04 Oct Caring for your Outdoor Teak Furniture
Posted at 18:00h in Teak
Teak outdoor furniture is a great investment that you can enjoy for many years to come. While teak is a very low maintenance wood, there are some things you should know about caring for your furniture. It also helps to know what NOT to do!
Teakwood is one of the most durable and stable hardwoods in the world. However, not all teak is alike. If you are investing in new teak furniture, we suggest you buy the furniture of reputable manufacturers who are environmentally responsible, and use high grade teak harvested only from carefully controlled plantations. Stick to furniture that is made using traditional construction techniques – doweled mortise and tenon joints, with dowels made of teak — and using good quality brass fittings. Inexpensive teak furniture is frequently made of lower grade wood (sadly, often illegally harvested) and constructed using pine dowels, which don’t hold up well over time. Feel free to ask us about which teak manufacturers we recommend. Some of the companies we have worked with for years, and whose quality and products we trust, include Barlow Tyrie, Kingsley Bate and Gloster.
Oiling teak – don’t!
You don’t have to use preservatives or treatments of any kind to ensure the longevity of your outdoor teak. Oiling teak is only recommended if you are planning on using the furniture indoors. Outdoor teak furniture should not be oiled, as it will not prolong the life of the wood, but will, unfortunately, tie you into an arduous maintenance routine. Oiled teak is more likely to mildew and will be subject to irregular coloring as it weathers. New teak furniture often appears smooth and “polished” – this comes from the oil which occurs naturally in the wood. The oil on the surface of your teak will evaporate over time once the furniture is outdoors (hence the “graying”); it is the oil that remains below the surface that gives the wood its strength and durability. This is why good quality teak can be left outside all year long.
The graying of teak
When left outdoors teak furniture will naturally weather to a silver gray color. You will begin to notice the “graying” after a few months, depending on the amount of sun and rain your furniture is exposed to. Total weathering usually takes about 6-8 months. During the weathering process a slight “checking” or roughening of the grain may occur in spots. You may even notice a few small cracks. Checking is not a structural defect, but a perfectly natural process, as the wood expands and contracts, adjusting to the elements. Water spots or other discoloration may also occur during the weathering process. These will eventually even out, and the furniture will take on a uniform silver-gray color.
What if I don’t like the gray look and want to keep the honey color?
The “graying” of teakwood is simply the sign that the oil on the surface of the wood is evaporating. As such, your furniture can be restored to its original honey color by cleaning with mild soapy water and a soft bristle scrub brush. Teak cleaners are also very effective and require no heavy scrubbing or polishing. A Teak sealer can then be applied after cleaning, which will help to maintain the honey color of your teak. Contact us for more information about these products. Teak sealer needs to be reapplied about once a year, and should not be applied to new teak. Teak should always be clean when the sealer is applied. We also recommend you apply the sealer in a thin layer (less is more!).
What else can I do to protect and care for my teak?
Periodic cleaning of your teak furniture is always a good thing, as it will help to maintain the general appearance, and prevent dirt from building up. Hosing your teak off will do the trick, but we don’t recommend a high pressure washer. Clean using a mild solution of warm water and a little detergent (you can even add a few tablespoons of bleach). Then rinse with fresh water. Some people prefer to cover their furniture when they are not using it for long periods of time, which will help keep it clean and protected (especially in areas with a lot of tree sap or dust), but is not essential. If you do choose to use protective covers, it is very important that you use only “breathable” covers that don’t trap the humidity, but allow constant ventilation. Do not use plastic or vinyl tarps – they will do more harm than good! We highly recommend Treasure Garden’s Activa covers, which are available in many different sizes for all different kinds of outdoor furniture (not just teak). Contact us for more information.
Scratches and stubborn stains
Teak is a very forgiving hardwood, and scratches, scrapes and stubborn stains (like oil and red wine) can usually be removed using a light to medium grade sandpaper. New products, like Teak Shield From Kingsley Bate can be very useful for teak dining tables, as they help repel food and other stains, without the disadvantages of teak oil, which tends to trap humidity in the wood. Contact us for more information about Teak Shield
Feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have about your teak and other outdoor furniture!