Expert Tips for Restoring Teak Furniture
Written by Neighbor Editorial Team | @neighboroutdoor | Opens in a new window. |
Our designers weigh in on how to restore and clean teak furniture.
When it comes to strength, durability and beauty, teak wood is one of the best materials for outdoor furniture. With minimal maintenance requirements, easy restoration capability and long lasting beauty, teak wood furniture can stand strong for decades without needing to be replaced.
In just four simple steps, teak furniture can be restored to its original honey-golden hue and made to look brand-new. All you need are a couple tools, an outdoor area with ventilation and your beautiful teak furniture.
Here's more about where teak wood originates, how it’s been used throughout history, and how to restore real teak furniture.
What is teak?
Teak wood is a dense hardwood sourced from the Tectona grandis tree. These trees are native to South and Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as Africa and South America. With an average height of about 100 to 130 feet, teak trees provide a significant amount of timber with a variety of uses. Originally used for shipbuilding in the middle ages, teak wood has long been a trusted material in construction with marine applications and outdoor furniture manufacturing. For centuries, teak wood has been used to create indoor furniture, doors, frames, cabinets, flooring, pool decks, columns and beams in homes, and of course outdoor furniture. This wide variety of uses is due to teak wood’s natural strength, durability, appealing appearance and patina, as well as its easy maintenance and restoration.
Teak wood is often used for exterior surfaces, because it has unique natural oils that repel water, prevent warping or cracking in the wood, resist termites and other pests, and prevent wood rot. The natural, weather-resistant properties of teak make this wood the ideal material for outdoor furniture. Teak wood is weather-proof and doesn’t require special treatments or finishes to reinforce its strength or beauty. Left untreated, teak wood furniture can last for 75 to 100 years. The benefits of using teak wood for outdoor furniture go far beyond the aesthetic appeal.
Teak’s natural patina
Teak wood begins as a warm honey-golden color that gradually lightens to a beautiful silvery gray patina with age. This is the result of the wood interacting with the elements - oxygen, UV light, rain and humidity. Whether teak furniture is preserved in its original warm hue or left to patina naturally, teak instantly adds beauty to a space. Teak wood is perfectly complementary to a range of design styles, especially contemporary designs. It also pairs well with other materials, including metals and recycled plastic. And the best part: you won’t have to make an irreversible decision when letting your teak furniture patina naturally. You can always restore teak furniture to its original hue in the future.
Maintaining teak furniture
With teak furniture, you aren’t signing up for a life of deep cleanings. Caring for real teak furniture is simple. After each use, dust your furniture off to prevent dirt buildup. In case of a spill or stain on teak wood furniture, clean the area immediately with mild soap and warm water, and a sponge or soft-bristle brush. Agitate the stain, then use a dry, clean towel to soak up excess water. Let your furniture air dry, and enjoy a clean surface again and again.
Restoring real teak wood
While some people love the aged silver teak wood patina, others prefer the original, warm vibrance that new teak wood furniture offers. While real teak wood can be restored relatively easily, fake teak wood cannot be restored. Investing in real teak wood furniture saves you money, time and effort by ensuring that your patio furniture lasts a lifetime. If you’re looking to restore a teak sectional or teak dining table that has weathered, you’re in the right place. Your experts in outdoor furniture are here to tell everything you need to know about caring for and restoring teak furniture.
What you’ll need
You’ll need a small list of supplies to restore your teak furniture:
- Real teak wood furniture
- Drop cloths or tarps to cover the ground
- Teak wood cleaner and a cleaning brush (soft-bristle brush)
- Hose with a spray nozzle or power washer (under 2,000 psi)
- Sander with 80-grit and 220-grit sandpaper
- Teak protector
- Rubber gloves and rags
Step 1: Sand teak furniture
The purpose of sanding your teak furniture is to remove the top layer of dirt, debris and patina, and create a smooth, even surface. This process removes the outermost layer of the wood to reveal the warm inner layers. Electric sanding is ideal for larger surfaces, while manual sanding will reach between slats and small surfaces on chairs or table legs. With 80-grit sandpaper, lightly sand all surfaces of your teak furniture. As you sand, you’ll notice the patina lightening back to the original honey color.
Step 2: Clean teak furniture
After sanding, wash your furniture pieces down with a garden hose and spray nozzle. If you’re using a pressure washer here, it’s crucial that you use a gentle technique and a very light setting of no more than 2,000 psi. Use the pressure washer from a distance to avoid stripping the natural oils in teak wood. Stripping these oils would compromise teak’s durability and we want to avoid that at all costs. In a well-ventilated area, preferably outside under shade, apply teak cleaner (mild dish-soap and warm water solution or premium teak cleaner) to your furniture while it’s still wet. You can use a soft-bristled brush to apply the teak cleaner or spray the solution directly on your chair or table.
If you notice tougher stains on your furniture, you can add a small amount of bleach to the soapy water solution. Start at the top surface of the furniture and work your way down. Lightly scrub the entire surface of your teak furniture to work the teak cleaner into the wood. Let the solution sit for 1 to 2 minutes, or as long as the product label advises, then use the soft brush to scrub along the grain. Once done, rinse your furniture with a garden hose to wash away the cleaning solution and leave your furniture to air dry.
Step 3: Sand again
When your furniture is dry to the touch, use 220-grit sandpaper to smooth out the surfaces of your teak furniture again. Sand in the direction of the natural grain, not against it. This will help to protect your teak surfaces and avoid scratching or discoloration. Once you’ve sanded all surfaces, use a dry rag to lightly brush off any remaining dust.
Step 4: Protect outdoor teak furniture
Although it’s not necessary to apply a teak sealer or protector, you can choose to do so to help prolong the original golden hue of your teak furniture. A quality protector solution can make it easier to clean spills and restore wear and tear over the years. Teak sealers or protectors can be used once or twice a year, following teak cleaner. We recommend Golden Care teak protector with UV block when restoring or preserving the original color. To apply teak protector, use a soft-bristle brush to brush the solution on all surfaces, then leave your furniture to air dry for 24 hours. It is not necessary to use teak oil on your furniture. Commercial teak oil is not the same as teak’s natural oils. The natural oils protect teak from water damage, rot and insect infestation, whereas teak oil merely serves to create a temporary glossy sheen.
Teak furniture is made to last
When it comes to outdoor furniture, teak wood is easily the best investment you can make. Teak wood furniture will last for decades without weakening or losing its natural beauty. If you choose to restore your teak furniture after a few years, you can do so in four simple steps.
If you’re still looking for the perfect teak furniture for your outdoor space, Neighbor offers a collection of beautiful furniture designs With Grade A teak, quality Sunbrella® fabric outdoor cushions, quick drying foam and marine grade hardware made to withstand exposure to the open ocean. We choose the most durable materials to ensure that our furniture stands the test of time. We use Grade A teak (the highest quality of teak wood) in all of Neighbor’s outdoor furniture.
Neighbor teak is also kiln-dried for increased durability by our manufacturing partners. While there is a world of potential materials to choose from, finding something that wouldn’t harm the environment was our priority. Our teak lumber is sustainably sourced and FSC-certified, meaning it meets the "gold standard" of ethical production and is harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, socially beneficial and environmentally conscious.