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.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription