How to Refinish, Restore, and Maintain Teak Outdoor Furniture

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how to refinish teak outdoor furniture

Furniture made of teak is a great addition to any outdoor space. Teak is a beautiful wood with a rich golden color that instantly elevates any patio or deck design. Teak wood is also very durable and able to withstand the elements due to its naturally water-resistant oils.

As a bonus, research shows that many homeowners are also turning to teak furniture as an environmentally friendly option. It’s highly sustainable and mostly grown in plantations specifically for timber production, which helps reduce the demand put on our natural forests.

However, like any other outdoor furniture, teak can suffer from wear and tear over time. The sun and rain will fade the wood’s color while dirt and grime build up on the surface.

If your teak furniture is looking a bit worse for the wear, don’t despair. With a bit of elbow grease, you can refinish your teak furniture and restore it to its original beauty.

This guide will walk you through the teak furniture refinishing process, step by step – so you can maintain different pieces of teak furniture for years to come.

Quick Summary

Step 1: Thoroughly Clean the Teak Furniture
Step 2: Replace or Repair Problems
Step 3: Sand the Rough Gray Areas
Step 4: Protect the Teak Wood with a Sealer
Step 5: Repeat Maintenance As Needed

Weathered outdoor furniture needs refinishing

What You’ll Need

Before refinishing teak furniture, you’ll need to gather all the necessary supplies. These items include:

  • A garden hose
  • A scrub brush and/or rag
  • Sandpaper (fine and medium grit)
  • Teak cleaning solution
  • Teak sealer (avoid teak-oil products)

You should also want to wear gloves and protective eyewear while refinishing your teak furniture. This will help you avoid any accidents and protect your hands and eyes from the chemicals in the teak cleaning solution.

Of course, if you use a professional restoration service, they’ll take care of all the refinishing for you. You won’t have to worry about any of the supplies or steps!

Step 1: Thoroughly Clean the Teak Furniture

Thoroughly clean teak furniture

Before refinishing teak furniture, give it a good cleaning. If you don’t remove the build-up of dirt and grime, it will be difficult to refinish the furniture and achieve a smooth, even finish.

Avoid using a power washer to clean teak furniture. The high-pressure water can damage the wood and strip away the natural oils. Instead, use a soft brush and mild, soapy water solution to scrub the furniture. You can also use a teak cleaning product to clean the wood without damaging it.

Start by rinsing the teak furniture with a hose to remove any loose dirt. Then, apply the cleaning solution to a soft brush or rag and scrub the furniture’s surface. Work in small sections until you’ve cleaned the entire piece of furniture.

Once you’re finished scrubbing, rinse the teak furniture with clean water to remove any soap residue. If you fail to remove all the soap, it could wear down the wood or interfere with the refinishing process is important. 

After rinsing, allow the teak furniture to air dry completely before moving to the next step. This could take several hours or a full day, depending on the weather conditions.

Step 2: Replace or Repair Problems

Once your clean teak furniture is dry, check for any damage that may need to be repaired. Although teak is durable and moisture-resistant, it’s not indestructible. 

Over months or years, teak wood can become worn from exposure to the sun and other elements. Whether it’s a missing seat slat or a cracked leg, you’ll want to address any issues before sanding and sealing the wood.

If the damage is minor, you may be able to repair it with teak wood filler. Simply apply the filler to the problem area and allow it to dry. Once it’s dry, sand the area until it’s smooth.

More significant damage will require replacing the damaged pieces of wood. You can find replacement slats or legs at most hardware stores. Just ensure you select the right size and type of wood so it blends in with the rest of the furniture.

Step 3: Sand the Rough Gray Areas

Sand rough gray areas on teak wood

After repairing any damage and allowing the filler or replacement pieces to settle, the next step is to sand the teak furniture. 

Exposure to the sun and rain can cause the wood to gray and become rough to the touch. If you want your refinishing project to be successful, you’ll need to remove this outer layer of gray before moving on.

To sand the outer layer of gray, you’ll need to use medium to coarse-grit sandpaper. Start with a low number and work your way up as needed. Avoid using a power sander, as these can be too aggressive and damage the wood.

Once you’ve sanded away the gray outer layer, you should see the original color of the teak wood. If the wood is still too rough, you can continue sanding with finer grit sandpaper until it’s smooth to the touch.

After sanding, use a handheld vacuum or brush to remove dust from the furniture’s surface. Then, you should clean the wood and let it dry entirely before you move to the next step of refinishing teak furniture.

Step 4: Protect the Teak Wood with a Sealer

Protect the teak wood with a sealer

Now that the teak furniture is sanded and free of any dirt or dust, it’s time to seal it. Sealing the wood will protect it from the sun, water, and other elements. It will also help preserve the wood’s natural color after all your hard work refinishing it.

We strongly advise against using any product that contains teak oil during this step. Although many teak oil products claim to refinish and protect outdoor furniture, they can actually do more harm than good.

Teak oil is often made from low-quality ingredients (not sourced from real teak) that get absorbed by the wood. The additives in these products will then break down the natural oil and cause the wood to crack and split. In some cases, it can even cause the wood to rot.

Instead of teak oil, we recommend using a teak sealer. You can find these products at a marine supply store or specialty outdoor store.   Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the sealer.

Many homeowners feel a bit overwhelmed when refinishing teak furniture for the first time, especially when it comes to sealing the wood. If you’re one of them, it may be a good idea to hire a professional to refinish your teak furniture from start to finish.

Step 5: Repeat Maintenance As Needed

Teak maintenance

Although refinishing teak furniture may seem like a lot of work, it’s important to repeat the process and general maintenance as needed. Since your teak furniture is almost always outdoors, it’s consistently exposed to the sun, rain, and other elements. Over time, these elements will take their toll on even the most durable wood types.

If you don’t properly maintain your furniture or hire a professional to do so, it will eventually break down. Mold, mildew, and discoloration are just a few of the problems you’ll face if you don’t preserve your furniture. Other issues, such as cracking and splitting, can also occur.

Don’t let your beautiful teak furniture become a victim of neglect. By maintaining and caring for it regularly, you’ll ensure that it looks great year after year. You’ll also extend its lifespan significantly.

Again, if you’re not comfortable restoring your own teak furniture, a company that specializes in refinishing teak furniture can do it for you. Companies like ours know precisely how to refinish teak furniture properly and can do it in a fraction of the time it would take you to do it yourself. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Refinishing Teak Furniture

You may still have some lingering concerns about restoring and refinishing teak furniture. If so, check out the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions below:

Do different types of teak furniture require different types of care? 

Yes – a teak chair might require slightly different maintenance than a table or bench. To help you better care for your teak furniture, here are some tips for maintaining different pieces. 

Teak Chairs 

Outdoor teak chairs

When caring for your teak seating arrangements, pay special attention to the armrests and legs of chairs. These spots are more prone to wear and tear and may require more regular cleaning, as well as more frequent oiling and resealing.

You’ll also want to check the joints and hardware of your teak chairs. Watch for signs of looseness or damage, and tighten screws and bolts as needed to preserve the chair’s integrity.

Teak Tables

Teak tabletops may require more frequent cleaning compared to other furniture pieces due to their larger surface area. Wipe your tabletop regularly with a damp cloth to remove dirt and spills, and avoid placing hot or wet items directly on the wood to prevent damage.

Just as you would with teak chairs, check the table’s structural integrity often and tighten any loose hardware. Also, make sure to keep your table on a level surface to prevent wobbling. 

Outdoor teak tables

Teak Benches 

You’ll need to occasionally sand the seating surface of your teak bench to remove roughness or minor scratches as they build up. Also, applying a teak oil or sealer can help protect the wood and maintain its smoothness, even if you use the bench often.

We also tend to recommend elevating the bench slightly or using protective pads to help prevent moisture damage. This is especially important if you leave your teak bench outside year-round.

Teak Loungers

Teak loungers, also known as teak sun loungers or teak chaise lounges, require similar care to other types of teak furniture, but there are a few additional things to consider, such as regularly cleaning their cushions or testing their adjustable parts.

If your teak lounger is equipped with wheels for easy mobility, inspect them periodically to ensure they are rolling smoothly. Clean any dirt or debris from the wheels and lubricate them if necessary to maintain their functionality.

Why Does Teak Wood Turn Gray in the First Place?

Teak wood is naturally resistant to rot, mold, and mildew when cared for properly. However, over time, it can become gray and weathered-looking from exposure to sunlight and rain. Although this doesn’t necessarily affect the strength or durability of the wood, it can be unsightly. Refinishing teak furniture is the best way to restore its original color.

Gray teak bench

How Long Does It Take for Teak Wood to Discolor?

The amount of time it takes for teak wood to discolor depends on its exposure to sunlight and rain. If the furniture is kept in a covered area, it will take longer to discolor than if left out in the open. In general, you can expect teak wood to start graying within 5 to 12 months if it’s not properly sealed and maintained. 

Can I Paint or Stain My Teak Wood Furniture?

We recommend against painting or staining your teak furniture. It will not only hide the beauty of the teak wood, but it will also penetrate the seal coating. This will eventually lead to flaking, peeling, cracking, and other damage. Teak’s natural oils also make it difficult for paint and stain to adhere to the surface. 

Is It Possible to Change the Color of My Teak Furniture?

Yes, when refinishing teak furniture, you can change its color. However, as mentioned, it’s not as simple as refinishing other types of wood furniture. Without taking the proper precautions, you could end up damaging your furniture. If you’re set on changing the color of your furniture, we recommend working with a professional teak refinisher and restorer.

Can I Use Regular Wood Stain on Teak Furniture?

No, you should not use regular wood stains on teak furniture. Teak is a unique type of wood due to its high oil content. As a result, it needs to be stained with a specially formulated teak stain. Regular wood stains will not adhere to the surface and can cause significant damage.

Is Vinegar Good for Cleaning Outdoor Teak Furniture?

Yes, vinegar is a good option for cleaning outdoor teak furniture. To clean with vinegar, mix one-part white vinegar with three parts water in a bucket. Use a soft brush or cloth to apply the mixture to the furniture’s surface and scrub away dirt and grime. Rinse the furniture with clean water when you’re finished.

What Is the Best Time of Year for Refinishing Teak Furniture?

Because Southern California has such mild weather, you can refinish teak furniture pretty much any time of year. However, we recommend finding a time when rain is not in the forecast for at least 48 hours. You don’t want rainwater interfering with the refinishing process.

Why Is My Teak Furniture Almost Black?

If your teak furniture has turned black, it’s likely due to extreme weathering and build-up. As mentioned, the sun’s UV rays can cause the wood to oxidize and change colors. Additionally, if your teak furniture is consistently exposed to moisture, it can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. This can also cause the wood to turn black.

How Much Does It Cost to Have Professionals Refinish Teak Furniture?

Prices for refinishing teak furniture vary depending on the size and condition of the furniture. In general, we estimate you can expect to pay 25% of the cost of a new piece of teak furniture. Getting your teak furniture professionally refinished is a much cheaper option than buying new furniture altogether.

Of course, some professional restoration teams may charge more or less than this. It’s always best to get a few estimates before making a decision.

Why Choose Teak & Deck Professionals for Refinishing Teak Furniture?

Why choose teak and deck

There are a number of reasons why refinishing teak furniture is best left to professionals. Yet, perhaps the most important reason is that refinishing teak furniture is not a simple task. There are many involved, and if one of them is not done correctly, it can damage the furniture.

At Teak & Deck Professionals, we have the experience and expertise to restore your teak furniture properly. Our team will work with you to achieve the look you desire for your furniture. We also only use top-of-the-line products to protect your furniture and keep it looking its best for years to come.

To request a quote on refinishing your teak furniture, contact us today!

Published: July 26, 2022

Updated: March 11, 2024

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Drew Isaacman

Drew Isaacman is the owner and founder of Teak & Deck Professionals, a leading restoration company specializing in teak, exotic wood, concrete, and stone. With a passion for preserving outdoor assets, Drew has built a team of skilled professionals dedicated to providing exceptional service to clients in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. His expertise in wood restoration and refinishing, combined with his commitment to customer satisfaction, has earned Teak & Deck Professionals a reputation for excellence in the industry. Drew's dedication to protecting and revitalizing outdoor spaces ensures that clients can enjoy their valuable assets for years to come.