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Thursday, June 30, 2022

How to Care for Teak Outdoor Furniture

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If you have teak furniture, you can rest comfortably knowing that you can expect to get decades of quality use from it. Teak is unmatched in durability compared to other timbers. Its density and high natural oil content ensures that it will stand the test of time with very low maintenance requirements.

However, to get the most from your outdoor furniture and keep it looking great, there are a few things you can do. So let’s have a look at the basics of teak outdoor furniture care and maintenance

What You Need To Know About Teak

Before we start, it helps to know a little bit about teak in order to understand the best ways to care for it. Most commonly in south and southeast Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka, teak is a dense tropical hardwood. It has a high natural oil and resin content, which helps to prevent dry rot, moisture damage and pest infestations. And its natural density helps to minimise bending, warping and cracking.    

Fresh teak has a natural honey-gold colour, which is another reason why it’s so popular as a furniture material. When left exposed to the elements, teak develops a silver-grey patina. This comes about as a result of oxidation caused by the sun breaking down tannins in the wood which hold the colour. This weathering is a purely surface level change and is not a sign of damage to the timber and will not shorten the lifespan of the furniture. While some people like the look of the natural weathering process, the golden colour can be retained (or regained) with a little care and maintenance.

Cleaning Teak Furniture

Like anything left sitting outside, your outdoor furniture will benefit from regular cleaning. Luckily, teak is extremely easy to clean. You can remove minor stains and mild surface mould and mildew using a soft bristle brush and warm, soapy water.

Avoid using hard bristled brushes, steel wool or scouring pads to prevent scratching and always scrub with the grain for best results.  

You can also use specialist teak cleaners, which will not only help to remove stains but can also brighten discoloured and faded teak. However, you should never use harsh chemical cleaners or general timber cleaners on teak.   

If you’re dealing with stubborn stains, like coffee or red wine on a teak coffee table, you can gently sand the affected area with a fine-grit sandpaper. It’s also worth noting that staining will fade over time as a result of the natural weathering process.

Outdoor patio furniture

Restoring Discoloured Teak

As we already mentioned, over time teak will develop a natural silver-grey patina. To prevent this happening and retain the golden timber colour you can treat the timber with a specialist teak protector. This will prevent fading and the oxidising of the tannins in the timber, helping to retain the beautiful honey-gold hue.

If the discolouration has already happened, you can generally restore the original golden colour with a little work and the right products.   

Hand sanding the timber with a fine-grit sandpaper can remove the grey colour and reveal the original colour. You can then apply a specialist teak protector to help retain the colour and prevent further weathering.

Purpose made teak cleaning products can also be used on weathered teak. These will help to scrub away the silvery finish while also protecting the newly revealed golden timber.

When cleaning or restoring teak, avoid using power sanders as these generate much more heat than hand sanding and can sometimes scorch the timber, leaving black marks.

Rough & Rustic Teak

Besides the silvery patina, teak can also roughen up when left out in the elements. A process called grain lift can occur the first time teak furniture gets wet. This is normal and is just the timber fibres expanding and moisture is absorbed for the first time. Minor cracks can also start to appear. This is known as “checking” and is also normal. Neither of these processes affect the strength or integrity of the furniture.

Checking and grain lift can leave the surface feeling a little rough. If you prefer the feel of completely smooth timber, we recommend hand-sanding with a very fine sandpaper. After sanding, use a dry sponge to remove any remaining sawdust and apply a teak cleaner or teak protector.

With a little care and maintenance, you can ensure that your teak furniture looks great and will stand the test of time.

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