05 May 2021

Taking Care of Teak

This month, James Tyrie, Director at luxury teak furniture manufacturer Barlow Tyrie, looks at how you can keep your teak looking its best throughout spring, summer, autumn and winter.

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If we’ve learnt anything over the last 12 months it’s been to take nothing for granted. Lockdowns allowed us to re-evaluate and reassess all aspects of our lives. For many, it offered the chance to reappraise their outdoor spaces, whether an expansive garden or a modest balcony.

With international travel off the menu and likely to remain so for the vast majority until 2022, homeowners are looking at how they can maximise the potential of the space they have available.

Further, as the Government continues to encourage as much outdoor socialising as possible for the foreseeable future, many will look to their lawns, terraces, patios and decks to entertain friends and family.

This enhanced focus on external spaces similarly applies to self-builders and renovators. There’s little doubt we’ll see properties specified with as much thought to what surrounds them as what’s within, enhancing their purpose and designed to be used all year round.

Choice of outdoor furniture will be an essential consideration for those seeking to make their outdoor area work as hard as possible. Many will look for the most attractive, hard-wearing and eco-friendly options available. Hand-crafted teak furniture, made using legal and sustainably-sourced materials, fits all these criteria.

Long-term investment

Of course, quality garden furniture, lovingly produced by experienced craftspeople, according to traditional methods, is a serious investment. Much as one looks after a classic car, teak furniture needs to be appropriately cared for to look its best and withstand the natural elements year after year.

Neglecting these items, whether it’s a dining set or sun lounger, will inevitably lead to the accumulation of mosses and lichens. It’s akin to throwing money away unnecessarily and is easily avoided.

Fundamentally, to achieve maximum value from outdoor furniture to be enjoyed year-round, it needs to be appropriately maintained. This is especially true if it’s made from a natural substance like timber with metal fittings.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of maintenance misinformation around, which has increased in the internet age. I want to set the record straight for any self-builder or renovator currently considering top-quality teak furniture for their outdoor area, so they can make the most from their purchase.

As such, the purpose of this article is to offer our top cleaning and preservation tips whilst also dispelling popular myths to ensure everyone is fully equipped to look after their outdoor furniture, ensuring it lasts for decades to come.

Natural performer

When approaching the maintenance of teak, resist the temptation to overthink things. Due to its naturally high oil content, it resists rotting and warping, even when exposed to climatic extremes. This is why it’s so suited for marine decking, construction and outdoor furniture. Whilst caring for the material is refreshingly simple, it’s also highly specific.

Fade to grey

It’s well known that teak acquires an attractive silver patina over time due to the action of sunlight. It’s a reason many customers choose the material.

However, if your furniture is new and you want to retain its original ‘honey’ colour, you should use a ‘Colour Guard’ before it changes. Of course, there are proprietary products available from many manufacturers to undertake the treatment yourself, or you can approach a specialist to undertake the work for you.

There are various treatments and teak oils available on the market, which will inevitably stain your furniture. So, unless you want your furniture to turn a very dark and unattractive colour over time from multiple applications, avoid them.

Be abrasive

The best way to remove dirt, moss and lichen is to use mild soapy water and plenty of elbow grease. Alternatively, a gentle sanding starting with an 80 then going down to a 120 grade is another method. Even old teak can be brought back to muster because the silver patina is only on the surface.

Resist any temptation to use strong chemicals as this will damage the finish of the wood, impacting its visual appeal.

Unwanted guests

Wasps abound during the summer months, and your expensive teak furniture offers a tantalising material that they will use to build their nests. Prolonged munching removes a fine layer from the furniture’s surface and creates unattractive lines in the timber. However, the good news is several products use natural, non-toxic substances such as vanilla, menthol or verbena essence to keep these critters at bay.

Power down

You’ll find video after video on the internet of members of the public recommending the use of a powerful jet washer to clean teak and other wooden furniture. We cannot stress enough that this is not recommended.

While power washing is very tempting to achieve quick results, aggressive spraying could destroy the cellulose fibres and structure of the wood, which could irretrievably damage your furniture. However, should you choose to use a power washer, turn the power right down and do not direct the jet into the joints.

Strong performer

As teak can withstand the harshest elements, covers are not necessary. Ultimately, pure grade A teak can stay outside, uncovered, as long as it’s in an airy environment. However, breathable covers are useful for keeping your furniture clean and pristine.

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