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SoulVoyage 05-21-2010 03:06 PM

Anybody elsed have trouble with Bristol Finish?
For how expensive Bristol Finish is compared to an outstanding varnish like Epiphanes, I was expecting stellar results after spending the bucks and applying Bristol Finish to ALL my teak and mahogany work.

The company documentation lends one to believe that it should last at least 2-3 years if in a temperate non-tropical environment.

The Bristol I put on (8 coats) my toe-rails, dorade-boxes, grab-rails started degrading on horizontal surfaces in less than a year...first getting small white blemishes, and then these blemishes got progressively larger as the original blemishes opened up further to the elements. And I am not talking just a few places, but ALL horizontal surfaces. And I followed every instruction during application.

For 2 months, the Bristol did indeed look fantastic, and I was very proud of myself andf thought that was a $450 (supplies alone) well-spent, as I was anticipating at least 3 years without varnishing.

For the last year, it is not only the horizontals that are degrading, but the vertical surfaces as well. In fact, ALL the surfaces are beginning to look like a case of mange.

The only place where the Bristol continues to hold up as advertised is on my main hatch and hatch boards. The hatch DOES continue to look beautiful. HOWEVER, this area is mostly covered by my dodger!!

All the areas exposed to sun and weather have Bristol that is quickly failing, far sooner than advertised.

Bristol Finish is a two-part epoxy and thus VERY hard to remove. Right now, I am just letting as much degraded away as possible, and will start removing physical this autum and go back to Epiphanes.

The 2 weeks during which I applied the finish was dry, low humidity with temps in the 70s - low 80's, and often cloudy, I used awnings when applying to alleviate boiling and ensuing bubbles.

Has anybody else had this problem with Bristol Finish? I am totally unimpressed with it so far. If it doesn't take the weather, why put it on a boat...and if you need to re-apply it every 6 months everywhere, why does the stuff cost over a hundred dollar a quart???

For now, I am just letting the sun take it off...and it seems to be doing a good job of just that right now!!

Here is a pic....and not even one of the worst section, just an average section. Like I said, it started degrading and peeling within the first year. :mad:


bljones 05-21-2010 04:40 PM

Bristol is finicky, fussy stuff. Something tells me you had a prep issue. Moisture or contaminants trapped under the coating, not enough tooth on the substrate for the coating to grip, even just humidity variances and catalyst mix variation will cause BF to fail.

carl762 05-21-2010 04:46 PM

Wow, note to self, don't buy it.

I'm using some West's varnish right now. I surely hope it last's longer than a year. The wood really looks great right now.

I hate painting.

Gene T 05-21-2010 05:02 PM

I read the lable on Bristal once. Put it back on the shelf and bought Captain's. But I am currently in an anti varnish mode. Sorry for your bad experience.


SVPrairieRose 05-21-2010 05:54 PM

I am a firm believer that exterior wood should be silver, sunbleached, and admired while not sanding, varnishing or painting. Sorry for your wasted effort.

ughmo2000 05-21-2010 06:12 PM

I've had Bristol on my exterior teak for two years now. Still looks fantastic.

genieskip 05-21-2010 06:23 PM


Originally Posted by SVPrairieRose (Post 605905)
I am a firm believer that exterior wood should be silver, sunbleached, and admired while not sanding, varnishing or painting. Sorry for your wasted effort.

I am a total convert to this philosophy. Last year I sanded everything on deck and gave it 5/6 coats of Ephifanes. It looked like hell a year later so I sanded everything clean and left it and plan to leave it. Brightwork looks great but till I have paid hands to do it I'm going with the natural look.

Incidentally, I had some "spillage" of the varnish on the fiberglass nonskid. Any good suggestions on how to get it off?

speciald 05-21-2010 06:50 PM

I just transitted from Tortola to Annapolis. The Bristol looked terrible when we arrived; apparently the white water did it in. I just finished redoing 180 feet of toe and cap rail with Varnish - I hope it lasts longer.

SoulVoyage 05-21-2010 08:05 PM cockpit sole teak grids I keep 'au natural'...same with my lazarette hatches, and the little bit of teak decking on the fantail. All that's been natural for 5 years now...and holding up well.

I DO notice that the teak DOES eventually dry out and get brittle, I've just had my first broken part of my cockpit sole teak grid (although was from a hard impact of a 27 series battery against the sole); and the week before I suffered from a cracked teak lazarette hatch (which I just finished stabilizing with an aluminum carpenter square cut to size and screwed onto the underside as re-inforcement, strangely enough....seems stronger than it was originally now. I did the same on my portside teak lazarette lid 3 years ago, and I walk on it all the time!...aluminum carpenter squares come in really handy for that kind of stuff!!! if I want to measure a fish...i just open my hatch lid and set the fish up to the square...:) )

So it seems five years might be the limit for untreated sun-bleached teak. Anybody else? Previous to that these were either varnished or Cetol-ed.

I've always been afraid of using teak oil, as I've heard certain mildew love the teak oil...don't know if that's a misnomer or not. If not, I'm going to feed the sunbleached cockpit teak some teak oil.

Ughmo2000: WOW, you're very lucky!!! Did you apply the Bristol inside a boat shed, by any chance? I think THAT might make a difference. sure wish I had done mine in a boat shed. If I do anything like that again, I'll haul out and make my own boat shed using pvc pipe as hoops and the biggest tarp I can find. I did that once when I was re-doing all my deck core....the hoop "shed" lasted 3 months without mishap! Pounded larger diameter pipe into ground to act as anchor sleeves for the hoops. I think the whole "shed" cost less than $100 in tarp, rope and pvc pipe. Need a long perpendicular pipe lashed as a beam. Worked great!!

Genieskip: Varnish on the nonskid? Yeah, same usually happens to me. The stuff I swear by is called "Goo Gone"...removes pretty much ANYTHING without harming paintwork. Great stuff!! Dollar General sells it for $1 a 4oz bottle. West Marine sells a version of the same type of remover for $14.95 !!, and THIS stuff works long as it is a FRESH on oil-based paint spills too. Dollar General is the cheap sailor's friend. :) For old varnish drops....sometimes just a fingernail works. Me, I just paint over it with some touch-up deck paint.

Stillraining 05-21-2010 08:59 PM


Originally Posted by SVPrairieRose (Post 605905)
I am a firm believer that exterior wood should be silver, sunbleached, and admired while not sanding, varnishing or painting. Sorry for your wasted effort.

LOL...Ya Im getting that way myself...or better yet install a wood stove and burn it all for heat in the winter....some day I might have a real toe aluminum one..:rolleyes:

I have come to the conclusion that there is one place for bright work on a boat......inside

Nice Avatar picture by the way..;)...I took that shot from a picture in a hotel in eastern Washington.

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