse. The original colour can also be brought back by lightly sanding the entire surface of each piece, always working in the direction of the grain.
  3. Apply a UV blocking teak sealant and allow to dry.
  4. The teak sealant should maintain the original colour of the wood for about one year. The application of teak oil is not recommended as it promotes mildew growth.

To avoid rot, keep furniture out of damp, shady areas. Be careful when moving teak indoors at the end of the season; bringing the furniture in from your yard and into a heated space may cause the wood to split; a gradual change in temperature and moisture levels is best.

Author: Vanessa Smith

Donna Griffith