Over the years I have spoken to clients who own teak furniture and often I get asked about how to care for the furniture. This came to the forefront again after my email from the reader who was asking about her Arne Vodder furniture.
Most of the information on line is for cleaning outdoor teak furniture. The information provided by those sites is very different than what you would do to mid century modern furniture. The only web site that discussed the oiling of indoor teak furniture is noted below.
Here are some things you really need to know about this type of furniture:
- The finish on furniture of that type and era was teak oil and only teak oil. In the late 1970’s I built a dining room suite as a project in art school (Alberta College of Art and Design). The style was very “Scandinavian – Modern” in style and the only finish I put on was teak oil – many, many coats. The point of adding so many coats of oil is that each layer fills the pores of the wood and this eventually produces that wonderful lustrous, but not shiny, sheen that accentuates the beauty of the wood grain. It also protects the wood.
- Having several layers of oil protecting your furniture also means that the top can be damaged but the effect of the damage is less because the lower layers are the same color as the top. This is unlike furniture that has color or finish on top only – any damage exposes the bare wood which is usually a different color, making the damage more obvious.
- Never ever use a finish such as varnish, varathane, urethane or any finish that will seal the wood. Once you’ve done that the benefit of using teak oil is forever gone. And, trust me, this will really affect the value of the furniture!
- Watch that the teak oil you buy does not also include a finish. I love “Deft Teak Oil” for a lot of other uses but I would never use it on teak furniture because it includes a finish. I would also use only natural , not colored, teak oil. Once stained, forever stained.
- Keep the wood clean. Dust it. Occasionally wash it with a mild detergent and water, and rinse it to remove soap residue. Don’t soak the wood. Protect it from liquids of all kinds. Use coasters and saucers under plant pots. (I have seen more furniture ruined from plants than anything else combined).