What oil to use on outdoor furniture

Bought some lovely acacia furniture a few years ago and stupidly didn’t get any protective covers for them over the Winter. The tables have gone scabby and I’m looking to restore them to their former glory.

The plan is to:
Scrub with wire brush to get the flakey bits off
Clean with detergent
Sand with 120g
Sand with 200g
Sand with 280g
Rub with oil using a cloth

My question is what oil should a I go for please ?

This is what it looked like pre-Winter:

Note: Not sure if this belongs in the Gardening thread or not.

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Garden furniture oil works OK, as does teak oil. Danish oil works fairly well.


Tung oil unthinned for old wood.

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I’m not sure if it’s available in the UK, but Penofin (penofin.com) is a good choice for outdoor furniture.

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I haven’t used acacia very much, but my impression is that it behaves a little like tropical hardwoods which don’t absorb oil as readily as other timbers. For that reason I think you’ll get better results with a teak oil, which is thinner so that it can penetrate more easily than unthinned linseed, tung or other oils.

Sanding down to 280 grit will also reduce absorbancy of oils, so I’m not sure I would go that fine on outdoor furniture.

There are an increasing number of water based oil emulsions on the market for outdoor use. I find these to offer inferior protection, shorter lifespan, and you use more of it to cover the timber. I appreciate that they are intended to be less damaging to the environment but I’m not sure they achieve this if you need to use twice as much, twice as often.

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Problem with neat tung oil is that it doesn’t particularly sink in to the wood very much. Acacia is oily hard wood, so will absorb less. There again, it will absorb less water too, especially if it’s sanded to 280. Sinking in isn’t a problem, but for me, outside furniture should be feed oil to replace the drying out. Another issue with tung oil is that a lot of ‘tung’ oils aren’t tung at all, or contain little of it. It needs to be 100% pure tung and this is expensive, tricky to apply and very slow drying (many days) by which time your furniture is covered in dirt, grit and everything else.

My gut instinct is Barrettine decking oil. It’s thin so sinks in to replenish the wood, easy to apply, can apply a couple of coats a year if you like, contains biocide, uv protector and dries fairly quickish.

P.S. all these decking oil, etc… labels, can be used for mulit-purpose wood protection. They’re just packaged to sell to particular consumers.

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All oils take a long time to dry. Tung oil is one of the quickest. Linseed oil for example takes much longer and often has drying agents added to help stop the stickiness and improve the drying time. If you want the oil to soak and penetrate the grain rather than just provide a protective surface then dilute the tung oil with thinners. Tung oil is reputed to be particularly good for sun and bleaching resistant. Any oil will protect though.

Teak oil is often based on tung oil, just with added thinners to improve penetration, thus my suggestion. Not sure about decking oil but I’ve had great results with some other Barrettine products for exterior furniture.

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The size of the job depends on how many pieces (chairs, table, etc) you have and how bad their condition is now. More photos would be helpful. It could be a major undertaking especially if you’re going to sand each surface of each piece three times. For outdoor furniture I wouldn’t sand any finer than 200g, unless you’ve got a lot of time on your hands and some decent sanding tools.

I use teak oil on our acacia garden furniture. Oiled once a year, in spring. Covers are used whenever rain is forecast. They (steamer chair and two benches) are only a couple of years old and seem to be holding up well.

Go to your boat Chandler especially sail boat and ask for a recommendation.

Another problem with tung oil is that it’s very thick and can’t just be painted on and left. It should be left on for a while and then the excess wiped off. Doing this is a bit of an art and on garden furniture would be a laborious pain.

The problem with ‘teak’ oil is that there is no such standard mix. Every manufacturer makes there own version. The only answer is to buy several, try them outside and see the results over a year.

For practical reasons, I don’t like finishes that sit on the surface. They always peel/flake/lift eventually and mold forms underneath. I like modern thin oil mixes that are fast to apply, sink in and can easily be done 1-2 times year quickly.

Thanks for all the information above. I will look to not go to fine with the sandpaper.

Here is what needs doing:

  • Arms on x5 armchairs
  • Dining table top (180 x 90cm)
  • Coffee table top (102 x 60cm)

Adverts from website states the following:
Shade = Taupe
Finish = Oil

Here is what the furniture currently looks like:

Here is what it should look like:

I use a 50/50 mix of linseed oil and white spirit. Has always worked well so have never looked for a “better” alternative.

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I have always used Danish oil for external wood and v happy with it

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Danish oil is another myth, just like teak oil. There’s no standard formula to these and percentages of the ingredients involved. If someone is happy with a product, they need to state the branded item and have they repeatedly used/recoated it for at least 3 years. Sorry to be pedantic, but you know, that’s just me I’m afraid.

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Ah, ok. Hadn’t realised the tin of oil in my hand was actually an astral projection from Asgard. You learn something new everyday on the forum!


As endorsed by the bloke with the massive hammer?

That’s the one!

Edit - I’ll have a tin of Mjolnirite my good man.

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Judging by your photo it looks to me like there is an old finish that has broken down, possibly a water based wood ‘oil’ on top of the original oiled finish? Sand this off and apply some proper teak oil, and I think it will be fine.

All this talk of oils gets confusing, but teak oil is just a generic term for oils that have thinning agents added to improve penetration into naturally oily timbers into which they are not easily absorbed. This includes teak, thus the name, and other tropical hardwoods, but also acacia.

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