Finishing Outdoor Teak

No outdoor finish is permanent, but here are some reasonably durable options. August 30, 2005

Ive been asked to topcoat two Outdoor Teak chairs. They are naked right now, and I am wondering if anyone has any recommendations?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor S:
If youre looking for something that will be easy to service, user friendly, and hold up to the elements, Cetol Oil would be a good choice. Akzo Nobel makes a product called Sikkens Cetol Oil in gloss and satin. It can be brush applied and it holds up quite well. You can find it at most marine supply stores. It runs about $35.00 a quart, but the mileage is great.

From contributor D:
Some people like to just use a tung oil and let it age naturally as it is decay and rot resistant, but I have seen marine spar varnish used before too. It depends on what the expectations are.

From contributor V
Oils are ok but don't offer much protection against sunlight unless tinted. I believe the Cetol Oil is, otherwise use Cetol 1 and Cetol 23. The secret to finishing teak is to wipe over with alcohol (IMS or similar) or cellulose thinners to remove the natural oils from the surface. Failure to do this causes seriously extended drying time.

From contributor B:
I worked for two years off and on selling outdoor teak furniture (I also work as a cabinetmaker/finisher) for a neighbor who owns a furniture store for extra cash. And one of the ways I made extra money was finishing and stripping the new and old teak furniture. One thing you have to understand about teak is the oil in teak will eventually push off any film building finish (and for that matter any finish, in fact if you read the labels of many marine finishes the don't recommend putting their products on teak).

So what do you do for a re-application? Do you want to sand down to bare wood all those slats and nooks and crannies of those two chairs when your customer comes back six months or so? Maybe you like to use stripper and sand off old finish - I know I don't.

We used a product called SEMCO teak sealer. It's a solvent based product that is easy to use and best of all, easy to re-apply. Just hose down your furniture and clean with soap and water. Let it dry and re-apply. I use a hand spray bottle and brush and a rag or two to apply it.

From contributor B:
Well, a lot of what you see on boats that is varnished in most cases is mahogany because it varnishes better and because it's about a third the price of marine grade (burmese) teak. Because maintenance is an ongoing issue on boats, a lot of people oil their teak. Depending on the exposure, it can last from one to three months. And then it must be re-oiled before drying out and turning gray. If you stay on top of it your fine, and if it grays you have to use teak strippers to get it back to a natural color, which isnt a lot of fun. Semco teak sealer has a longer maintenance cycle than oil and is very easy to prep. And as you re-seal your maintenance cycle will increase. For my personal teak outdoor furniture (with an umbrella that protects from some direct sun). I only have to put it on once or twice a year now.

From contributor G:
Ive tried the new age finish TeakGuard with wonderful results and I will never use an oil again.

From contributor M:
The reason most teak finishes don't stay on teak very long is that they do not breathe. When the sun shines on the wood, liquids (generally water) vaporize and create a great deal of pressure between the wood (which does not breathe either) and the finish causing it to separate from the wood. This small movement will eventually cause the finish to crack and fall off. Additionally, most teak cleaners do a poor job of removing the waxy yellow teak oil which saturates the wood from the surface of the wood resulting is poor adhesion between the finish and the wood.

TeakGuard Super Cleaner was designed to dissolve the teak oil and expose the wood completely to be finished. This process will actually improve the life of all teak coatings except for the oil products that actually provide material for mold to grow on.

The TeakGuard finish is a water-based polymer that is gas permeable so that when water on the surface of the wood vaporizes the resulting pressure is released. There are also significant amounts of UV blocking material incorporated to prevent the wood from graying under the finish.