Care & Maintenance
When it comes to timber furniture, nothing beats teak. Teak is one of the most valuable timbers in the world and unmatched in durability and beauty. Its density and high natural oil content means that teak requires much less maintenance than other types of outdoor timber furniture.
That said, some general care and light maintenance is recommended to keep your furniture looking great for decades to come.
What You Need To Know About Teak
Teak (Tectona grandis) is a dense hardwood. It is native to south and southeast Asia and most commonly grown in countries like Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
The natural density of the timber means that it is much more resistant to bending, warping and cracking than most other types of timber. Teak has a high natural oil and resin content, which helps to protect it from dry rot. This can also help to ward off termites. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that teak is not entirely termite resistant. At a pinch, termites will attack teak wood if there’s nothing preferable available. However, their aversion to teak makes it much easier to protect teak from termites.
The Silver-Grey Patina
Teak has a beautiful natural honey-gold hue. However, over time it will develop a silvery-grey patina, especially when exposed to sunlight. The grey patina is actually a natural defence against the weather that develops as a result of oxidation caused by the sun breaking down tannins in the wood which hold the colour. It’s important to note that this weathering is purely a cosmetic change and is not a sign of damage to the timber.
While some people like the rustic look of the silvery patina, others prefer to maintain the golden colour, which can be done by applying a specialst teak protector to the timber.
Cleaning Teak Furniture
Teak is easy to clean. Using a brush and warm, soapy water is enough to remove dirt, minor staining and surface mould and mildew. Remember to always scrub with the grain for best results. Ensure the furniture is extremely wet when cleaning and avoid cleaning in direct sunlight on a hot day.
Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners or general timber cleaners. For best results, we recommend using specialist, eco-friendly teak cleaners. These not only help to remove stains, but can clean and brighten discoloured and faded teak.
Stubborn stains like grease, red wine or coffee will fade over time when left out in the weather. To remove tough stains more quickly, you can gently sand the affected area with a fine-grit sandpaper.
Teak furniture can be pressure cleaned, but please be careful. Make sure you use a low pressure setting to prevent damaging the timber or the furniture.
Please note: Always avoid using metal brushes, harsh scouring pads or steel wool when cleaning teak as these can scratch the timber surface.
Does Teak Furniture Need to be Treated?
Teak furniture can be treated or left in its raw state. Raw teak will stand up to the elements incredibly well. However, like any timber, it can be susceptible to staining, and the colour will fade to a silvery-grey over time.
To prevent this colouring, teak furniture can be treated with specialist teak protector products. Using a teak protector can help to prevent fading and to retain teak’s golden hue. You can also use a teak shield to prevent stains while retaining the natural look of the surface.
Before applying any treatment to the timber, leave the furniture exposed to the elements for four to six weeks. When applying a teak treatment, it’s important to follow the particular product’s instructions for the best results.
If you’re treating the teak to help retain the colour, you should keep in mind that once you apply the teak protector, the timber will only retain the colour that it currently has. This means that treating furniture that has already developed the silver-grey patina will help it retain that colour, but will not return to golden hue to the timber. (See below for restoring timber colour.)
Using general timber oils on teak furniture is not recommended. The wood’s high oil content will naturally protect it from water damage and rot, and the natural oil and timber density prevents it from drying out and splitting, warping and cracking like other timbers.
Additionally, oiling teak will not prevent the natural fading that takes place, and does not allow the timber to breathe, which can lead to mildew. Oiling can also cause black spots on the timber.
Please note: When treating teak furniture, it’s essential that you use sealers or cleaners specifically designed for teak wood.
Removing the Silver-Grey Patina from Teak Furniture
If your teak furniture has faded to a silvery-grey, you can generally restore the original golden colour with a little work and the right products. Lightly hand-sanding the surface of the timber should be enough to remove the greyish layer and reveal the golden timber beneath.
You can also use specialist teak cleaner products that will enable you to “scrub off” the silvery finish. Ensure that the timber is extremely wet before using these products and always follow the product instructions for best results.
Once you’ve removed the silver-grey finish, you can use a teak protector to maintain the golden colour.
Rough & Weathered Teak
Left outside to face the elements, teak will naturally weather and roughen up. When the timber gets wet for the first time, it will slightly roughen up as it dries. This is called “grain lift” and is a normal process. Besides the grain lift, teak will also start developing some minor cracks. This is known as “checking” and is a natural process that occurs within the first 3-6 months after assembly as it settles into its new environment. These cracks do not affect the strength or integrity of the furniture.
Checking and grain lift can leave the surface feeling a little rough. If you prefer the feel of completely smooth timber, we recommend hand-sanding with a very fine sandpaper. After sanding, use a dry sponge to remove any remaining sawdust and apply a teak cleaner or teak protector.
Please note: Avoid using power sanders on your furniture. Power sanding generates heat that can scorch the timber.
Additional Care & Maintenance Tips
- Do not move the furniture between extreme temperatures (e.g. from a heated room to outside in the winter) as this may cause the timber or joints to crack.
- Use the furniture only for the purpose for which it was designed (e.g. don’t sit on armrests or stand on tables).
- Do not expose the furniture to extreme temperatures (e.g. placing a hot pan on a table top without a placemat). It will leave marks on the furniture.
- Cushions should be stored or covered when not in use to ensure foam longevity and prevent fading.
- All products should be placed on level ground. Products placed on unlevelled ground may result in cracks in timber/joinery.
- Stainless steel or brass joints are exposed to continuous movement and so it is important to regularly check any fixings.