How to Restore Teak Furniture (Step by Step Guide)

If you own teak furniture, you have something that is equal parts great investment, work of art, and something that even gives off a sense of adventure. It’s sourced from tropical locations and lasts a long time, both of which are why it’s so expensive.

So, what happens if it gets damaged? What can you do to protect your investment and make sure its long-life isn’t cut short? Can you restore it at home, or do you need to take it to a professional?

This guide was put together with those questions in mind. We’ll go through the steps on how to restore your teak furniture and give you some idea for what is something you can do at home and what you’ll need to bring in a professional for.

How to Restore and Revive Outdoor Teak Furniture (Step by Step Guide)

take patio set

Restoring outdoor teak furniture that has aged isn’t a complicated process. There are just four basic steps to it. We’ll get to those after we run through what you’ll want on hand.

The first thing you’ll want is an electric sander, and we’d recommend a random orbital sander. Those are great because they move the sanding pad in random orbits rather than the same one. That reduces the odds that you’ll screw up the wood if you keep the sander moving on the same spot for too long.

We’d recommend 150-grit and 80-grit sandpaper discs. You’ll use the lower grit first and the higher grit later. You’ll want to buy teak cleaner and protector, two different products; and also have on hand sponges, soft-bristle scrub brushes, a rag, and rubber gloves. Get a hose, too.

  • Sand it down. Using the 80-grit sandpaper disc, take off the top-most layer of grayed wood. For tight spaces, you might need to sand it down manually. Make sure to sand, rather than grind. When you’re done, rinse the furniture off with the hose.
  • Give it a cleaning. Using a soft bristle brush and teak cleaner, work the teak cleaner into the wood. An old toothbrush works great for this. Allow it to sit for a few minutes as the cleaner works its way into the wood. Hose it off.
  • Resand it. Using the higher-grit sandpaper, go back over the furniture and smooth it out. Again, a random orbital sander works great for this because if you screw up it won’t necessarily reflect it on the wood. Once finished, go over with a rag to remove any dust.
  • Add a layer of protectant. Teak lasts a long time, but you can extend its lifespan by sealing the wood with a teak protector. Apply a nice, even, consistent layer with a sponge or even a very clean rag. Make sure you get everything, including the little corners. Allow it to dry for 24 hours.

How to Restore and Revive Indoor Teak Furniture (Step by Step Guide)

teak coffee table

Restoring indoor teak furniture uses the same basic process as restoring outdoor furniture. It might just take a little longer in between restorations if it is exposed less frequently to direct sunlight.

There are a couple of additional things you can do because inside use might pose special hazards for your teak furniture.

The steps for restoring it are as follows:

  • Sand down the outer layer. Using a random orbital sander and a low-grit sandpaper disc, remove the outer layer of gray wood. Make sure you get the entire piece of furniture, too.
  • Clean it. Work a commercially-available teak cleaner into the wood with a soft bristle brush. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and then rinse it off. If you can’t do it outside, if you have a deep sink with a hose attachment, that will work.
  • Resand it with a high-grit sandpaper disc. Using your random orbital sander, smooth over all of its surfaces until they almost feel slippery.
  • Apply a protector. Using a sponge or clean rag, apply a teak protector in an even layer. Make sure you get everything.

Additional tips: Teak is a hardwood, so it’s resistant to damage. It’s also expensive. Cover it up when using it to reduce the risk for damage even more. If you have family craft night on it, lay down a sheet of cardboard to protect it from sharps or paints.

Cover it during meals and try to avoid using a plastic sheet. Those can allow fungus and mildew to grow, which can lead to black spots. If you have to use plastic, remove it as soon as the meal is finished.

Can teak furniture be refinished?

sanding teak furniture

While you can refinish teak, it’s important to be precise in what is meant.

Refinishing teak generally means removing the older gray outer layer that has lost its natural oils and allowing wood with oils retained to shine through. That means sanding off the old wood, cleaning it, smoothing it, and adding a layer of protector.

Don’t use a varnish, which will peel off or teak oil. Teak oil doesn’t come from teak trees and doesn’t work well on the wood. If you feel the need to oil the wood, use Danish oil.

Can teak wood be sanded?

Sanding is one of the things you’ll do to restore your teak furniture.

We recommend a random orbital sander, which is superior to a regular orbital sander but not much more expensive. They move the sandpaper disc around in random orbits rather than the same one all the time. It prevents the odds that you’ll damage the furniture if you hold it in one place for too long.

Use a low-grit sandpaper disc to lift away the old layer of gray wood, but use a higher-grit sandpaper disc to smooth it out.

How do you fix water damaged teak furniture?

water on wood

How long teak has been stained by water will determine its color. The older the stain, the darker. A dark stain isn’t necessarily permanent, but it requires a little more work.

For light stains, blot up as much water as possible if it is still wet. Use a hairdryer set to the lowest setting, and sweep it back and forth across the stain to evaporate a stain that hasn’t set. If the stain remains, rub a little bit of mayonnaise into it in circular motions. Repeat if it dries.

If it persists, rub it back-and-forth with lemon oil. Toothpaste works, too.

For darker stains, make a paste from a cleaner made from oxalic acid and lukewarm water. Apply the paste to the stain with a paintbrush. As it dries, the stain should become lighter. If it doesn’t, reapply the paste until it does. Wipe it off with a damp cloth.

Conclusion

teak table

There are furniture materials that are no big deal if they’re ruined, and then there is teak. Expensive, exotic, durable. If you own furniture made from it, you want to make sure it lasts as long as it can.

Provided you take extra care, it’s possible to restore teak furniture without spending a boatload of money on a professional. Of course, you’ll want a little luck on your side.

Hopefully, this guide helped provide some insights on what you can do to restore teak furniture at home. If it helped you or you picked up a tip somewhere else, please leave a comment down below. We’d also invite you to share this article on your social media networks.

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