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How to Care for Teak Patio Furniture

Updated on June 30, 2013
Teak lounge chairs were made for sunny days.
Teak lounge chairs were made for sunny days.

Tips for Taking Care of Outdoor Teak Furniture

Teak furniture is the best quality patio furniture in the world. It's also extremely easy to maintain. Teak has special properties which make it ideal for use outside. With just a small amount maintenance, your teak dining set or Adirondack chairs will last many years.

Give Teak a Gentle Scrub Cleaning

It's a good idea to clean up your teak furniture from time to time to remove any dirt. Choose a sunny day to wash your furniture so that it will dry quicker after you're done. You can spray it down with water using a garden hose to wash the larger bits of dirt off. Afterwards, using a soft-bristled brush, scrub the surface of the wood delicately with a solution of warm water, mild detergent, and a couple tablespoons of bleach. This should remove any remaining dirt. Afterwards, rinse again with water. Pat dry the surface with a towel to finish.

Teak Going Gray is OK

Teak furniture that remains outside, exposed to the sun, will naturally start to fade color from it's original golden brown to become a silvery gray. This happens because the oil in the outermost layer of the wood evaporates out. This process is harmless to the longevity of your furniture—Only the outer appearance is affected. It does not reduce the strength of your outdoor teak furniture one bit. If you learn to appreciate the natural color change of outdoor teak, it will make maintenance of your furniture much simpler.

Teak Oil Should Be Avoided

Some people who buy new teak furniture prefer the golden tone of the new wood and look for a way to prevent the wood from changing to gray. A lot of them end up applying teak oil because they've been told it helps preserve teak and keep it a honey color. But this is really an unnecessary step, which could even lead to some problems in the future. Teak wood contains it's own protective oil, which is why it is immune to water damage and termite attacks. The "teak oil" sold in stores is actually a mixture of linseed oil that will deplete the natural oil in teak wood. So while it does temporarily bring out the golden color of teak, your furniture will become dependent on applying a new coat of oil every 3 months or so. Applying oil to the surface of teak wood also raises the likelihood of mildew forming. A much better idea is to use teak sealer. Once a year, after a good cleaning, you can apply teak sealer to preserve the honey shade found in new wood.

Choose the Right Furniture Cover

You might want to use furniture covers to protect your teak outdoor furniture, particularly for the winter months or if your home is in a location that gets a lot of dust. If you decide to use covers, be sure to get some that are made from a breathable material. Don't use covers made from plastic because they will trap humidity, which raises the chance of mold and mildew growing on the surface of the wood.

Sanding Teak Wood to Remove Stains

Difficult stains such as wine or coffee can be removed with a light sanding of the very top layer of your teak. Start by using a medium grade paper and then end with a fine grade paper to make the surface of the furniture smooth. Sanding like this is also a method to bring out the golden color of teak furniture, since when you sand you will expose a new layer of teak wood which is still saturated with oil.

If you follow these simple tips, you can have beautiful teak furniture to last a lifetime.

Outdoor teak furniture eventually weathers to a silver-gray patina.
Outdoor teak furniture eventually weathers to a silver-gray patina.

Teak Sealer Can Be Used To Preserve Teak's Honey Color

It is not necessary to treat teak wood with any oils or sealers to have outdoor furniture that lasts. However, if you want to preserve and bring out the honey color of new teak wood, then a teak sealer such as this is recommended. The main benefit of using a teak sealer is that you only need to apply it once a year, and if you later decide to stop applying it, your teak furniture will simply begin to slowly fade to a gray color as usual. The wood will still retain its own natural oils to protect it from pests and moisture. Make sure to apply sealer only after cleaning your furniture first.

Here Are Some Teak Dining Sets That Get Compliments

New 5 Pc Luxurious Grade-A Teak Dining Set: 48" Round Butterfly Table and 4 Arbor Arm Stacking Chairs
New 5 Pc Luxurious Grade-A Teak Dining Set: 48" Round Butterfly Table and 4 Arbor Arm Stacking Chairs

A beautiful and useful design. The butterfly table folds down, and the armchairs stack up for easy storage. The center of the table has a built-in umbrella stand as well. A perfect design for the poolside or backyard.

Teak tree growing in India
Teak tree growing in India

Where Does Teak Come From?

Teak is a large hardwood tree native to India and Southeast Asia. It was once found abundantly throughout India, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Because of the usefulness of teak wood, it has been over-collected in many of these countries. Combined with the general deforestation in the 19th and 20th centuries, teak wood has become more rare. However, it is now grown on sustainable commercial plantations. Most of the teak wood used for furniture these days is grown on plantations in Indonesia.

The teak tree can grow up to 130 feet tall. The trunk of the tree grows relatively straight, which made it a good source of timber for construction and boat-building. Because the oil in teak wood makes it water resistant, teak has been used for centuries to build ships.

Now that you know how easy it is to care for teak outdoor furniture, why not consider a simple piece such as a classic teak bench? It fits nicely on a front porch, under a tree to catch some shade, or in the backyard where you can watch the sunset. A gentle cleaning with mild soapy water and a soft brush once or twice a year is all it really takes for a bench like this to last ages. If you allow your teak bench to weather naturally, it will take on a proud silvery gray color like the antique bench you see below.

Antique teak bench at Harewood Castle
Antique teak bench at Harewood Castle

Thinking of Buying Teak Furniture?

Which Style of Teak Furniture Do You Want For Your Patio?

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You Can Find Great Deals On Teak Adirondack Chairs


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    • SuperiorInteriors profile image


      5 years ago from San Diego, California

      I actually really like the weathered gray teak look! But I'm also pretty partial to resin wicker furniture for my backyard. I wrote a hub that actually pairs with this hub perfectly, on how to maintain and repair wicker patio furniture! You know... in case anyone out there has both kinds of furnishings on their patio ;)

      Thanks for the great share! I'm "liking" your hub and bookmarking it for later!


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