Can you believe that our table and chairs…..
….looked like this a short time ago?
With teak outdoor furniture, there are two directions you can go – the grey and weathered “Restoration Hardware” look:
….or the wood tone look like this set from Ballard Designs.
Whether you are a fan of the grey and weathered or the wood tone, teak furniture will last for years upon years with a little care. We have had our set for almost 10 years, so I thought I’d share my methods for cleaning and sealing teak furniture.
Weathered teak has a warm grey color acquired from unfinished pieces living outside exposed to the elements and sun.
To me it represents a very CAPE COD coastal look that I love.
There is a difference between weathered and dirty, though.
The two chairs below are a good representation of weathered and just plain scummy.
Unsealed teak wood will develop mildew over time if exposed to water on a regular basis. The mildew can be washed away with regular liquid dishsoap, warm water, a hand-held scrub brush and some elbow grease. I have invested in “teak cleaners” in the past but they yield the exact same results as regular old dish soap.
After scrubbing off the mildew, giving the thirsty wood some Teak oil will keep it from cracking over time. This is the one I use. You can apply it with a cloth but a cheap nylon paintbrush works great for getting into all the nooks and crannies.
When the teak oil is first applied to the clean, bare table and chairs, the warm wood tone returns for a short while. In the photo below you can see how the wood color started fading within a day of applying two coats of the oil.
With just the teak oil, over the summer the finish would fade to this pretty warm grey. The wood is not impervious to stains from grease, etc. when treated with just teak oil.
I’ve done this for years – scrubbed the mildew off, applied the teak oil, and then let nature take it’s course and turn it all to a weathered grey, and I’m not going to lie – the process is tedious. I clocked 6 hours just scrubbing the table and chairs this year, and then a few more hours to apply the teak oil. If you love the look of weathered teak, keep in mind that outdoor furniture will require a good scrubbing and application of teak oil on an annual basis to protect and keep the furniture looking great.
That’s it for the weathered look:
2// APPLY TEAK OIL
The other option…..
warm wood-toned teak.
By sealing the teak, the wood tone of the teak is really captured:
The other major bonuses to sealing outdoor teak furniture:
*the finish will be impervious to grease and stains
*mildew will not form on the wood
*the finish will last for 2-3 years before needing to be redone*
To achieve this look, the process is the same as the weathered look –
2// APPLY TEAK OIL
with this additional step:
3// APPLY SPAR URETHANE.
Some people would argue that the teak oil is not necessary if you intend to seal the wood with urethane; you can determine if your furniture needs it based on whether it is new, or has been exposed to the elements for a while. My table and chairs were so dry that a couple pieces had developed cracks, so I “fed” the wood first with a couple coats of teak oil.
If you are applying teak oil followed by urethane, allow the teak oil to be absorbed by the wood for a few days before applying the urethane.
Why SPAR urethane?
Spar urethane is not a brand, but a kind of sealant that is used on boats to withstand water and sun. It is sold by Minwax, Rustoleum and other name brands. I used the spar urethane below which is oil based, and applied it with an inexpensive nylon paint brush that I could toss after. Even though I despise working with oil-based paints, I chose the oil version for added durability, but it does also come in a water-based formula.
From the Minwax site:
Helmsman® Spar Urethane is a specially formulated protective clear finish for exterior or interior wood that is exposed to sunlight, water, or temperature changes. It contains UV blockers to reduce the sun’s graying and fading effects. Helmsman® Spar Urethane forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture and its special oils allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change.
*Our furniture lives outside all year long since we lack storage space for it. Being exposed to the harsh winter climate will undoubtedly shorten the life of the urethane finish, but covering the furniture with tarps over the winter will reduce exposure.
In a nutshell, here are the stages of outdoor teak furniture as it gets refinished, counterclockwise:
1// unsealed teak, exposed to the elements for over a year, covered in mildew
2// scrubbed clean, bare teak wood
3// coated with teak oil and fading fast
4// scrubbed clean, coated with teak oil, coated with spar urethane
After years with the weathered look, we are enjoying the change. It’s like we have a new set of furniture! AND…..I am VERY much looking forward to skipping the annual scrubbing of the table & chairs next year!
A little work, but worth the effort!
Wishing you a weekend of sunshine, fun and relaxation!
Thank you as always for stopping by!