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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 05-27-2010
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Teak

Has anyone removed varnish from exposed teak and left it natural. I have an old Morgan with some teak above deck, hatch covers, rails..etc. I am wondering what would happen if I stripped the varnish and let it go natural maybe just cleaning with soap or other cleansers each year. At this point the varnish needs to be stripped but I am wondering if I should re-varnish or leave natural ?

Also any super secret tips for stripping varnish out there ? Thanks for your comments.
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Old 05-27-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck401k View Post
Has anyone removed varnish from exposed teak and left it natural. I have an old Morgan with some teak above deck, hatch covers, rails..etc. I am wondering what would happen if I stripped the varnish and let it go natural maybe just cleaning with soap or other cleansers each year. At this point the varnish needs to be stripped but I am wondering if I should re-varnish or leave natural ?

Also any super secret tips for stripping varnish out there ? Thanks for your comments.
Untreated teak turns grey as the oils absorb dirt in the air. Its not an unpleasant color to many sailors. As for removing varnish...put on rubber gloves and try sudsy ammonia and a scrub brush. Scrub it in, wait a few minutes and flush with a lot of water. Then repeat the process. Or use "Bar Keepers Friend" in the same manner. The finished prod is almost as good as the 2-part chemicals, but easier on the vessel, the enviornment and your wallet. Bob
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Old 05-27-2010
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Maybe I'm missing something here but based on my limited experience, varnish not only makes the teak look pretty (subject to taste) but also protects it from the elements. The teak on my sailboat hadn't been varnished for many years and when I bought it, the teak had weathered considerably. The cockpit hatch covers had worn down to the point where the screw plugs were 1/8 of an inch higher than the surrounding teak. The port side hand rail has been reduced to the point that it will have to be replaced. Since teak is rather expensive, I would suggest you protect it or eventually someone will be replacing the wood work.
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Old 05-27-2010
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I have teak decks on my Belliure, they are a treasure and the bane of my existence. Some of the mistakes I have made in the past have taught me valuable lessons I should share as they apply to all teak care on a boat. If you are going to leave the teak natural than; 1-NEVER USE A SCRUB BRUSH, EVER! Use one of those flat 3M scrubby things, white is the best. 2- No acid washes or chemicals other than the sudsy ammonia Bob recommended. 3- No oils, they only get hot, attract mold and require more work. 4-Wash the teak often with salt water (fresh if you have to), as often as possible. 4-Drink beer with the time you saved by not varnishing.
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Old 05-27-2010
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We have a heavy teak boat (Hans Christian), and here is what we do:

For varnish, we scraped all the old varnish off using a heat gun. We sanded with 80 if needed, sanded with 120, sanded with 220, put on three coats of teak oil and used it to wet sand with 400. Put on 10 coats of Schooners sanding with 220 between each coat. Reapply another coat every 3 to 6 months.

For our bare teak:
Agree with JT, don’t ever use anything harder to clean it with than the white 3M pad, and always try to scrub against the grain.
We clean our bare teak with Teak Wonder which is safe for teak and is biodegradable. We try to do this about every 3 months to keep the teak looking great.

Some of our teak we use Semco on to maintain that fresh look, and we tend to recoat it at least every 3 months. This is much simpler than varnish since we don’t have to sand and can apply using a rag.

Edit:
If you want to learn about how to finish teak, then get the book Brightwork: The Art of Finishing Wood by Rebecca J. Wittman. IMHO, the best book on finishing teak.
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Old 05-27-2010
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To amplify what the others have said: If you scrub unfinished teak, the softer wood between the grain lines will scrub out, leaving ridges. The ridges then wear, resulting in an overall reduction of thickness of the wood. Over many years, this results in the situiation wephee described.

I once made the mistake of powerwashing unfinished teak. This accelerated the process and was an absolute disaster.

Teak in the cockpit, such as the frames around cockpit cubby holes like we have, if unfinished, end up soaking in body oils, suntan lotion and other and look like hell.

For us, a yearly maintenance coat of Cetol Marine Light leaves everything looking good (good enough - but that's another thread) and protected. But this is almost a religious subject, like wheel vs tiller.
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Old 07-11-2010
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thanks for all the great tips
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Old 07-11-2010
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One more for you:

The biggest problem with "natural" teak is that it tends to absorb a lot of dirt. When you wash the boat you would be amazed at the "color" of the water that comes from the teak. Even after being washed if you put your foot on wet teak and then on the white fiberglass, you will end up with a black footmark. A pain in the ass .

However, most boat manufacturers tell you that you should not use anything on the teak and to let it natural.

Regards

Paulo
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