How to Refinish Weathered Teak Wood to Maintain Color

Teak is a durable, hardy wood that's very resistant to rot. But like most woods exposed to the weather, teak will change to a gray color that some people don't like as much as the natural color of newly made teak products. Restoration of the original color of teak requires refinishing, and there are two basic teak finishes: teak oil, or a sealer/varnish combination. Select the type that best suits your needs.

Refinishing Teak

Teak patio furniture
  1. Water the grass and plants in your yard if rinse water from your project is likely to touch them. This provides your plants with a water barrier to chemicals. Lay plastic sheeting under your work area to catch any spills.

  2. Wearing gloves and eye protection, remove any oils or residues from the wood by applying acetone. (If there's mildew, wipe down the teak with a mixture of 8 ounces of chlorine bleach per 1 gallon of water. Brusquely scrub if it's embedded in the grain.) Carefully rinse all traces of bleach completely away as other products may contain chemicals that can be toxic when combined with chlorine.

  3. Apply a finish stripper such as Citristrip. This product is less caustic than other solvent-based strippers. Use it outdoors if possible. The product goes on thickly and will dry out rapidly if the stripping is done in a sunny area. Squirt the area of teak being stripped with rubbing alcohol. It helps to keep the stripper working.

  4. Allow fifteen minutes for the stripper to remove the finish. Use the 3m scrub brush designed for stripping and remove all of the residue. Use a scraper or putty knife for tight areas. Steel wool should be used to remove any lingering finish. If the finish isn't completely removed it will discolor when the new finish is applied.

  5. Use your water thief adapter on an inside faucet and rinse off any remaining stripper with hot water. Cold water makes the stripper clump together. For locations where hot water is not available, use the Citristrip stripper wash.

  6. Wipe the teak dry and isolate any mess from your work area while you sand. Touch the teak to see if the grain has opened. If it has, the surface will be rough. Use the sander to smooth out all rough areas. Wipe the teak clean with a rag or tack cloth.

  7. Apply non-acidic teak cleaner with a bristle brush. Make sure to wear gloves, as these products can irritate the skin. And be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions.

  8. Apply teak brightener with a disposable brush. Follow the manufacturer's directions for rinsing.

  9. Finish the wood with several applications of teak oil, or by using a teak finish and sealer. Teak oil will not hold color for as long as some sealers. Different products have better longevity, depending on the climate and exposure to sunlight and water.


  • Isolate each chemical from all others so that no two chemicals make contact. Be systematic in finishing one process completely before moving on to the next step.

About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.