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Even teak furniture will rot given the right/wrong conditions. Due to injury I was unable to look after the garden properly for 2 or 3 years and a good quality teak bench was left under an overgrown pergola all that time. When finally retrieved, a section of the back had completely rotted away.
The conditions would have been exceptional, i.e. wet, humid and dark with little sun or air movement. Just don't think that you can automatically assume that teak will simply last a lifetime.
Don't think anyone suggested that you can treat teak that badly without damage - it wasn't the question
Haisi. I live in central Belgium, 30 mile south of Brussels. Winter can last 5 to 6 months in a bad year and tend to be wet but with two or three weeks of very cold, dry conditions when the winds come from Siberia and take us down to -15C to -20C.
Recent winters have been very hard with regular and sustained dips down below -20C and even to -32C, usually without a protective blanket of snow so yes, I try to take care of my teak table. I've put plastic studs under its feet to keep them from sitting in water and tend to put shallow bricks under one end so it's tilted enough for water not to sit on the surface.
A response of "it doesn't need any treatment and is quite ok left outside" could certainly be construed as suggesting that teak can stand up to anything that is thrown at it. I was simply clarifying that even teak has its limits.
Haisie asked if she could leave it where it was so that she could continue to use it during the winter - my answer that it was fine left where it was and didn't need oiling is perfectly appropriate.
I did not say that teak could take anything that was thrown at it. However two years under a pergola, no matter how wet and humid, is a short life for real teak, which as I'm sure you know is a tropical hardwood and used in far more long term humidity than we are likely to have to contend with in the UK - are you sure it was teak? Also, in those condtions I would have thought the seat would have been the first part to rot rather than the back.
Thanks obelixx. Um, wondering if i should put plastic studs under the feet of chairs - might be a hard job for me that as I can't even hang a picture straight! Wonky chairs! I've lived in -30 once - Germany - didn't happen often that cold though. Tale: brand new car, can of coke left in it overnight and it exploded and left coke icicles on the ceiling! Came off easily, luckily. Wow, without snow though, brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Dove, Yes it's definitely teak and I agree that I would have expected the seat to rot before the back rail. The seat is about 20 years old but had been 'buried' for a couple of years. Prior to that there was no sign of rot at all.
I can only guess that water must have penetrated the joint between the back rail and the uprights, which is where it has rotted away.
I do think your point about its natural growing conditions is a bit of a red herring. Even pine doesn't rot whilst its growing, but it certainly does once it's dead
I think what we can agree on is that under normal conditions, teak requires a lot less attention than virtually any other timber furniture.
I'm sorry, I didn't make myself clear - I was referring to the use of teak in construction and for furniture inside and out in the countries where it grows http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U_Bain_Bridge1.JPG
I think you'll agree that a teak bridge in the tropics would be exposed to a fair bit of humidity.