I have been lucky enough to own various sets of teak garden furniture over the last 30 years and have always wanted to protect the wood to the best of my ability and to keep it looking good but have been confused as to the best way forward to do both. Hopefully, I can help spell out in plain English what I have learned and tell you about the products I have used.

Should I use teak oil...or not?

Not treating teak at all means it will age down in time and go that silvery-grey colour that you see on memorial benches around a church graveyard. That may suit those steadfast benches that seem to outlast time itself but do I want gravestone grey in my garden? My initial thought was no!

Teak oil had to be the answer so I bought myself a can and applied it sparingly and rubbed it in with a cloth as directed. Hard work, no question, but after the second coat had dried it looked regal, with a deep rich colour and a lustre that caught the sunlight. Being naive I thought the job was done but the elements had no respect for all my hard work. I added another coat in the autumn but by the following spring, the teak looked very sorry for itself appearing decidedly grey and grubby. More work was needed.

A bottle of Barlow Tyrie teak oil.
A bottle of Barlow Tyrie teak oil.

The teak was washed with soapy water and a stiff brush and then sanded down to return it to it’s near original condition. This time I brushed on the teak oil as it was a lot quicker and a couple of coats later the lustre was back. I would treat it a couple more times during the season and protect it with a cover over the winter. Sadly the English winter did its worst and I was pretty much back at square one by the following spring. Out went the hand rubbing and in came the electric sander to speed up the process further. Teak oil was applied and again the results were good but by now it was becoming evident that the same cycle was going to have to happen every spring. There had to be a better way?

To balance the equation I have to also say that I was lucky enough to share an apartment in Spain that had a large covered terrace that was generous enough to be able to house a set of teak furniture and I had teak oiled this when it first arrived. As there is no English winter in Spain, and the set was protected from the sun by the roof, a couple of applications of teak oil every 12 months, with no sanding necessary, was all it took to leave the furniture looking beautiful. In this case the teak oil method was highly successful and definitely recommended.

So when would you use Barlow Tyrie teak cleaner?

Whenever you leave teak outside in the English weather it evidently attracts debris and particles out of the atmosphere that seems to get ingrained into the wood. Leave it long enough and the sun will bleach all the colour out of the teak and you get the classic silvery-grey effect, but that takes years…...literally. 

During the second summer seasoning of my new Aura modular deep seating set I was getting frustrated with the ingrained grimy look of the teak arm and backrests and decided it needed a clean. Barlow Tyrie teak cleaner had to be the obvious first choice. 

At this juncture, I have to say please read the full instructions on all the labels and follow all safety precautions.

With the teak surface moistened I applied the teak cleaner as directed and left it to soak in for 3 minutes. A coarse plastic scrubbing pad is included in the kit and so I set to work trying to scrub out the muck. It was very deeply ingrained and, at first, I wasn’t too impressed but I was only tickling it and you do need to scrub hard. Once I realised this and started to use some elbow grease I could see the original teak colour coming back in front of my eyes and behind the black scum that was being deposited on the surface. Lots of water to rinse and then some more scrubbing and I was amazed at the difference. The teak was going to look like new.

A teak chair before cleaning, and one part after cleaning with Barlow Tyrie's teak cleaner.
One part of a teak chair before cleaning, and one part after cleaning with Barlow Tyrie's teak cleaner.

The course scrubbing pad soon filled up with the black clag which was difficult to wash out so I decided to try a steel round scrubbing ball, the type that you use in the kitchen, and this was altogether quicker and easier to use. A final rinse down and the teak was left to dry in the sun before a light sanding to bring back that super smooth surface that you just can’t help running your palm over. Very satisfying if you are not really DIY-minded, which I certainly am not.

A close up view after using Barlow Tyrie's teak cleaner.
A close up view after using Barlow Tyrie's teak cleaner.

How to apply Barlow Tyrie Teak Colour Guard

Dust off the recently sanded teak surface with a new wide paintbrush, or similar, and shake the colour guard vigorously in preparation.

Pour a little solution onto the supplied cloth and rub into the teak. Do not leave pools of colour guard sitting on the teak as you will have to polish hard to rub out the initial staining. The Colour Guard darkens down the teak and brings out the veining in the wood nicely. The first coat both applies and dries fairly quickly so you can cover a lot of teak before the required 30 minutes are up to start the second coat. This should be applied more sparingly. Once both coats have fully dried stand back and admire your handy work which is definitely worth all the effort.

I was very happy with the final colour which doesn’t really reveal itself until you have finished so it is suggested that you test on a small area first just in case it doesn’t suit your particular needs.

Results of a fully colour-guarded armchair.
Results of a fully colour-guarded armchair.

How effective is Barlow Tyrie Anti Wasp Solution?

When I first put my Barlow Tyrie Aura deep seating set out in the garden the teak was pristine (although virgin teak is generally quite a light wood it does contain some black veins and markings naturally within the wood) so I was as pleased as could be. But as the season progressed I noticed that the wasps were also impressed and were attracted to the teak surface where they ‘chew’ out little furrows leaving a scabby-looking surface.

The Barlow Tyrie anti wasp solution applies as easily as brushing in water but don’t be fooled by this clear solution into not wearing a protective mask and working outdoors in the fresh air. It dries quickly and a second coat is then applied as directed.

Once completely dry protection is in place for your precious teak. The wasps will come back for a while and take a crawl around but they do not ingest the teak so leave no tell-tale marks. Eventually, the wasps will look elsewhere.

Nothing is forever so you do have to reapply a second time later in the season but it’s quick and simple so not really an issue.

I applied it on top of the colour guard last time and that has the effect of (very) slightly altering the colour but it is not a concern, in my opinion.

An arm of a chair after being coated in Barlow Tyrie's colour guard.
An arm of a chair after being coated in Barlow Tyrie's colour guard.

At the time of writing this, 30th August 2021, I have a cleaned, colour guarded, wasp protected finish on my teak that looks very easy on the eye and feels smooth as silk to the touch. This will wear and will deteriorate over time but how much and how quickly?

A teak table after being cleaned, colour guarded, and wasp protected.
A teak table after being cleaned, colour guarded, and wasp protected.

I will report back with an update over the months to see if the outlay in cost and time has been well spent. Until then (if the sun comes out again) I might afford myself a beer in the garden. Cheers!

Where does the time go?

It is now late February, 2023 and 2022 has passed without me updating this blog but I can now look back and comment with some authority.

The colour of the teak still looked pretty good in spring 2022 but I decided to add another coat of Colour Guard and later a coat of Anti Wasp solution for good measure and the results have been impressive. That beautiful colour in the finished original photos above maintains and stays without any rapid fading. The furniture looked as good during last summer as after I had originally left after the initial treatment so I will continue to apply a coat of Colour Guard once or twice a year and look back and admire my handywork - and I am not proficient at DIY.

As for the wasps - they are not chewing my teak furniture anymore or buzzing around my head nearly so much, so another success. Whether or not that is entirely due to the Anti Wasp Solution or the Colour Guard, or a combination of the two I am not entirely sure, but it all works.