Can You Paint Teak Wood? — Outdoor & Indoor Furniture

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Over the years of working with various woods, I’ve seen how teak wood furniture can darken with time, necessitating restoration. But to do that, can you paint teak wood or should you just stain it?

In this guide, I’ll discuss if it’s possible to paint teak wood and recommend the best finishes based on its condition. Keep reading this guide for the best results!

About Teak Wood

Unlike other hardwoods, teak wood offers high amounts of natural oil and wax. It serves as built-in protection from humidity, moisture, and pests. 

Coming from a deciduous tropical tree, the common color of its lumber is honey brown or tawny gold. But it turns to gray wood or darker shades over the years.

Prized for exterior timber paint, outdoor teak furniture is highly durable and far more resistant to water. So it does not need to be treated because it has been dried out for two years before it’s being sold in the market. This explains its excellent durability and strength.

Teak wood

Most wood project types would benefit from using this wood as it is highly durable, easy to work with, and attractive. It’s no secret that most woodworkers are rooting and selecting teak wood for a variety of projects. 

Here are the benefits of this type for your wood project in detail:

Aesthetic Appeal

Teak wood has a certain aesthetic appeal that is universally warm and luxurious. Using oil-based paint, you can paint your teak furniture to hide dark stains and accentuate its natural beauty with a golden teak appearance. 

Also, you can rely on the smoothness of this wood because of its naturally oily surface. So, sanding will not be a problem before painting. You only need to use a good primer as the adhesive to your paint. (Check out the best oil-based primers for interior and exterior wood here!)

Versatility

Moreover, selecting teak wood gives you multiple options on where to use it. The most common use of this wood is for outdoor furniture. But you can rely on it in making good quality decks, boats, carving, and veneers as well.

Teak slabs

Durability & Heat Resistance

Can you believe that teak furniture can last for 80 to 100 years? While there are amazing wood options out there, nothing beats the longevity of teak. With this, I can easily and confidently rank teak wood as the best of the best. Its thickness prevents heat from penetrating through it.

It is highly rated for its durability based on Janka’s scale of 1,155 hardness and naturally, it does not absorb moisture. It has a straight wood grain and tight wooden pores that eliminate the possibility of having moist teak lumber. 

Excellent Insulator

How about wood paneling using teak wood? Naturally, wood is an excellent insulator because of its thickness and sturdiness. It offers warmth during winter or cold weather but does not produce too much heat in the summer seasons. 

Should You Paint Teak Wood? How Often Should You Do It?

Undoubtedly, you can paint teak wood but make sure that you inspected and checked the surface before painting. 

See Also: Should Paint the Inside of Kitchen Cabinets

After painting, you have to regularly examine your teak furniture every 3 months. You can also do this as often as possible, especially if you want to apply exterior timber paint on your outdoor furniture.

Teak oil

Also, you need to make a routine application of furniture oil on your teak wood. The oil can maintain the color and quality of the surface if you apply two coats, it should have a golden teak appearance.

What to Consider Before Painting Your Teak Furniture

Naturally, teak lumber secretes oil that can make your painting difficult to adhere to. If this is the case, you need to apply teak sealers and carefully sand them before painting. 

In addition to the usual considerations for painting hardwood, there are various other factors to take into account in order to achieve an appealing and charming paint job:

Observe the Weather

First to consider is the weather conditions. A warm, sunny, and no chance of rain is the ideal day condition to paint your teak wood. So, you have to look at the weather update for the coming weeks.

Type of Paint

The type of paint is essential in painting your teak wood furniture. For this paint project, you can rely on spray paint. I recommend using oil-based spray or latex paint for outdoor furniture to give them a sleek finish. 

pouring paint

I’d advise against using a natural bristle paintbrush given its uneven coverage. Instead, use a sprayer as an applicator and make sure that you applied it in thin layers. You also need to lightly sand to eliminate the air bubbles and tiny bumps. This way, you can have a smooth finish.

Drying Time

One of the most important things to consider in every paint job is the drying time. You should let the first coat of your paint dry before applying another coat. Some paint needs to cure between 24 to 72 hours, which will depend on the paint you are going to use.

Nevertheless, every layer of paint, primer, or sealant needs to be dried before adding the second coat or third coat. 

Steps in Painting Teak Wood Furniture

So how can you paint teak wood furniture to bring back its faded beauty and removed the damage? Follow this step-by-step guide:

Materials & Supplies

tools for painting

Here are the materials and supplies you need to prepare:

Step #1: Wash the Wood Surface

If you have bare teak furniture, you should first wash it with soap and water. Then scrub the surface using a soft sponge. For weathered teak wood or teak table, you need to use an abrasive sponge with a bleaching solution. 

You can use Trisodium Phosphate as a teak cleaner solution. Don’t forget to wear rubber gloves and goggles while doing this.

Step #2: Fill Any Gaps or Holes

After washing it with teak cleaner, dry it using a cloth and you can start looking for holes and cracks. If you notice these spots, you need to fill holes and cracks using wood filler. I recommend using your trusted epoxy wood filler for outdoor surfaces.

applying wood filler

Let it dry before sanding but make sure you’re going to use 120-grit sandpaper. This will remove the excess epoxy filler on the wood surface.

Step #3: Sand Your Teak Wood Furniture

Continue sanding the furniture until the wood pores are visible. Use the sanding block to give you a good hand grip on the sandpaper. Then, make sure that you sand it in the same course as the wood grain. 

Remember that it produces high amounts of teak oil so it’s essential to prepare the surface by sanding. By exposing the wood pores, you will enable the absorption of paint coating evenly.

Step #4: Apply Your Reliable Stain-Blocking Primer

After you’ve finished sanding, clean the surface before applying stain-blocking primer. I typically wipe away the dust using a tack cloth or a damp cloth dipped in mineral spirits. But for a more thorough cleanse you can resort to using a vacuum on the surface.

Then, you can apply the stain-blocking primer to stain teak wood. This will stop the active natural oils secretion of teak wood. For the type of primer, I recommend lacquer or shellac-based primer. 

stain block primer

Make sure that you apply the primer to cover the whole teak furniture using a natural bristle brush. The teak oil should be prevented so that the paint on the wood surface will have good paint adhesion. You can wipe the excess oil if needed.

After the first coat, let it dry for several minutes and wipe off the excess primer. You should also check for air bubbles and rough texture on the surface. If you notice these impurities, lightly sand the wooden surface using 220-grit sandpaper.

Wipe the dust after sanding and reapply the second coat of the teak sealer. You can apply two or more coats to be certain that the paint teak wood is not bleeding with wood oils. 

Step #5: Apply Two Coats of Paint (Minimum)

By this part, you should have already prepared your wood surface for shellac-based primer. So, your paint should be oil-based paint or latex paint. You should opt for paint sprayers as applicators for this painting job and you have to apply it in thin layers. 

I’ve come to rely heavily on paint sprayers for quicker outcomes and a uniformly painted surface. But when using this, remember to maintain about a foot’s distance from the surface you’re painting and ensure there’s an overlap of around 30% during application.

oil-based paint

If the initial paint coat dried up and needs to darken a little, add the next coat. Depending on the shades you want to achieve, make sure to use the same technique for the second and succeeding coats. 

Step #6: Seal Your Painted Teak Furniture

Once you have painted the entire wood surface, you have to seal the paint. Since teak wood furniture is sturdy and thick, a sealant will add protection to your paint. For a sealer, I highly recommend a polyurethane coat which offers a weatherproof finish. 

After sealing your painted teak furniture, let it cure and check if there are no repairs needed. If none, then you’re done painting teak wood. But you still have more things to understand in your teak wood paint:

Is it Okay to Paint Teak Wood Using Chalk Paint?

If you don’t want to use oil-based paint or water-based paint, you can paint teak wood using chalk paint.

However, chalk paint offers color for your furniture but it does not guarantee to give your paint teak additional protection. Although you can use it for painting teak furniture, it will not extend the life of your wood. 

Shabby Chic Chalk-Based Furniture Paint

Therefore, I recommend chalk paint as your last option. Because of the natural oil, this paint will crack and flake on the surface. It will ruin the finish of your paint.

Can You Change the Color of Teak Wood? Can You Stain it Darker or Lighter?

You can alter the color of teak wood using a wood brightener. You can also stain teak wood darker or lighter depending on the finish you want. 

Immediately after cleaning the wood surface using teak cleaner, you should apply the wood brightener. Leave for 10 minutes then rinse it with warm water. This will also suspend the oil secretion of the teak wood.

A primer can also make its color shift to darker or lighter shades. Just make sure that you apply your wood stains after the primer gets dry. You can also test the paint on a scrap piece of wood to be certain of the hues you want to achieve.

How to Keep Your Teak Furniture From Turning Gray

Meanwhile, you can use pigmented oil if you want to make your teak wood darker or teak wood grey. When this oil penetrates the wood pores you can achieve a deeper color than its original wood stain. Reapplying multiple layers of pigment oil can stain teak wood darker.

graying Teak bench

Best Finishes for Teak Wood

Depending on the finish you want, you can have your painting teak wood as original as it looks. But you can also apply different finishes on its surface.

Oil

Enhancing the natural oils of teak wood is the easiest finish for your furniture. The furniture oils come in different textures and can give your wood a smooth surface with different colors. You can have it with lightweight to heavy oils and lighter to darker colors. 

The lightweight oil can give you a lighter shade finish and the heavy oil gives you a darker color. This finish lasts longer and requires less maintenance which gives you more time for your other wood project. 

Varnish

Most woodworkers love the finish of varnish. But applying varnish is a little more complicated than an oil-based paints finish. The gloss coat it offers can make your furniture last longer.

preparing TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish

But when used on the teak wood surface, it creates a milky spot in the finish. This problem occurs because of the natural properties especially oils stuck between the varnish and the teak surface. 

Sealer

Among the best finishes, a sealer finish is the most durable. This method used teak sealers to keep the oils and resins inside the wood while preventing moisture and contaminants from penetrating its insides. You only need to reapply the teak sealer once a year.

Lacquer

When working on teak, the finish that I recommend the most is lacquer. This finish strikes the right balance between the durability and visual appeal of the surface. Depending on your preference, you can opt for a satin, semi, or high-gloss patina finish [1], and there’s a diverse color palette to select from.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane products deliver a protective finish, so this is a good option to consider as well. As additional water repellent, it gives your wood project a tough and durable formula that blends well with the teak oils.

mixing Minwax Water-Based, Oil-Modified Polyurethane

Although you need to wait longer on its drying time, it is worth your time. This finish offers a water-resistant and hard finish while giving your wood project a shiny patina appearance.

Tips to Remember When Painting to Avoid Mistakes

Now that we have given you the best finishes for teak wood and the basic steps for painting, I’m now going to share the techniques to avoid mistakes with teak wood projects.

Don’t Forget to Sand First

This is a common mistake of woodworkers especially if you are a beginner. Teak’s natural beauty offers a smooth texture so sanding it has been taken for granted. 

But this wood preparation increases the absorption of primer and paint on the teak wood surfaces. It is also essential after filling the holes and cracks on the surface that needed to be sanded after drying to have an even texture. 

Always Use a Primer

Primer is important to apply on the teak wood surface. The naturally oily wood can inhibit paint adhesion for your paint to stick on the surface. So you should always use a primer to prepare the wood surface and your paint and to avoid discoloration.

priming wood

Seal the Painted Teak Wood After

Sealing the painted teak wood after its curing time has been neglected by most people. But you should always include sealant in your wood project, especially in painting teak wood. 

This is essential, especially to protect teak wood from tiny scratches and other damages. If your painting has no sealant then moisture, UV rays, and insects can easily penetrate the paint coats. 

This will result in damage and frequent maintenance to your furniture. That said, you have to seal your painted teak wood after 2 weeks of direct exposure to the sun. 

Making Your Teak Furniture Looking New and Modern

There are also techniques for maintaining the quality of your furniture. If your piece becomes weathered or sustains damage, there are ways to rejuvenate it, lending a fresh and modern touch to teak furnishings. I’d encourage you to delve into these techniques, particularly focusing on teak garden furniture painting.

Teak doors with intricate designs

Replace the Hardware

Despite of durability of teak wood, it does not mean that it is not indestructible. All woods are prone to deterioration so proper replacement and maintenance are essential.

Look for a seat slat or a cracked leg, then you can replace the hardware. You should not wait for the destruction of your paint teak furniture before it gets replaced. Make sure you find the right size and type of wood as a replacement to complement the entire furniture.

Otherwise, after you use epoxy wood filler, sand the area where the crack can be repaired. Examine it closely before concluding whether to replace or repair the damaged part.

Refinishing

Teak outdoor furniture tends to wear and tear because of extreme weather conditions. For instance, teak furniture fades over time. Its vibrant color becomes dull and dirt and grime accumulated on the corners of the furniture. 

Teak furniture

So refinishing your teak furniture is possible using a bit of oil-based paints, lacquer, varnish, or polyurethane finish. Depending on the type of paint and sealant you used, you have to apply the correct wood finish. 

Make sure that you clean the surface with water and cleaning solution while scrubbing the build-up of dirt and grime. You should start in small areas until you finish cleaning the entire furniture. Then you can air dry completely before applying the primer, paint, and sealant.

Changing the Upholstery

Most garden furniture is composed of a wooden frame and fabric or foam. A way to modernize teak furniture and give it a new look is through the upholstery. Just changing the fabric or cover can improve the elements of your wooden furniture.

Teak couch

Accessorize it

Another thing you want to do with your teak garden furniture is to add elements or accessories. New throw pillows and blankets can modernize your furniture. Consider putting carpet with lively colors to match your furniture.

FAQ

Will teak wood get darker as it ages?

Depending on your preparation and your choice of primer, paint, and sealant, the teak wood’s natural color will change. It can be darker color or almost near the shades of its original color. The teak wood secretes oil which affects its color over time. 

So to maintain the color you achieved, make a routine inspection of the surface, especially for teak outdoor furniture.

Does teak wood change color when exposed to the sun?

Since teak wood is ideal to use for outdoor furniture, too much exposure to the sun and rain can change its color. It can be dull or can be turned to stain teak wood grey if the sealant and paint coats are stripped off the wood. 

What is the color of weathered teak?

Weathered teak can be easily determined by its color silver-gray. As I mentioned, this is the result of high exposure to ever-changing weather conditions. So to prevent this from happening too soon, make sure to properly prepare before painting teak wood.

Conclusion

From what you have read in this article, there’s no doubt that you can finish painting teak wood easily without professional help. 

Overall, you can paint teak wood furniture, as long as you use the right materials and techniques. Alternatively, you have other options to finish it as well, depending if it will be used indoors or outdoors.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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