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by CareyBot

Q: We have (whoops, had) beautiful high-end, outdoor teak furniture. Several years ago it had just reached that lovely patina-stage of aging and was very smooth to touch.

While we were away on vacation, a neighbor rented a power washer to clean his driveway. Looking over to our property he decided to do us a favor. You guessed it! He power-washed all our teak. When we came home we found pale furniture whose wood grain was striped and very rough.

Holding back my anger I asked what I should do next. He said to sand it and put on a finish of linseed oil and turpentine. Well, six years later, nothing is better. Our teak is dark gray–almost black. Can anything be done to get the color back to maybe something that resembles aged teak? I hope to use this furniture on our new flagstone patio. We now live a safe distance from any power washers.

A: Wow! A couple of cliches come to mind: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and “With friends (or neighbors) like this, who needs enemies?”

Both linseed oil and turpentine tend to really darken wood. Boiled linseed oil tends to darken wood even more. Linseed oil is mixed with the turpentine to increase penetration of the finish into the wood. So much for the patina of aged teak.

We think your only hope is that the oil and turpentine did not penetrate so deeply that it can’t be sanded well enough to remove it. If you can get down to the raw wood there may be hope.

The pressure washer probably removed a good deal of the natural oil of the wood, along with the patina. You’ll need to replace it. We suggest you use a light coat of a neutral oil. We’ve had good luck with tung oil. Use a rag to apply the oil to avoid getting too much on at one time. Try a small section of one piece of furniture and see if the color and texture pass muster. If so, finish the rest of the piece.

Live with it awhile. Then, if it’s acceptable, do the rest of the furniture. You will want to give your teak a minimum of three, and perhaps as many as six, coats of this finish. With luck, in time the patina will return.

As an alternative to our suggestion, consult a furniture refinisher for his or her opinion. We suggest that you bring a piece of the furniture to show an example and be sure to explain where, when and how you are going to use the furniture. Good luck.