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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 09-09-2010
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Teak Trouble

Recently assumed care of a 30 year old 42í sloop with teak decks, the teak is overlaid on glass laminate, the core is Airex. Iím emotionally attached to teak, which means Iím going to sufferÖ

Virtually all the caulking is cracked and much is separated from the wood, many bungs gone, a few boards are actually lifting up, a few boards are cracked. Water squishes disconcertingly from between the boards when you walk on it after a rain. A few minor leaks appearing through the deck below near some fittings. The wood is of varying thickness, from real thin in some to still quite thick in others (I need to measure). The wood had been treated with something that colored it gold at some point, which is now giving the deck a look of 50%-50% speckled gold and grey.

What to do?

Option #1: pay $60K+ for someone to do a new teak deck now. That is not going to happen.

Option #2: Do nothing other than screw down the loose boards, re-bed a few fittings for leaks and go sailing. I don't need the decks to look pristine, they've taken 30 years to succumb to mistreatment, the core is Airex so it is resistant to rot, another season or two wonít change much. Save up and deal with it in a few yearsÖ.

Option #3: Try to rescue this deck now. Re-caulk everything, replace a few boards, many bungs, sand everything to remove the old gold stain...Labor intensive and costly, but not as much as paying for a new deck. It only makes sense if doing this will make it last at least 3-5 more years.

Option #4. Replace the deck myself, paying a helper. Iíve found a retired shipwright who is willing to work with me for $35/hr, which seems very reasonable. If I can learn enough, I can do much of the work myself with my wife and friends. Even with his help, Iím intimidated by the scale of the project, and will still probably cost me dearly $$$. I'll take the plunge and do this if putting it off no longer makes sense...

Bottom line questions: Must I take action now, or can i just do damage control? Does it make sense to try to work with and save what I have? How do I know when itís time to pull the trigger and just replace?
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Old 09-09-2010
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Hi
Airex will not rot. But if you are in a "freeze in the winter" area it can delaminate when the moisture freezes. And it sounds like there could be a lot of moisture.
To replace the teak, even without the labor charges, will be expensive. Teak in my area is $28 to $30/board foot. I have heard higher prices depending on area. And the labor charges, even at $35/hr will be high.
Were it my boat I wouild remove the teak and properly fill holes and glass the deck with fiberglass cloth and epoxy and paint with non skid.
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Were it my boat I wouild remove the teak and properly fill holes and glass the deck with fiberglass cloth and epoxy and paint with non skid.[/QUOTE]

Thanks for your reply. I know you're right, but I don't wanna do that. I just don't wanna...
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Old 09-09-2010
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Teak is great, if you have the guts!

You'd be amazed how few real 'skills' are involved in working over a teak deck. If you have the time and patience, as well as a few skilled hands to work with the first couple of times through a particular task, you'll wonder what you were so intimidated about.

There are also some books on the subject, and those are handy.. but nothing teaches like experience. Have at it, and enjoy the work!

(Also, for what it's worth.. once you know what you are doing, you'll be able to look at your existing deck and have a good feel for what needs to be replaced and what doesn't. My bet, though, completely sight unseen, is that once you get going you'll decide to replace it all anyway. And it'll take twice as long and cost at least 50% more than you thought to do it.. and you'll still be glad you did! )
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Old 09-10-2010
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If you own the boat, do whatever will make you happy with the boat.

If you don't own the boat, then do whatever the owner is willing to pay for.

Replacing the teak decks after ripping up the old ones, repairing the cored fiberglass deck and then GLUING down the new ones is really the best way to go about this. The fact is that the existing deck is allowing water to penetrate to the Airex core. This is going to cause delamination issues. This is a little better than if the deck were cored with marine plywood or end-grain balsa, since the Airex won't rot...but it isn't anywhere near ideal.
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Old 09-10-2010
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Thanks for your replies, all...

Cap Tim: I like what you say and appreciate your inspiration...I'll probably take the plunge and attack one defined area at a time, that way I can bail without having ripped up the entire deck all at once. Who knows, maybe after doing a few sections I'll stop angsting and suddenly realize the deck just got completed.

Saildog: I own the boat, and as for doing "whatever will make me happy" with the boat or in life...well, I'm working on it

...I would much prefer to take your advice and glue down rather than screw down new wood, but can you glue down a sprung deck and make it last, or are the tensions on the curved planks just too great?
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Old 09-10-2010
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I keep looking at "plasteak" and others getting good reviews as an alteritive to real teak, I love teak decks, Hope you persevere and put up some pics of the project! good luck!
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Old 09-10-2010
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Typically a 'screwed-down' teak deck will only last 20 years, if the maintenance is continual. Ultimately the original screws will loosen and begin to 'saw' into the upper FRG (usually at the 'butt-end joints'). Once water intrudes into the 'core' the bond strength between the core and the FRG laminate 'goes to hell in a handbasket' quickly, especially if the core is a 'botanic' - balsa or plywood. So, if you repair 'in-place' BE SURE that all the screws near the 'butt ends' are intact ... and maybe even replace them with *non-shoulder screws* of a 'slightly' larger diameter.
IMHO - moisture meters are insignificant for assaying the water content of such structure; and, the only way to assay is to actually drill into the underdeck with TEENY drill bits - 3/32" etc. and physically examine the 'drillings'.

It is not impossible to very carefully remove the original teak straking, cut open the FRG underlayment, clean out the soggy core, replace with a new core, overlay with FLAT FRG, thoroughly dry out the old straking - held fast to prevent warpage, and *LAMINATE* the old strakes back down using epoxy, etc. etc. etc. etc. ... but it wont be a 'perfect job' but may be visually acceptable. LAMINATING teak decking where temporary screws are used to force the strakes into epoxy and then removed and the drill holes completely filled with epoxy is the probable only method .... unless you want the same result of a soggy core later on - again. OR of course you can 'break off' the old straking, and order a new teak deck already cut to pattern from such sources as TDS, etc. - bring a mortgage application when you order such.

Plastic faux-teak decking??? Just ask yourself what 'plastic' or 'rubber' on this planet can withstand 'sunlight' for a long period of time ..... ??? Thats why you'll never find 'linoleum' patios and sidewalks, etc.
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Rich H:

So if I follow you are saying that securing a sprung teak deck with epoxy and without permanent screws can work (using screws only temporarily in the laying process, then removing)...your description of dealing with core rot is very much appreciated, though hopefully won't be needed...

DeniseO30: I too was interested in the faux teak idea, spoke with a flexiteek seller, he gave me a 2x4' strip of his product to play with, I thought it looked and felt great out of the box, but then I saw it on a boat in the real world after exposure to elements and such and it looked terrible, finish was dull, surface cracked at stress points, and product just looked like plastic, which is what it is. Who knows, maybe the owner just didn't care for it right, but as of now I somehow feel morally superior being the owner of abused but real wood rather than faux plastic workaround...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jakmedic View Post
Rich H:

So if I follow you are saying that securing a sprung teak deck with epoxy and without permanent screws can work (using screws only temporarily in the laying process, then removing)...your description of dealing with core rot is very much appreciated, though hopefully won't be needed...
.
Yup, the teak decks on todays top-quality boats are all 'laminated' (epoxy, etc. glued) to the FRG underlayment. When building they use screws, between the strakes, to 'engage' the teak to the epoxy/FRG, and then remove the screws and then fill the 'holes' with epoxy .... no screws left in the deck that can loosen and 'saw' the FRG. The best way I know to FIND the loose screws is to use a micrometer dial indicator and then put a lot of pressure on the strakes while watching the dial to move .... and its usually the damn screws holding the 'butt ends' that are the 'loosest'. Also if the deck has been rebunged .... usually to save cost the builders typically used a screw with a slight 'shoulder' (a small zone of no threads near the head). When re-bunging, sanding etc. many times the shoulder is now down in the 'hole', few threads in contact with the FRG .... and this doesnt 'hold' very long. So, if you need to 'rebung', etc. be sure to look for and REPLACE these very common 'shouldered' wood screws with FULL thread screws.

Teak decks usually can be 'restored' (re-caulked, re-screwed, rebunged, sanded) several times. IMHO - the best method usually includes a 'teak sealer' to prevent dimensional changes due to drying out, etc. ... and a good teak sealer wont add any 'slipperyness' and preserves the useful life of the teak --- SEMCO, Teak Wonder, etc. etc. etc. At $40+ per board ft. you want your teak to be 'protected'.
BTW --- the absolute rule for re-caulking is that the teak HAS to be completely and totally DRIED out and totally have LOW moisture content .... or any caulk, etc. simply wont 'hold'. This is especially true in the 'butt ends' where moisture will wick several inches INTO the strake. Its that damn 'butt ends' that change dimensionally and force the damns screws out/loose.

There is NOTHING in the world that can compare with the TRACTION of a wet teak deck, even a 'sealed' teak deck, ,,,, except maybe coarse highway asphalt tar-mac.
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