Outdoor furniture has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. New, innovative materials mean that high quality furniture is both more durable and lighter weight, requires less cleaning and will stand up better against weathering. But while synthetic wicker and powder coated aluminum are all the rage, there’s a reason that most furniture that’s left outside year round – like park benches and picnic tables – are made of wood instead. Authentic teak wood in particular is more naturally weather resistant than almost any synthetic material, and makes for outdoor furniture that can last as long as your home.
Authentic teak wood (Tectona grandis) naturally has an extremely high oil content. This has a myriad of effects on the wood, many of which make it ideal for use outdoors. First and maybe most importantly, teak oil acts as a natural sealant, causing the wood to repel water even without regular maintenance or any finishing at all. The oil also repels bugs and prevents wood rot, and because the wood itself is very dense, it’s highly resistant to all kinds of weathering. Teak is also much lighter weight than the second most common all-weather material, wrought iron, and won’t leave rust stains on concrete.
What About Color?
A major problem with any type of outdoor furniture is that it can fade in sunlight. Bright colors go dim, dark colors get washed out, and light colors can gray or yellow. Unfortunately, teak outdoor furniture isn’t immune to fading, but it does have a dual advantage: it fades really beautifully, and is easily restored to its natural color. Teak outdoor furniture will begin to turn gray after a few months, and will fade to a rich silver-gray after a little less than a year outdoors. But although teak can lose its lustrous, rich brown color, it doesn’t lose its other beneficial properties over time. To maintain that deep brown, simply apply a fresh coat of teak oil once a year. Reapplying isn’t necessary, but will rejuvenate the original color and enhance the wood’s water proof qualities.
What About Splintering?
If you’ve ever sat on a wooden park bench or at a wooden picnic table that’s been outside for a couple years, you know that not all wood holds up all that well. Surface cracks and splits and even splinters occur if wood is left untreated, while a gummy surface can form if too many layers of sealant are applied without a proper cleaning in between. But while teak will develop very small surface cracks, it won’t affect the structural integrity of the furniture, and won’t continue to splinter. And because teak outdoor furniture doesn’t need to be sealed, stained, or painted, you won’t end up with caked on layers that don’t age nearly as well as the wood itself.
How About Stains?
Stains, especially grease stains, are probably among the greater concerns when it comes to teak outdoor furniture. Because teak is left untreated, it is somewhat more porous than a sealed wood, and can absorb spilled liquids. Grease can be especially difficult to remove. That said, a light sanding can remove most surface stains, and the great benefit of using an untreated wood table in particular is that while the stains will show in the short term, the natural change and aging of the wood means that they’ll fade away given enough time.
Cleaning And Maintenance
Because the natural oils present in teak outdoor furniture serve essentially the same task as synthetic lacquers, stains, and sealants, the amount of maintenance it needs is significantly reduced. As I mentioned before, the application of additional teak oil once a year will help maintain the original color, this isn’t necessary, and other than keeping the table generally free of spills and debris, teak outdoor furniture really only needs a good scrubbing with soapy water once a year. For a deeper cleaning, use a 900-1200 psi pressure washer or a light sanding to smooth out any problem areas.
Long Term Durability
As anyone with a deck or outdoor kitchen probably knows all too well, many woods that are used outdoors can be extremely high maintenance. But the natural density of teak, especially heartwood teak, and the high natural oil content of the wood make it ideally suited for use outdoors. While other common wood furniture may need to be replaced within a few years even with rigorous maintenance, teak outdoor furniture can be left outside year round in almost any climate with virtually no maintenance needed. The best part? Even if you do choose to reapply teak oil to maintain the original finish, there are no smelly, harsh chemicals – teak outdoor furniture starts and stays 100% natural and is made to last a lifetime.
What do you think of teak outdoor furniture? What type of weather proof material has worked best – or worst! – for you? Not convinced that teak is right for you? Check out our full guide to outdoor furniture here.