The Case for Teak Oil

When finishing a wooden product, I know a coat or two of polyurethane is a standard sealant option.  And for good reason-it’s water-resistant, wipeable, and usually durable.  It’s the top coat I’ve used on several pieces I’ve refinished and they look just as good years later.

Boys-Bedroom-with-New-Rug-and-Lamp-on-Dresser

But polyurethane isn’t the only option, nor is it my favorite.  Over the years, in an experiment of sorts, I put several alternative products to the test: mineral oil, cutting board oil, Danish oil, butcher block oil, paste finishing wax, and Teak oil.

Oil-and-Wax-Testing

Why, you ask?  Well, because unlike a traditional poly, all the products mentioned above can be reapplied at any time.  But why would I want to recoat when I could just use poly and be done?  I’d love to explain.  Of all the options I’ve tried, Teak oil is my favorite, with Danish oil a close second.  The rest, well, they certainly have a use in the right application, like refreshing a cutting board.  For furniture purposes, mineral oil products just aren’t durable or long wearing enough.  Teak oil, however, penetrates and creates a long-lasting water-resistant surface.  It’s great for sealing furniture, as I did with my wood frame linen sofa.

Thrifted-Vintage-Sofa-Back-Corner-After

Teak oil has also been my go to for sealing the walnut cabinetry we’ve made, both in the master bathroom and kitchen island.

Master-Bathroom-Vanity-Half-Oiled-Drawers

Island-Drawers-Overall

So what’s so special about this?  First off, it enhances the grain of wood, bringing out the depth and character.  Look what a quick swipe will do:

Walnut-Drawer-Half-Oiled

From blah and ashen to bold and rich.

Walnut-Drawers-Oiled-vs-Not

Application is also crazy easy and brush stroke free.  Simply pour a little on a scrap of an old t-shirt, rub on, and wipe off with a clean, lint free cloth.  That’s it.

Island-Drawer-Detail

Even better, oil can be reapplied over an old coat without sanding, which is not the case with polyurethane, making it ideal for wooden pieces in high traffic/use areas.  Have a scratch, gouge, or dent?  Don’t fret, just dab a little oil on and you’re set.  Ooh, rhyme time!  This finish won’t crack, peel, or flake off.

Island-Drawer-Water-Spots

The only down side is that over time, water spots can appear.  Upon close inspection, the most often used kitchen drawers, mainly the utensil and trash, show signs of use.  It has been at least a year since the last application, so when I find the time, I’ll give each drawer a light sand and touch up coat for a quick refresh. Now, that’s something you can’t do with polyurethane finishes.

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10 thoughts on “The Case for Teak Oil

    1. Hi Domesticphilosophy!

      That’s one I haven’t tried, though I’ve never seen it locally. Does it create a lasting finish? Or is it kind of like mineral oil? Any odor to it?

      Thanks!
      Amanda

  1. I am confused: you say it doesn’t need sanding before reapplying, but then say that you will sand your drawers and reapply. Is that to get rid of the water spots first? Could you elaborate a bit more? Sounds like a great alternative to poly!

    1. Hi Heidi!

      Sorry for the confusion. With poly, you have to do a full sand, down to bare wood before applying if there’s a problem area. With Teak oil, it’s best to sand lightly on problem areas, then apply. If the wood just looks dull, a quick wipe down to make sure any gunk is gone is sufficient. 🙂

      Thanks!
      Amanda

  2. I’ve been using Hemp oil and really love it! But I’m gonna try the Teak as well. ( I’m new to your blog and I love it 🙂 )

    Eva @ Design Café

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