Our guide to maintenance and care of teak doors
Handling and treating your teak door is not just a chore it can also be a pleasant, relaxing job. Especially on older doors, the results are usually great when you have sanded away the top layers of old teak and encounter the door you used to love. In this guide, we look at how to take care of your teak door to preserve both function and appearance throughout the lifetime of the door.
Keeping your exterior door beautiful for many years
Teak (Latin: tectona grandis) has a beautiful warm and naturally saturated colour, without being red. It has a high oil content, giving it natural water repellent properties, which is one of the reasons it was traditionally used for boat decks and boat fittings. Teak is also one of the world's most durable woods.? It is hard, fairly heavy, stable and withstands rot for longer than most other woods. A teak exterior door brings these characteristics, which makes it easier to maintain, especially in areas exposed to the sea.
Maintenance preserves the colour tone of the teak door
In order to maintain a smooth and attractive tone on the door, it is important to maintain the wood regularly, especially if the door has been fitted for a number of years. Just like in older teak boat decks, doors built in teak fade over time. At the same time, the teak surface dries out, with wood fibres becoming more visible.
Maintenance preserves the function of the teak door
A door also forms a barrier between the indoor climate and the outdoor climate, with the result that the door is exposed to significant differences in both temperature and humidity. Maintaining the door makes it more responsive and helps it retain its function for longer.
Doors in locations without a roof are particularly exposed - especially in coastal areas. It is also even more important to maintain doors facing south and west. The most vulnerable parts of the door, such as the lower edge of the door where water splashes, may otherwise have a different colour tone than its less exposed parts.” // Eva Gustafsson, Bovallstrand
New doors only need simpler maintenance
When your teak door is new, simple maintenance is usually sufficient. Wash the door leaf and frame once or twice a year with a sponge or cloth dipped in hot water mixed with a little detergent. Then oil the door. Try to establish a routine of washing and oiling the door in early autumn and early summer.
Older doors need more thorough maintenance
Begin to maintain the door as soon as you see the surface dry out or start to discolour. If your door has become worn or has been in an exposed location without maintenance, it may need more extensive care. But do not give up! Underneath the old surface there is the same fine, oily and beautiful teak as when it was new. Our teak doors are always built in solid wood, which allows you to sand away the unsightly outer surface.
Thorough maintenance of teak doors
This is how you proceed:
1. Clean the door, wipe with a cloth, perhaps with a little detergent.
Take diluted ammonia or decking cleaner and wash the door with a sponge. This dissolves all the old oil. Remember to protect your hands and cover the ground under the door as ammonia is corrosive. Then rinse off the door with water, this removes the cleaning agent.
2. Sand it down with fine sandpaper in the direction of the wood grain.
To remove fibrous protrusions, rub with fine sandpaper in the direction of the wood grain until the uneven layer disappears. Go over the door frame, the door leaf and give the door some extra love at the bottom and in other places where it has become a little extra worn.
3. Apply at least two layers of teak oil.
Wipe off excess oil with a cloth. Be sure to drench the cloth in water before discarding it to avoid self-ignition. Wood and veneer absorb the oil differently, so the door may look patchy, you can solve this by a repeat application of the oil. Leave the door for 24 hours before applying another coat of oil.
Things to remember
The treatment of oiled exterior doors never finishes, they must be maintained in order not to become discoloured and unsightly but also to prevent them absorbing moisture and then swelling. If the wood dries out, it absorbs moisture and swells. This can cause the door to bend, which in turn can lead to problems with both tightness and closure. Depending on the location of the door and the climate, the door may need to be oiled several times a year.
We also recommend that you add an extra layer of oil to the door once a year. Remember that you should apply oil at a time when there are no mould spores or pollen in the air as these get stuck in the oil. So do it in the early spring or late autumn.
If you notice mould on the door
If you see mould on the door (usually in the form of small black spots) you can treat the door with an agent to kill the mould, such as algae or mould spray. If there are many hardwood trees in the surrounding area, you should do it a couple of times a year to keep your teak door fresh and looking good. If you do not know which mould spray to use, ask your local wood or paint merchant to help you find the right solution for your door.
NOTE! If you see signs of mould, it is important to clean the door properly as oil causes the mould to thrive.
Which oil should you choose for teak doors?
We are sometimes asked about which teak oil to use and what the level of dry matter should be. The oil’s dry matter describes the amount of oil it contains. We usually recommend that you choose an oil of good quality and high dry matter. In general, the less good teak oils can contain a lot of solvents and less oil.
To achieve good protection, the teak oil should contain a lot of oil, it is the oil that remains and protects the door when the solvent has evaporated. At the same time, too high a proportion of oil is not good either as the consistency becomes thicker and as a result it becomes harder to penetrate the wood of the door.
A rule of thumb is that the teak oil should contain between 38 and 60% oil. This allows it to penetrate into the wood but does not require too many applications to achieve the effect you are looking for. The exact proportions depend on everything from the wood quality to the condition of the door. Talk to your paint merchant to get the right oil for your teak door. Links to “exterior doors” and “checklist before buying a new exterior door”.
Glazed entrance doors and entrance doors with decorative mirrors
Check regularly that the silicon seal between the glass and glass strip is intact. The silicone material is broken down by the weather and wind and allows water to penetrate into the structure and cause swelling and possibly colour loss. Use silicone adapted for glass (available in building materials merchants) for maintenance. If the door leaf has a decorative mirror, make sure that the joint between the door leaf and the strip is intact. For maintenance needs, use a silicone-free, paintable construction joint.
Maintenance of teak doors
Leif Karlsson is a door builder and has worked at Bovalls Dörrbyggeri since 1969. His hobbies are carpentry, local history and writing. Here he shares good tips and shows how to carry out thorough maintenance of a teak exterior door.
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