Refinishing Teak Furniture: Anyone Can Do It
What’s the one thing you always hear about teak wood furniture? It lasts a long time you can just refinish or restore it. People also say that teak pieces are expensive. Teak patio furniture is pricy but that’s because it is furniture that holds up year after year.
When we moved into our house, the previous owner didn’t have room for a patio set so she left it behind. For two years the teak table and chairs continued to get dirtier and more grey.
Last year I began the process of restoring it, but I stalled out before finishing. This year I was determined that with all this extra time at home I was going to finish it. It’s not hard, it is just time consuming.
This is the table right before we started refinishing it.
Can Teak Furniture be Refinished?
You might be thinking that your teak furniture looks too far gone to bother with, but it isn’t. You don’t even have to sand teak to get it back to its warm brown finish. All you need is a little bit of time.
Teak is a very hard tropical wood with a very dense grain. It can really stand up to the test of time. Even if it’s been years since it had that original finish, it can be restored to its former glory the easy way just with a good cleaning and oiling. Many people sand their teak, but that’s not the best way to restore the original color. Sanding is messy and a waste of time.
Supplies you need to refinish teak furniture
These are the supplies you will need for your teak restoration project.
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- Wood Cleaner – I’ve bought this at Home Depot, but there are similar products on Amazon.
- Cleaning Brush – This makes it easy to apply the cleaner. The first time I used steel wool, but the soft bristle brush made the application much faster and less messy.
- Teak Oil – Unless you only have one small piece of furniture, you are going to need multiple cans of teak oil. My table and chairs drank it up.
- Rubber gloves – The container says that you aren’t supposed to get the wood cleaner on your skin, so it’s best to wear long sleeves and rubber gloves.
- Pressure washer – You don’t have to use this, you could use just a garden hose. I think the pressure washer gets off a lot more of the built-up grime. You can also rent one for the day if you don’t want to buy one.
Steps to refinish outdoor teak furniture
The process of restoring your outdoor teak furniture is not complicated, but it is messy. Before you start, suit up with long sleeves, rubber gloves and long pants. These are strong chemicals and they don’t belong on your skin.
Step 1 – Apply the Cleaner
The first step is to pour the cleaner into a bucket and use a brush to apply it to your furniture. Be sure you get every side of the legs and every crevice in the chairs. I had a helper (my Dad) who was moving so fast I could hardly get a photo in. He did a great job.
Try to brush the liquid on all your furniture and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. It’s fine if the cleaner sits on for longer.
Step 2 – spray off the cleaner
Once you’ve got everything painted with the liquid, it’s time to start rinsing it off. If you have a power washer, this is the time to plug it in and get started. If you don’t have a power washer, try to get a power spray head like this.
If you look at the photos you can actually see how the power washer is stripping off the dirt and build-up. There’s a clear line. This makes it easy to see where you have sprayed and what is still dirty.
Once you have thoroughly sprayed the furniture, allow it to get completely dry. Try to choose a few days to restore your teak furniture when there is no rain in the forecast.
Once the furniture is dry it will have a raw look, like it’s unfinished. Our cat said he liked it just fine at this stage of the process.
Step 3 – apply teak oil to the furniture
Teak oil is usually made from linseed oil or tung oil. The purpose of the protective oil is to “feed” the teak and gives it a rich brown color. The downside of using teak oil is that it teak oil is absorbed by the wood and doesn’t last that long. It’s easy to apply, but results don’t last if your wood is exposed to the elements.
If you want to maintain the dark brown color of your teak for longer, the next step is to SEAL it. More on that later.
Unfortunately, mine got rained on in the middle of this process, but I continued once it dried out. You can apply the teak oil with a foam brush or a bristle brush. I tried both and they were about equal.
My teak seemed very thirsty for the oil, so plan to apply it very generously. I applied two coats to the tabletop (and will probably try to use up what’s left on a second coat for the chairs).
As with most things, I’m so happy that I finished this and I wish I hadn’t waited so long. Next year, I want to replace the pea-gravel cement. If anyone out there has advice on this I would love to hear it.
What’s The Difference Between Teak Oil and Teak Sealer?
A year after I cleaned the table and I was back to the old grey look again, I wondered if there was a longer lasting solution. Boats have teak wood on them that has to stand up to continuous moisture. So I began researching and discovered that the oil “feeds” the wood as a means of protecting it, but the sealer blocks the moisture.
Both natural oils oil and teak sealer protect the wood from extreme weather. But the oil doesn’t last as long. If you decide to go the oil route, you will very likely need to oil it every year if your outdoor wood furniture is not under a cover.
The sealer only has to be applied every couple of years, which is a better choice for me. Once the sealer begins to wear off you simply apply the teak cleaner from step 1 and reapply.
Love that you could refinishing your backyard teak furniture Andrea. Your dad is so cute, and so nice you have his help. Power washers are so much fun! Wonderful backyard hopping with you!
Amazing teak furniture makeover. I would have thought the furniture was doomed, but you knew to how to save it. Your cute helper is the BEST! Your yard is gorgeous!
Ps. Pinned this project:)
Wow thanks! I purposely didn’t turn the camera the other direction. It needs a little TLC.
Oh my gosh, Andrea, this doesn’t even look like the same outdoor set. I’m so excited for you! I love how you brought these peices back to life and your blue umbrella too. It’s all so pretty and perfect for this time of year. Hugs, CoCo
What a great transformation. I have always been told to leave teak weather gray, but I am with you, this looks so much better! I love that your dad was right there to help. My dad is always ready to lend an hand, too!
Hey there! I just got a little teak set, I was admiring it last night, but thinking, I bet this is going to look bad next year. Good to know it can be refreshed! Your set is really nice!
I think it looks good for a few years before it starts to turn grey. Good luck!
Was the surface of your furniture smooth or rough? Mine looks like yours but is extremely rough (kind of shredded looking) so I wonder if we’ll have to sand it. Thoughts?
Mine was not smooth either and I didn’t sand it. You could, but that’s too much work for me. 🥲
Hello! Thanks for such a wonderful and informative article. I had to stop when it started raining, but I resumed after everything had dried. Teak oil may be applied with a bristle brush or a foam brush. There wasn’t much difference between the two for me.
WOW this was so helpful! I have a small teak corner bench for the shower and your instructions are exactly what I was looking for. I also love your whimsey in describing the project! Take care!