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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 06-08-2010
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TEAK maintenance

I just purchased a Bristol 32 that has not had its teak varnished in over three years. Obviously it does not look good.

Should I sand off all the remaining varnish? Should I only sand the teak that is exposed? Should I clean the teak that does not have varnish on it?

Could anyone explain to me the steps I should follow to get the bright work back to looking top notch.

Thank you,

Tim
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Starting with bare wood, assuming you have removed any old finish and sanded your teak down to a uniform color, you must first clean the surface by wiping it with a rag saturated in denatured alcohol. Then go over the surface with a tack cloth to remove anything the alcohol rag may have missed. This will remove any residual sanding dust and surface oils.

Mask the surrounding Gelcoat or painted areas by carefully applying masking tape. The only masking tape acceptable for use on a boat is the high-quality, more expensive blue variety sold at painting supply stores and better home-improvement stores or at the marine store. Donít even think about using the cheap brown kind. The blue tape will come off clean even after days of baking in the sun or intermittent rain showers.

The first coat of varnish must be thinned fifty percent with mineral spirits or whatever the varnish manufacturer recommends. This makes a sealer coat that will penetrate deeply into the teak wood and combine with the natural oils already present. Apply this and all subsequent coats with a fine natural bristle brush that's been prepared by flexing several times to remove any loose bristles (I've had good luck with those foam brushes). Make sure the weather is forecast to stay dry and the humidity is low before beginning. This first coat will dry quickly, and most of it will penetrate into the wood and not leave any gloss on the surface.

The second coat can be applied on the same day as the first coat. It is also thinned, but only twenty-five percent. This is the second sealer coat and will prepare your teak for all subsequent coats of straight, un-thinned varnish. You can get away with good quality badger hair brushes for a few dollars and throw them away after each use.

Wait at least 24 hours and then sand all the pre-coated teak with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface again and dull any gloss that might have resulted from the first two coats. After sanding wipe the surfaces down with a clean alcohol soaked cloth, followed by a tack cloth. Now you are ready to start building up coats of clear varnish. Never work directly from the can, as exposure to air will ruin the varnish. Pour just what you need in a smaller container and seal the can.

Beginning with the third coat, it is important to apply the varnish carefully so that no spots are missed and no sloppy runs are evident. This coat will be the first full gloss coat, and mistakes made from this point on will show in the final finish. Try to work on a calm day so that windblown trash wonít stick to the slow-drying varnish. Use a clean brush and watch for shedding bristles that can sometimes come out of the brush and stick to the finish.

After the third coat has dried overnight, you will need to once again sand all the surfaces lightly with 220-grit paper; then wipe them down with a clean cloth for the fourth coat. It takes a minimum of five coats to get a decent finish, and about nine coats for a gleaming yacht finish that will turn the heads of everyone walking down the dock past your boat. Varnish must be maintained by applying two new coats every three or four months. These coats are also applied by lightly sanding with 220 grit paper between coats. If this schedule is maintained, your teak will always look great and youíll never again face the difficult task of removing a peeling finish and sanding down to the bare wood.

Be scrupulous about cleanliness. Sweat can ruin a whole mornings application as can rain, dust, or bugs. It can be very helpful to have someone follow you, pointing out holidays, bristles that have come out of the brush, or sags where you've applied too much varnish. Wear gloves. Avoid applying varnish to hot teak.

Be sensitive about the application. When the varnish's fresh, it goes on so smoothly that you'll be convinced you're putting it on too thin. Later in the application, the brush will start to "drag". That's the time to dump the rest of the varnish, brush and mix up a fresh batch. You should probably never have more than a few ounces in the cup at any one time.

Once the can's been opened, don't shake it. Pour the varnish from the can to the container through a filter being careful not to introduce air bubbles. If you need to mix the varnish use a clean (alcohol and tack cloth) stirrer and stir slowly so you don't introduce bubbles into the varnish. Throw the stirrer away after each use.

95% of the results come from the prep work. Get that done right and the varnish'll bring smiles and comments.
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Last edited by oceanscapt; 06-08-2010 at 04:38 PM.
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Scrape off bad teak with Hyde scrapers and heat gun.
If any dark areas you can spot fix with Bar Keepers friend as a paste.
Neutralize that with a little baking soda paste then wipe dry.
Build up the bad areas to same level then put a couple more coats over everything.
If more than 10-15 pxt is bad then better to scape it all off and start again.
I like Epifanes and they have a good resource of info at their website.
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Old 06-08-2010
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Go sailing or go varnish? I am in the camp that thinks naked teak looks nice. Freshly varnished teak looks very nice. Pealing varnish looks like crap. If you varnish you will have pealing varnish again, and again, and again, and again, and..................

When you are done varnishing you will stand back and admire your work with pride. You will do that again every 6 months when you re-coat until you decide naked teak looks pretty good.

Somebody had to say it.

Congrats on the new boat!

Gene
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What is the procedure for teak with partially worn Cetol ? Can I reapply Cetol to the weathered areas that are bare, or do I need to strip all the teak down to bare wood and redo ?
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Simple advice from a former varnish-aholic who owns a "Teakey":
DONT choose varnish for exterior.
Rather choose one of the 'modern' coating systems that LAST many years, have easy maintenance to look good, etc.

Some of these when carefully applied approach the look of varnish yet giving outstanding protection, some lasting almost 10 years in strong UV light conditions, and dont require the rigorous 'prep' as varnish. Every time you need to 'strip' or sand your varnished teak, you are removing a lot of the teak.
Simple speak - exterior varnish cant withstand the rigors of sunlight AND moisture choose a coating system that can.

Examples of 'modern' coatings: Cetol, Bristol Finish, Honey Teak, etc.

Dont be fooled by the recommendations of BARE teak. Bare teak erodes and is constantly & continually damaged by UV (albiet more slowly than other woods) .... and ultimately will have to be replaced. With quality teak now approaching $40.00 per board ft., it makes economic sense to protect it.
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Semco Teak Sealer

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
. . . Simple speak - exterior varnish cant withstand the rigors of sunlight AND moisture choose a coating system that can . . . Examples of 'modern' coatings: Cetol, Bristol Finish, Honey Teak, etc . . . Dont be fooled by the recommendations of BARE teak . . . Bare teak erodes and is constantly & continually damaged by UV . . . and ultimately will have to be replaced . . .
Totally agree - except you forgot one of the modern coatings - Semco. Wash with soap and water, let dry and recoat with a foam brush.

Teak Care

If you think you might have any leaks under your teak - that would be a good excuse to remove and sand back to bare wood - much easier while off the boat. Seal with Butyl tape when reinstalling.

Good luck!
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Old 06-09-2010
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Basically you have 4 choices:
Varnish
Cetol or one of the other similar finishes
Teak oil
Bare

Each have their advantages and disadvantages, most of which have been stated in the above posts. Your call based on what look you like and how much work you want to do.
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Old 06-09-2010
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No one has mentioned 'teak oil' which will make the bare wood look beautiful again and can be used under any of the finishes mentioned so far. You just need to remove the excess oils by wiping down with acetone or alcohol before applying any finish.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oomfh View Post
Totally agree - except you forgot one of the modern coatings - Semco. Wash with soap and water, let dry and recoat with a foam brush.

Teak Care


Good luck!
Agree again ... SEMCO, Teak Wonder or a mix of those two with Thompsons Waterseal are a GREAT and easy coating. I use such on my teak decks.
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