Teak Care & Use Guide

How to clean your teak using SEMCO Teak Cleaner
How to apply SEMCO Teak Sealer

Ancient sailors overcame the problem of rough, sun-oxidized teak by washing the decks of ships with seawater, sand, and pumice stones. This method was back breaking and resulted in many mutinies. In an English Garden setting, teak outdoor furniture left to its natural gray fits the setting and blends beautifully with the surroundings. Many modern yachtsmen, cruise ship operators and teak furniture owners have sought methods of restoring and maintaining the natural beauty of their teak wood. SEMCO Teak Products is a company devoted exclusively to the cleaning, restoration and preservation of teak. The major use of our products is in the marine industry, but we have discovered through recent sales that many owners of teak furniture desire to restore and maintain the rich honey color of new teak.

To preserve the teak in its natural color for an extended period of time SEMCO is proud to offer our SEMCO Teak Sealer. SEMCO Teak Sealer is a solvent based teak finish with water-like viscosity containing pigments, mildewcide, UV inhibitors and moisture protection. SEMCO does not contain silicone, varnish, polymers or exotic oils.

When SEMCO Teak Sealer is properly applied to teak, the wood will look as if it has nothing on it, yet it will not turn gray or support the growth of mildew. Surface soil can be washed away with mild detergent, and with seasonal recoating the teak will be preserved in its natural state for many years.

There are a variety of “teak oils” on the market for the protection of teak, these usually consist of linseed or tung oil mixed with mineral spirits. When first applied to the wood, these oils impart a nice finish to the wood, but left outdoors teak oils wear away in weeks and require re-coating. With each re-coat the oiled finish becomes darker and the surface becomes sticky and collects dirt. The organic waste from these oils provides a wonderful garden patch for the growth of mold and mildew. In a very short period of time the wood requires a complete restoration.

Varnish, polyurethane and polymer finishes apply a coating to the wood that will eventually be pushed off by the natural teak oil coming to the surface. The owner is then faced with the major job of stripping and sanding the teak before re-finishing.

If teak has been allowed to weather, the gray and any mildew must be removed before finishing the wood. The cleaning process is harsh on the wood and may contribute to a rough surface if repeated many times.

When teak is newly milled or has been sanded with a mechanical sander the heat from those processes will burnish or polish the natural oils in the wood. The dust created from sanding teak is very fine and oily, it will clog the pores of the wood. These two phenomena cause the “waxy” feeling of new wood. This burnished oil and dust must be removed prior to finishing. The finish will not soak into the burnished areas and the dust will absorb the finish and eventually be washed away causing a blotchy appearance. See below.

To clean weathered teak, SEMCO offers SEMCO Two Part Teak Cleaner. This product is easy to use and will produce dramatic results. To clean the teak with SEMCO simply remove the piece from any finished surface or remove any items that might be affected by the cleaning process. SEMCO teak cleaner will not hurt the lawn or fiberglass but it may damage painted surfaces or stain a patio, always wear rubber gloves and goggles when using this cleaner. Using a hose, wet the wood thoroughly and be sure to allow plenty of water to flow where the rinse water will run. Open the applicator lid of the Red Part 1 Cleaner and squirt onto a small area. It is best to work on a small area at a time, overlapping each area and working from top to bottom, not allowing the cleaner to dry on the wood. Scrub the Part 1 with a Scotch Brite pad or a soft bristle brush, the wood will turn a deep brown color.  Rinse thoroughly, then apply the Green Part 2 to the same area and scrub in the same fashion, the wood will then turn much lighter.  Finally rinse the area thoroughly with water, the teak should appear obviously lighter and cleaner, if any stains remain repeat the process. The wood will lighten further as it dries.

SEMCO Two Part Teak Cleaner will remove teak oils, food stains, the residue of varnish, and SEMCO Teak Sealer. Any solid surface coating like varnish must be removed before using Two Part Cleaner. Never use a brass brush or a pressure washer to clean teak, these methods will scour the soft grain of the wood causing a rough and splintery surface. Never use steel wool to clean teak because it will produce rust spots in the wood. Brass wool is acceptable but a Scotch Brite Pad is the best tool to clean teak.

If the teak is already finished with SEMCO Teak Sealer this type of cleaning is not necessary unless you want to remove the SEMCO and start again. For new teak cleaning with two part cleaner is not necessary, however the “waxy” feeling of newly milled wood must be gone before finishing. To prepare new wood for finishing one of two methods may be employed. Either the new teak can be allowed to weather for a few weeks, just until it begins to lose its color, or the process can be accelerated by washing the wood with a strong detergent such as Tide, Wisk or Simple Green. When the grain of the wood is open and the waxy feeling gone, the wood is ready to be finished with SEMCO Teak Sealer.

To apply SEMCO Teak Sealer the wood must be completely dry. Shake the can or stir the contents to thoroughly mix the SEMCO.  SEMCO Teak Sealer has a water-like consistency, appearing opaque in the can. Apply the SEMCO to the teak using a foam brush applicator allowing the wood to absorb as much as it wants. There are no brush strokes or lap marks to be concerned with. When the first coat is complete, a second coat can be applied immediately. Always apply both coats in the same day. Use a rag to wipe any excess from the wood after each coat. Two coats as an initial application should be sufficient in most cases, as more coats will mask the grain of the wood. The teak will be dry to the touch in an hour and ready for service the next day. Cool, cloudy or damp weather will slow the drying time. A plastic spray bottle eases application to furniture.

When SEMCO Teak Sealer is applied to the teak and it has had a week or two to weather, the wood will appear as if it has “nothing” on it, yet the teak will not turn gray or allow the growth of mildew. After cleaning and sealing with SEMCO the first time, an occasional cleaning with soap and water and a single fresh coat of Sealer applied seasonally will keep the teak looking great for years to come. If water dashed on the surface beads up, then the SEMCO is still working and does not need re-coating. Avoid applying SEMCO too often as the finish will build up and mask the grain of the wood. A harsh environment or higher usage may shorten the intervals of maintenance required .

SEMCO Teak Sealer is manufactured in several shades. The most popular choice for our furniture customers is Honeytone. This shade gives the wood the rich “honey” color similar to the color of the wood when it is new. SEMCO also offers several other shades that may be used to produce any desired look on the wood. SEMCO Goldtone will give the wood the “reddish brown” color of new teak. SEMCO Natural, boater’s favorite shade, will give the wood the “sandy tan” color of weathered teak. SEMCO Classic Brown will give the wood the “dark brown” color of teak when wet. Any of the colors can be mixed to achieve an intermediate shade. SEMCO Clear Tone contains no pigment and is therefore not as resistant to the elements and requires more frequent re-coating.

While the SEMCO Teak Sealer is resistant to the weather and most stains, some oily or greasy food may stain the surface of the wood. The best method to clean these stains is dish soap or a spot clean with SEMCO Two Part Teak Cleaner for any stubborn spots.

SEMCO is now offering a new product that will aid in preserving the surface of the wood and provides a patina to the finished surface. SEMCO Clear Coat  will provide a more impervious surface improving stain and dirt resistance and impart a rich patina to the teak.  SEMCO Clear Coat can be applied over SEMCO Teak Sealer on table tops to help provide stain resistance. It will darken whatever shade the wood is slightly.

Teak is unmatched in its beauty and durability. With little care it will last many years, with a little SEMCO it will remain looking like new as well. SEMCO works in a similar fashion on other types of wood such as Iroko, Mahogany, Redwood, Ash, Jatoba, Ipe and Butternut. SEMCO Teak Products are used in many commercial applications such as outdoor restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, theme parks and some very special residences that have teak doors and trim details. SEMCO is also used by many manufacturers of boats, furniture and canoes.