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topic 46170

Teak refinishing Q&A's

A discussion started in 2004 and continuing through 2020 so far.
Adding your Q. / A. or Comment will restore it to our busy Current Topics page

How to bleach teak?


Q. We are building outdoor cabinets out of teak and the consumer wants us to bleach the teak and to clearcoat the teak, What are our options for a speedy and quality construction?

Mark DeVuyst
cabinet builder - Tavernier, Florida, USA


Q. I want to know how to bleach the dark lines and knots in teak wood.

Willy Dobbs
D&D - Jakarta

Need someone to restore my outdoor teak set


RFQ: I decided last year I didn't want the maintenance of my outdoor teak set, so I left out all winter (in New York). Now I'd like to save it. I do not have time to take care of it and would love to find someone in the area who would come to my home to restore it. Does anyone have a recommendation?

Tamra P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Hairstylist - New York
^- Sorry, this RFQ is outdated
     View Current RFQs

Too much teak oil on chairs


Q. Hi there,
My husband decided to oil the chairs while I was away. He used a paint brush to do it. The first coat was fine then he decided to put on another coat. Lo and behold, now the chairs are all sticky with oil. It's been about a week since he put the second coat on. He bought oil for teak, but as the instructions are all in Italian we can't read them. Any clues on how to unstick the chairs?
Any help would be much appreciated as the chairs were gifts...

Jane Auckland
teacher - Italy


A. Wash it off with mineral spirits [affil. link to info/product on Amazon]. That oil is gradually polymerizing as we speak, and is getting stickier and more difficult to remove every day. Stiff brushes, even some fine 0000 steel wool [affil. link to info/product at Rockler] will help. It's going to be a pain to do, lots of elbow grease, but you can save them.

Make your husband do it, he'll learn to curse in Italian.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

August 25, 2008

Q. I just sanded, cleaned, and applied Watco Teak Oil [affil. link to info/product on Amazon] on three pieces of Danish Modern furniture (made of teak). I followed the instructions to "push" or flood the oil on, let dry a while, then apply a second coat. Unfortunately I missed the suggestion to wipe off the excess, so I've got a surplus of teak oil on the furniture now. It's been drying for 48 hours, in low humidity, and about half the surface has absorbed the 2 coats (i.e. it's "dull" in appearance). The other half is still glossy and very slightly tacky (not goopy).

My question is
A) whether I should let it dry another day or two to see if it absorbs fully or should I try to wipe off the excess with mineral spirits? And
B) if I do try to get the excess off, am I back to square one, or will the wood still retain the oil it's absorbed so far?


Jennifer Hancock
- Grand Junction, Colorado, USA

How to clean carved lacquered teak Chinese chest


Q. My name is Donna Rooten, and I am an Air Force brat who received an intricately carved, lacquered teak chest from my father in his travel to Taipei in the 50's. It is dirty, the carving is becoming obscured and really needs cleaning, but a simple dusting will not do the job. I lost my father recently, and I really want to place this chest in my office. I know it needs cleaning, but I don't want to do anything to mar it. What product can I use to clean the chest and maintain it in the future? Thank you for any help you can give me.

Donna Rooten
Teacher - Fullerton, California, USA

April 24, 2012

Q. I too have a carved wood teak chest my parents bought in Manila in 1947. My Dad just gave it to me and it is in bad need of cleaning as well. Did you get any responses to your question? (I'm kind of "new" to this computer thing too, and don't see where anyone answered you - but am not sure it would be visible to me).

Beverly Cornwell
- Rotonda West, Florida, USA

sidebar April 30, 2012

Hello Beverly,
Speaking for myself, I can help people with plating problems on this website. I can honestly say I don't know much about furniture refinishing / cleaning. You may find a site online that is dedicated to antique furniture restorations. Good Luck!

Mark Baker
Engineering - Mesa, Arizona, USA

April 30, 2012

thumbs up signHi, Mark. Thanks very much for your constant efforts to help whenever you can; they are a huge part of what makes the site valuable. While finishing.com focuses on industrial metal finishing, consumer threads that are at least vaguely related are welcome too. As you say though, we "regular" readers don't know much about teak and we have to rely on other readers to volunteer their experience :-)


Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Can't get rid of orange tone

October 16, 2008

Q. I have teak cabinets in my family room and when we selected the wood, I really liked the color, but my cabinet maker oiled the wood after building and now it has a very orange color. I have sanded off the oil but there is still a slightly orange color and I am wondering if there is any way to knock that down. Is there a slight tint that I can use to defuse orange or should I keep sanding?


Craig Chase
- California

How to stain teak table darker?

January 17, 2009

Q. I have a teak table that was very badly stained. I am trying to apply a much darker stain to the table. I let the stain dry for a couple of days and when I apply the teak oil, most of the stain comes up. Then I have to remove the stain and the oil, rub with lacquer remover and start all over. The first coat of oil based stain remained on the table SOMEWHAT but when I tried to apply the darker coat (a good portion of the stain came off when I applied the teak oil), it seems to just sit on top.

My question is if I wait long enough, will it ever dry so I have a nice dark teak table?

Thanks, Mona

Mona shull

hobbyist - Seattle, Washington, USA

affil. link
Watco Teak Oil

January 18, 2009

A. Hi, Mona. I think the actual issue is that you must either oil the teak or you stain then varnish/lacquer/polyurethane it. The stain is apparently soluble in the oil, which doesn't really surprise me.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Flower vase ruined Teak stereo cabinet surface

October 24, 2010

Q. We have a teak stereo cabinet - 1960's that has just been damaged by a Pumpkin flower vase. For Thanksgiving our daughter made a flower vase from a fresh pumpkin which sat on top of the teak stereo cabinet. It was left unattended for too long and started to decompose into a smelly mess.

My wife cleaned up the fluids as best she could and then used "Murphy oil soap" to wash the surface. That was followed with a generous, over night, coating of dry baking soda to try to kill any remaining enzyme action and the to help draw out any excess moisture.

Now we have damaged area about the size of an opened hand where the original finished surface in completely gone and in down to the raw wood. In addition the wood is a slight grey.


From what I have seen in the above posts, it appears that a major refinishing job is called for.

Any suggestions

Leigh Seeton
Just the guy my wife asks to fix things - Burnaby, BC, Canada

December 30, 2010

A. Teak is a fickle wood, a bit like mahogany when staining/sealing. Matching is not easy.

With the grey wood and from the picture, black spots, it will most likely need to be sanded down and will cause uneven spots unless the whole top is taken as a project as a whole.

Unfortunately, I do not know of a simple and easy fix; and with a lovely piece that like, I would find a furniture refinisher in Burnaby, Vancouver, or Victoria to your liking and go with the shop you researched to do the best job possible.


J.D. Prowse
Gadfly, Renaissance Man, Historic Home Owner - Everett, Washington, U.S.A.

Remove ink stain on teak

December 29, 2010

Q. Is it possible to remove ink stain from a teak desk? It looks as though a bottle of ink was spilled on the desk and it must have been there for a few years.

Peter Weston
Home renovator - Sydney, Australia

Applying teak oil caused raised texture

May 22, 2012

Q. I've just applied and dried (24 hours) teak oil to my outdoor furniture. It has a raised texture now, not smooth as before. Can I take a 400+ wet/dry sandpaper to it? And should I sand wet? Other suggestions?

Thank you.

Cindi Keller
- Danville, California USA

Mineral oil turned teak to redwood

June 5, 2014 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I treated my outdoor teak chairs (we keep them in the house) with mineral oil. I lost the golden color and they now look like redwood. How can I get it off?

Melanie Plain
- San Ramon, California, USA

June 2014


A. Hi Melanie. I'm no teak expert, but most of the teak I have seen and can remember was more toward red-brown, rather than golden; whereas I understand that if unfinished it goes sort of silver gray. Please see:
for a page full of tonal variations. But perhaps there was a blonde stain on it that either somehow dissolved into the mineral oil or had grown so thin that it was overpowered by the oil.

We appended your inquiry to a letter which offers removal suggestions, but I'm not even slightly confident that removing the oil will turn it golden again. I think if you want it a particular color you'll have to stain it that color. Best of luck.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Repair of bubbling (blistering) of teak furniture from water

August 18, 2014

Q. I had a dinner party and used beautiful placemats on my teak dining room table. To my dismay when I cleaned up after the party I found water below three of the placemats and that the veneer of my beautiful teak table had bubbled (like unbroken blisters) where the water had been. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? The table is almost 50 years old and had only been oiled. It was in beautiful condition until this mishap. Thank you.

Judith Sapir
- Bethesda Maryland USA

My teak is too red

March 6, 2016

Q. Hello,
I have just bought an Afrormosia teak Richard Hornby sideboard that needs refinishing. It is currently a warm red finish. I'd like to reduce the redness of the timber as well as darken it overall. When you google these sideboards you can see other sideboards are darker and others paler and more red.
Please would you advise how this non gloss, darker and less red finish can be achieved at home? I am based in the UK.
Many thanks

Sarah Lunter
- London, greater London and United Kingdom

Ed. note: More Q's than A's on this thread, readers. If you know something about the subject, please chime in!
Letter 8575, "Water Stain on Teak Wood", may also be helpful.

October 29, 2016

Q. I have a 25 year old 50mm thick solid teak coffee table that I have sanded to its original surface. What is the best method to finish it to a perfect piece of furniture.
Kind Regards,

John Boutwood
- Bedfordshire England

Teak oil dries unevenly - some spots are too dry

November 28, 2020

Q. I have a piece of new-to-me teak furniture that appeared as though it had only been oiled in the past, not varnished. I lightly sanded it and applied a fresh coat of Circa 1850 Tung 'n Teak Oil.

I've continued reapplying several times now because every time I do, it dries with most of it having a nice glossy finish, but with some dry splotches.

Any idea what I'm doing wrong? Thanks!

Anna Wills
- Hamilton, Ontario

December 1, 2020

A. It's probably due to the character of the wood- spots where end grain is exposed are always 'thirstier'. You'll see this most obviously on something like a turned spindle; the contours of the wood will absorb different amounts of finish, and some will be duller and drier-looking than others.

Rachel Mackintosh
Plating Solutions Control Specialist /
Industrial Waste Water Treatment - Brattleboro, Vermont

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