Refinishing teak furniture is a cherished art that goes back a thousand years or more. While soft wood such as pine is intended to be discarded when the wood ages, some wood is durable enough to last several lifetimes. Teak furniture in particular ages to a beautiful gray color, and refinishing aged teak both preserves the wood and creates beauty cherished by collectors.
Teak wood originates in South Asia, but is so valued that it is grown far outside its natural habitat. The wood is rich in its own oils and also has a dense grain that is perfect for carving. It contains silicate, similar to bamboo, and this is one reason for its durability.
Teak survives outdoors very well, even in very moist climates. It is considered perfect for outdoor furniture, and this is one of the major incentives to refinish the wood. This process includes stains and replenishing the oils that prevents the wood from deteriorating and cracking. It is seldom necessary to repair termite damage, as the wood is quite inhospitable to insects.
Teak furniture is easily worked, even with hand tools, but it is tough enough that it can blunt tools. This basically means that the light yet tough wood is not prone to dents and scratches. Whenever scratches do occur, they are easy to erase with course to medium sandpaper. Because the wood contains silicate, which is the same mineral found in sand, it takes more effort to polish and smooth.
It is not necessary to completely eliminate the scratch, as a good stain easily conceals the damage. It is also worth noting that teak wood is intended to endure the elements. Wood roughened by use is not disgusting to collectors but a suggestion of use and antiquity. The truth is that worn old teak is prized by collectors for its natural beauty.
Any finish applied to teak wood should be based in oil. The wood itself contains many oils, and so a coating not based on oil might be rejected by the medium. Oil content should be replenished occasionally, because they are critical to the makeup of teak, which dries out and becomes susceptible to water damage without it.
The good news is that teak can last for years as outdoor furniture, so it only needs refinishing every few years. It is not necessary to work on it extensively, because aging is part of the natural lifespan of teak wood. If furniture is to be resold, concealing age can actually hurt market value.