Teak has long been a top choice for outdoor furnishings, due to its buttery gold color and durability. It’s high content of naturally occurring rubber and oils serves as Mother Nature’s weatherproofing, protecting against water, rot and insects, ensuring that your furnishings will last year after year.
But as perfect as teak is for outdoor areas, you should still go through the purchasing process armed with information. Here are five things to consider before taking the plunge with teak.
1. Teak Furniture Prices
The same things that make teak furniture or decking so desirable also means it’s more expensive than other woods. So consider how long you will be using this purchase. If you like to change the look of your outdoor furniture, or are planning to move soon after installing a teak deck, investing in teak wood may not give you the best return on your dollar. That said, teak lasts and with a refinishing job can look new after many years of use, this is why teak furniture has a high resale value, so even if you move you may be able to sell your teak furniture and recoup much of your investment.
2. Teak Furniture Sustainability
In years past, demand for teak wood furniture has helped drive deforestation across South and Southeast Asia. This damages ecosystems and contribes to the exploitation of local peoples. Fortunately, these days you have a choice as it’s much easier to find teak grown on plantations that practice sustainable harvesting.
We recommend looking for and buying FSC-certified teak to ensure that your furnishings are environmentally friendly. The certification means that the plantation’s techniques fulfill a rigorous set of requirements determined by the Forest Stewardship Council, including maintaining or restoring the ecosystem and respecting indigenous peoples.
3. Teak Finishes and Weathering
There are three general options for teak finishes: natural/unfinished, sealed and preweathered.
When exposed to the elements, teak naturally turns a silvery gray over time. You can see this starting to happen to the teak furniture shown here, especially on the arms. If you like this look, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy your teak furnishings; they’ll begin to gray within a few months.
Tip: Buy all your unfinished teak furnishings at the same time to ensure they’ll end up the same color.
Buying pre-weathered teak is another great option if you like the silvery look. The advantage of going this route is that the color you start with is the color it will stay, making it easier to choose fabrics and accent pieces.
If you’d like to keep your furnishings looking golden brown, a staining seal can help slow down the weathering process. But sealants can also wear down, which is why Teak and Deck Professionals offers an affordable teak refinishing service.
4. To Oil or Not to Oil Teak Furniture
Some vendors recommend oiling teak as a preservative to help maintain its color. The downside: Oiling can promote mold and mildew. When deciding whether or not to oil, consider where the furniture is placed. If it’s in a covered or enclosed area in constant shade, the sun won’t fade it as quickly. Indoor teak furnishings often won’t fade at all.
But placed in full sun, teak will weather. So you’ll have to weigh the risk of mold versus your desired visual effect. If you do decide to oil, you’ll need to do it once or twice a year to preserve the color. All oils are not created equal, so ask the vendor for specific product recommendations.
5. Cleaning Teak Furniture
Teak furniture needs to be cleaned at least once a year to remove dirt, dust and stains. This is something you can do yourself with a diluted household cleanser and a bristle brush. Ask your vendor which detergent you should use based on the finish you’ve chosen.
Eventually someone is going to spill red wine or drip salad dressing on your furniture. In those cases be prepared to use a special teak cleanser to remove the stain. In extreme cases — and also in the case of a nasty scratch — mild sanding may be needed. But again, ask the manufacturer before working on the blemish.