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Old 02-24-2014
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Remove Varnish from Teak Caulk

So, I'm jumping into the brightwork on my boat and I'm in the process of removing the old varnish with a heat gun. All is going well/quickly but the varnish that is on the caulking is a bit stubborn to remove.

The heat makes the caulk soft (of course) and the caulking, when scraped, tends to roll. The varnish doesn't come off too well.

Anyone have a trick or suggestion to remove that varnish?
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Old 02-24-2014
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Re: Remove Varnish from Teak Caulk

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Old 02-24-2014
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Re: Remove Varnish from Teak Caulk

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Originally Posted by GMFL View Post
The heat makes the caulk soft (of course) and the caulking, when scraped, tends to roll. The varnish doesn't come off too well.

Anyone have a trick or suggestion to remove that varnish?
Other than removing a 1/4" or so of caulking with a seam rake and re-doing it later.. no.

If they'd used something like pitch (a.k.a deck glue) to caulk the seams, it would have just melted and reformed, requiring perhaps only a little trimming later - but since it looks like they've used something more modern, methinks you're stuck.
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Old 02-25-2014
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Re: Remove Varnish from Teak Caulk

It's a PITA, but dental tools would probably do the job if you don't want to sand everything. The caulk is flexible, but the varnish is hard so it will break away from the caulk with a little prying. Got kids?
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Re: Remove Varnish from Teak Caulk

..of course, given that the teak itself looks a bit weathered and will need sanding anyways, an alternative to doing it properly is to get a hold of the largest, meatiest belt sander you can find and take the top few thou right off, caulk and all.. Yee, hah!
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Old 02-25-2014
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Re: Remove Varnish from Teak Caulk

That's pretty wide coaming. If you step on that, I would not want varnish on it. How are you treating after you're done? I've gone old school, let it weather and grey, other than a few accent pieces. If you go grey, just let the varnish flake off over time. Time = couple of years.

To your question, sanding is your best bet. Personally, I'm a random orbital guy. Belt sanders require experience and can get you in trouble fast. Rent an RO if you don't have one.
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Old 02-25-2014
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Re: Remove Varnish from Teak Caulk

Thanks for the replies.

I'm thinking either R&R the caulk or scrape what I can off the existing and varnish over.

Sanding down to the caulk is not gonna happen. A belt sander would work, but WAY too much sanding would be required.

The teak isn't that bad, the grey scrubs off quickly so a cleaning/bleaching and minimal sanding with >180 is all I'm planning.

Yes, it is getting Varnish. Step on it afterwards? You are off the boat!
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Old 02-25-2014
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Re: Remove Varnish from Teak Caulk

I'm thinking a paint stripper used just on the caulk will soften the varnish and the surface of the caulk. Or lacquer thinner.
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Re: Remove Varnish from Teak Caulk

Maybe hit the caulk with a toothbrush and see if the varnish let's go. Stainless steel wool perhaps?

In any event, varnish isn't going to seal well to caulking, which means any cracking between the caulk and plank will allow water in and that's the death of varnish. Most things I see varnished, do not have caulk joints. Even without them, varnish is hard enough to maintain.
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Old 02-25-2014
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Re: Remove Varnish from Teak Caulk

I would be reluctant to use the stainless steel wool because it will rust. The Scotchbrite pads might be OK, but they clog kind of easily.
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