Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

February 13, 2013

How to Revive, Refinish and Restore Teak Wood with Teak Oil

How to oil teak wood

I bought a sweet little tray at a yard sale that was in rough shape, but had a Kjeni Denmark sticker (here's a similar tray on Etsy).  I'm such a Euro-snob, I scooped it up right away.  Whenever I shop, "Made in Canada" is 10 points, "Made in USA" warrants a 9.5 and made anywhere in Europe is 9.  Finding things not made in China is one of the many reasons I love to shop vintage.

Unfortunately, this tray was only in my hands a short while because it caught my Dad's eye!  He was quite smitten with it and wanted it for his bedside table, which is also teak.  He thought it would be a perfect catchall that would help protect the table as well (like father like daughter, I guess).  I was pretty surprised that my Dad wanted to accessorize his bedside table and had the eye to pick something so perfect.  I happily handed it over, but we decided it needed a little TLC.  While my Dad had a snack and "supervised," I grabbed some teak oil and transformed the tray.  I was dubious about its makeover potential, but was amazed at the difference.

It is amazing what teak oil can do to revive tired, worn out teak, but there are some tips and tricks that must be followed!

How to revive, refinish and restore teak wood with teak oil // Tips and Tricks
How to Oil Teak:

Always default to the instructions on the label of your teak cleaner.  These products can really vary and it's best to follow the directions to the letter.  I have used brands that indicate the oil should sit on teak for a few minutes, others indicate a few hours.  Some recommend buffing or burnishing after application, others don't.  Ask your local mid-century modern furniture dealer for their recommendation - they might even sell the best teak oil in their shop!


Here's what I did:
  • Open the window or work outside (on a day with low humidity)
  • Make sure the piece is clean - you can purchase special teak cleaner, but use a light touch
  • Apply a generous coat of teak oil with a soft, lint-free rag
  • Apply teak oil in the direction of the stain
  • Allow to dry for two hours and wipe off excess**
  • Repeat as needed (I used 4-5 coats and that made a real difference)
  • To reach inside edges and corners, use a teak oil soaked Q-tip

Additional Teak Oiling Tips:

**I have, however, worked with some brands of teak oil (like this one) that perform better if you let it sit for only a few minutes and then remove, opting for more coats with less time to sink in.  IF the brand of teak oil you're using doesn't specify a time, default to letting the teak oil soak in for only a few minutes before wiping off the excess and work gradually to build up the sheen.

Word of Caution: Oils are combustible, so do not leave oil-soaked rags balled up in your trash can.  We throw ours in an outdoor fire pit or let them dry laid flat outside.  I have heard that you can also put them in a jar of water, but that's not what we do.

Teak Oiling Results!

Before, the tray was dry and washed out looking (you can really see the how dry it was in the second photo):

How to care for teak
How to restore damaged teak

Here is the tray with half an application of teak oil, so you can really see the difference.

Teak oil application, before and afterIt looks fabulous now.  (Notice how the little bowl did make its way to my parents' home?!?):

Teak tray refresh
Refinishing Teak
How to use teak oil
Teak oil tips and tricks
Bedroom with teak furniture

Be forewarned, oiling wood (instead of using a stain or varnish) is really addictive!

Refinishing wood  arms on mcm chair

I also oiled the arms on an upholstered chair (read my tip for not getting oil on the fabric!):

Refinish the arms on retro teak chair

Then I oiled a solid walnut trivet we made from scratch:

How to oil wood furniture

I even oiled the top of an old stool I bought, even though I wasn't sure what kind of finish it originally had.  It turned out beautifully, though!

Wood oil tutorial


  1. What a great find and lovely makeover!

    1. Thanks! I was so pleased how easily it was brought back to life. I think it was left behind by everyone else who stopped at the yard sale because it looked unlovable, lol.

  2. Replies
    1. Oh, me too! I was admiring it when I was visiting my parents. There is a pair of them, actually, and they belonged to my great grandparents.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm not going to lie, once it came out looking so good, I kinda (just kinda) wanted to keep it. But I'm so happy my Dad liked it (and I know where it is if I ever want to steal it).

  4. The tray is beautiful! And I concur with the made in Canada, US, Europe... but not so much for made in China. It's funny how you really see things differently when you apply this to the treasure hunting process.

  5. I love those European carpets. I have something similar, but Romanian in blue.
    Love your bedroom, Tanya. Silvia again. I keep writing my name because l have my son's google name. It is a nice reminder of my son's presence on this Earth.

    1. Oooo, your carpets sounds beautiful! I'm very partial to Blue :)
      This is actually me parents' bedroom. My Mom likes a more neutral palette than me - but she's got better taste, for sure!


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