Finishing a Teak Table
From the original questioner:
Thank you for your advice. My customer just wants to know all options and I have never worked with solid teak, so I have no answers for him.
From contributor J:
Teak is a very light sensitive wood. Over time and exposure to sunlight, the color will even out. Also slowly just get darker, even under the finish. If you purchase teak from the lumberyard, the color is often determined by how long it's been sitting around after passing through the surface planer. It could be a rich brown, and then if that same board is run through the planer, the brown is gone and replaced by greens, yellows, and light browns. Now build your project, set it in the sun, and in a few hours of bright sunlight, the browns will begin to return.
You can stain it like any other wood. But for exterior use, I would use something that you could refinish. On the overly expensive boats I used to work on, they would use catalyzed Allgrip clear finish (exterior jet paint). After a year of salt, sun, and water, the finish (brightwork) looked horrible! They could use anything (no budget). I always thought something you could scuff sand and recoat to a new look as desired was the way to go. I've also seen interior Kemvar used on an exterior door that was under a roof and never got direct light or wet, that looked great for years. Most exterior clear finishes just mean you have future work, usually sooner than anyone wants.
From contributor A:
When dealing with exterior film finishes (varnish), they are all a maintenance issue. You should get two years before they look real tired and need some TLC and another coat or two. This process will last indefinitely.
That is why most people with teak exterior furniture typically let them weather to a nice uniform gray. It will not rot and doesn't typically check or split. Some people do oil, which also has to be reapplied every year. A product like Penofin (watery sealer) is also a good choice. They have a bunch of flavors that would allow you to successfully color the wood.
From contributor B:
Lots of boat brightwork is teak or mahogany. Usually teak is just left with a light dressing of oil, which means it will turn grey very quickly (it's the sun, not really the salt water, that does this). Teak can be varnished and it has a very pleasant color without using stain (so long as the varnish has some amber tint on its own). Marine varnishes like the line from Interlux (e.g. Schooner Gold) are formulated with conditioners and sacrificial UV absorbers that will slow down the process of sunlight turning the teak to fuzz. Traditional brush-on tung oil based polyurethane or alkyd varnishes, plus these UV protecting ingredients, would be a good option so your client can say it has a special marine yacht finish on it, and in the back of his or her mind they may think they can touch it up themselves with a brush when they need to. And they'll need to every two years at least. Another option is Target EM9300 polycarbonate (water based) which is supposed to be UV stable and gives a nice enough finish off the gun without rubbing it out (this is exterior woodwork, not furniture). I used it to topcoat a black gloss finish on a south-facing exterior door and there have been no problems so far.
From contributor H:
Most of my work is with teak, interior and exterior. I have tried it all. If you want long lasting results, sand to 220, then blow it very well, then clean with tack cloth, then wax and grease remover, then use Watco teak oil. Apply it nice and wet, then wipe it dry. Repeat 2 or 3 times. Make sure you don't leave lint. Wait 3 days, do the same cleaning process again. Then I spray Valspar ac4400 polyurethane first 3 coat, 2 mil the next 10 to 12, nice and even. Don't use any accelerator. I use slow drying thinner. I have yacht tables and doors that I painted 7 years ago and are outside and they look beautiful.
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