How to Protect Your Outdoor Teak Furniture During the Winter
Teak is a perfect material for outdoor furniture – especially in places like Southern California. While teak is generally known to be reasonably weather resistant, taking certain steps to protect your outdoor furniture when the temperatures drop is recommended.
Teak has been used as furniture for a very long time. If cared for properly, these items will last for many, many years. This is because teak oil – which is infused in the wood – is a natural preservative providing exceptional resistance to rot. However, this does not mean Teak is immune to aging.
Fortunately, Southern California does not experience the harsh winters with snow and ice that many other areas do – and protecting winter outdoor furniture isn’t as cumbersome. Even with the area’s famously mild weather, there are still plenty of precautions to make sure your teak items stay durable, comfortable, and visually appealing.
In this post, we want to discuss five easy ways to keep your outdoor teak furniture safe from the winter conditions in Southern California.
Continue to Clean Your Furniture Regularly
Your outdoor furniture likely sees heavy use in the summer months – and has a place in your cleaning routine. Once the winter comes, and you’re not spending as much time outside, neglecting regular cleaning becomes easy.
It’s important to remember that your cleaning process is the first line of defense in protecting your teak furniture. The good news is it’s super easy to clean teak outdoor furniture in a matter of minutes. If you commit to a regular schedule, all you will need is a simple mixture of soap and water. There are plenty of special teak cleaning products on the market – but soap and water will give you the same results.
Start by moving your teak outdoor furniture away from direct sunlight. This is to make sure the cleaning solution doesn’t dry out too quickly. Next, apply the soapy water with a brush to all the surfaces – and hose off the suds when you’re done.
How often should you clean teak furniture in the winter?
Generally, we recommend cleaning your teak furniture at least once a year – maybe three or four if you want to maintain the pristine look. If the winter months bring a lot of rain, you should clean your items as needed to ensure loose dirt and debris don’t build up.
Apply Teak Sealer Before Winter
This is a key aspect of maintaining teak furniture. The teak sealer provides a thin waterproof layer to the wood that keeps rain and moisture from entering through tiny openings. This step is crucial in areas that experience freezing temperatures to prevent the wood from cracking during the freeze-thaw cycle.
In addition to safeguarding your furniture from water, sealer maintains the teak’s natural color. Most sealants contain a UV blocker to prevent sun bleaching and discoloring.
Applying teak sealer is an easy process.
Step One: Sanding
For starters, give the surface of the teak a light sanding. This provides the sealant with some traction to grab onto. We recommend using 80-grit sandpaper. You don’t want to sand away too much of the wood, so use light pressure to avoid damage.
Step Two: Cleaning
From here, you’ll need to lightly spray off the wood to clear tiny bits of sawdust created from the sanding process. You may also want to scrub it off with soapy water and a brush. Let the teak furniture dry completely before taking the next step.
Step Three: Apply the Sealer
Apply a thin coat of teak wood sealant using a sponge, cloth, or brush. If you have a paint sprayer, you can use this, too. Make sure the coat is applied evenly on all surfaces – then let the furniture dry for a few hours. You may need to apply additional coats if the wood is badly weathered.
Keep in mind, some sealers might change the color of the wood, while others will not. The tinted sealers are intended to bring out the wood’s natural color. However, these are not as easy to apply – as they need to be applied perfectly evenly.
If you are looking to restore the wood’s natural color, we recommend having a professional do it.
To break it down, here are some key “dos” and “do-nots” when applying sealer to your teak outdoor furniture:
- Do: Put newspaper or plastic down on the floor in your work area before applying sealant.
- Do: Sand and clean the wood before applying the sealant.
- Do: Make sure the sealant is applied evenly.
- Do Not: Rush through the sanding process.
- Do Not: Neglect to let the wood dry completely before applying teak sealant.
- Do Not: Apply tinted sealer without conducting proper research.
For any questions about sealing your teak furniture, don’t hesitate to reach out to Teak and Deck. We’re happy to point you in the right direction.
Use Teak Furniture Covers
If you don’t typically use outdoor furniture in the colder months, it’s recommended to use a covering to protect the wood. This is what many Californians do from fall to spring – and to avoid thorough cleanings.
Furniture covers may be a sizeable investment, but they protect your outdoor furniture from a plethora of hazards. In addition to rain and moisture, these covers protect your teak furniture from flying objects – like branches, pinecones, and other debris – that may be kicked up on windy days.
Now, it’s very important to make sure the covers provide some breathability. While you need the covers to shield your furniture from water, they shouldn’t be 100% watertight. Providing a small bit of breathability is important to make sure mold or mildew does not build up over time. Most furniture covers are around 95% watertight. Be sure to check the label before you buy.
Clear Standing Moisture Quickly
Standing water and wood do not mix.
Moisture left on outdoor furniture can quickly penetrate the wood and become trapped. This leads to water stains and discoloring on the wood. This is why people are so insistent on using coasters when you set a cold drink down on a wooden surface.
Even if you use a teak sealer for your outdoor furniture, it’s recommended to clear any standing moisture as soon as possible to prevent discoloration.
It’s not always easy to clear moisture, especially if your teak furniture sits unattended for months during the winter. The good news is you can clear water stains pretty easily. You’ll come across two types of stains: light water stains and dark water stains.
Light water stains are newer stains in which the moisture hasn’t had time to penetrate past the surface layer of the wood. Light stains will eventually turn into dark stains if left untreated. Dark stains happen when the moisture penetrates deeply into the wood and starts to grow mold.
Light stains are easy to remove. The best approach is to apply a combination of water, lemon juice, or vinegar – then scrub lightly. Dark stains, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated. You need to remove both the moisture and the mold growth. The most effective way to do this is sanding. It’s recommended to use 150-grit sandpaper to sand back the surface of the wood. Or, take the wood furniture to a professional.
Move Your Teak Furniture Inside
Those with a garage, attic or spare room may choose to keep their teak items inside. This is the easiest and most effective way to protect your outdoor furniture from the winter elements. However, in Southern California, many people use their outdoor furniture year-round – and storing it for months may not be an option.
If you’re serious about protecting your prized teak outdoor furniture during the winter, there are a few things to keep in mind when storing it indoors.
For one, you’ll need to be conscious of the temperature change – especially if the teak furniture will be stored in a heated room. For instance, a room in your home may experience 30-40 degree temperature shifts. This can shock the wood and cause it to expand/retract – which can create more cracks.
We recommend using an unheated room to store your outdoor teak furniture during the winter, like a garage or covered porch. The items will get all the protection they need without the shock of fast temperature shifts and humidity changes that occur when you move wood from outside to a heated room.
Over to You
Teak is one of the most attractive and durable types of wood to use for furniture. You want to do everything you can to protect it throughout the winter – no matter how mild it might be. At Teak and Deck, we specialize in helping owners of teak furniture, decks, and other home components prevent deterioration.
We’re happy to assist you with winter preparation, wood cleanup, and everything else to keep your teak items looking pristine throughout the year. For questions about teak refinishing, restoration, or anything else, please feel free to reach out to our specialists.
We’re happy to assist in any way we can.