Finishing Exterior Teak Furniture

Recommendations for a renewable oil finish for teak furniture exposed to weather. December 8, 2006

We are building some exterior teak cabinets (will be in an enclosed porch, no rain, only some sun and temp swings). Is there any particular oil that you would use on the teak? I know teak is already oily, but just sanding it and sending it raw seems wrong. Our goal isn't 100% protection, and we do not want a film finish. What would you suggest?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
Try searching this site. There have been some detailed discussions of teak finishing. Teak oil sounds right for you. I think that Siikens makes one.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I did that just now and found the common consensus that teak is just not going to hold an outdoor finish very long (some better than others). Our likely route will be either true Tung oil or Siikens' Cetol. With the Tung oil we can give the customer the leftovers (along with a flammability warning) and advise them to swab them down every month or three if they want them looking nice and brown rather than silver.

From contributor D:
Try burnishing in a good quality spar urethane with raw tongue oil. We use 1/2 poly and 1/2 raw tung. Add 4 oz. Japan drier to your mix. Store in this form for daily use, but you must dilute 50-100% with VM&P naptha or spirits before application. D-limonene or citrus solvent works as a good enviro-solvent (some clients like that). Apply by flooding the surface and then rubbing the hell out of it with a polisher or by hand. We usually burnish wet with #1 or #0 steel wool to cut smooth. This really improves the iridescent qualities of the wood. Once smooth, burnish until dry with bright red buffer pad like you use to wax hardwood floors. I have seen others use wool socks, carpet pieces, etc. I like power tools for this, like a Rotex polisher. Do not over-build. Keep the finish at the surface and there is nothing to peel.

This finish is renewed easily and later, maintenance coats are very low solids. I give a version with citrus solvent to our clients to use as polish. Better too much than grey or water damaged wood. Overbuild can be steel wooled off later. We have 220 grit finished pieces in the weather and only re-oil yearly. Nice trick for southern Indiana. Dilutions and methods vary by species and stain/color processes and will become second nature with experimentation. I first heard of this type of penetrating oil mix from literature on the work of George Nakashima. Now we don't like anything else. User friendly, low flash, no fail!