How to Care For Teak Patio Furniture
One of the main appeals of teak is its durability; with proper care, your patio furniture can last decades while maintaining both charm and quality. Whether your aim is to retain the modern, amber hue of new teak furniture or polish the unique gray patina color teak naturally takes on in the outdoors, this guide outlines the essentials of teak care. Because of the intrinsic oils (the secret to teak’s strength), there are several dos-and-don’ts that don’t apply to other wood furniture. Knowing the specifics of teak care is key to making use of its advantages.
Mildew thrives in damp areas—keep your furniture dry!
Image by Seyma Savascioglu
Cleaning Teak and Dealing With Mold
One of teak furniture’s many advantages is its low maintenance, including cleaning. If you clean your teak furniture once every season (at the beginning or end to make sure no significant dirt buildup has occurred), that’s plenty! Of course, spot-checking to remove stains before they settle into the wood is never a bad idea. Mixing a gentle soap with water (Dawn works great!) and using a soft-bristled brush, scrub your furniture down. Once done, use a hose to wash the soap off and wipe up excess water, then leave in the sun to try.
Mildew thrives in dark, damp areas, so keeping your furniture outside in sunny weather is ideal, and will help fight off mold growth. But if it happens to pop up anyways, don’t fear—there are plenty of ways to deal with it! To get rid of mold you’re going to need bleach (oxygen bleach is preferred as chlorine bleach can be too harsh), as teak cleaner itself likely will not be able to remove the mildew. Remember to use protective gear (face mask and gloves, as well as a pair of glasses to be extra safe) when working with bleach, as inhaling the fumes can be toxic.
- Wash your furniture (hose or wet rag) Mix 1 cup of Clorox with 1 gallon of warm water, you can also choose to add 2/3rds of a cup of laundry detergent. Some suggest 2-3 cups of Clorox per gallon for unfinished wood, but it is always better to start with less and add more if needed. Use a soft brush for any particularly stubborn stains, otherwise, a sponge (such as Scotch-Brite™ sponges) or rag can do the trick.
- Wipe up the remaining liquid with a dry rag.
- You can also try using white vinegar: mix the vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio and pour it into a spray bottle or use it with a rag. Let dry for an hour and then wipe with a wet cloth and dry off.
Teak Aging and Teak Oil
Over time, teak will take on what’s usually called a “grey patina” color. The process is a completely natural result of sun exposure and rain, but some prefer to maintain the original look of the wood: a more honey-toned, warm brown. It can take up to a year for teak to achieve the grey patina color, depending on weather conditions. Even if your teak furniture has already greyed, it’s possible to restore the amber color with some maintenance.
To prevent teak furniture from going grey, you can apply teak oil or a teak sealer, depending on your personal preferences. Using teak oil on your outdoor furniture will require regular maintenance, whereas a teak sealer relies on sealing the natural teak oil in the wood.
“Teak Oil” is not the same as the naturally occurring oil in the wood itself, and is not a permanent solution. On top of having to reapply it every few months, depending on the formula you select, some will even speed up the breakdown process of that organic teak oil. It is also one of the causes of fungus and mildew growth (those black spots you’ll sometimes see on teak wood).
Teak Sealers instead (as the name suggests) seal the wood in a protective layer without interfering with the natural teak oils. However, sealers will break down and need to be reapplied, which includes sanding the sealer off (as opposed to oils). The protective layers help minimize the effect of sun exposure on the wood, which helps keep the wood from turning grey. Avoid teak sealers if you’re hoping to achieve that stunning silvery color teak is so admired for. Sealers are also available in several colors that mimic the natural, honey color of teak.
Removing Grey Patina
If grey teak just isn’t for you, it is possible to remove it due to the fact that the color is only on the surface of the wood. The downside is that it is a temporary fix, and your teak furniture will eventually go back to that silvery color. Restoring the teak’s original color involves sanding the grey off. A quick overview involves:
- Wash and clean your furniture with a teak cleaner (you will need to scrub the wood afterward). You can hose your patio furniture down or use a wet rag, but generally, it is best to avoid using a power washer, especially when restoring older pieces, as it can damage the wood.
- If your furniture is still dirty, you can sand it down. Some grime just won’t go away, even with a teak cleaner, so sanding will help eliminate any remaining problem spots. Wash again!
- Let dry outside if possible. Always make sure your wood furniture dries up, as the wood will more easily grow mildew and warp if left wet. You can wipe it down with a rag before drying it off in the sun as well.
Image by Vaivirga
Part of teak’s appeal is the gorgeous patina color it takes on, but sometimes a layer of paint is needed for a cohesive look for your patio. Still, paint on teak tends to flake and crack, and the teak oil does not allow the paint to adhere well to the wood. Before painting your teak, you will need to wash and sand your furniture (and wash again), before applying a stain-blocking primer to help block teak’s natural oils. Because of the oil, you should also apply at least two coats of paint, and then seal it in.
Why Teak Patio Furniture is the Best Choice For You
If you want to get your money’s worth while also keeping your outdoor maintenance fairly hassle-free, teak furniture is your best choice. Both ageless and durable, teak will let you focus on enjoying your time outside rather than worrying about frequent washing and polishing. Check out our gorgeous Veranda and Bainbridge collections to get started