Cleaning up old teak - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 7 Old 06-09-2009 Thread Starter
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Cleaning up old teak

We have some weathered deck teak that is dark and dingy with age. We did the teak oil for a while to get rid of the gray and were contemplating varnishing - not relishing - but contemplating to bring it back to life. I have bad memories of sanding and varnishing (and sanding and varnishing) our cold Chris so I'm not relishing varnishing again. However a guy on our dock suggested we go with this stain like stuff called Simco(?). It looks kind of cool and I see quite a few sailboats with it (or s similar make) but are there alternatives? Is this the replacement for varnishing deck teak? How difficult is it to apply after washing?

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Last edited by SailingAlien; 06-09-2009 at 05:54 PM. Reason: Incomplete sentences. Yuk!
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post #2 of 7 Old 06-09-2009
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Are you talking about Cetol? If so alot of owners are using this instead of varnish for their teak.


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post #3 of 7 Old 06-10-2009
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My Islander has some teak trim, grab rails and the bow and stern enjoy nice accent trim pieces. The companion way trim and its hatch boards are also teak. There is a teak boarder around the instrument panel, too. It is not a lot of exterior wood. The rest is white aging gelcoat. I am an expert varnisher. I used to teach the painting and varnishing class at WoodenBoat Magazine's school. Here is my method of keeping my teak trim looking clean and fresh.

I do not varnish it. That begins an endless maintenance cycle that causes its own problems. Teak is a beautiful wood in its natural state. It does darken and that is considered appealing to some. I like mine light so I simply spray it with a 4 to 1 Clorox (4 parts bleach and 1 part water) solution each spring and rinse it with water after it has had a chance to bleach to a uniform light color. It darkens uniformly over the summer. It looks good to me and is a simple solution to its maintenance. The wood was installed in 1977 and looks like new.

I must confess that the oak trim on my Marshall cat boat is varnished and beautiful. Let the teak be teak!
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post #4 of 7 Old 06-10-2009
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Many consider a teak deck to be nature's nonskid. Varnishing it would change all that. Old-school sailors "stoned" the decks to abrade them to new wood.

Depending on your climate, a Sikkens Cetol product (now sold under the Interlux label) might suit you. The traditional "cetol marine" is quite orange in color, due to iron UV protection in it, and tends to make the teak look more like mahogany. However, they do have a newer formula, called natural teak, that preserves the color pretty well. There is also a gloss topcoat, if you prefer gloss to a satin finish.

The two things that are decent about cetol are that 1- it's microporous, so it tends to not shed from teak the way many varnishes will, and 2- it can receive maintenance coats without removing all of the old coating first.

But many just don't like the look. Personal preference prevails here.

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post #5 of 7 Old 06-11-2009
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Just to throw in my 2 bits worth

I stripped all the varnish off my teak (Circa 1850 does wonders) and cleaned some of the bare spots with oxalic acid. Then I put tung oil (the real stuff, polymerized - not cheap, but a little goes a long way) on it. Lovely golden colour and sets up quickly: hard in 8 hours, and subsequent coats harden as well. Never gets sticky, even in hot weather. If you are going to go the oil route, do not use anything else. If the can says "Tung Oil Finish" or some such, it's not tung oil. Same with Teak Oil - it's usually linseed with maybe (if you're lucky) a little tung thrown in. You want 100% pure tung oil, and the can should say so. I got mine through Lee Valley Tools. The polymerized tung oil sets more quickly than raw, but either works equally well as a finish.

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post #6 of 7 Old 06-11-2009
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Salingalien, I believe that is Semco Teak Sealer you are talking about. As I understand it, it doesn't leave teak looking dark and oiled, but it does leave it looking like teak without the graying. I've been thinking about trying it.

Tom K

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post #7 of 7 Old 06-11-2009
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LOVE Semco

I used the Semco teak sealer last year (after prepping with a two part product). The seats look almost like new and they were yucky dirty gray. Very easy to maintain as you just apply another coat when water fails to bead (9+ months in the Northeast). My dock neighbors all want to try the same.
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