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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 10-14-2010
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Teak

Hello,
I have lots of teak on my boat and it's looking pretty shabby. It is a combination of varnish, cetol, and bare wood. I would like to strip it all off and redo it with varnish or a reasonable alternative.
My questions are:
1. How do I strip it?
2. Can I strip it over time before I redo it with whatever?
3. Could I strip and redo a section at a time like the cockpit?
4. What are the alternatives for finishing teak?

Considerations: I live in the Northeast. My boat is covered in canvas so I can work under it for part of the year. My boat is almost two hours from where I live. As with all sailboats I have lots of other stuff to do.
Thanks
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Old 10-14-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sixbrothers View Post
Hello,
I have lots of teak on my boat and it's looking pretty shabby. It is a combination of varnish, cetol, and bare wood. I would like to strip it all off and redo it with varnish or a reasonable alternative.

My questions are:
1. How do I strip it?
2. Can I strip it over time before I redo it with whatever?
3. Could I strip and redo a section at a time like the cockpit?
4. What are the alternatives for finishing teak?
Six,

Your options are pretty broad, and only you can decide what works best for you and meets your own standards.

That said, I'll take a shot at answering your Q's:

1. How do I strip it?

A. Chemical stripper. Slop it on, let it work, scrape it off with a plastic scraper, dispose of residue per local requirements. Repeat as necessary until you're down to bare wood. Wash well with soap and water. Prep sand. Pros: relatively fast; relatively easy on the wood. Cons: Messy; requires great care if used around anything else that has a painted surface.

B. Heat gun. Gently heat the finish until it gets soft, then scrape off carefully with a scrapper or other semi-sharp tool. Prep sand. Pro: Cleaner than all but C. Cons: Takes a fair amount of time. Requires 110v power supply. Unless you pay close attention, it's not hard to mistakenly burn/char the wood with the heat gun. Also requires great care around other painted surfaces.

C. Cabinet scraper. Have at your wood with a VERY SHARP cabinet scraper. Prep sand. Google "cabinet scraper" to find videos of how to use and sharpen scrapers. Pros: Very efficient (if sharp and used properly.) No power tools required. Cleanest method. Leaves a very smooth surface. Cons: Got to be careful with corners and edges -- the scraper will take these down pretty quickly.

D. Sand. You can either do this old school (by hand) or with a power sander -- just be very careful oround edges and corners if you elect to go with the sander. Start with 60 grit, working to 100 grit (or finer depending on your chosen finish.) Pro: It will work. Cons: Messier than B or C, but less than A. Lots of man-hours.

Bottom line: I've used all of the above at one time or another. You'll probably find out that different situations require different approaches. If the wood can be remove from the boat (drop boards, for example) the chemical stripper would be the easiest. For stuff that's permanently mounted below decks though, stripper's probably going to be your last choice. Unless it can be removed, I'll generally take a shot at it with a cabinet scraper first and see how it goes. Next option is the heat gun, and finally old school sandpaper.


2. Can I strip it over time before I redo it with whatever?

Yes, but you need to remember that a finish sanding will be required before you lay on a finish.

3. Could I strip and redo a section at a time like the cockpit?

Yes, and I recommend it. Start with a small project you can tackle start to finish, and use it to try different methods and products.

4. What are the alternatives for finishing teak?

A. Traditional varnish. Very attractive (if that's what you prefer) but has a pretty high maintenance price. You're looking at 8-10 base coat layers, with another 2 annually, plus any repairs to dings/scrapes/scratches.
B. Cetol. Three coats of Natural Teak, followed by two coats of Gloss if you want that glossy finish. Annual maintenance coat -- scrub with a green ScotchBrite pad, wash and coat.
C. Teak oil. Requires more frequent applications than varnish or Cetol, but doesn't suffer dings/scrathes as obviously.
D. Nothing (TM). Leave it bare and let it weather naturally.
E. Paint. You'll lose the aesthetic impact of having the teak, but won't need to worry about dings in your varnish. If you don't like it, you can always strip it back down and go with another option above.

Hope this helps you out.

Meg Whitman's book Brightwork Companion is a very good reference, and I've found it more detailed/useful than Don Casey's stuff.
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Old 10-19-2010
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Thanks for all the info. I saw some pictures of the natural cetol with the gloss and it looks pretty good. I think I will go that way.
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Old 10-19-2010
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Some people may rant about this.. you can pressure wash it. If it's really badly carbonized (black) the high pressure wash will get the black out. It will also crevice the wood if you get to determined with the pressure washer. Oxalic acid will clean it too, but it's still really really allot of work to bring teak back to it's original look. Which is why so many people let it just weather without finish.
Cetol natural teak is very very nice I did the toe rail caps, drop boards and other parts with 3- 5 coats.
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Old 10-19-2010
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as profin mentioned with the power sander, be careful...you can take off a lot of teak very quickly
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Old 10-19-2010
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Cetol Natural x 3 coats followed by Cetol Gloss x 3 coats. Note: repair any nicks immediatley.




The left is Semco Natural vs Cetol Natural + Cetol Gloss on the right. You can see some bubble effect on the Cetol, thats more poor application than the prodcut




I am going to try using Semco Natural on all my teak next time I take it down to bare wood.
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Old 10-19-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deniseO30 View Post
Some people may rant about this.. you can pressure wash it. If it's really badly carbonized (black) the high pressure wash will get the black out. It will also crevice the wood if you get to determined with the pressure washer. Oxalic acid will clean it too, but it's still really really allot of work to bring teak back to it's original look. Which is why so many people let it just weather without finish.
Cetol natural teak is very very nice I did the toe rail caps, drop boards and other parts with 3- 5 coats.

I don't suggest pressure washing teak. It will deepen the grain which will allow more dirt in and mold to grow. I suggest a very mild soap with a white 3M pad for cleaning. EDIT: Go against the grain.

We only maintain some varnish topsides. We were letting the rest go bare, but now we have decided that we didn't like the look and feel of the silver teak so we are now using Semco.

I suggest Amazon.com: Brightwork: The Art of Finishing Wood (9780877429845): Rebecca J. Wittman: Books: Reviews, Prices & more
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Hey there! We don't have tons of teak on our boat, but we have enough. We did a lot of research and found a product called "Honey Teak" which we LOVE. It lasts much longer than varnish, is a UV protectant and people who use it have never looked back (I spoke to several 'recovered varnish addicts'). Tom, the owner, answers his phone and will talk you through the whole thing. Honestly, EVERYONE compliments are woodwork. You can see what we did on our blog here Windtraveler: Brightwork

It's a lot of work, but when you are finished and looking at beautiful wood - it will all be worth it!

Good luck!

Brittany
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Old 10-19-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T37Chef View Post
Cetol Natural x 3 coats followed by Cetol Gloss x 3 coats. Note: repair any nicks immediately.
Nice job Chef. We use Cetol too. About 20 man/woman hours in the spring each year and it is good as new. I've never seen it as all that much bother. Nothing compared to changing a joker valve as far as I'm concerned!

Love the chrome ventilator, is there a story with those? (...pulling your chain!)
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Love the chrome ventilator, is there a story with those? (...pulling your chain!)
First of all, I checked out your blog, your teak finishing is much better than mine...impressive job you did on Virgina Dare...

about those cowl vents...well lets just say they dont look like that anymore (still no results in trying to get them to own up to their poor work, they look so bad now I think I'm going to have them Powder Coated or just get new stainless one from ABI, what I should have done in the first place....Arrrgggg)
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