How To Stain Teak Furniture

When young, teak has a natural, golden colour and over time, this fades to a delicate grey.  Many people find this ageing process very attractive and are happy to let time work its magic, but if you’re not one of them, then you can simply stain your teak garden furniture.  Here’s a step-by-step guide as to how to do it.

Clean your furniture

Hopefully, this will just mean giving it a quick once-over to get rid of any dust, but if you do have to do more thorough cleaning try to keep it dry.  If at all possible, remove any stubborn marks with a dry brush with fairly stiff bristles (like a toothbrush).  If you absolutely must, use plain water, but unless you’re really getting desperate, avoid cleaning products, they can make it much harder for the staining products to do their work.


Use a wood filler to fill in any gouges


Hopefully, this step won’t be necessary but if your furniture is damaged then you want to fix the damage before you start on the sanding process.

Basically, even if you’re the most steady-handed person in the world, you’re highly unlikely to get a finish which is exactly level with the rest of the wood.

The chances are you’re going to create at least a slight bump, which you’re then going to need to sand down, which is why it makes sense to do the filling before you do the sanding.


Use sandpaper for smoothness and texture

If your furniture has been around for a while, you may find you have some rough spots.  In fact, it’s generally a good idea to check anyway.  If you do, use rough sandpaper to deal with them (we’d suggest 120 grit).  As you work, keep checking (with the palm of your hand), to make sure that you’re simply smoothing away rough patches rather than creating an uneven surface.  Once you’ve done this, use finer sandpaper (we’d suggest 220 grit) to prepare the surface for sealing.  Work along the grain and be sure to clean off any dust and debris your sanding causes.

Seal the surface

We appreciate it’s tempting to skip this step, but it really does make a difference.  Your stain will go on more smoothly and will have better grip (meaning that it will last longer).  If you only want a light-coloured stain then you can dilute the sealer with white spirits, but in all seriousness, you really need to do this step if you want a good result.

Just apply the sealer as though it were paint or varnish and then once it has started to dry, run a cloth across the surface to pick up any excess.  Use a cloth rather than paper (such as kitchen towels) as you will avoid the risk of it breaking up and being absorbed by the sealant.

Let the sealant dry completely

Again, resist the temptation to get ahead of yourself here.  It only takes a few hours for the sealant to dry properly so give it the time it needs.

Sand the surface again

This step is also important, so resist the temptation to skip it.  There are two reasons why it matters.  The first is because the sealer may have dried unevenly and the second is that you are going to apply stain and sanding the wood will give it better grip.  We’d suggest you use smooth sandpaper (220 grit) and go over the surface several times (rather than using rough sandpaper and only doing it once or twice).  Again, be sure to remove any dust or debris when you are done.

Mask off any parts of the furniture you want to protect from the stain

You’re probably going to want to stain all of your furniture, but if you don’t, use masking tape to cover the parts you want to keep clear of it.

Apply the stain as evenly as you can

It doesn’t really matter what tool you use for this.  A paint brush is the obvious choice, but you could equally well use a foam roller or a sponge or even a cloth.

Leave the stain for as long as it takes to get the colour your require and then wipe off the excess with a cloth you’re happy to keep as a rag (or throw away).

Basically, wood stain is like fake tan for wood.  The longer you leave it, the deeper the colour gets.  It’s rather harder to get out of fabric than fake tan is, so don’t use one of your everyday bathroom towels as a wipe, use one you’re happy to keep as a rag.

Leave the stain to dry completely.  Again, don’t get ahead of yourself here.  Give it the time it needs.  It’s really important to avoid touching the surface, otherwise you’re probably going to end up with blotched stain which will be quite a challenge to correct.  If you have children or pets in the house, make sure to keep them away from your furniture since they’re unlikely to grasp the fact that they really mustn’t touch it.

If you still want a deeper colour, apply another coat of stain.

In principle you can add as many coats of stain as you want, in practice, two is usually enough for even deep colour.

Apply your choice of finish.

A finish is exactly that, it adds an extra layer of protection to the stain and hence to the furniture.  Polyurethane is the most robust finish you can get and is a good choice if you’re planning to leave your furniture outside over the winter, but otherwise is probably rather more than is necessary for household (garden) furniture.  Oil is the best finish for preserving the natural beauty of the wood, but doesn’t offer that much in the way of protection.  It’s probably best kept for indoor furniture.  Lacquer is midway between the two and is a good choice for furniture which will be outdoors in the warmer months but stored inside during the colder ones.  Its one drawback is that it can require multiple coats.


Andrew Ellis is the 'hands-on' webmaster, content curator and Captain of the good ship Poshh Living Father of one and master of none. Fitness, health and of course home improvement are Andrew's key areas of expertise. Andrew has worked in many roles, from product designer to purchaser, for spa products, garden furniture and tech. Andrew is a really well-respected voice within these business circles.

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