Q&A OF THE WEEK: “Can I Use Olive Oil to Finish a Teak Table?”

Read my answer to a wood finishing question by subscriber JT, then watch my alternative suggestion.

  • Reading Time = 1 1/2 minutes
  • Video Watch Time = 5 minutes

Question: “Can I use olive oil to finish a teak table? It’s a used, indoor table and I’d prefer something that dries quickly.”

Answer: It’s technically possible to use olive oil to finish teak (or any kind of wood), but I wouldn’t do it. It takes olive oil a very long time to harden, and even when it does it can leave a sticky residue behind that tends to hold dust. Olive oil is for cooking, but it’s not the best for wood finishing. One thing to keep in mind is that teak furniture doesn’t need to be oiled if it doesn’t look dry. Does your table still repel drips okay? If so, then oiling is not needed. Teak does have naturally occurring oils. But if your table looks dry and unprotected, you need to proceed with caution, precisely because of the presence of natural oils.

Adding any kind of finishing material to an existing piece of finished furniture is always risky because you don’t know what’s there already. That’s why I recommend trying something in a small area first. And if you want an oil-like finish that dries quickly, then I recommend is Minwax Wipe-On Poly. This is a very thin, oil-like finish that dries overnight. It works really well on teak, as long as no wax has been applied previous. If wax is present on your table it will cause the Wipe-On to bead and and the finish might peel in time. That’s why you should apply the product on a small test patch first, and even then quite thin. Chances are your teak furniture will be A-okay with some Wipe-On Poly applied, but better be sure first.

Wipe-On Poly is used like an oil in that you put it on the wood, even though it’s actually a thin-viscosity urethane. Let it sit on the surface for about 15 minutes, then wipe off all you can with a rag. You can see it being applied to unfinished wood in the video below.

I hope this article is helpful. Please consider helping me keep this website up and running. Click the “buy me a coffee” button below for a safe, simple and fast way to make a contribution. Thank you very much!

– Steve Maxwell