Decking Material -- Teak vs Fiberglass - Page 2 - SailNet Community

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Old 04-28-2006
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I have teak decks on my Little Harbor 38. I have a passion for teak decks and they are great when the decks are wet. However, for many folks they are not the way to go on a used boat. My decks leaked and would have ruined what was a beautiful interior. I pulled up my decks (worst part of the job by far) re-cored the decks and then re-decked with new teak. Project cost was about $5000 doing this myself vs. roughly $60,000 at Little Harbor. I took a piece of pvc tubing and placed it over every screw coming up from below and filled with West Sys. epoxy to prevent leaks if the core ever leaked again. The core was filled with small sections using end grain balsa and marine grade plywood. The theory here again was that if one section leaked, the West System would "compartmentalize" the leak and prevent it from spreading to the whole deck. Top skin was laid down again with West System episize glass + two layers 12 oz 90/90 cloth plus one layer Kevlar to build back in stiffness. The decks we're bedded down with Teak Decking Systems fairing and fitting epoxy. West System is not recommended for bedding teak. Anyway, the whole project turned out beautifully and we have no leaks seven years out from project completion. So to sum it up, if you want to sail and not worry about the decks - avoid the teak. If you have a passion for teak and are willing to face what could be a big project (or have lots of money to pay someone else to put down new decks) then maybe teak is for you.

Good luck.

Rob Proctor, CEO / Sailnet
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Old 04-29-2006
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One word of warning...Fiberglass is rarely a good material for screws. The laminate does not tolerate screws well, and the screws break the glass fibers, which ARE QUITE BRITTLE, and weaken the laminate. I have yet to see any form of fiberglass, where the screws weren't relatively weak compared to wood, aluminum, steel, epoxy...
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Old 05-02-2006
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One thing I would also mention is that when teak decks are laid; if it was done properly there is a cord placed below the caulking. This cord is placed beneath the caulking so that when you want to re-caulk you rip the cord out to help strip the caulk out of the decking. The best way to prevent problems with the decking is to maintain it by re-caulking/sanding it before the caulk dries out and allows water to get beneath the teak.
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Old 05-03-2006
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There are other alternatives than just traditional teak or fiberglass. I saw a product called Flexdeck (or something like that) at the Seattle Boat Show in January that I would have sworn was real teak decking, but it was PVC! It even had the texture of real teak and the salesman said it was even more non-skid than traditional teak decking (which the company also was selling). The major thing I remember is that the Flexdeck is simply glued down once the existing teak deck is removed (or over the existing fiberglass non-skid) no fasteners to eventually leak. It was explained that once the deck is installed, its guaranteed never to leak. The other big thing was that it doesn't fade to the dull grey teak does. The company was called Yacht Deck and I think they were based in San Francisco, but I'm not quite sure of that.

If you do want to go with traditional teak, make sure you go with at least 1/2" thick teak as any thinner and you won't get sufficient life out of it due to wear and sanding. When maintaining a traditional teak deck, never scrub it in the direction of the seams, always go across them so that you don't wear out the soft grain of the wood. Also, if you see any caulk separation from the teak battens, make sure to repair it ASAP as even a small leak can lead to big problems down the road.

Good luck with your purchase and as someone mentioned, there's nothing better looking than a well maintained teak deck...or possibly the new synthetic decking I suppose!
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