Wondering how to restore old teak furniture? Don’t miss this step by step tutorial for refinishing teak outdoor furniture.
We recently found a used outdoor teak dining set. It was the perfect size for our backyard, but it had been neglected for the past 10 years or so. Fortunately, with a little elbow grease and the right products, outdoor teak furniture can be brought back to its former glory!
I first designed our outdoor dining space about five years ago, shortly after we moved into this home. The location of the dining area has been perfect. But the synthetic furniture we used did not hold up to the brutal Texas summers. So we’ve been on the hunt for some real teak wood furniture.
What we finally found started like this: weathered gray teak in desperate need of some restoration.
Let me admit, refinishing teak furniture is not for the faint of heart… But oh, is it ever worth it!
How to Restore Teak Furniture
Restoring teak furniture is definitely more work than spray painting outdoor furniture. Or repainting wooden outdoor furniture. Or even repainting rusty metal furniture, for that matter (all wonderful projects to refresh your patio furniture!). But real teak furniture is worth restoring and protecting.
Here is what you’ll need:
- real teak wood furniture
- drop cloths, plastic, or tarps to protect the ground
- teak wood cleaner + scour pads or soft scrubbing brush
- hose with spray nozzle
- pressure washer (optional)
- palm or orbital sander with varying grits of sandpaper (optional, depends on how weathered/damaged your teak furniture is)
- teak protector + rubber gloves + rags
How to Clean Teak Furniture
The first step, of course, is to clean your teak patio furniture. For most outdoor items, I simply pull out my pressure washer. But I have read that using a pressure washer on teak is not recommended because it can strip it of some of its natural oils, which is one of the things that makes teak such a durable, outdoor wood.
Instead, it is best to use a teak cleaner. You simply wet the piece, apply the cleaner, wait a few minutes, then scrub the wood with a scour pad or soft bristle brush. (Note: do not use something hard like a metal brush or steel wool). When you then spray with clean water, the removal of dirt, grime, and even some of the gray color of the aged teak is really spectacular.
However, our teak furniture was so weathered that even after cleaning, the wood felt uneven and needed a really good sanding to smooth it out. For the teak table, I cleaned about a third of it and then gave up and decided to simply sand off all the dirt, grime, and grayed wood. And it worked great! But it was a ton of work.
For the chairs, I could not imagine sanding every single surface well enough to remove all that gray wood, so I decided to break the rule on teak and pressure wash them. The key is to keep the pressure washer on the gentlest setting and not get too close to the wood. I still wet the wood, applied the cleaner, and waited a few minutes… but instead of scrubbing the wood, I sprayed it off with the pressure washer.
And voila! The chairs still needed a light sanding, but it was a much quicker process than the table had been. I am hoping that in the future (with better upkeep), a simple cleaning according to the package directions will work better.
How to Protect Teak Furniture
Now that the wood was nice and smooth, it was ready to be protected. I actually loved the look of the natural teak, but I wasn’t about to have to repeat the sanding process every year!
To protect your teak furniture, you do not use teak oil! Wait…. what??
That’s what I said: do not use teak oil. Most “teak oils” on the market are actually a range of products from mineral oil to linseed oil to varnish. While this can rejuvenate the look of thirsty wood, it does not actually help real teak furniture.
Real teak has the natural oils it needs to thrive outdoors… It just needs something to protect those oils and minimize the moisture that can get trapped in the wood. A teak protector like this is actually the better choice. Fortunately, it’s also easy to apply.
I wore rubber gloves and used a soft cloth to apply the teak protector. As you can see, this particular protector has some color to it. It did warm up and darken the finish a bit.
Now, two (very wet) months later, the furniture still looks brand new.
I can’t believe this is the same furniture!
Teak Furniture Care
Moving forward, my plan is to apply the teak protector once a year (it really is as simple as wiping on the water-based liquid) and to clean the furniture with the teak cleaner every two years, which is what the products recommend.
I’m hoping that regular care like that will remove the need for the intense sanding I had to do this time to restore the teak furniture, but only time will tell.
What do you think? Are you ready to try to restore some old teak furniture?
Be sure to pin this for the instructions!