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I always told myself I'd never consider a boat with teak decks. Now a boat has come on the market I'm interested in. It's nearing 40 years old, a Bob Perry design, 45ish ft LOA. Its priced well below market value. It looks to be well maintained and the owner says the decks have no leaks. Being that I'm 2000 miles away it would probably cost me $3,000 to see it; haul out, survey, flight, hotel, car rental, etc.

Even if the teak is at the end of its life it would leave me enough money to sail it to Mexico (boat is on the California coast) where I could have the teak replaced or simply removed and fiberglassed over for a reasonable price. Let's say $10k US

So my question is would the teak decks make this an automatic no or would you consider it?
 

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Old soul
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As someone who owns a 40-year-old teak decked boat I would not make this an automatic no. BUT, I would not necessarily take the sellers word for it. If these are original decks it would be something approaching a miracle if they had zero problems.

But if this a well designed and well built boat, a leak is not the end of the world. It just has to be dealt with.
 

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I think your estimate of the cost to remove and glass over the deck is very much on the low side. Some teak decks can be very hard to remove due to strong adhesive, broken screws and so on. And the level of detail required to re surface the decks can surprise you. I recently fixed teak cap and rub rails on Island Packet 35 and it gave me a sobering view of teak decks in general. Not a deal breaker IMO but a serious cost factor. I would tentatively double your estimate.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I think your estimate of the cost to remove and glass over the deck is very much on the low side. Some teak decks can be very hard to remove due to strong adhesive, broken screws and so on. And the level of detail required to re surface the decks can surprise you. I recently fixed teak cap and rub rails on Island Packet 35 and it gave me a sobering view of teak decks in general. Not a deal breaker IMO but a serious cost factor. I would tentatively double your estimate.
Thanks for the replies so far. So I have a friend with a Baba 40 and he had his teak taken off and decks fiberglassed for $7k. That was in Rio Dulce, Guatemala. He was very happy with the work. That's what I'm basing my estimate on. You could very well be right though.

Of course the common saying for any boat project is double the budget and triple the time.
 

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So I have a friend with a Baba 40 and he had his teak taken off and decks fiberglassed for $7k. That was in Rio Dulce, Guatemala. He was very happy with the work. That's what I'm basing my estimate on. You could very well be right though.

Of course the common saying for any boat project is double the budget and triple the time.
Sometimes you get lucky but it’s hard to count on that. Best approach would be to get an actual quote from a local company. Which of course we know that can be hard to get. But you definitely have a point of reference.
 

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In 15 years of cruising, I have seen several boats with old, failing teak decks and I have seen the disasters that can lurk beneath the teak due to 20-30 years of leaks:

Rotted deck cores, plywood or balsa,
Chainplates that crumble because of crevice corrosion,
Internal bulkheads, that support chainplates, rotted out.

Keeping a mast vertical when a chainplate goes and you are out in a storm can be challenging.

Usually, there is a reason that a boat is priced well below market!

Good luck, you might need it! The only way to know is to go and see!
 

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I love teak decks, if it weren’t for the cost and maintenance. :)

There are love them and hate them folks out there. Not unlike an inground pool. Something to consider is whether any of those boats were made without teak decks. If not, yours could look bastardized.

Replacing with non-skid is no easy endeavor. Removing all the glue, caulking, screws and ultimately refinishing the glass to be smooth is time consuming. I’ve seen a poor job of this and it really looks bad.

If you had to replace, I’d consider Teak Deck Systems. You send a pattern, they send you a deck. But there’s still way more to it.
 

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The OP didn’t mention the brand of the boat. I’ve got a 1982 Norseman 447 with teak decks. The deck is arriving to the point where something serious is going to be required. In terms of deck leaks, the only ones after 20 years of ownership have been around the chain plates where the original installers left the core open.

Getting rid of the teak decks is a bigger job than it looks like. I just ripped up the teak on the seat area of the cockpit. It was a very small area, no more than 7’ x 8’ outside dimensions with a seat maybe 16” wide. I could do it all sitting down, not kneeling. It took two days to get all the old teak off with a circular saw and a big chisel. Another day to get out all the screws. Another day to drill out all the screw holes and fill with epoxy. Another two days to sand, smooth and finish with gel coat.

That’s just the cockpit seat, a small area of maybe 30 square feet with excellent access and easy working conditions.

To do the same thing on the actual deck would first involve taking off all the overhead panels in the cabin, which is a big, inconvenient job. Then you remove everything that’s set down on the deck: cleats, winches, tracks, windlass, etc. Each of those can be a challenge because in my case then we’re all attached to the deck before any of the interior was installed. So often the nuts and any backing plates are now blocked with bulkhead, electrical wiring, etc. I could imagine at least a weeks work just getting all the liners down. You’d have to label them and get them all off the boat to have any space to work.

Once everything is off the deck, you’ll have to get all of the teak removed while you’re on you knees. Then drilling, filling and sanding all the holes in the entire deck. I did this once on a 41’ boat and stopped counting at 4000 holes. This assumes you had nothing else like a leak somewhere to fix.

Then you need to figure out what you’re going to put back down. Will you use the old stanchion bases? Are all the fittings, tracks, blocks, etc. still usable? Should you reengineer the backing plates.

Then you have to refinish the deck. Painting with anti skid is probably the cheapest way, but takes a lot of labor to sand and mask. A synthetic surface is probably easier but costs maybe $30/square foot before installation.

Then you reinstall everything on the deck.

Then you reinstall all the interior panels.

If you can get that done for $10k, I’d like to know where.
 

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We came very close to buying a Peterson 46 with the original teak decks.

I was pretty paranoid and went to the effort of bringing a good friend who is an experienced shipwright along with me and doing a thorough assessment of the state of the decks. Bottomline they weren't leaking and while cosmetically they weren't an amazing asset to the boat, they were still alright. There is I guess though that thought that one day, some day, sooner than later you do have to do something about them.

However aren't boats in general just basically all made up of several bits that are leaking, failing, corroding ticking timebombs? I guess Teak Decks are just one more thing and many folks don't wanna bother.

So why didn't we buy the Peterson? Turns out while I was being paranoid and pondering my offer, a guy came along and offered the seller 10k less than I would of and bought the boat out from under me. He has replaced a couple of teak plugs and went sailing.

So no for me not a deal breaker. Go into it with your eyes open and have a plan. It sounds like you are and you do. Best of luck.
 

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teak decks can and do leak when they age... and a new laid teak deck is very spendy.
 

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I don't understand why anyone would buy a boat that has systems that need to be maintained that have no real reason for being on the boat. Teak decks on a modern day fiberglass boat are a waste of time and money. I have sailed on boats with and without teak decks and the only thing that i got from a Teak deck that I did not get from a fiberglass deck was Splinters and burnt feet.
 

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Old soul
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I don't understand why anyone would buy a boat that has systems that need to be maintained that have no real reason for being on the boat. Teak decks on a modern day fiberglass boat are a waste of time and money. I have sailed on boats with and without teak decks and the only thing that i got from a Teak deck that I did not get from a fiberglass deck was Splinters and burnt feet.
Well… there really is no reason to own a sailboat at all ;). It's pretty much the slowest, and most expensive way, to go anywhere. It certainly makes no rational sense to own one.

Teak makes an excellent non-skid in all sea conditions. It is warm and comfortable on the feet. It is aesthetically beautiful. It’s really not that hard to maintain — certainly no harder than many other boat systems.

If hard cold functionality really were the criteria by which we made decisions about boating, well, I think none of us would bother to own a sailboat ;).
 

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....
Teak makes an excellent non-skid in all sea conditions. It is warm and comfortable on the feet. It is aesthetically beautiful. It’s really not that hard to maintain — certainly no harder than many other boat systems.
You shouldn't compare teak laid decks to other systems re maintenance. But it does take more time to maintain it than textured gelcoat or perhaps Treadmaster. Because it is screwed down is can lead to leaks. I don't know how long a well maintained teak decks will last before they need serious attention. My textured gelcoat surface is as good as it was when new 35 years on. My sense is teak takes more time to keep looking good than non skid gelcoat.

Teak certainly is attractive and non skid. I would be concerned with very old teak decks... but all things being equal it needed be a deal breaker.
 

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Well… there really is no reason to own a sailboat at all ;). It's pretty much the slowest, and most expensive way, to go anywhere. It certainly makes no rational sense to own one.

Teak makes an excellent non-skid in all sea conditions. It is warm and comfortable on the feet. It is aesthetically beautiful. It’s really not that hard to maintain — certainly no harder than many other boat systems.

If hard cold functionality really were the criteria by which we made decisions about boating, well, I think none of us would bother to own a sailboat ;).
there are lots of reasons to own a sailboat, my one reason is enjoying life by going sailing. and i sail a slow sailboat not to get anywhere but to spend more time on a boat on the sea. it makes since to own one because if you don't it is hard to go sailing where and when you want. i do believe a power boat with twin diesels is a bit more expensive way to go somewhere

teak is very hot on your bare feet and splinters are a sure thing, teak never looks good unless it is varnished and requires several more hours of maintenance each year. and it is not will it leak it is going to leak because putting a million screws through a fiberglass deck is just a very bad idea.

it seems that you stated that there is no good reason to own a sail boat and the said there are lots of reasons to own one so which is it?
I know the answer, I don't have teak decks so I have more time to enjoy sailing and don't have to worry about when I will have to fix the leaking deck
if you enjoy having teak decks then fine you are the one that is paying for them in time and money.
 

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I haven't met a boat owner who's honest with me or who hasn't taken up residence in some silted in harbor (in which case they have cheap housing, not really a boat), who doesn't care about what their boat looks like.

Now beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but IMHO teak decks are pretty darn attractive. They are also an excellent non-skid surface. Boat 4 of 5 had teak decks. I never got splinters, but my wallet sprang a definite leak :).

As they get older, the teak itself wears and the caulking between the boards starts to stand up higher than the boards. Then you can re-caulk, and maybe sand it a bit, till you get to the point that the bungs are gone and you are looking at the screws. Of course the potential leak points are numerous. I've seen newer construction where the teak is glued down which avoids the million screw holes. I've also watched as a board yard tried to remove that teak on a large yacht, not pretty or cheap.

IMHO, we all operate at different points when it comes to evaluating esthetics vs. maintenance cost/time. You can't say you spend zero time or dollars on esthetics, because I think for most of this that's a lie. Each of us pick an operating point we can live with and pay with either time or money.

IMHO, I would not buy a teak decked boat to save money, because the purchase price was low. Buying the is cheap part. Maintenance is where you pay. I would only buy one if I loved teak decks so much, I didn't care what the maintenance cost would be.

There's lots of boats out there, and the cost of curing a problem like old teak decks in time or money is not cheap.
 

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.....teak is very hot on your bare feet and splinters are a sure thing, teak never looks good unless it is varnished and requires several more hours of maintenance each year. and it is not will it leak it is going to leak because putting a million screws through a fiberglass deck is just a very bad idea.
Seems you might be describing these attributes from rumor. Yes, teak can get hot, but not instantly. If it's wet, it's never hot and yet still holds one's foot well. Better than many non-skid patterns. There are aggressive non-skid patterns or textures that always hold well. However, by definition, they are aggressive on your foot. Teak does have it's advantages.

No one ever varnishes a teak deck. That wouldn't make any sense, it would get slippery and lose all the properties one is looking for. Varnish is for trim, handholds and tables. Some will oil the decks, but that attracts dirt. Others will seal them with something like Semco, but it looks terrible, IMO.

As for routine maintenance, I let mine weather grey. A scrub with salt water weekly is a good idea. TDS makes a new one part Eco-cleaner that is amazing. It's bio-degradeable and you practically just lay it on, scrub lightly with a scotchbrite and rinse off. Done.

Many decks are glued down, but there are still some screw holes from the bracing that holds it in place, while waiting for the glue to cure. These are supposed to be filled. Often, they are not. In my case, I keep finding the actual screws, buried under the caulking.

Teak decks would not be a great idea, if you were in tropical climates 12 months out of the year. They would wear much more quickly and replacement is breathtakingly expensive.
 
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Old soul
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there are lots of reasons to own a sailboat, my one reason is enjoying life by going sailing. and i sail a slow sailboat not to get anywhere but to spend more time on a boat on the sea. it makes since to own one because if you don't it is hard to go sailing where and when you want. i do believe a power boat with twin diesels is a bit more expensive way to go somewhere

teak is very hot on your bare feet and splinters are a sure thing, teak never looks good unless it is varnished and requires several more hours of maintenance each year. and it is not will it leak it is going to leak because putting a million screws through a fiberglass deck is just a very bad idea.

it seems that you stated that there is no good reason to own a sail boat and the said there are lots of reasons to own one so which is it?
I know the answer, I don't have teak decks so I have more time to enjoy sailing and don't have to worry about when I will have to fix the leaking deck
if you enjoy having teak decks then fine you are the one that is paying for them in time and money.
Geeze buddy, you come across as someone who needs to spend more time sailing. Chill out. My obviously too-subtle a point was that owning a sailboat is not a choice made through logic alone. It’s an emotional decision driven by aesthetics and personal taste. I find modern tupperware boats to be pretty ugly, and lacking any real character, but that’s my personal taste.

What I said was that if logic is the only driver, then you’re never going to justify owning a boat. You say the reason to own a sailboat is to go sailing, so by that rather circular logic, the reason to own a teak decked boat is because one likes teak under foot.

Teak decks should not be varnished. The reason teak is used, aside from their beauty, is because the natural oils keeps them healthy and beautiful. I don’t get splinters in my feet. Nor do I find it particularly hot. But I sail more northerly waters, so perhaps I would way down south.

The issues with screwed in decks are very serious, and no one should buy an old “leaky teaky” without serious survey research, and going in ‘eyes wide open’ as to the potential issues. The OP’s question was should this be a deal breaker. I, and some others who appear to have actual experience living with these decks, advise that it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker (unless you just don’t like them, as you clearly don’t).
 

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....splinters are a sure thing....
Forgot to mention. I've never received a splinter from my own or anyone else's teak decks. This includes decks that are well past their prime, like my current decks. I suppose one could have exposed splinters, but a deck that bad would be really bad. It's very uncommon and not a sure thing.
 
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Seems you might be describing these attributes from rumor. Yes, teak can get hot, but not instantly. If it's wet, it's never hot and yet still holds one's foot well. Better than many non-skid patterns. There are aggressive non-skid patterns or textures that always hold well. However, by definition, they are aggressive on your foot. Teak does have it's advantages.

No one ever varnishes a teak deck. That wouldn't make any sense, it would get slippery and lose all the properties one is looking for. Varnish is for trim, handholds and tables. Some will oil the decks, but that attracts dirt. Others will seal them with something like Semco, but it looks terrible, IMO.

As for routine maintenance, I let mine weather grey. A scrub with salt water weekly is a good idea. TDS makes a new one part Eco-cleaner that is amazing. It's bio-degradeable and you practically just lay it on, scrub lightly with a scotchbrite and rinse off. Done.

Many decks are glued down, but there are still some screw holes from the bracing that holds it in place, while waiting for the glue to cure. These are supposed to be filled. Often, they are not. In my case, I keep finding the actual screws, buried under the caulking.

Teak decks would not be a great idea, if you were in tropical climates 12 months out of the year. They would wear much more quickly and replacement is breathtakingly expensive.
not from rumor but from 65 years of experience of building, installing, using and sailing on deck decks. when I was 6 years old I had a all varnished teak wooden 12' sloop made by my father. my family had a real chinese junk with teak decks when I was 18 , in fact the whole boat was teak. My father owned a cabinet shop that did boat work and he was the teak guy. I know a little bit about teak. my current boat has teak toe rail and cockpit seats that are glued on not screwed, not one screw. the one thing I do not like about the current boat is the teak. I do like teak when varnished and did not say anything about varnish on a teak deck (I did have a wooden power boat that had varnished teak decks) simply said it does not look good to me unless it is varnished as in the interior. oiled teak is good on furniture but varnished looks best on the teak for a boat.

yes the scrub with salt water is good but who wants to do that weekly.
the older I get the less i want to have to spend time maintaining the boat and the more I want to sail it
done my time on several leaky teakys
 

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Forgot to mention. I've never received a splinter from my own or anyone else's teak decks. This includes decks that are well past their prime, like my current decks. I suppose one could have exposed splinters, but a deck that bad would be really bad. It's very uncommon and not a sure thing.
Sail on them long enough and and it will and does happen. never happened to me but have seen some nasty ones. we would almost never go bare foot on the teak because when it is bare foot weather the deck is to hot to stand on when not wet
 
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