Teak is rightly prized for use in outdoor furniture, with its outstanding natural resistance to inclement weather, intense sunlight, mould, mildew and other damaging natural processes. Because of this natural durability, teak outdoor furniture can last for many years with minimal maintenance -- however, it will not stay looking new.
Teak tends to lose its colour as it ages, especially in outdoor conditions, and old teak tends to take on a muted, silvery-grey colour. While many people find this aged look desirable, many others find it dull or unsightly. Fortunately, if you wish to preserve golden-brown hues of fresh teak for as long as possible, there are a number of ways to go about it.
Teak wood contains natural oils that give it its excellent resistance to damage from organic sources, but this oil is also the cause of teak greying. The grey colour is left behind when these oils oxidise and evaporate, a process which is accelerated when the wood is left exposed.to sunlight and moisture. As such, a simple physical covering can be surprisingly effective at preventing teak from greying. Keeping your furniture in a secure garage or shed when not in use is an ideal solution, but even a simple tarpaulin or plastic sheet can significantly slow the greying process. Try to secure the cover to the ground as tightly as possible to prevent damage to chair and table legs, and try to find a cover made from UV-resistant materials such as reinforced PVC.
You can also treat your teak furniture with liquid surface treatments, either as an alternative to physical protection or as an extra layer of protection against greying. There are two main types of liquid surface treatment available for use on teak, and each of them has very different properties:
Teak oil is, despite its name, not the natural preservative oil found in teak wood. Instead, it is generally a proprietary mixture of other wood-preserving oils, such as linseed and tung oil. Teak oil is generally inexpensive and easy to apply, drying quickly to leave behind a protective coating that also serves to intensify the natural colour of the wood. However, applying teak oil can force out the remaining natural oils present in your teak and can actually accelerate the greying process if it is not applied several times a year. As such, teak oil is best used for restoring colour and providing protection to ageing teak that has already suffered from limited greying.
Teak sealants are organic or synthetic blends of preservative oils that are suspended in a specialised, water-based solution. When applied to teak furniture and allowed to dry, this solution forms a tough, protective 'skin' on the surface of your teak, which creates a durable and long-lasting barrier against UV and moisture damage. Unlike oils, they only need to be applied occasionally, and they do not deplete the teak of its natural oils, making them an excellent choice for preserving the colour of new teak furniture. However, sealant is also generally more expensive than teak oil, and it does little to restore the colour of wood that has already greyed significantly.
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