Why Teak Oil Can Be Harmful for Your Teak Furniture

published on Jan 25, 2019

Why Teak Oil Can Be Harmful for Your Teak Furniture

At OCTeak, we often hear this question: “Why shouldn’t I use oil to protect my teak furniture?”  We thought we would take a few moments and answer this question.

The Role of Oil in Wood

Have you ever wondered about the science behind furniture polish?  You may have used this product on your indoor furniture for many years without ever really wondering about the role it plays in keeping furniture looking good.

Wood is a natural organic product and as such is different than stone or other non-organic substances.  Because wood comes from a living organism, it needs moisture to maintain its texture and color.  This moisture is sealed into the wood by oil of some type.

In very porous woods, the natural oils evaporate quickly.  For this reason, some woods such as pine must have oil added to them regularly in order to stay supple.  This is why you regularly polish indoor furniture, which tends to be made of more porous wood than outdoor furniture.  However, you should always use high-quality oil-based polish rather than the aerosol polish sold by the can.  Good quality furniture polish will help your indoor furniture retain a shine and look good for a long time.

Teak Furniture Weathering

Outdoor furniture, however, is very different and should never be polished with oil.  Because teak has surface oils that evaporate, it develops a “weathered” look.  Some people prefer the non-weathered look, but the way to achieve this is not by adding oil, which may cause mildew.  Instead, a proper teak sealer should be applied after cleaning and reapplied on a regular basis.

You don’t have to use preservatives or treatments of any kind to ensure the longevity of your outdoor teak. Oiling teak is only recommended if you are planning on using the furniture indoors. Outdoor teak furniture should not be oiled, as it will not prolong the life of the wood, but will, unfortunately, tie you into an arduous maintenance routine. Oiled teak is more likely to mildew and will be subject to irregular coloring as it weathers. New teak furniture often appears smooth and “polished” – this comes from the oil which occurs naturally in the wood. The oil on the surface of your teak will evaporate over time once the furniture is outdoors (hence the “graying”); it is the oil that remains below the surface that gives the wood its strength and durability. This is why good quality teak can be left outside all year long.