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Exterior teak doors

jimbuilt's picture

I have the opportunity to purchase a new exterior teak door at a very reasonable price. Are there any special considerations in hanging or finishing the door?

Never played with the stuff (post #208423, reply #1 of 3)

Never played with the stuff personally, but I've read that teak is exceptionally oily and "rejects" most finishes.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

acetone and cetol (post #208423, reply #2 of 3)

As far as hanging the door, you're probably aware that teak is dense (heavy) and can dull cutting tools. Not a huge factor, but something to be aware of if the door is not already prepped for hardware. You'll want a sharp edge on your chisels so you cleanly cut the wood fibers when mortising, etc. You'll want to drill pilot holes for screws, etc.

As far as finishing? Obviously sand first, then vac all the dust out. Teak is porous, some cuts can sort of be like oak with open pores. Other cuts can be a bit smoother. Regardless, clean away any debris. Prior to finishing I use acetone to wipe down the wood.  It'll remove the oily residue that teak can exude from the freshly sanded surfaces. I give it another wipe down prior to finishing.

Do be careful with some of the "teak finishes" out there. Some use iron oxide (yup, "rust") as a UV protectant. Those finishes can lend an orange-cast to the wood. Some folk like that wth teak. Personally I hate that look.

As to the finish I use, I've settled on Cetol for my exterior wood surfaces. I like that it's renewable. 3, 4, 5 years down the road, instead of stripping down to bare wood and refinishing, you can scuff sand then simply brush on another coat. Unlike other film finishes, Cetol is also vapor permeable, so it does breath.

If you want a slicky-smooth-gloss piano-type of finish, look at your teak. If it's open-pore, you'll want to fill those pores prior to your final finishing.

If you like the teak "as is" and it doesn't need any coloration or toning to even out the wood hues, then I'd reocmmend the acetone wash then finish with Cetol Door and Window Clear over it, three coats.

If you want to color the wood to even out the tone, use as many tinted coats that you need to get the color where you want it, then top coat with clear.

They do have marine products as well, the Cetol Natural Teak is worth a look. 

I built a mahogany front door for my house a few years ago and used Cetol D&W on it. No regrets. I have a fair amount of teak in my house, but the only teak I have that has a film finish on it is in my master bathroom. I used a urethane-type film finish on that. Still looks great and it's been over 10 years. But again, that's a "strip to bare wood and refinish" urethane should it ever need to be redone. For exterior, I'm a big fan of Cetol. It protects well, and when it does need to be renewed, it's easy to do so without having to strip to bare wood.

Just my opinion.


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.


Film vs. Penetrating finishes (post #208423, reply #3 of 3)

Basically there are two types of finishes; film finishes and penetrating finishes. Epoxy's and varnishes (including polyurethane) are film finishes and oil and wax finishes are penetrating. They both have pros and cons and IMO you won't get the best of both finishing worlds in one product, nor can either be used with the same success and ease on any material.

Mahogany is a very different wood than species teak or ipe. Dan is correct that teak generally rejects finishes; but generally only film finishes. I believe that is why penetrating finishes are used with when finishing. However, those finishes are generally not as long lasting and need to be rejuvaneted fairly often. If you let them go too long, then fiber degradation sets in (UV or rot) and youmay end of having to mechanically (sand/scrape) or chemically (bleach) treat the surface in order to restore it.

I have had some good success with epoxy sealing first over oily woods like ipe, and then varnishing (film) for a gloss finish that is additionally protected from sunlight. However, it is a more involved process.