I have a few pieces of outdoor teak furniture that were in pretty bad condition when I first got them, and I spent quite a bit of time restoring them to their deep, dark, shiny state. Then after they went through a Seattle winter they were looking pretty tired again and needed some more love. This weekend I finally got around to giving them the attention they so desperately needed.
Because teak is such a hardy wood, it's used more often than any other wood for outdoor furniture. If you keep it well maintained it can last a lifetime. If you have some furniture that needs a bit of help just follow these steps to get your teak back in tip-top shape. The following restoring instructions can be used for indoor or outdoor pieces just make sure you are working in a well-venitilated area since toxic materials are involved in the process.
What You Need:
Clean: If you are dealing with teak turned old and grey you will be surprised at how this step alone will begin to transform your piece. Using a soft bristle brush or steel wool, thoroughly scrub the wood with warm water and a detergent like TSP. This gets rid of the oxidation and dirt that has built up and given the wood its silvery patina. Depending on the state of your teak this step can take quite a while and require some serious arm work. If you're starting out with some really weathered teak you will begin to see some serious transformation here as the wood's true color starts to make its appearance.
Sand: You'll need to get some medium grit sanding blocks and sand your teak by hand to even out the top layer of wood. Try to get the color as even as possible.
Dry Time: If you're like me this is the hardest part. I am so impatient that once I start I just want to keep going till it's finished, but I assure you this step is really important. Your newly cleaned teak needs a few days of drying time so that the oil you will put on in the next step can fully saturate deep into the wood's pores.
Oil: These next two steps are very toxic so make sure you are in a well ventilated area before you start applying these chemicals. Now that the wood is good and dry you are ready to apply the oil. Go get some good quality Teak Oil, a brush and some rubber gloves and lightly brush the oil over all surfaces three times each. You must do this a minimum of four rounds with an hour in-between allowing time for the oil to fully saturate the wood. Apply as many times as needed until you get the desired color of wood.
Seal: At this time your teak should be looking as good as new. After all the work you've put in you may be tempted to call it quits, but you still have one more step. You have only restored the teak's natural oil at this point but haven't protected it from further damage. That's where the polyurethane comes in to seal in the oil and protect the surface. Paint on a few coats and let dry for a few days, and you'll be ready to sit back, relax and enjoy your newly restored Teak furniture.
Store: Going from Los Angeles to Seattle I completely failed to do this step last winter so I thought I would throw it in. I used to live outside and never had to give a second thought to my outdoor furniture so upon moving to this new climate I was a bit stubborn and naive about the correct upkeep. So if you don't live somewhere that has year round summer then you should either cover your furniture or bring it into an unheated garage. I say unheated because temperature changes and excess heat can crack your wood.
Images: Alysha Findley