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post #1 of 28 Old 09-13-2018 Thread Starter
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teak decks - how much work are they really?

Lately I have become an admirer of Hallberg-Rassy boats. However, they all have teak decks, which look amazingly beautiful in the brochures and on their website, but I wonder how much work are they to maintain really? Any Hallberg-Rassy owners out there? How do you keep your teak decks looking nice?
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post #2 of 28 Old 09-13-2018
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Re: teak decks - how much work are they really?

keep them clean, soft bristle brush on broomstick, a harder brush, hand size
use a decent oil if that satisfies your desire for color, or let them naturally grey.
repair any issues, promptly
do not use silicone based stuff on them
careful with harsh cleaners and bleaches
NO pressure washing - ever
use deck mounts to secure spinnaker poles, hooks, etc
contact HR for what they use on the show boats and advertising

I did maintenance for a couple of owners.
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Re: teak decks - how much work are they really?

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Originally Posted by kd3pc View Post
keep them clean, soft bristle brush on broomstick, a harder brush, hand size
use a decent oil if that satisfies your desire for color, or let them naturally grey.
repair any issues, promptly
do not use silicone based stuff on them
careful with harsh cleaners and bleaches
NO pressure washing - ever
use deck mounts to secure spinnaker poles, hooks, etc
contact HR for what they use on the show boats and advertising

I did maintenance for a couple of owners.
Thanks for your reply. Do you use regular boat soap on it like you would on the gelcoat/fiberglass portions of the boat? I've used West Marine's Teak Brightener on my teak cap rails, which seemed to do a good job. However, I really only use that stuff as prep before sanding and applying Cetol, and seems like it would be impractical to use it to clean a large area like the decks.
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Re: teak decks - how much work are they really?

Never use a bristle brush, as the bristles get into the grain and progressively remove the softer wood, leaving the harder ridges, which then can’t stand up to foot traffic and wear prematurely. Use a soft scotch pad, and clean against the grain. Just salt water is fine, no soap. Maybe once or twice per year, you can use Teak Deck Systems Eco cleaner. However, the more you wash down with salt water, the less frequently the cleaner is needed. Never use a two part cleaner either, they also remove wood.

If buying a boat with teak decks, their underlying condition is a major factor in value. Are they leaking, is the caulking sound, have they been sanded to their limits? The point is, how far away from a replacement that will cost tens of thousands is she?
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Re: teak decks - how much work are they really?

In the old days, we used to use holy stones or griddle blocks on the teak decks of the old schooners because these would sand down the teak evenly, not pulling out the softer wood as above. Then we used a mixture of boiled linseed oil and kerosene to saturate the teak. It was a job for the whole crew, excepting master and cook, going up the decks en masse on hands and knees.
Today there are a variety of cleaners/bleaches (I like Snappy Teak the best) that do a marvelous job of cleaning and brightening teak, being sure to always go across the grain when scrubbing. There are also a number of finishes if you want to go that way, though most leave them to go grey.
However, and this is a huge factor, if you live or are going anywhere warm, teak decks get way too hot to walk on barefoot, let alone lay out on. For good maintenance in the tropics with the normal, relatively thin teak decks on yachts these days, they need to be washed down with seawater several times a day, which of course, turns them grey faster. They absorb a lot of heat from the sun and keep the cabin warm much later in the evening than glass, which is a pain in the tropics.
My first big boat, a Lester Stone Phill Rhodes racing cutter had real teak decks (no backing, so no rotting plywood underneath). Within the first year, I had to re-caulk every seam. It was back-breaking work, but done right it can last many years.
Almost every serious cruiser I've known who have had trouble with their teak decks has just removed them or covered them. If you are buying a showboat, then the teak is way worthwhile. If not.....

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Re: teak decks - how much work are they really?

Yes they are pretty and I love teak decks providing they are on other peoples boats.

I am a long term Caribbean cruiser and would never buy a boat with teak decks. They are too hot to walk on. They raise the temperature inside the boat by several degrees.

But the main reason is that when the times come to replace them at 20 to 30 years the cost is enormous. We are talking circa 1k $ US PER FOOT.
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Re: teak decks - how much work are they really?

There's a young couple of YouTube that recently got a steal on a HR35(?) and part of their massive overhaul including something like two weeks, pretty much full time, for both of them and another couple helping out, to remove the worn teak decking, some 8,000 screws, and then lay new decking on it. They used a plastic sheet product that "looks" like teak, for the replacement. Nice job, massive amount of work, including filling in the eight thousand screw holes.

A lot depends on how who maintained the decks, or not. These days it is more likely that a new deck would be glued down, so the leaking wouldn't be an issue. But your typical older boat? Yeah, 8000 screw holes.

There are a number of YT videos on replacing teak decks. Some companies will pre-cut new wood for you, making the replacement much easier as well. But no matter how it is done, that's a big job. A lot of owners will take off an old teak deck, fill the holes, and then have a layer of cloth glassed won, and the new deck simply refinished that way.

Still, eight thousand holes.
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Re: teak decks - how much work are they really?

Ironically, even the glued down decks use some screws. They are either temporarily used, between boards to hold down bracing, while the glue cures, or often used to permanently hold down looser spots over dips. For the temporary screws, the holes are supposed to be epoxied before the caulking is applied. I've found that is missed, but the caulking holds the water back for years....... until it doesn't.

Admittedly, I like the feel of teak under foot, much better than non-skid, etc. In fact, cleaning mold out of non-skid and getting it waxed is much harder than cleaning teak, IMO.

I'm due for new decks (if I don't just buy another boat) and have considered all the contemporary look alike alternatives. Some are synthetic teaks, but the subsurface must be perfect or it will print through. The cork products look very promising, they are even colored to look like teak and do, from afar. I just can't get past them look cheap, which leaves me asking why.


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Re: teak decks - how much work are they really?

I just spoke with a HR broker about the teak decks. She said that some of the newer models are actually semi-custom boats so one could opt for the faux teak or just plain old non-skid gelcoat (which would probably be my choice). The only problem with that approach is that I would have to buy one brand new...
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Re: teak decks - how much work are they really?

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Originally Posted by kbbarton View Post
Thanks for your reply. Do you use regular boat soap on it like you would on the gelcoat/fiberglass portions of the boat? I've used West Marine's Teak Brightener on my teak cap rails, which seemed to do a good job. However, I really only use that stuff as prep before sanding and applying Cetol, and seems like it would be impractical to use it to clean a large area like the decks.
I actually start at the weak end of the soaps, and then move up to the next one if the first did not work as needed. I stay away from brighteners as that brings a whole new world of compatibility to the whole cleaning process.

HR Is not a boat I would "try" things on, as the decks can be made worse, using the wrong products.

Cap rails. hand rails and so on are a different beast, and I use old fashioned varnishes and every now and then urathanes, if the client wants it. Teak rails are a breeze and can be repaired in many ways that decks can not....the seam sealers are also subject to what ever you use on the teak decks and they need their own cleaning and care.

Worse thing you can do is treat a whole deck and it dries to fast or slow and your brightener is not neutralized or rinsed well.
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