Teak, like many hard oily tropical woods, does not breath because the wood is saturated with a very hard yellow wax or resin. This resin creeps out of the large pours in the wood when the sun warms the wood and covers the wood to protect it from bugs, moss, mold and other stuff that might attack or damage the wood. It also turn gray after a relatively short time in the sun which is why unfinished teak wood turns gray.
Mold will grow on this resin but for the most part bugs leave it alone which is why teak has been used for hundreds of years to make boats. It doesn't rot and even sea worms will not attack it. The fact that it is very hard, heavy and difficult to work with is only an inconvenience.
Source: Finishing Teakwood
One thing you have to understand about teak is the oil in teak will eventually push off any film building finish (and for that matter any finish, in fact if you read the labels of many marine finishes the don't recommend putting their products on teak). - Finishing Outdoor Teak | WoodEeb.com
When it comes to finishing teak wood so that it does not turn gray or black or white, there is very much information available. Unfortunately much of the information commonly available is pretty much wrong or at least self serving.
Source: Teak Finishing Blog at allguard.wordpress.com
Note: All Guard is a company which makes teak refinishing products.
The All Guard blog says,
Removing the teak resin from the surface of the teak would seem to be a relatively easy procedure and one that would be necessary for any finish to properly adhere to to the wood. And yes it should be but it is not quite that simple. Commonly used teak cleaners include sodium hydroxide (oven cleaner), sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach), hydrogen peroxide or a peroxide-releasing compound such as sodium perborate or sodium percarbonate. All of these products will clean the surface of the teak, but all, to some extent, etch the surface of the wood; weakening or destroying the tiny micro fibers that hold the large long fibers of the wood together. In fact, the sodium hydroxide cleaners are always accompanied by a brightener (usually oxalic acid which in its own right is a pretty good teak cleaner) to neutralize and stop the damage caused by the sodium hydroxide.
There are much less damaging products that can be used to remove the teak resin from the surface of the wood. They include the old favorite oxalic acid, trisodium phosphate (TSP), and many products commonly classified as de-greasers.
Kingsley-Bate: Elegant Outdoor Furniture recommends.
"First, hose down the furniture with fresh water. Avoid spraying the teak with a high pressure hose, as high pressure can erode the surface of the timber. Next, scrub the wet furniture using a soft bristle brush and a solution of 2/3 cup laundry detergent and 1/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of warm water. When finished, rinse the entire piece with more fresh water to remove any remaining cleaning solution. This procedure is sufficient for general cleaning. For more difficult stains we recommend using Kingsley-Bate Teak Cleaner. This will remove the silver-gray patina and restore the furniture to a golden brown color."
BoatUS - BoatTech - Teak Care by Don Casey, says,
"Before teak can be given any coating, it must be completely clean. Your expensive teak is literally dissolved by strong cleaners, so always use the mildest cleaner that does the job. A 75/25 mixture of liquid laundry detergent (such as Wisk) and chlorine bleach may be adequate, perhaps boosted with TSP (trisodium phosphate). Apply this mixture with a stiff brush, scrubbing lightly with the grain. Leave it on the wood for several minutes to give the detergent time to suspend the dirt and the bleach time to lighten the wood, then rinse the wood thoroughly, brushing it to clear the grain."
If the teak is still dark or stained when it dries, a cleaner with oxalic acid is required. This is the active ingredient in most single-part teak cleaners. Wet the teak and sprinkle on the cleaner. Spread it evenly with a Scotchbrite or bronze wool pad, then give it a few minutes to work. While the wood is still wet, scrub it with the Scotchbrite pad or bronze wool. (Never, ever, ever use steel wool aboard your boat--it will leave a trail of rust freckles that will be impossible to remove.)
Most recommend a soft bristle brush, but you can also use:
fine plastic mesh pads, Scotchbrite pads, nylon coated sponges, fine brass or bronze wool.
Amazon's recommends a plastic handle scrubber pad for a more even cleaning of the teak's surface.
* See Acute and subchronic toxicity of ethylene glycol monobutyl ether. at the NIH
|Golden Care Teak Cleaner ||Citric acid 5-10 %, Sodium Hydroxide 0-1 %, Sulfohydroxipoly Alkylether 10-15%, Oxoalcohol 5-10% ||Where
|Star brite Premium Teak Cleaner - STEP 1 ||Sodium Hydroxide (Lye), bleach, Phosphoric Acid Ester ||Ace
|Star brite Premium Teak Brightener - STEP 2 ||Oxalic acid, Alcohols, Ethylene glycol n-butyl ether * ||Ace
|All Guard - TeakGard® Super Cleaner ||Proprietary ||
|TE-KA Teak Wood Cleaner 2-part ||Part-A: Phosphoric Acid, Part-B Sodium Hydroxide ||
|Armada Mighty Brite Mildew Stain Remover ||Sodium Percarbonate
|Amazon's One-Step Teak Cleaner ||Ethylene Glycol MonoButyl Ether (EGBE) * ||D&R
|TipTopTeak Crystal Deck Cleaner ||2-Butoxyethanol, Nonplphenoxypolyoxyethanol, Sodium Dodecylbenzene Sulfonate, Sodium Metasilicate, Trisodium Phosphate
&134; Where: HD - Home Depot, Ace - Ace Hardware, D&R - D&R Boat,
About Deck Cleaning | Restore-A-Deck
Step 1. Sodium percarbonate. Step 2. Citric Acid & Oxalic acid
Mold does not thrive in acidic environments, so this is further insurance against leaving any spores in the wood.
Endorsed by East Teak Fine Hardwoods
Star brite Premium Teak Cleaner - STEP 1
MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) info
CAS - Chemical Abstracts Service
EINECS - European Inventory of Existing Commercial Substances
|CHEMICAL NAME ||CAS # ||EINECS # ||% w/v
|Alcohol Ethoxylate ||68439-46-3 ||Unlisted ||1-4
|Proprietary Acrylic Polymer Mixture ||1-4
|Proprietary Phosphoric Acid Ester ||1-4
|Sodium Hydroxide |
(lye, drano, oven cleaner)
|1310-73-2 ||215-185-5 ||1-4
|Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach) ||7681-52-9 ||231-668-3 ||5-10
|Water ||7732-18-5 ||231-791-2 ||Balance
Star brite Premium Teak Brightener - STEP 2
Composition / Information on Ingredients
Composition comments All concentrations are in percent by weight unless ingredient is a gas. Gas concentrations are in
percent by volume.
|Components ||CAS # ||Percent
|Water ||7732-18-5 ||60-100
|Oxalic acid ||144-62-7 ||5-10
|Alcohols, C9-C11, exthoxylated ||68439-46-3 ||1-5
|Ethylene glycol n-butyl ether ||111-76-2 ||1-5
Summary of finishes:
Oxidize over time. The oxidization of surface oils causes teak wood to appear weathered or gray.
Can cause mildew or irregular coloring.
Restores natural oil in the wood.
Teak Care at McGill Teak furniture says,
90% of our customers like the warm feeling of teak Patio furniture with Teak oil rather than Teak Protector, but again its a very hard earned choice.
Lasts longer. up to 4 times
Easy to apply.
Most Teak Oil and Tung Oil you get a hardware stores are oil/varnish/mineral spirit blends (wiping varnish) with only small amounts of the named oil mixed with other oils. The only place I could find pure tung oil was mail order and a boat dealer.
The marketing guys at manufacturers started naming things like Danish oil, Teak Oil, ... but usually don't list the ingredients on the can. Even the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) list only the thinner, because the oil itself is not a dangerous substance (I guess).
Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) vs Tung Oil
Oil Finishes: Their History and Use | Popular Woodworking Magazine
|Pure Tung oil ||Not available in Home Depot, Lowes, Ace, ...
Mail order at Woodcraft.com, Real Milk Paint and Woodworkers Supply (woodworker.com).
I found some at my boat dealer.
A water based acrylic polymer resin mixed with UV reflective materials that contains no oil, urethane, silicon, varnish, shellac, or sealers of any kind.
See How Is TeakGuard Different?
|Daly's SeaFin Teak Oil® ||A Tung Oil finish that is widely available in the Northwest.
Tung, Phenolic, Oil Modified Urethane
|Waterlox® || A nationally available Tung Oil product that is similar to Sea-Fin. It is generally available only through the mail-order catalogs.
|Watco Teak Oil ||Watco® Teak Oil Finish, in the can with the blue label. While it is a Linseed Oil finish with UV inhibitors added, its finishing properties are considerably different from the more familiar Watco Danish Oil.
|Cabot Australian Timber Oil (ATO) ||Recommended in several places.
|Watco Danish Oil ||An oil (only) finish that is made from linseed, soybean, and other oils, a lot of thinner, and no varnish resins. Since they contain no varnish resins, Danish Oils will not build a surface film, and any film that will form is incidental to the amount of linseed oil that is present.
While Danish Oils are fast and easy to apply and have many other uses for our finishing, they are not a good final finish for our turned wood. The finish is soft, not very durable, and will require rejuvenation every couple years when exposed to even indirect sunlight.
|DIY ||I use a mixture of equal parts 100% pure Tung Oil, Varnish, and Turpentine.
Russ's Corner: A WoodCentral Archive
|Minwax Tung Oil Finish & |
Formby's Tung Oil Finish
|Oil/Varnish blend - Mineral Spirits (65% Minwax, 78% Formby's)
|Sikkens Cetol Oil ||A varnish with pigments and other additives. Can produce an orange-ish somewhat opaque cast.
Russ's Corner: A WoodCentral Archive
Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) vs Pure Tung oil
Source: Tung oil Debunking the myths
|BLO ||Pure Tung oilHas added metal compounds
|Dries faster |
(because of added compounds)
|Dries more slowly
|Will yellow with age ||Doesn't yellow
|Can go rancid ||Nope
|Can mildew ||Nope
|Nope ||Has waterproofing qualities
|Nope ||Retains some flexibility when hardened
|Cheaper ||More expensive
Oil Finishes: Their History and Use | Popular Woodworking Magazine:
- Linseed oil (which is from the seeds of flax plants) and blends of linseed oil and varnish are both easy to apply. Wipe, brush or spray the finish onto the wood; keep the wood wet with the finish for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it stops soaking in; then wipe off the excess and allow the finish to cure overnight at room temperature.
- Next day, sand lightly to smooth the raised grain. Then apply one or two more coats, allowing overnight for each coat to cure. Be sure to wipe off the excess after each coat, and leave your rags spread out to dry so they donŐt heat up and spontaneously combust.
Tung oil is just like linseed oil or oil/varnish blend, but you have to sand tung oil after every coat, not just after the first, and it takes five to seven coats, allowing two to three days drying time between each, to achieve a smooth, attractive sheen.
Thining Tung oil - can I use any paint thinner?: Prashun Patel wrote,
You CAN thin tung oil with turpentine or mineral spirits, but you certainly don't HAVE to. If I were you, I would not thin it; apply it raw and neat.
If you find it too thick to rub around on a broad surface, then instead of thinning, I would heat it gently (which will reduce the viscosity temporarily) and apply it warm.
Don't be wooed by the 'if you thin it it penetrates deeper' theory. Oil doesn't need to penetrate that deeply to serve its purpose: mild protection.
James Owen's wrote:
Depending on heat and humidity, pure tung oil is normally "dry" in 24 to 48 hours during warm months....during cooler weather it can take up to a week or more.....
Once it is dry to the touch (~ 24 hours or so -- see above), you can add another coat.
If you are not already aware of this, you might be interested to know that tung (and boiled linseed) oil is a drying oil, meaning that it cures by chemical reaction with the oxygen in the air to form a long-chain polymer. Cure time for tung oil (and real boiled linseed oil -- not the stuff with lots of chemical driers) is around 35 to 40 days. And a bonus with both pure tung oil and Boiled Linseed Oil without the extra chemicals is that, once cured, it is food safe......
Safety note: because tung/linseed combines with oxygen to cure, it releases heat in the process....so make sure that you lay your oil-soaked rags out flat on a non-combustable surface like your concrete garage floor, where there is plenty of air circulation, until they are dry, or put them in a bucket of water.
My brother uses lacquer thinner instead of turpentine because it is more volatile and will dry faster.
Tung Oil - Woodwork Details says,
You can thin the first coat of tung oil 50/50 with turpentine for better penetration, but put subsequent coats on straight.
Comments at WoodenBoat.com Forum
I've used Watco Teak Oil. Not super impressed. I much prefer Daly's SeaFin Teak Oil.
The finishing experts class Watco Danish Oil, Homer Formeby's "Tung Oil", Seafin, et al as "wiping varnishes", which is to say that they are a mixture of varnish, a lot of solvent and possibly some oil, usually with some japan drier tossed in for flavor.
See About oil wood finishes in the painting page.
Teak Care by Don Casey says,
Apply an oil wait two weeks then apply a sealer.
Oils known as teak oil are predominantly either Tung oil or linseed oil that are fortified with resins to increase durability. The linseed-based oils are usually less costly, but they may darken the teak. Tung oil-based products are less likely to darken the wood and are often more water-resistant. Oiling can take several coats to bring the wood to a non-shiny matte finish. Unfortunately, the effect of oiling --- while it does restore the glow and return natural resins to the wood --- does not last. Within a month or two, regardless of which oil was used, the oils will carbonize and the teak wood is probably destined to turn dark again.
Source: Teak Wood Restoration Explanation | Home Guides | SF Gate
The problem with these finished that form water tight seals is that there is always a small amount of water absorbed into the surface of the teak. When the Sun shines on the wood some of the water vaporizes and tries to expands to many times its original volume.
Eventually these pockets turn into blisters and when they get big enough and the finish becomes brittle enough, the blister cracks.
Source: Finishing Teakwood | Teak Finishing
"Kingsley-Bate does not recommend oiling teak furniture or the use of oil based products. If done improperly, oiling can cause mildew or irregular coloring and is not covered under warranty."
Wood Finishing & Refinishing at UtahState says,
One of the newest and most unusual finishes available today is the penetrating resin
finish. As the name indicates, resins are added to penetrating oils. When these resins penetrate
into the wood, they become extremely strong and hard and are very resistant to water,
alcohol, heat, and abrasion.
Penetrating resins are self-sealing.
Open grain woods such as oak, teak, and mahogany will take a penetrating resign
well. However, you'll probably have to give these woods at least three applications to fill the open grain structure.
Finishing Outdoor Teak at woodweb.com comments:
If you're looking for something that will be easy to service, user friendly, and hold up to the elements, Cetol Oil would be a good choice. Akzo Nobel makes a product called Sikkens Cetol Oil in gloss and satin. It can be brush applied and it holds up quite well. You can find it at most marine supply stores.
Teak Care & Preservation at Marine Development & Research (MDR) says,
"There are a couple of ways to increase the longevity of teaks beautiful golden color. One is to apply at least 3 coats of a quality teak oil like Amazon's Golden Teak Oil following the instructions on the label. The second is the application of Amazon's TEAK LUSTER. This new product is a clear WATER BASED acrylic coating that actually allows the wood to breath. It has 94% UV blockers to keep the teak looking great for up to 3 YEARS.
Tt is important to get the oil as deep as possible into the wood. This can be accomplished by mixing some of the remaining "Teak Prep" used in the last step with the oil in a ration of 25% "Teak Prep" to 75% teak oil. This formulation should be used for the first two coats with the third and final coat being 100% oil.
The correct method to apply oil is by hand. wiping the wood with a rag saturated in oil with the grain, which helps 'squeegee' the oil into the wood. Let stand for approximately fifteen minutes. This allows the wood to absorb as much oil as possible. Then wipe off the excess oil with a clean DRY rag. If this step is not completed, the oil will begin to cure on the surface, becoming sticky, and may never dry properly.
Teak Care at McGill Teak Furnature says,
Application of Teak Oil needs more maintainence (about twice a year depending upon the area), and teak protector need application about once a year. 90% of our customers like the warm feeling of teak Patio furniture with Teak oil rather than Teak Protector, but again its a very hard earned choice.
McGill Teak protector. This is a water-based treatment which is easy to apply and up to four times more effective than teak oil.
TeakGuard FAQ #2 for Teak Cleaning and Refinishing- MarineStore.com says,
TeakGuard is a unique water-based polymer which actually sinks into the wood. After soaking into the wood and attaching to the wood fiber, TeakGuard crosslinks with itself and forms a tight bond deep inside the wood. The crosslinking action seals the natural teak oil inside the wood and prevents it from being "cooked" by the sun.
Despite looking rather poor, rough and weathered teak usually has enough teak oil inside to keep protecting the wood. Rough wood doesn't affect the lifetime of TeakGuard. If you don't mind the rough texture of the wood, then don't worry about it. Just use TeakGuard to keep the mold and mildew away.
BoatUS - BoatTech - Teak Care by Don Casey says,
Sealers don't feed the wood but, as the name suggests, they seal out moisture and dirt, and seal in natural oils and resins. Unfortunately, the oils and resins may already be lost, so the first step in applying a sealer to old teak is to restore the oil content with a thorough application of teak oil. Clean and bleach the wood to a uniform color, then oil it until it refuses to accept more. Now wait at least two weeks to let the resins dry before you apply the sealer.
After two weeks, wash the wood and let it dry completely. Sealers need an oil-free surface to attach to, so wipe the wood heavily with a rag soaked in acetone to remove all oil from the surface.
Teak Protector Wood Treatment, Teak Treatment Water Based at Cyan Teak Furniture says,
Lindsey Teak Protector is a modern treatment for teak that is easy to apply and lasts a long time. The treatment protects your teak and helps teak look great because it helps teak retain the natural warm colour of teak. Teak Protector doesn't let your teak turn black or grey and lasts the entire season. Plus it provides 100% protection from the sun.
Nearly all teak that is treated with normal teak-oil, turns grey in 4 to 8 weeks. After that, the teak needs to be cleaned and oil reapplied.
Semco Teak Wood Sealer at Jamestown Distributors says,
Most common teak protectants are solvent and linseed oil based, and oxidize over time. The oxidization of surface oils causes teak wood to appear weathered or gray.
Semco teak sealer waterproofs and protects teak. This durable protectant maintains a protective coating through winter, eliminating the need for deep cleaning.
Comment at Ipe Deck Finish: 5 Things not to Do : Topcoat Review says,
I previously used CWF Hardwoods, which is a water based product. I used it on all sides when it was installed new. But I am convinced an oil based product is much better.
Comments at Flooring Forum - GardenWeb:
Always use Oil-Modified Urethane (OMU) to get that deep rich tone. It is important to use an oilbased sealer with colbalt dryers. Tack with lacquer thinner prior to sealing and coat, this will remove some of the oil that hampers the drying. Screen between every coat.
Waterbornes will cure with a dull haze, use two coats of gloss OMU to prevent clouding and top with sheen of customers choice.
Selecting a Finish - Fine Woodworking Article says,
Watco-brand Danish oil, teak oil and a number of other finishes have a mixture of oil and varnish. It's difficult to ascribe accurate protective qualities to these products because manufacturers don't usually disclose the ratio of oil to varnish.
Finishing Teakwood | Teak Finishing
EXT Wood Protector Finishes
Teak Cleaning and Refinishing FAQ - MarineStore.com
Mold Mildew and Algae
Cleaning in Painting Preparation & Priming
BoatUS - BoatTech - Teak Care by Don Casey
last updated 17 June 2014