Why Teak Works in the Highlands
Tips on how to select, maintain and style your teak outdoor furniture
There’s a saying around here that you definitely get four distinct seasons in the Southern Highlands. Ain’t that the truth! But where’s the saying that says you also get crazy July winds in August, October and November, sleet, snow and frosts in winter, hot and dusty conditions in the summer and at the moment, minimal rain – we need that rain so bad right now, bring it on!
So how does your outdoor furniture cope with the extremes of the Highlands weather? We chatted to the team at Cotswold InOut Furniture and they reckon the key is choosing the right material for the right purpose.
And in the Highlands?
That material is teak.
“Teak is a deciduous hardwood tree. No other wood shares teak’s exceptional strength and durability,” says Amanda Jacobs from Cotswold’s Mittagong showroom.
“It’s unique texture, high oil content and the wood’s high density combine to prevent warping and rot, allowing the furniture to stay outdoors in all conditions.”
Okay, so teak it is!
So how do we select, maintain and style our teak furniture to suit our outdoor living mojo?
Invest in quality pieces that last
Sure, it’s tempting to buy something cheap and cheerful and whack it on the back deck, but thanks to our nutso Highlands weather, you’ll more than likely be replacing it within a year or two.
“The A grade teak we use – Tectona Grandis – has exceptional durability and stability, and it’s actually been used in the building and boating industries for hundreds of years!” Amanda says.
“When you have a piece of furniture that has been been prepared and built with quality materials, great care and workmanship, it’s going to last decades.”
Selecting the right piece for the right space
The ‘outdoor room’ appeared in interior and exterior design circles – we blame The Block and Jamie Durie! - some years ago and Australians have latched onto it big time. Because we spend most of our time in the warmer months outdoors, swatting away flies in between drinks and barbies out the back with friends, we really need to make that space work.
“Split your outdoor space up into zones, and then work out what type of piece is going to work best for that space,” Amanda suggests.
“A couple of gorgeous Adirondack armchairs and a side table for a quiet corner where relaxing, reading and sipping a sneaky wine is the priority.”
“Create an eating area with a good quality outdoor dining table – we love an extendable table for giving people options when numbers go up or down. Rectangular tables are good for longer, thinner spaces and round tables work for square spaces.”
“And high tables are great for friends to gather around and have drinks. Placing it near the barbecue so friends can chat with the chef on duty is ideal.”
Teak and the environment
The durability of teak is definitely one of its best qualities.
“Left outdoors, teak will adjust to the elements over the years and the colour of the wood will change to an attractive silver grey,’ says Amanda.
“All you need to do is wash it with warm, soapy water occasionally.”
Amanda also suggests making sure when you buy a piece of outdoor teak furniture, you check that the assembly components are also high quality.
“Every joint should be secured with teak dowels and the assembly components should be made of brass and stainless steel. This will protect against rust and deterioration.”
Teak upkeep and maintenance
As mentioned before, the occasional wash with warm, soapy water is all teak needs. Sometimes marks will appear – both natural AND manmade (oops) – here are some tips to sort those out quick smart.
Grease spots // This is a natural feature of the wood and will gradually disappear after being exposed to sunlight or you can remove them yourself with a degreasing agent and a bit of gentle scrubbing with a brush.
Mildew or black blemishes // Usually the result of rainwater or sap from trees, you can remove these marks by lightly sanding with fine sandpaper (and maybe don’t pop your table under a leaky tree!).
Candle wax and wine stains // (we’re listening closely to this one!!) Candle wax can be removed by placing brown paper over the wax and pressing with a warm iron. As for wine stains, you’ll need to bring out the big guns and wipe the area clean with methylated spirits.
Cotswold Furniture was founded in 1981 and has been a leader in the furniture industry ever since, servicing Australia with high quality, durable and unique furniture. The Cotswold Teak range is ideal for the Southern Highlands climate and available to view at Cotswold InOut Furniture’s show room and warehouse at 221 Old Hume Highway, Mittagong.