Teak is a very popular choice for outdoor furniture, beloved for its durability and clean aesthetic. What makes teak outdoor furniture so exceptional? Is teak outdoor furniture a worthy investment?
For all those seeking answers, this comprehensive buying guide for teak outdoor furniture will discuss the natural properties of teak wood, how to care for teak furniture, and the key pointers and specifics to consider before buying outdoor furniture.
Why Choose Teak Outdoor Furniture?
Teak is renowned as one of the world's most durable hardwoods. Its exceptional performance in wet and rainy climates has made it a favored material for shipbuilding for over 2,000 years. Even today, it remains a top choice for luxurious boat decking and interiors.
Let's take a closer look at the individual properties that make teak so dependable.
Teak trees thrive in tropical climates and, to survive, develop multiple natural oils like silica and rubber that resist water, rot, and pests. Additionally, their wood features a tight grain pattern, enabling the trees to withstand the immense weight and tension of their towering 150-160 feet tall bodies.
These remarkable natural properties produce teak furniture that is highly weather resistant, bug repellent, and low maintenance, making it an ideal choice for enduring the elements without compromising its quality.
How to Care for Teak Outdoor Furniture
Teak's natural oils make it easier to care and maintain
When selecting outdoor furniture, it's important to understand how it interacts with various outdoor elements, such as sunlight and snow, to ensure proper care and that your outdoor set will suit your local climate.
While other wooden furniture may look impressive when new, most woods lack the qualities of Teak that allows it to gracefully age like fine wine while withstanding the elements.
As we mentioned earlier, Teak Trees develop natural oils and resins to survive in tropical rainforests. While all trees imbue natural oils in their wood for protection, most lose these oils during cutting and processing—except for teak.
The unique ability of teak to retain its natural oils and resins offers superior protection against sunlight, moisture, and rain, requiring minimal maintenance. This makes teak wood arguably one of the best choices for outdoor furniture.
The Best Way To Clean Teak Outdoor Furniture
Teak outdoor furniture boasts a fresh appearance and requires minimal upkeep, thanks to its natural protective oils and resins. However, it's essential to avoid over-cleaning, as it can unintentionally scrub away these oils and diminish the wood's beauty and durability.
To properly care for your Teak outdoor furniture, choosing the right washing frequency and cleaning products is vital. If you live in a very dusty or humid climate, cleaning your teak furniture 2-3 times a year will ensure the surfaces remain mildew-free. For other climates, a once-a-year cleaning is sufficient to keep it in excellent condition. We recommend cleaning your furniture at the end of the season before storing your outdoor set.
To clean teak outdoor furniture, use a soft-bristled brush or cloth with a simple mild soap and water solution:
- A bucket of warm water
- Gentle soap or detergent (Woolite or Dawn dishwashing liquid works well)
- A soft bristle brush
- A garden hose
- A pair of gloves
- A towel
- Bleach (optional)
- 220 grit sandpaper (optional)
- A tarp to protect surrounding areas (optional)
- Before you begin cleaning your teak outdoor furniture, spread a tarp over your workspace to protect surfaces and vegetation, particularly if you’ll be using bleach as part of the process.
- Fill a bucket with warm water and add a few drops of detergent and, if you’ve noticed any tough stains on your furniture, a small amount of bleach.
- We recommend putting on a pair of gloves to protect your skin while you scrub.
- Dip your brush into the bucket of water and gently begin scrubbing.
- Start at the top of the piece of furniture and work your way to the bottom.
- Be sure to change the water as needed to prevent dirt and debris from building up on your furniture while you scrub.
- Use a gentle setting on your hose (no pressure washing!) to rinse your furniture.
- Make sure all suds and bleach have been washed off completely.
- Towel off any excess water and let your furniture air dry.
- If you notice any rough areas on your teak wood furniture after drying, use 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out (be sure to sand with the grain rather than against it to help avoid scratching the surface of the teak).
- That’s it. You’re all done!
For tougher stains, like grease, a specialty teak cleaner can help soften and lift the marks.
After rinsing your Teak furniture with clean water, allow it to air dry completely before using or storing it. For optimal results, you can apply teak oil or sealer on the dry teak to maintain the grain's integrity and give the wood a beautiful sheen.
For more guidance on caring for your outdoor teak furniture, check out this helpful step-by-step guide: "How to Clean Teak Wood Furniture: The Complete Guide," which provides valuable insights and recommended products and tools for maintaining your teak outdoor furniture.
The Color Will Change Over Time: How to Preserve it Longer
A surprising characteristic of Teak is that the color of Teak outdoor furniture changes as the set ages. The natural warm honey tone of new teak wood eventually transforms into a silvery gray patina that many owners fall in love with. It's important to note, though, that this color change is purely cosmetic and doesn't affect the strength or durability of the furniture.
If you prefer to maintain the golden color of teak, treating the wood's surface with teak oil or sealer will preserve Teak's original honey hue.
For preserving the characteristic warm tone of teak outdoor furniture, we recommend using a teak sealer. It should be applied once a year after cleaning the furniture. The teak sealer prevents moisture and color from evaporating out of the wood and helps combat fungus, mold, and mildew growth.
Alternatively, you can use Teak oil to restore your furniture's original golden glow. Teak oil typically consists of a mix of linseed oil, mineral spirits, and varnish, and it will provide you with almost immediate results. However, it's important to be aware that Teak oil has its drawbacks: the mineral spirits and solvents in teak oil can cause the wood to degrade at a faster rate than normal. Moreover, teak oil wears off within one to two months of application, meaning you'll need to reapply it frequently to maintain the color.
How to Store Teak Outdoor Furniture
The local climate will be a major factor in how you care for your teak furniture. Generally speaking, teak furniture can stay outdoors year-round. However, if you live in an area with heavy snowfall, you may need to clean your set more frequently or store it at the end of the season to ensure its longevity.
While teak wood has natural properties to protect it from rainfall, the woodgrain has not adapted to the weight of heavy snowfall that piles up on the furniture's surface. We recommend covering or storing teak furniture at the end of the season to preserve the integrity of the teak set.
Outer's furniture cover is specially designed to snugly fit over our outdoor furniture sets and offers strong protection against rain, snow, sun exposure, moisture, and debris in the off-season. They can also withstand wind gusts up to 70 MPH thanks to their integrated buckles.
Before storing or covering your teak furniture, it is best to clean it. Teak furniture in dusty or humid climates requires cleaning 2-3 times a year, while teak in all other climates only needs cleaning once a year to stay mildew-free.
Teak Furniture Buying Guide
As you weigh your options for outdoor furniture materials, there are four key questions to consider:
- What will the outdoor furniture be used for?
- Where will the outdoor furniture be placed?
- How many people does the furniture need to comfortably accommodate?
- What design best suits my style and taste?
1. What will the outdoor furniture be used for?
Before considering the size or design of your teak outdoor furniture, reflecting on its intended use and purpose is vital. What will you use your outdoor furniture for? Will it be a cozy space for your morning coffee, an inviting spot for hosting friends, or a relaxing area to oversee the kids in the backyard?
Consider the number of people who will enjoy the space, how they will move through it, and what activities they will engage in within your outdoor area.
When you narrow down your purpose, your furniture choices start to take on more definition. For example, if you're looking for a small footprint for your garden space, the Teak Outdoor Armless Chair Conversation Set is a smart option. If you want to create a large area for your family to gather, a sumptuous Teak Outdoor L Sectional is a natural choice. And if you love grilling and entertaining, the Teak & Aluminum Outdoor Dining Table & 6 Director's Chairs offers ample space for all your guests and makes hosting easy.
2. Where will the outdoor furniture be placed?
Next, consider the space where your outdoor furniture will sit and make sure to leave enough room for you and your loved ones to walk through comfortably. This will ensure that your outdoor space feels easily accessible and not overly cramped or cluttered. The general rule of thumb is to leave 18-24 inches between furniture to allow people to pass through comfortably.
For additional support in planning your outdoor space and configuring it to maximize your seating area, Outer offers free design consultations. A design specialist can assist you in selecting the best products to fit your space and lifestyle.
As you map out the layout of your outdoor space and determine where the furniture will sit, you’ll want to account for the sun exposure and rainfall to ensure the space remains comfortable and accessible.
Too Much Sun
If your outdoor furniture will be left in direct sunlight, purchasing cushions that don’t fade with sun exposure is a smart investment. Our proprietary OuterWeave™ cushion covers resist fading, water, stains, and mold.
A UV-resistant outdoor umbrella (like Outer’s Marine-Grade Aluminum Outdoor Umbrella) is a smart investment that will allow you to comfortably enjoy your outdoor space on the sunniest of days.
Lots of Rain and Dust
If you live in an area with frequent rain, storing your Teak outdoor furniture under an overhang or porch awning will extend its lifespan. If you do not have an overhang, consider purchasing an outdoor furniture cover to shield your set from heavy rainfall, sunlight, and debris when not in use.
Pesky Bugs and Mosquitos
Though Teak wood has natural bug repellent properties, implementing extra bug repellent measures can ward off gnats and mosquitoes. The Outer Outdoor Bug Shield Throw Blanket is treated with invisible, odorless Insect Shield® technology to protect you from itchy insect bites.
Snow is harmful to teak furniture as it encourages mildew growth and weakens the wood's strength. If you lack space to store your teak outdoor furniture indoors, consider using a Furniture Covers to protect your set from the winter elements and preserve its quality.
3. How many people does the furniture need to comfortably accommodate?
Whether you have a large backyard or a modest balcony, everyone wants to maximize their outdoor space to comfortably fit all their family and friends. Reconciling the available square footage and how many guests you anticipate hosting will inform the layout and format of your space.
4. What design best suits my style and taste?
When choosing your new teak furniture, there are three essential factors to consider: shape, style, and modularity. Let's dive into each of these aspects.
Teak furniture comes in two main looks: formal and organic. Formal shapes are square and rectangular, while organic shapes are circular and oval. Common pairings include circle-back chairs for circular tables and square-back armchairs/sofas for rectangular tables.
Outer's Teak Collection features formal, rectangular shapes for outdoor setups. However, you can get creative by mixing a circle table with square Teak Outdoor Armchairs or softening a formal setup with rounded accessories like curved vases or circular side tables.
Since teak furniture is long-lasting, it's best to invest in timeless designs that can complement any existing or future outdoor layout. Opt for neutral cushion colors as they serve as a versatile base for most color schemes and accessories like throw pillows or blankets. Look for simple designs and colors that can work well in various styles rather than trendy pieces that may feel dated by next year.
Consider whether your outdoor teak sofa is modular. This feature is especially useful for those who like to rearrange their outdoor space or may move homes in the future.
Outer's teak collection features a modular design which allows you to easily rearrange your set for a customized fit. You can also seamlessly integrate new pieces into your existing setup. Our fully assembled seating products come with anti-slide Velcro strips and optional steel connector clips under their frames for secure arrangements.
If you'd like more guidance from a specialist or need help answering any of these questions regarding your home, we invite you to schedule a free appointment with our Outer Design Specialists.
Understanding Teak Quality: Why are some teak sets more expensive than others?
Teak Outdoor Furniture prices can vary significantly, ranging from just a hundred dollars to several thousands. So, what distinguishes Teak furniture across these different price tags?
Teak wood comes in three grades: Grade A, Grade B, and Grade C. Each grade is obtained from a different part of the teak log: the center (heartwood), the outer heartwood, and the sapwood, respectively.
Grade A teak, also known as the heartwood, is the finest and most durable teak wood. It contains the highest concentration of natural oils and has a tighter grain pattern, resulting in a uniform, golden brown color, excellent resistance to the elements, greater weight, insect repellent properties, and a glossy surface. Since the inner heartwood makes up only a quarter of a teak log, furniture crafted from this premium grade commands a higher price.
At Outer, we exclusively use Grade A Teak for our outdoor furniture to provide customers with top-quality, long-lasting pieces they can invest in. Our industry-leading 10-year warranties on teak sofas and chairs further testify to the caliber of our products.
Grade B teak, or the outer heartwood, is the next best quality after Grade A. As the natural oils primarily originate from the center of the log, the outer heartwood contains fewer of these oils. Compared to Grade A teak, Grade B teak has a lighter color, less glossiness, lower resistance to extreme weather, and an uneven grain. To enhance its longevity, Grade B teak is often chemically treated, yet it still doesn't match the durability of furniture made from the highest quality teak, hence its lower price.
The lowest quality grade, Grade C Teak, is sourced from the outer sections or sapwood of a teak log. Grade C teak has only trace amounts of natural oils, exhibits inconsistent coloring, and is so soft and lightweight that it's unsuitable for outdoor use due to its susceptibility to damage. Regardless of maintenance or chemical treatments, outdoor furniture made from Grade C Teak will have a very short lifespan.
A single teak tree can absorb 10 kg of carbon every year, making a significant contribution to offsetting climate change. Unfortunately, due to the high demand for teak wood, many businesses focus solely on profiting from it without considering the downstream effects on our planet. However, there are exceptions like Outer.
At Outer, we take a different approach. Our Teak Collection is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), which means that for every tree we harvest from responsibly managed teak fields in Central Java, we plant three new trees in its place.
The FSC® certification is widely regarded as the "gold standard" for wood harvesting, ensuring that the process is responsibly managed, socially beneficial, environmentally conscious, and economically viable (FSC® N003425).
While environmentally friendly products with responsibly sourced materials often come at a higher price, their quality and longevity more than justify their cost. Many sustainable practices may not be the most cost-effective upfront, but they are indeed a worthy investment in securing a better future for all.
Your Outdoor Space Will Never be the Same
Teak furniture is an excellent investment for those in search of durable and beautiful outdoor pieces. Its remarkable properties, such as natural oils and a tight grain pattern, make it highly resistant to various weather conditions, bugs, and require minimal maintenance. Moreover, its ability to age gracefully ensures that teak furniture can bring joy and comfort to outdoor living spaces for many decades.
As you explore teak furniture options, it's essential to understand your specific outdoor challenges and consider factors like climate, available space, usage patterns, and design preferences. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed choices and invest in high-quality teak furniture, creating a timeless and inviting outdoor space that is truly worth the investment.