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Staining and preserving

Staining and preserving

Teak does not need to be protected. It is a unique wood that if left in its natural state, is virtually maintenance-free. Teak can be left outside year round, surviving even the most extreme weather conditions. Therefore, teak is often considered the gold standard for outdoor furniture.

Over time untreated Teak furniture which is exposed to the sun will patina and turn a silvery, grey color. This process is cosmetic and does not harm the strength or quality of the wood.

Teak sealer is often recommended to preserve the natural honey color or to darken the color of the wood. Teak sealer contains UV protection to keep the sun from graying the furniture as well as a fungicide to prevent the growth of mold and mildew on the surface of your furniture. Teak sealers can be applied to new teak or old teak furniture after it has been cleaned. Sealer is not the same as varnish. It is meant to preserve the color of the wood and is breathable, letting the natural oils escape without bubbling or peeling like varnish. Sealers and preservatives serve both as protectants and stains. Generally, the darker the stain, the more sun protection it provides, and the less often it needs to be reapplied. For furniture with an ageing varnish that is peeling, cracking or bubbling, it is recommended that you sand this finish off and use a teak sealer or just let the teak stay bare.

Applying the preservative is straightforward. On the first application, the wood should be allowed to stand in the sun for a week or two to allow the wood grain to open. A coat of teak sealer should be sprayed on and rubbed in with a rag. Two coats should be applied in this manner, to all surfaces, top, bottom, sides and between any slats. The area underneath the furniture should be protected with a drop cloth or newsprint as most sealers will stain concrete. After the first application, teak sealer should be reapplied every year by cleaning the wood with mild detergent and water and spraying and rubbing in a coat only on the surfaces that get sun.

After the furniture is sealed, very little care is needed to preserve the finish. Occasional washing with soap and water will remove normal soil. Oils from foods, wine, coffee and some condiments will penetrate the sealer and may leave a stain. To avoid this, a teak clear coat can be applied to the table top to improve stain resistance.

Teak is protected by its own natural oils that migrate to the surface of the wood and make the wood virtually impervious to water. As such, the use of varnish, water sealers, and oil on Teak furniture is not recommended. Products such as varnish and polyurethane will peel and chip and are difficult to remove without vigorous sanding. Oiling teak will not prevent the wood from graying,and often results in mold and mildew growing on the furniture (which usually shows up as black dots or patches.) Removing mould and mildew on the surface will require washing the furniture with bleach and soap followed by sanding.

Restoration

To clean weathered teak, a two part cleaner consisting of a step involving a base such as caustic soda and a step involving an acid, such as phosphoric acid. This product is easy to use and will produce dramatic results. First remove the piece from any finished surface or remove any items that might be affected by the cleaning process. Teak cleaner will not hurt the lawn or fiberglass but it may damage painted surfaces or stain a patio, always wear rubber gloves and goggles when using this type of cleaner. Using a hose, wet the wood thoroughly. Open the applicator lid of the first cleaner. It is best to work on a small area at a time, overlapping each area and working from top to bottom, not allowing the cleaner to dry on the wood. Scrub the base with a Scotch Brite pad or a soft bristle brush, the wood will turn a deep brown color. Rinse thoroughly, then apply the acid to the same area and scrub in the same fashion, the wood will then turn much lighter. Finally rinse the area thoroughly with water, the teak should appear obviously lighter and cleaner, if any stains remain repeat the process. The wood will lighten further as it dries.

Teak cleaner will remove teak oils, food stains, the residue of varnish, and teak sealer. Any solid surface coating like varnish must be removed before using two-part cleaner. Never use a brass brush or a pressure washer to clean teak, these methods will scour the soft grain of the wood causing a rough and splintery surface. Never use steel wool to clean teak because it will produce rust spots in the wood. Brass wool is acceptable but a Scotch Brite Pad is the best tool to clean teak.

Once the gray pigmentation and stains are gone and the furniture piece is dry, sanding any roughness of the grain can make the furniture seem just like new again.

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