By Erin V. Mahoney -

Try Your Hand: Staining Teak Furniture

Tectona grandis, commonly known as teak, is a fine-grained tree native to Southeast Asia and India. Its characteristic durability makes it a choice material for outdoor furniture, but designers are moving teak indoors as well, for good reason. Recent developments in forestry have allowed teak to be sustainably grown in plantations. The raw wood has a warm, honey color, but aged teak turns a silver-grey hue. To prevent this color evolution, many choose to stain teak. Here we offer our advice for achieving a flawless DIY application.

You will need:

Untreated teak

Several clean cloth rags (an old T-shirt works well)

Sandpaper, 120 grit

Sandpaper, 220 grit

Rubber gloves

3 foam poly brushes

Bristle brush (optional)

Sand sealer

Wood stain

Finish of your choice

Note: Always stain outside or in a well-ventilated place. Use rubber gloves to protect your hands.


  • Ready your teak furniture by cleaning it with a dry cloth. Tough spots might require some elbow grease and water. Avoid using anything stronger — cleaning chemicals will react with the stain and distort the finish.
  • Sand the wood to create a uniform canvas to absorb the stain. Rough, raised grain will require 120 grit sandpaper, but finish the entire piece with 220 grit for an evenly smooth surface. Follow the grain of the wood as you sand. Again wipe down the surface with a dry cloth to remove any dust accumulated during sanding.


  • Before staining, apply a sand sealer for better stain application. Using a foam poly brush, coat the wood with long, sweeping strokes. As the sealer dries, sop up any excess with a clean cloth. Wait for the sealer to dry completely, usually a few hours.
  • Repeat sanding the surface with the 220 grit paper. Make a few passes over the wood as sealer often dries unevenly despite careful application. Remove any sanding dust with a dry cloth.


  • Apply the first layer of stain using a cloth. You can also use a bristle or foam poly brush, but cloth works best for a quick, thorough application. Remove excess stain with a clean cloth. To develop a deeper stain, wait before removing excess.
  • Allow the stain to dry. Avoid touching the surface as it dries — fingerprints mar the final appearance. When totally dry, you can either apply a second coat for a darker stain or apply the finish.
  • Seal the wood with a finish using a clean foam poly brush. There are several finishes to choose from: Oil best preserves the wood grain, polyurethane is most weather-resistant and lacquer is an option that both preserves and protects, but requires multiple applications.

Once the finish has dried, you are now in possession of a robust teak piece that will add warmth and texture to any space, outdoors or in.


Did you try your hand at this DIY project? If so, we want to hear from you! Tell us about your process and product below.