Out of the many hardwoods, teak has always been a top choice of material for outdoor furniture. Prized not only for its yellow gold color that goes well with any type of design, but also for its known durability. Teak has a naturally high oil content that makes it resistant to termites and pests as well as rot due to moisture. It's the same qualities that have made it the main material used for boat building dating back to 2,000 years which is a proof of its durability.
If you’re new to using teak furniture, here are some things to know about this strong wood and how to clean and care for it should you decide to buy teak outdoor furniture.
The qualities of teak that is prized for are the same qualities that hike up the price of this beautiful wood. The good thing is aside from its durability, teak furniture is a timeless classic that can be used for many years to come. In fact, it’s such a classic addition to a home that it’s often passed down for generations. This is one hand-me-down that only gets better with age.
The high demand for teak has caused deforestation in many parts of South and Southeast Asia so most teak furniture manufacturers have resulted in getting their timber from teak plantations. Teak’s popularity has led growth in sustainable plantations. Although there is a belief that timber from older teak trees is better in terms of quality, plantation-grown teak is just as best.
To ensure that you are purchasing a sustainable teak wood furniture or other environmentally-friendly furniture, look for an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certification. This certification ensures that the furniture you bought follows a set of guidelines that ensure forests are responsibly managed and indigenous people who benefit from these sources, are respected.
Teak comes in three type of finishes: natural, sealed and pre-weathered. Natural is the most common finish of teak that highlights is buttery gold characteristic. Sealed is a type of teak finish where sealants or linseed oil is used to treat the wood. This is sometimes done to prevent weathering. Pre-weathered is what natural teak turns to overtime that transforms its natural color into silvery gray. One advantage of buying pre-weathered teak is that you don’t have to change fabric and accents to match the teak’s changing colors.
Preserving color. Teak oil, or popularly known as linseed oil, is often used to make its yellow gold color last longer. Most teak furniture manufacturers do not recommend this because teak is very well known for producing large amounts of its natural oil. While this adds a nice sheen and glow, it does not last long and needs to be reapplied often to prevent the wood from turning gray. The oil also tends to encourage production of fungus as the solvents in it tend to break down the teak’s natural oils that are responsible for protecting the wood from mold, mildew, and pests.
Teak sealer is better and preferred if you want to slow down the graying process and protect it from mildew. Choose an oil-based sealer over a water-based one to replenish the wood’s natural oils. Clean your teak furniture prior to applying the sealer and apply the sealer with a sponge or a pressure sprayer. Let it dry and apply a second coat and let it dry again before using it. Contrary to oil that needs to be reapplied often, a teak sealer only needs to be reapplied once or twice a year.
Cleaning teak furniture. Teak furniture doesn’t need a thorough cleaning and only requires a simple cloth for wiping dirt. Clean your furniture on a warm day so that it dries up quickly. You can opt for a specialized teak cleaner or a soapy water with mild soap can also make a good substitute. Use either a sponge or soft brush and gently clean along the grains. Never use a pressure cleaner and only use a hose to wash off the soap from the furniture. Pat dry with a towel or rag and let it air dry.
Removing stains. There are two types of water stains: surface and deep stains. Surface stains are lighter and are just dried moisture. Laying a towel on the surface and gently ironing the towel can remove the stain on your outdoor chair or swing benches. Similarly, you can also use a dryer in a low heat setting to remove the moisture at the surface of the teak. Some also suggest rubbing it with salt and rinse with lemon juice or vinegar and wiping it clean after leaving the solution on the watermark for a minute or two.
Other manufacturers will recommend using an oxalic-acid cleaner for dark stains. This is a household chemical cleaner. Dilute it with water (use either a ceramic or glass bowl as metal containers will be discolored by the cleaner) to form a thick paste. Use a disposable paint brush and apply to the stain and allow it to dry. You’ll notice the stain getting lighter as the solution dries. You may need to repeat a few more times until the stain disappears.
For really severe stains, you may need to sand the surface gently with a fine to medium sandpaper. This may require polishing and sealing after sanding. Always ask your local manufacturer on what easy to find cleaning solutions they can recommend to maintain their teak furniture.