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mcagney 02-02-2004 07:49 AM

Advice refinishing teak and holly sole
I want to refinish the teak and holy sole in my Sweden 38 and I would like some advice. Some of the varnish has lifted and the teak has discolored due to minor water damage. The sole is a plywood veneer in good condition. I have removed all the boards from the boat. This is what I was thinking of doing:
(1) Remove all varnish using a chemical stripper and plastic scraper.
(2) Then use a teak brighter (any recommendations) to remove some of the dark water stains from the teak.
(3) Sand the bare sole with an orbital sander (200-220 grit) and wipe down with mineral spirits.
(4) Coat the sole (top, sides and bottom) with a coat of clear epoxy (should I thin this use penetrating epoxy etc).
(5) After removing the wax film (from to the epoxy) I then planned on putting 3-5 coats of polyurethane varnish on the surface and painting the underside (bilge side) of the veneer.

Any comments, recommendations, warnings?

RichH 02-02-2004 09:44 AM

Advice refinishing teak and holly sole
Brightener: first a trial with diluted TSP (trisodiuim phosphate) to remove any oils, etc. Becareful as TSP will also dissolve some of the wood cells. Then a brightening with dilute oxalic acid. Apply the diluted oxalic in ''stages'' so that you dont get it too bright.
Typically Oxalic will brighten too much so you may need to ''tint'' the wood back to the color you want with ''judicious'' use of diluted analine dyes/tints to gain hue/color - you typically have to mix up the ''tint'' yourself from dry powder dye. All this tuff is usually availabe in any ''old fashioned'' paint store - one that deals with the ''trade''. If you live in an eco-freak'' state (CA, NJ, NY, MA, MD, etc.) you probably wont find any.

Personally, I''d forget the epoxy as if the wood absorbs excess mosture (vapor from the ambient atmosphere) the surface coating is more vulnerable to lifting.

A ''hint'' so that you dont have to sand too much or too deeply into the thin veneer: Take a steam iron and a spray bottle of water and lightly go over the gouges and deep scratchs. Spritz the gouges then go over with a steam iron - dont burn the wood. The steam will ''swell'' the gouges and sometimes get them back to the flat level original surface. Then you wont have to sand so deeply into the veneer - and shorten its useful life. For sanding, an orbital is OK but if you get a good carbide tipped scraper the job will go faster especially when you use a chemical stripper - but if you ''slip'' with an ultra sharp scraper you can do some ''awful'' damage.

GordMay 02-02-2004 09:59 AM

Advice refinishing teak and holly sole
Like Rich H says.
You can ease (round off slightly /w a file) the corners on your scraper to help prevent those gouges.

camaraderie 02-04-2004 07:27 AM

Advice refinishing teak and holly sole
No arguments with any of the previous advice. Would like to suggest a "varnish" product that I bought for my sole at the Annapolis boat show and was VERY pleased with. Called Ultimate Sole and it goes on with a foam brush with NO between coat sanding. Dries to a hard hi gloss finish but is NOT slippery...indeed is less slippery than normal finishes even when wet.
I think the website is personal interest...just a plug for a good product.

AJS 02-04-2004 07:54 AM

Advice refinishing teak and holly sole
Definitely use the Varnish over Epoxy method or just epoxy alone since this won''t need UV protection.
Don''t thin the epoxy - not necessary.
Don''t sand finer than 80 grit to ensure good adhesion.
Coat the bottom and edges as well as the upper surface to completely seal the wood from moisture.
There are epoxies meant for clear coating that produce a lovely surface that is durable.
For exterior wood, put varnish coats over the epoxy to protect from UV. The varnish protects the epoxy from the sun, the epoxy seals against water. Varnish is a poor sealer against water.
This technique has been the best for me so far. Exterior wood can be given a light sanding and a new coat of varnish when needed. As long as you seal it well with epoxy, the water will never get under the coating and you''ll never need to sand to bare wood again.
Go to for lots of advice on this subject.


petercra 02-07-2004 06:46 PM

Advice refinishing teak and holly sole
The best way to remove interior varnish is with a heat gun and scraper. Although it is possible to char the wood, with careful use that is unlikely. Keep the heat on just long enough for the scraper to peel back the varnish. Keep a vacuum handy as the peeling are fine and will get into everything if you''re not careful.

davidiz 02-13-2006 09:33 PM

Ultimate Sole
I also heard recommendations about this product and thought I'd try it. After it dried, about 5 days, we placed non-slip throw rugs down on the high traffic areas. After a few months I noticed that the varnish picked up the pattern of the rug's rubberized backing and that a dark film was sticking to the floor. I decided to remove the varnish and had a heck of a time. The rubber from the mats imbedded into the varnish creating a wax paste that was very hard to remove. Did I do something wrong?

gc 02-14-2006 11:46 AM

My $.02 worth:
1) I have yet to find a chemical stripper that works satisfactorily. Now I use a heat gun and scraper - it is not hard to keep from scorching. But best is to avoid stripping altogether.
2) Removing the staining will be harder than you think. Teak cleaner is very difficult to control unless you use it on everything. Other techniques require lots of experience to get right. Water stains at least are honest and not out of place on a boat - do you really need to clean them? You might end up with a cleaned spot just as noticeable as the water stain.
3) You might be surprised how much sunlight gets below in a boat. I used interior varnish below and regret it. Lots of fading.
4) Double check the thickness of the veneer that is applied to the plywood. It is very easy to go through it with a power sander.
5) Do you really need the epoxy? How long did the original finish last? Would you be satisfied if the new one lasted that long? It would simplify the job a lot to just refinish (sand and recoat with varnish).

Irwin32 02-14-2006 05:21 PM


Is it wrong to assume you are speaking from experience? I like your idea, as I was faced with this job as well. Floor looks OK, but is faded and very slippery. A simple sanding and adding another coat or 2 or 3 of varnish would simlpify the whole thing greatly.

gc 02-15-2006 12:52 AM

I have about 15 years experience with my current boat. That includes revarnishing everything below at least once. And lot of experience with teak cleaner on a previous boat. It is hard to get both good looking and non-slippery floor boards. My solution has been throw rugs with rubberized non-slip backing. I do recommend using exterior varnish even below decks on a boat. The cost savings of interior varnish are eaten up by having to do it again sooner because of the fading.

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