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Replace or Refinish Hatch Boards
The teak companionway hatch boards on my Pearson 26 are in serious need of repair. It appears they have never had any varnish or any other type of treatment. They are splintering, rough, and becoming a hazard, not to mention unsightly. I am considering replacing them (there are three) with half-inch Lexan, but do not know if this is a good way to go. If not, how would you suggest I
refinish the boards?
Sue & Larry respond:
Replacing wooden hatch boards with a polycarbonate material like Lexan is an excellent idea. Many new boats include that feature today and we meet a lot of sailors with older boats who have changed out their wooden boards for Lexan. The Lexan will provide much more light down below, and will make the space seem larger when the boards must be in place. If you want privacy, a curtain or blind can be added. In terms of strength and security, the Lexan will perform equally with the wooden boards.
If you choose to refinish your old wooden hatch boards, you may find it's an easier job than you think, providing they are not too far-gone in the splintering department. Teak is certainly one of the easiest woods you'll ever work with. First, sand aggressively with 80-grit sandpaper, using a power sander. Once you have all the rough areas smoothed out, you can come back with progressively finer sandpaper until you achieve a smooth, uniform surface. You can finish with 220-grit paper. You then have the choice of leaving the boards to go gray, which is just fine for teak, or applying an oil or varnish finish. The type of finish you choose depends upon how much maintenance you want to have in the future, with varnish having the highest maintenance requirements.