Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Restoring Teak Furniture

My mother bought alot of Scandinavian teak furniture in the 70's and I have inherited many pieces that I love.  Unfortunately 40 years of grime and wax buildup have taken its toll so I tackled the layers in efforts to restore the finish.   I know you're only supposed to use teak oil on teak, but my mom, god love her, used alot of "Pledge" on this table.

This picture is mid process.  I had alot of rings and stains on the table so I started washing it with vinegar and scrubbing the grime layers off with a sponge. I used fine steel wool also, but it quickly got full of wax buildup.  In researching the process I came across alot of good sites and tips here and here , but I want to short cut that for you, in case you're trying to restore one of these 'beauts'.

Apparently the secret sauce is Watco Teak Oil, which I got at Home Depot.  I have always had this in my house and it's magic.

After scrubbing, steel wool and 220 grit sanding:

Two coats of oil, one more to go.

  • Clean the wood with water and a little vinegar.
  • Scrub the surface as evenly as possible to remove wax buildup. Natural variations in the wood will have grabbed some oil deeper than other areas and it is hard to get it even.
  • Use steel wool evenly ALWAYS WITH THE GRAIN over the entire surface.
  • If you want to attempt to use a light hand and sand with 220 grit sandpaper be very careful since the veneer layer on most teak is on 1/11" so you must be gentle!
  • Apply a liberal layer of teak oil and wait 30 mins.
  • Wipe off
  • Apply another coat of teak oil and wait 15 mins.
  • Wipe off
  • Let dry overnight and do not use for 10-12 hours.  You may have to reapply oil in the driest areas.
  • Depending on how much oil you put on it, it may take several days to dry. Mine did!
                      TIP: How do you tell if a piece is solid wood or veneer?

Look at the grain on the edge of the table.  If it is going the opposite way of the grain on the top of the table then it is veneer.  Here is a close up of a solid teak table where the grain on top of the table is going in the same direction on the sides.

 Here are two examples of teak veneer:

Teak is popular on Craigslist, yardsales and antique stores, so you can restore it- to a point. Don't be shy, it just takes time and 'elbow grease!'

Here's my finished breakfast room:

Before you go, be sure to check out Bethany's post about ch ch ch changes over at our lovely friend Beth's blog, Design POST Interiors!


  1. Thanks for sharing your tips Nancy, I too have quite a few of my parent's teak pieces. I am sad about the few I let go :( but looking to fix up the ones I have so your post is timely!

  2. The teak looks great but what I really can't stop looking at are those striped chairs...ooh love! Thanks for the shout out too- still amazed at Bethany's dedication to personal change!

  3. It looks amazing in your home, Nancy! I love your beautiful styling with all your blue and white patterns!

  4. Beautiful job Nancy and I love your Table all set for entertaining!!

    2013 Designer Series!

  5. Great advice ! Teak was The Wood in the 50's!
    Now I wish I had some of the pieces we had back then!

  6. Woah, looks like a whole new table! I love what a little elbow grease can do!!

  7. It looks brand new Nancy!! Great job!! Love the table set-up, getting ready to link up with Jennifer too right?! me too! I'll pin this post as a resource for sure! Thank you!

  8. This looks fantastic. You are so lucky to have original solid teak pieces of furniture like this one. They really did make everything better back then.

  9. This looks amazing, Nancy. I have chippendale teak benches and chairs on my back patio and they desperately need refinishing. I tried to use a restorer with no luck. Do you think this would work on outdoor teak too? Love the way yours looks!!

    1. This Watco Teak Oil is the best for outdoor teak as well! I have used it on outdoor benches before and it took a few days to dry, but it worked very well!

  10. Oh my goodness! That last image is breath taking! Gorgeous!

  11. Oh my goodness! That last image is breath taking! Gorgeous!

  12. oh wao!! that is a night and day difference. It looks so beautiful! Congratulations and thanks so much for the awesome tips. I use that oil in my outdoor furniture.

  13. I found these tips really very very helpful. I just want to say a big thanks for this informative article.

  14. Wow Nancy, your table came out great!! It looks brand new!! Our deck table is teak and I skipped oiling it this year, but the oil really brings the wood to life. I love that you use furniture passed down to you, that is really special.

  15. Teak is a popular choice for outdoor furniture because if its natural beauty and durability.Teak is a very low maintenance wood.Well i have enjoyed it thoroughly, great designs and ideas.Hoping for same stuff in your future blogs also.

    Bob's Discount Furniture | Bobs Furniture

  16. Inheriting wonderful old furniture pieces seems like a priceless possession you have to take care of. Good read.

  17. Personal style and freedom of expression are driving forces in today's home design. Home decoration is a part of interior designing and home owners usually enjoy this task to make their living place look like a dream place. Furniture like sofa or a recliner would be the best option to decorate your living room like a dream place. I suggest to take a look on best recliners reviews before buying any furniture.

  18. Thanks for sharaing such a nice blog about Outdoor wooden furniture. Very good information for maintaining the teak furniture.

  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Thank you for taking the time to comment and support our blog! You all make our day!