How To Refinish Teak Furniture

Why the emphasis on Teak? Teak is a fashionable wood admired by interior designers and homeowners around the world. But what makes Teak so special? Strength and beauty are its core features, and it’s worth it to refinish your teak furniture and maintain it.

The first step in the process of refinishing teak furniture is to clean and sand it. An orbital sander will be the most efficient option for this step. Then, apply a sealer and you’re good to go. For outdoor teak furniture, consider using a paint/sealer sprayer for this step to save time.

Teak is a durable hardwood with the capacity to withstand both extremely cold and hot temperatures. It’s a versatile wood suitable for both indoor and outdoor furniture. With a little maintenance, your teak furniture will be sure to last for years to come.

What Makes Teak a Great Furniture Wood?

A man working on a home improvement project sanding wood with an electrical sander

The grain and color of teakwood are very attractive to homeowners and furniture makers. The strength of teak wood is the key point for designers.

The teak used for indoor furniture is perfectly oiled and retains its golden color, while the teak used for outdoor furniture is exposed to inclement weather. This can leave an elegant silver-grey color on the surface.   

Refinishing and restoring teakwood is a critical part of maintaining its durability, adaptability, strength, warm color, and luster. It also helps keep teak’s resistance to damage from termites and extreme weather. It has strong water resistance and barely ever splinters, which makes it a good option for both shipbuilders and furniture makers.

From patio furniture to elegant cabinets and tables, teak has the flexibility every furniture maker desires. But if it’s possible to refinish and restore teak, what’s the best strategy for maintaining its integrity and durability?

Can I Refinish Teak Furniture? 

Yes, teak furniture can be refinished. It’s even something you can do at home with some materials you might just have lying around (although simple wood oils and cleaners are available at your local hardware store). You simply need to follow the steps below.  

Clean and Sand the Wood furniture 

The first step to refinishing your teak furniture is to clean it well. You could do this by sanding all the surfaces with a sander, but that wouldn’t be very time-efficient. You may opt for power washing your outdoor wood furniture to knock it out quickly.

However, the best way to sand down teakwood is to use a random orbital sander. 150 grit sandpaper is excellent for smoothing out rough areas. 

Apply Sealer 

Paint, stain, or teak oil are all great options for giving your teak furniture a makeover. But which is the best? If you don’t want to cover the wood with stain or paint (which last no longer than two weeks), the best option is a semi-transparent water-based wood sealer.

Olympic and Thompson’s are the two best brands to use for this. Their water-based wood sealers match teak wood’s color. 

Using a Sprayer to Apply Sealer (Optional, but May Be Faster)

No one wants to waste time in the refinishing process. The easiest and fastest method is to use a sprayer. The HomeRight Super Finish Max Paint Sprayer is a great option for large surfaces. However, you need to be careful and precise with it or you could end up with varying levels of thickness on the wood.

If you choose to use it, make sure to adjust the sprayer flow and test it on a block of wood to get the desired thickness. You will need safety goggles, disposable gloves, and a respirator. The “horizontal spray” setting is great for this part of the process.

Then, apply the wood sealer in a gradual back and forth pattern over your wood. The sealer will get absorbed into the wood. Use a rag to wipe off any excess spray. Afterward, allow it to dry for 48 hours before putting the cushions back.  

How Can I Restore Teak Furniture?

The first step to restoring your teak furniture is to sand down the wood surface until the raw wood is exposed. Sanding flat parts of your furniture will be easier than the curved wood parts. After sanding it down, pressure-wash the furniture.

To get the sawdust off the wood and maintain cleanliness, rinse with a sprayer or hose. After washing, allow it to dry completely for a couple of days. If you are doing this in the rainy season, ensure that you carry the wood inside or get a tarp to cover the wood. Allow it to fully dry and then apply your teak oil. 

Is it Safe to Sand and Paint Teak Furniture? 

Sanding and oiling teak wood

Yes, you can sand and paint your teak furniture. Teak is exceptionally repellent of invasion by termites and other pests or insects. Its natural oil helps it stay in peak condition for longer while resisting decay and rots. Teak’s natural sheen also makes it remarkably beautiful when used for outdoor furniture.

It’s critical to know that teak has natural oil, which means you may only require a single coat in the restoring process. This will help to enhance its durability.

Also, you have the freedom to choose the paint you will use. However, you should know that Teak’s natural oil inhibits paint adhesion and could make it bleed through the finishes.

Not to worry though. You can rest assured that paint will give the teak a facelift and a fresh look. With multiple colors at your disposal, you can add a personal, unique touch to match the color theme of your house’s exterior or the backyard. 

It’s also important to note that you don’t need to sand teak wood before painting it. However, it’s vital to offer additional protection from peeling. To do this effectively, make sure that you fill the holes and gauges with epoxy wood filler. If you don’t fill up holes, the finishing might be compromised.

Therefore, you must cover any crevices and holes before painting using epoxy filler. You also need a good hardener, which will be spread over the wood. To make sure the mixture is pliable, wait until five minutes after you mix it to begin using it.

Can I Power Wash Teak Furniture to Restore it?

You can pressure and power wash teak furniture to get rid of chalky residues or dirt, but you’ll probably be removing the natural wood oil as well. Experts recommend you add tung or team oil (on Amazon) as a replacement to the natural oil which you earlier washed away. This method is often reserved for dirt, which is difficult to remove using traditional means. 

It shouldn’t be surprising that teak becomes grey. The grey color results from exposure to sunlight which ages the original honey color of the wood. Naturally, teak will need no form of protection, but cleaning and treating the teak furniture will help to maintain its original color. 

Removing stubborn tannin stains from teak furniture after power washing team furniture is possible. Simply use a solution of wood bleach comprising oxalic acid and water to make powerful teak cleaner. Once the bleach clears the stains, use a mixture of water and baking soda to neutralize the bleach.

An orbital sander is one of the best options to use on teak furniture. However, they can make minor scratches on the teak. This is not recommended for use with outdoor teak furniture.

However, you can easily remove this with a hand-sanding using 150-grit sandpaper. The best recommendation is to use a belt sander to avoid circular scratch marks caused by an orbital sander. 

Treating Teak Furniture After Power Washing

This is how you can treat teak furniture after pressure washing. Perfectly maintained teak patio furniture keeps its original luster and sheen. There are a few teak finishes you can use for this type of maintenance and they include using teak oil, tung oil, or teak sealer (on Amazon). Why these oils?

Teak oil is a blend of solvents and linseed oil that gives a honey-like color and an attractive glow to your furniture. The only issue with teak oil is that it can dry out and cause the wood’s color to a fad if you don’t treat it consistently.

Teak Sealer is a mixture of resin and oils that protect your furniture from moisture, contaminants, and inclement weather.

You don’t need to reapply Teak Sealer as much as you do with oil, but you’ll still need to apply it yearly. In the same vein, Tung oil has no distillates or additives and, by implication, it produces no deep finish or glossiness. The issue with tung oil is that you must renew it every 3 to 6 months to sustain the glossy look and protection.   

A note of emphasis – we do not recommend using a pressure washer to clean your teak furniture simply because the high pressure of the water can create bumps and pits on the surface of your furniture.

It can also smooth out your teak wood’s surface. If you ever do need to pressure wash your teak furniture, make sure you’re very careful and use low pressure. 

Can I Restore Indoor and Outdoor Teak Furniture the Same Way?

Indoor teak furniture and outdoor teak furniture should be restored differently. The key difference in the process is in the final phase, which is the painting. Below, I’ve detailed the step-by-step processes for restoring outdoor and indoor teak furniture. 

Restoring indoor furniture 

Use an 80-grit sandpaper disc to remove the grey top layer of teak wood. You may manually sand down tight spaces. Make sure you’re sanding with enough pressure but not too much. We don’t want to grind the wood down. Rinse the furniture off with a hose after you’re satisfied with its smoothness. 

Afterward, use a teak cleaner on the wood and a soft bristle brush to work the cleaner into the wood. If you have an old brush, that’s a great option. Allow the cleaning to work its way into the wood, then hose the wood off.  

Now, you need to re-sand the wood with higher-grit sandpaper. Smooth the wood over again. The best tool to use here is a random orbital sander. That’ll help you to avoid making sanding mistakes. Clean up the dust with a rag. 

Teak is durable, but applying a layer of protectant will help to expand its lifespan. You can use a sponge to apply a consistent layer, but make sure you cover every part of the wood. Then, allow it to dry for 24 hours. 

Restoring Teak Outdoor Furniture

Sand down the topmost layer of teak wood with a low-grit sandpaper disc and a random orbital sander. One of the most important things is to ensure you cover the entire piece of furniture. 

  1. Get a reliable teak cleaner and work into the work with a bristle brush. Allow the soft brush to sit on the wood for a while before rinsing. 
  1. Re-sand the wood with a high-grit sandpaper disc. Smooth all over the wood surface with your random orbital sander until the wood feels slippery. 
  1. Afterward, apply a protector using a clean rag or sponge. The teak protector is perfect but ensures you apply it all over the entire surface. 

Wrapping Up

And that’s how to refinish or restore teak wood furniture. You can also power wash teak furniture to restore it, but you need to be gentle with the water pressure. Finally, there are some important differences between the methods of restoring indoor and outdoor teak furniture, mainly in the final step of the process.

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