Can You Stain Teak Wood? — Furniture, Fences, and More

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Teak wood has unique grains and patterns that are truly worth preserving. However, using the wrong product can change its natural color and ruin its allure.

If you’re wondering whether you can stain teak wood without compromising its beauty, I’m here to answer your question! I’ll also discuss important methods for protecting your teak pieces in this guide.

Can You Stain Teak Easily?

Teak is a type of hardwood that naturally has an abundant amount of silica and oil. This feature makes teak extremely resistant to water, moisture, and rot. However, it also makes it challenging to stain. 

Before you stain teak, you must take extra steps to make sure that your stain will adhere properly. This includes sanding the wood surface, cleaning the wood thoroughly, and letting it fully dry.

Most importantly, you must choose the right type of stain for your teak wood to achieve a great finish. However, you must keep in mind that meticulous preparation of the teak wood cannot guarantee a perfect finish unless you use a high-quality stain that is compatible with it, which I’ll discuss later.

Why Stain Teak Wood?

When working with teak wood, you might be thinking it’s not necessary to stain it since it already contains teak oil, which can give excellent protection to the wood. Unfortunately, teak oil used for staining is not 100 percent natural from teak. 

In fact, the natural oil content of teak wood cannot provide enough protection to the wood. Instead, it creates a favorable environment for the growth of molds and mildew. Consequently, it can cause your teak wood to deteriorate prematurely. 

Teak wood

This problem can be avoided if you properly treated the teak wood, such as staining the wood surface. Below are the advantages of staining teak wood:

You might be interested in: Teak, Tung, and Linseed Oil Comparison

Modifies and Enhances Wood Color

One of the main reasons many are keen on staining wood is to improve its aesthetic appearance by enhancing its color. While teak has beautiful wood grains and patterns, the stain can highlight them and makes them look outstanding. 

Also, teak wood naturally loses its unique golden honey hue due to prolonged exposure to harsh environments. Over time, its color turns to unattractive grey, losing its golden charm. But this can be avoided by staining the teak wood surface. 

Since stains can penetrate the wood pores, they can preserve the teak natural color and radiance despite being exposed to elements. 

In addition, stains come in different shades, so you have a wide range of colors you can choose from that match the golden hue of your teak wood. 

wood stain

However, I recommend choosing a lighter shade. Lighter hues tend to absorb less heat under direct sunlight, which can help the color resist fading more effectively.

Protect Teak from the Harmful Elements

If you leave your teak wood unprotected while exposed to harsh elements, your teak wood will deteriorate prematurely. This is because it can lose its natural oil faster and becomes dull. 

Hence, I strongly advise staining your teak wood, particularly for outdoor structures and furniture. Doing so provides added defense against UV rays, snow, and rain.

Staining will also help your teak wood preserve its oil content and keep its vibrant appearance. As a result, your piece will sustain its structural integrity, extending its longevity. 

Adds an Aesthetic Appeal

Teak wood is already beautiful on its own, but adding more vibrant color to it makes its grains and patterns richer and more appealing. 

Teak table

Generally, teak is very versatile, and you can use any shade on them. Whether you choose a more natural shade or bolder color, staining it will enhance its overall look.

Prolongs Lifespan of Teak Wood

If you don’t stain your teak wood, the moisture and water can easily penetrate through the grain. This makes the teak wood more vulnerable to damage, significantly reducing its lifespan. 

Its natural oil and moisture can also dry faster and leave your teak wood dull and dry looking. So, it’s essential to stain your teak wood to boost its durability and retain its natural beauty. 


Teak is popular among woodworkers due to its versatility. Essentially, you can use teak wood on many projects since it matches a wide range of colors and decor styles. 

Mostly, teak is used on furniture due to its unique grains and patterns that can easily stand out. But teak also makes beautiful and durable fences, decks, and other outdoor structures. 

Teak table and chairs

Regardless of the project you use it for, teak wood offers a stunning and polished appearance that exudes professionalism. Whether it’s for furniture, flooring, or any other application, it will deliver a timeless and durable aesthetic that adds value and sophistication to any space.

How to Prepare Your Work Area

Before you start staining your teak wood, it is important to prepare your work area to ensure it is conducive and will not obstruct your movements. If you’re staining outside structures like fences, move any objects or plants away to give you more space to work. 

I also recommend covering your lawn and potted plants to shield them from any potential harm caused by the stain’s chemical content or accidental spills. If you’re working on indoor furniture or fixed items, it’s a good idea to lay down a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to catch any spills or sanding residue.

Most importantly, prepare all the materials you will need and put them within your reach so you can work more efficiently. 

How to Stain Teak Your Teak Wood Furniture or Fence

Preparation is crucial in staining your teak wood furniture, fence, deck, and other outdoor structures. So, in this section, I’ll provide you the step-by-step guidelines on how you can stain teak wood efficiently and successfully. 

Supplies You’ll Need

Step #1: Cleaning the Teak Wood

tools for painting

To prep the teak wood for staining, the first thing you must do is clean the surface thoroughly. If the dirt has accumulated on it, you must use a brush with soft bristles soaked in dish soap and water solution. Gently scrub the wood surface until the dirt buildup comes off. 

You can also scrub it with a clean sponge soaked in soap and water solution. Ensure to rinse the surface with water. If the wood surface only has slight dirt, you can just use a wet rag to wipe the debris and dirt off the wood surface. 

I’d advise against using cleaning products with strong chemicals on teak wood. They can harm the wood and complicate the staining process.

Step #2: Sand Using Your Usual Sandpaper, then Switch to 220-grit Sandpaper

Sanding teak wood is essential to create a smooth finish and allow the stain to easily penetrate through the wood grains. It opens the pores of the wood and helps absorb stains. 

Therefore, take the necessary time to sand your teak wood, as it will determine the success of your finish. 

sanding wood layer

If you’re staining teak wood with a previous finish, sanding is a crucial step to remove the old finish. So make sure to use a high-quality sandpaper for good results. 

If you’re working on a small project, I suggest you use a handheld or portable sanding block. On the other hand, it is best to use an orbital sander for larger projects.

For the first phase, you can use your usual sandpaper with 120 grit to remove the rough spots on the wood surface. Gently rub it on the surface to remove the inconsistencies. 

Once you’ve smoothened the rough surfaces, use a dry paintbrush or lint-free cloth to wipe the sanding debris and dust. 

After removing the inconsistencies on your teak wood surface, switch to finer sandpaper with 220 grits to completely smoothen the surface. Gently rub it on the surface until there are no visible bumps, and it feels smoother to the touch. 

person holding cloth

Ensure to remove the sanding dust off the wood surface. You may use a tack cloth or a wet rag to wipe the surface, then allow the surface to fully dry.

Step #3: Applying the Sanding Sealer

Once the sanded surface has dried completely, apply a sanding sealer coat using a foam brush. It’s important to keep this layer thin to avoid filling the pores. This conditions the surface for better stain absorption and promotes even pigment distribution, leading to a more consistent color.

If you want a lighter color, I suggest you add mineral spirits to your sealer. You may refer to the product label to determine the correct thinning ratio. 

You must cover the entire surface with light sealer, then wipe the excess sealer off the surface immediately to avoid pooling and splotching. Do not wait for the excess sealer to dry before removing it to avoid an uneven and messy finish. 

Step #4: Drying and Scuff Sanding the Sealed Surface

Once the sealer has fully dried, sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper. I’d advise against using a power sander to sand between coats. The goal here is merely to smooth out and flatten the raised grain that the sealer might have caused, not to aggressively sand the surface.

staining wooden shelf

Ensure to gently scratch the teak wood with fine sandpaper to prepare the surface for subsequent coating. Wipe the sanding residue off the surface using a clean tack cloth.

Step #5: Applying the Wood Stain

You may now apply the wood stain after ensuring that the surface is fully dry. Test the stain first on a hidden area before applying it on the entire surface. This will let you determine the right strokes and see the outcome on the surface. 

Wet a clean, lint-free cloth with the stain and wipe it on the surface, ensuring to spread the stain properly. If you’re satisfied with the color, you may proceed to cover the whole wood surface along the grains’ direction. Ensure that you apply an even coat on the wood surface. 

Step #6: Wiping Off the Excess Wood Stain and Leave it to Dry

After applying the stain on the wood surface, leave it for at least five minutes. Wipe the surface with a clean tack cloth to remove the excess stain. Ensure to wipe along the wood grains so that lines are aligned with them. 

If you want a darker color, you must leave the stain for a longer period. I suggest you wait a maximum of 10 minutes before wiping off the wood surface. 

absorbent cloth for cleaning

On the other hand, if you want a lighter color, wipe off the surface immediately after applying the stain, preferably in less than five minutes. The longer the wood stain stays on the surface, the darker the color can get. 

Allow the stain to dry fully. The surface drying time depends on the type of stain you use. Water-based stains dry faster, usually 30 minutes to one hour. Meanwhile, oil-based stains take a longer time to dry, which can take several hours. 

Step #7: Applying the Second Layer of Stain

Once the first coat of the stain has completely dried, check the surface color. Keep in mind that stains become lighter when dry. If you want a darker color, you must apply a subsequent stain coat, following the same procedure when you applied the first coat. 

Let the wood dry. If you’re satisfied with the final color, you can now proceed to the last step.

Step #8: Applying the Sealant to Your Stained Wood

Finally, apply a clear coat over the stain to protect the wood surface and lock in the color of the stain. Use any clear topcoat, such as varnish, lacquer, and polyurethane. Ensure to follow the product application and drying instructions to achieve a smooth and flawless finish. 

Minwax Polycrylic Wood Finish

How Frequent Should You Stain Teak Wood Furniture and Fences?

I recommend reapplying stain on your teak wood furniture, fences, decks, and other outdoor structures after a maximum of 5 years. But it always depends on the type and quality of the stain you used. Also, the application process can determine the longevity of the stain. 

If done properly, the wood stain can last up to seven years before you need to reapply it on your outdoor furniture and structures. 

How Can You Alter the Color of Your Teak Furniture?

You can alter the color of your teak furniture by applying several layers of stain on the wood surface. You may choose any color, but ensure to apply along the wood grain’s directions. Let the stain stay on the surface for five minutes, then wipe the excess stain using a tack cloth. 

Can You Paint Any Teak Garden Furniture?

While it’s possible to paint teak garden furniture, I wouldn’t recommend it, especially new pieces. Painting can mask the stunning grains and patterns inherent to teak wood. By painting teak, you essentially change its natural hue and finish.

More importantly, the paint can’t adhere properly on the surface due to teak oil content, causing peeling and cracking sooner. 

Ideal Teak Stain Color Options

applying teak oil to wood

You can stain teak wood with any color you prefer. Below are the colors you can choose from: 

My Top Picks for Teak Stain Products

1. General Finishes Oil-Based Penetrating Wood Stain, 1/2 Pint, Danish Teak

This oil-based wood stain can make your teak more durable and withstand harsh elements. It penetrates easily through the teak grain, distributing the color pigment evenly on the wood surface.

It’s easy to apply using a soft-bristled brush, foam brush, or lint-free cloth. It’s user-friendly, making it ideal for beginners or DIY enthusiasts. 

Overall, the stain delivers a consistent, splotch-free finish, and with its quick-drying properties, you can wrap up your project in no time!

2. Star Brite 085132 Star Brite Premium Teak Oil

This is another oil-based stain that offers maximum protection for your teak wood. It has UV absorbers that can shield your wood furniture, fences, and decks against weathering, fading, and sun damage.

It’s made of a high-quality formula that preserves teak wood’s natural color and extends its lifespan. You can avail this premium quality product for a very affordable price. 

3. Seal-Once Exotic Premium - Wood Stain and Waterproof Sealer in One

If you prefer a water-based formula that’s easier to apply and clean up, I highly recommend Seal-Once. It easily penetrates through teak wood grains, giving it maximum protection.

It’s also ideal for outdoor furniture and fences as it gives protection against mold, mildew, and harsh environmental conditions. Most of all, it preserves the natural beauty of teak wood. 

4. SamaN Interior ‎TEW-212-12 Water-Based Wood Stain

This oil-based wood stain can enhance the durability of your teak, helping it stand up to harsh elements. It sinks deep into the teak grain, ensuring an even distribution of color pigment across the wood’s surface.

What I like the most about this wood stain is it has low VOC content. This means that it does not emit harsh fumes and is completely odorless. This makes it best to use even on your indoor furniture.

Do You Have to Finish Teak Wood?

Although teak wood has natural protective oil content, applying a high-quality finish can prolong the teak lifespan, especially if your wood is exposed to harsh elements like your outdoor furniture, decks, and fences. 

When choosing the best stain for your teak wood, pick sealants instead, as they are specifically formulated for teak wood. This type of finish will give excellent protection to your teak wood, making it more durable and prolonging its natural beauty.

What’s the Recommended Finish for Teak?

I recommend using lacquer for your teak wood indoors, like flooring, furniture, handrails, and other wooded pieces. 

Teak oil finish

Generally, it’s lighter and can penetrate the wood pores thoroughly compared to varnish, shellac, or polyurethane. It has a thin layer, so you must apply several coats for the best result. Also, it dries very fast, so you can finish the application process faster.

However, I don’t recommend lacquer for outdoor furniture and other structures because it’s not durable enough. Instead, use a polyurethane product as it can better protect teak wood against harsh elements. 

Painting vs Staining vs Sealing Teak Wood

Wood Staining

Typically, stains have the slightest change on the wood in terms of color. It does not cover the grains and patterns of the wood, preserving its natural beauty.

Articles you should check out:

Wood Sealing

A wood sealant creates a protective layer to prevent moisture to seep into the wood, waterproofing the wood for outdoor use. It has a clear, shiny, and slight tint on the wood surface. 

Teak couch

Wood Painting

Essentially, wood paint will completely cover the texture and natural color of the wood. It’s typically an oil-based or acrylic that can be applied on a wood surface to protect and enhance its appearance.

Read Next: Should You Paint the Interior of Your Kitchen Cabinets?


How you can modernize your teak-made furniture?

You can modernize your teak-made furniture by using a teak brightener. This product can enhance and restore the color of old teak [1] wood by removing mold, mildew, and stains on the furniture.

Should you apply oil on your teak-made furniture or fence?

No, you should not apply oil on your teak-made furniture or fence as it can harm the wood. Oil makes the teak wood brittle and promotes mildew and mold growth since it interferes with the teak’s natural oil content. 


Now that you know you can stain teak wood, you properly maintain and protect your teak furniture, fences, decks, and other outdoor structures against UV rays, mildew, mold, and other harsh elements. 

Most importantly, you can ensure to preserve their natural beauty and prolong their lifespan using an appropriate and high-quality product!

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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