Ultimate Guide to Sanding Teak Wood

The biggest issue with using wood as a material is that it requires regular maintenance. Oftentimes wood will start to discolour after a while due to the weather conditions. However, the best way to bring out its beautiful grain colour again is to sand the top. Teak wood is famous for being used in outdoor furniture. It has superb resistance to water and the elements. However, after a while, even teak furniture will need some maintenance. That means you will want to sand the surface and reapply a coat of your favourite finish. If you don’t know how to sand teak, then our ultimate guide to sanding teak wood can help you in this regard.

To sand teak wood you need to make sure not to apply too much force or pressure and keep the sander moving. Teak is a soft hardwood compared to others like oak. It is very easy to over-sand it and so you should always be careful that you don’t stay in one place with your sander very long. You want to start at 80 grits and make your way up to 180 or 240 at most. 

Teak wood is revered for its almost water-proof quality, it can stand tall in harsh weather. Though no wood, no matter how good and how resistant it may be, can withstand the elements always. Sooner or later it dries out, the surface becomes grey due to sun degradation, and it cracks. So it is always a good option to lightly sand the surface of the wood and renew the finish you had applied previously. You can apply something with UV inhibitors to help it last longer. However, even then it would still require maintenance after a year or so to make sure it lasts for a long time.

Should You Sand Teak Wood?

Any and every wood when you are about to apply your choice of finish requires sanding. If you are planning on finishing your teak furniture, then you will have to sand it first. This allows the finish to adhere to the surface of the lumber better. It also removes any tool marks and scratches that might have scarred the surface of the wooden furniture. So sanding teak wood is important if you are planning on finishing it to protect it from moisture. While teak is resistant, it still requires protection from water.

Over time wood dries out and gets discoloured due to many factors. It can be due to exposure to moisture, continuous heat, or sunlight. Any of these factors can ruin the finish and look of the wood. Teak is no exception, while it is one of the most water-resistant lumbers, it can still be affected by excess moisture. So after a year or so your teak furniture will require a fresh coat of finish. To do that you have to sand the surface of the wood first.

The only way to make sure that teak wood does not absorb any water is to seal it. This is why it is often recommended to seal outdoor furniture and decking.

How to Sand Teak: Step-by-Step Guide on Sanding Teak Wood

Sanding teak is no different than sanding any other wood. While it is a hardwood it is not as dense or hard as maple or oak. So you have to be careful so you don’t end up over-sanding the surface of the teak.

Step 1 – Preparation

Before you start sanding teak wood, you can mark it with a pencil. This can help you from over-sanding teak wood. You can use a random orbit sander, but to help reach corners, you can always sand manually by hand.

Step 2 – Removing Previous Finish (Optional)

If you are sanding an older piece that has already been sealed, you will need to remove that finish first. To do so, attach an 80-grit sheet to your random orbit sander and start sanding slowly. An 80-grit abrasive will remove material considerably faster, so be sure not to stay in one place for too long. Keep the sander moving and you will be able to reveal fresh teak from under the old coat of finish.

Step 3 – Cleaning

Once you are done sanding, you should clean the surface of the wood using a rag or vacuum. A clean microfiber cloth does a better job than a normal rag, also if your random orbit sander has a vacuum attachment, you still need to clean it up with a cloth.

Step 4 – Sanding

When you are done sanding the whole surface of the teak with 80-grits, it is time to move to 120. It is a finer abrasive compared to 80 so you need to take a bit more time when making passes with the random orbit sander. Again you can mark the surface of the teak with a pencil this will help you prevent over-sanding.

Now you move on to 150-grits, but first, make sure to clean the teak with a cloth. Again you can mark the surface with a pencil to ensure you are covering the surface of the teak properly. As you move up the grits you will need to sand a bit more thoroughly and take your time as the abrasion gets finer.

After 150 grits you need to move to 180 grits. You can stop at 180 if you want, but you can go up to 240 grits if you want a smoother surface on your teak wood.

Note: When working with finer grits, try to sand using a sanding block in the direction of the grain for finer results.

Step 5 – Finishing (Optional)

Once you are done sanding through all the grits, clean the teak wood one last time. Clean thoroughly because you don’t want dust and chips to get stuck under the finish. You can seal your teak furniture if you wish, this will help it stay dry even during the rainiest season. Try to find something with UV inhibitors like Spar Urethane. This helps the wood from sun degradation, and you don’t have to maintain your teak furniture as often.

How Do You Clean Teak Wood After Sanding?

The best way to clean teak wood after sanding it is by using mineral spirit. Pour some mineral spirit on a clean rag and thoroughly wipe the surface of the wood. Mineral spirit evaporates very fast so your teak wood will be dry within an hour. 

Alternatively, if you don’t have mineral spirit at hand you can use a vacuum/blower as well. Using a sander with the vacuum attachment helps avoid creating too much cleanup work. Also instead of mineral spirit you can also use a wet sponge and microfiber cloth to clean since it will not affect teak wood too much. If you have a vacuum/blower, you can use that before using mineral spirit to clean your teak after sanding. This will make the job for the mineral spirit much easier.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Can you sand down teak furniture?

Yes, you can sand down teak furniture if you need to renew the coat of finish on it. Outdoor furniture is usually made with teak and requires maintenance often. It is best to sand the teak furniture with fine-grit sandpaper before resealing the teak.

Can you use an electric sander on teak wood?

Yes, using a random orbit sander is the best way to sand teak wood fast. Just make sure you don’t stay in one place with the electric sander too long as it might end up over-sanding the teak wood.

Can you seal teak wood?

Sealing teak wood is the best to make sure it does not get damaged from rain and snow. Finding a sealer with UV inhibitors will protect the teak furniture from sun degradation as well and prevent it from discolouration or getting grey.

Final Thoughts

Teak wood is a very sought-after lumber, which also makes it expensive as well. It is the wood of preference for outdoor furniture so people often worry about whether they should sand it or not. While being a hardwood it is very soft and people end up over-sanding it very easily. The best way to tackle it is to mark the surface of the teak with a pencil and then sand it. Make sure not to stay in one place for too long and keep the sander moving.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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