When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.Minnie Aumonier
I always have a few things in my Gumtree watchlist.
Currently, there’s the antique oak secretaire cabinet and writing desk that I am lusting over, plus a vintage Porsche, a lamp made from a large Bailer shell and a collection of vintage apothecary jars and skeleton keys.
Recently, I found a gorgeous vintage teak reclining garden chair.
It was a bargain at $50 and was in the suburb just next to mine.
So after it sat on my watchlist for a week or two, I finally caved and picked it up!
I have a spacial-estimation problem where I think just about everything will fit in the back of my Forrester. The chair was a tight fight, but it did fit. Forrester’s are like the Tardis on the inside!
I love teak garden furniture. I already have a lovely teak garden bench on my front deck. My outdoor setting is teak too.
Teak can be sustainably grown. It is also one of the best woods to use for garden furniture because of its natural weather resistance. Teak wood contains oils which protects the tree against pests, rot and warping. Well cared for teak outdoor furniture can become heirloom pieces that will last a century or more!
But, this chair had seen better days.
A quick check revealed the chair was beautifully made, solid, with no repairs required.
It had faded to grey and still had some flaking pieces of varnish. My guess was, it had been left in a spot for a few years that had exposed it to our harsh Western Australian elements.
Fortunately it was not beyond repair.
As you can see, the bottom of my backyard was in need of a tidy too!
I decided to oil my chair using a mix of Linseed Oil and Mineral Turpentine in a 50:50 mix.
I was intending to use tung oil, a natural oil, with similar properties to linseed oil, that protects
Linseed is pressed from flax or linseeds, yes, the same linseeds that you eat! It is very thick, with a distinct smell. Raw linseed oil will take up to a week to dry, so I chose boiled linseed for this chair. It is not actually boiled, rather it has additives in the oil that hasten the drying process.
Linseed oil does not have added pigments, but it will darken your wood. Linseed oil is not as readily weather resistant as tung oil, and repeated applications are required to achieve the same level of protection. However, in this project, I don’t mind at all.
Mineral turpentine is a petroleum-based solvent that helps to thin the oil and allow better penetration into your wood.
How to Restore and Maintain Teak and Wood Garden Furniture.
Brush down the furniture with a stiff bristle brush and remove any insects or spiders. It is also a good opportunity to closely check the timber for any large cracks or repairs that may be required.
If there are any repairs, like patching over holes, or replacing screws, do them now, before progressing to the next step.
I have a water pressure cleaner and went over the chair to remove the flaking varnish and to give it a good clean. It was so dusty!
Thankfully, I was able to work in a sunny area with a strong breeze blowing and my chair took very little time to dry. Do not proceed to step three until you are certain your piece is completely dry.
If you don’t have a pressure cleaner, there are some wood cleaning and stripping products you could use at this step. Follow the instructions on the product and be sure your piece is completely dry before progressing to step three.
Give your furniture a light sanding. This will remove any residue trace of the previous treatment, (varnish in this case) and allow your oil to penetrate and protect the wood evenly and quickly.
This chair, with all those slats, took some time, but the prep time was worth it!
Brush off your piece to clean off any sawdust.
Mix your boiled linseed oil and mineral turpentine together in a ceramic or glass container in a 50:50 ratio (equal measures).
This oil will stain and discolour the surface you are working on, so if this concerns you, be sure to place your piece on a drop-cloth to catch any drips.
I like to begin by flipping the piece over and start on the underneath. The linseed oil and mineral turpentine mix is very thin, so don’t be tempted to load your brush, as it will either flick or dribble excess oil and make a bit of a mess.
You want to evenly coat your piece with a thin application.
It will be very easy to see which spots need application, and in this instance, the wood sucked up the oil very quickly!
I pay special attention to exposed ends, you may find the wood soaks up the oil much more readily on these spots.
You may need to rotate your piece a few times to ensure that every surface is coated with the oil.
It is much better to apply a few light coatings of oil than to attempt a heavy-handed application that will become tacky and take an age to dry and cure.
Leave the piece for 10 minutes to allow any remaining oil to soak in. Then, using a clean, lint-free rag, rub the piece over to collect any excess oil. This step is where your orphaned cotton socks come in handy!
This step is important, as any residual oil will collect on the surface, becoming tacky and slow to dry.
You can see that this was the point I started to turn pink with sunburn! Although it was a coolish day, the sun still had bite.
Leave the piece to dry overnight if possible.
Apply aloe vera for sunburn!
Reapply a second coat of the oil using the same blend and process as per steps four and five. Two to three coatings will ensure your piece is well protected and sealed. This may take a few days to complete.
Depending on the exposure and the ferocity of your elements, your piece should be protected for up to a year.
Cleaning and maintaining your wooden garden furniture is a great annual summer job. A sunny day, (wear more sun protection than you think you’ll need!) with a cool breeze will hasten the job along.
Once your piece is completely dry, position in your favourite spot in the garden and enjoy. I’ve placed mine under the frangipani tree where it gets the afternoon shade.
Add a favourite book, a cool drink and enjoy your garden from a comfortable vantage.
Relax and feel great about the treasure you have given a second chance at a meaningful life!
Time to find and restore your own garden furniture!
Keep an eye peeled for beautiful pieces in your local classifieds that need just a little love and attention to restore them to their former glory! You can find pieces that would otherwise be hundreds or thousands of dollars new, for a fraction of the price. All they need is your love and attention!
Do let me know what you have found and restored! I love to hear from you.