Like most people, my family enjoys spending time outdoors, regardless of the season. And being someone who loves wood and the character of natural wood grain, I prefer real wood outdoor furniture over plastic chairs and aluminum lawn furniture.
But I have learned that the combination of the ultra-violet rays of the sun, unexpected summer thunderstorms, snow and sleet — not to mention lemonade, tree sap and bird droppings — can take its toll on unprotected wood.
All woods have a small amount of natural oils which, to a certain extent, do provide a low level of protection. But these natural oils evaporate quickly under the heat of the summer sun, leaving our wood furniture vulnerable to the elements. Wood that was once bright and beautiful is now reduced to wood that is gray, cracked, dirty, warped, stained and unsightly.
Even the more expensive woods, such as teak, cedar, rosewood and mahogany, can fall prey to the bleaching action of the sun and the stains that appear once their natural oils have evaporated. But if you wait until the sun has dried them out, much of the damage will already have been done. The time to apply a protective layer of finish is BEFORE your furniture looks like it needs it, not after.
The ideal finish for these types of wood, regardless of whether you use them indoors or outdoors, is Minwax® Helmsman® Teak Oil. Unlike thicker finishes that dry on the surface, Helmsman® Teak Oil is designed to penetrate deep into the pores of the wood, where it mixes with the wood's natural oils, then hardens inside the wood.
For best results using Minwax® Helmsman® Teak Oil, I have found it always helps to start with a light sanding of the wood. This opens up the pores, removes scratches and reveals the true color of the wood. After lightly shaking the container for about twenty seconds, I use either a brush or a rag to spread a liberal amount of Teak Oil over the wood, making sure I apply it to the underside of boards as well. After about five to ten minutes, I apply a second coat the same way and let it soak in for about fifteen minutes more before wiping off any excess.
And here's a tip: I prefer not to work in direct sunlight, as the warmth of the sun can cause the oil to begin to harden before it has had time to soak deeply into the wood. If you can't work in the shade, keep a close eye on that second coat, as it may begin to harden faster than you expect. If so, wipe the excess off as soon as you notice it happening.
Even though the wood may feel dry a few minutes after you wipe down that second application, it’s best to give it six to eight hours to completely harden before either putting it back out into the sun or using it.
And remember, one of the great things about Helmsman® Teak Oil is that any time your wood appears to be drying out, you can simply grab the can and apply another coat of protection.