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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The interior of my sailboat is teak according to the owner's brochure. I think its mostly teak veneer. I thought teak was light in color but mine is pretty dark. I read teak darkens with time. Is there a way to restore my teak to its former glory?:rolleyes:
 

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Broad Reachin'
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Yup, there are a variety of teak cleaning and brightening products on the market. Or you can mix your own formula, such as 75% mild detergent w/ 25% bleach and then boosted with a few splashes of TSP (trisodium phosphate).

It's best to determine if there is a currently a coating on your teak (oil, varnish, etc.) before choosing a cleaner, as some coatings will require a stronger product to strip away the old finish. Be careful with strong cleaners because they can damage the teak.
 

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I agree with the suggestion to be careful. Try areas behind cushions, etc. in case you bleach out too much of the finish, as I did. You might also try a weaker solution(especially less bleach), let it dry, and then move to a stronger mix.
 

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You can be pretty hard on solid teak - one of its best attributes is that a little sanding will make it look new again - that gorgeous golden colour is always there, just under whatever scummy surface exists.

You have to be very careful with veneer though - even quality teak ply only has about 1/32" of teak facing on it. Don't soak it with cleaners or sand it any more than minimally or you'll break though. Scotchbrite pads are pretty good for fine use.

Lots of repeated scrubbing with TSP worked well for me when I cleaned 40 Y.O. oil & grime off the interior teak on my old Columbia - just had to sand the raised grain flat afterwards. That was the solid wood - I went much easier on the ply veneers. On the ply I basically wiped or washed it lightly, let it dry then did it again & again until clean. No failures on any of it.

Have LOTS of rags, like a garbage bag full - you'll get an amazing amount of filth out of it all.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Also, I get the impression that teak veneers have gotten much thinner in recent years. Try what others have set. Start gently and then work your way up to more aggressive cleaners if you are not happy with the result. The two part cleaners are very effective and you don't have to scrub, which is good for the grain, but they are very powerful chemically - sodium hydroxide and a mixture of acids as I remember. On veneer I would be very careful with that stuff though.
 

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There are several aging affects on teak :

1) Prolonged exposure to sun will lighten it. You can see this in my boat, areas hidden from the sun are darker.

2) Old varnish adds to the effect by turning yellow.

3) Build up of dirt attracted to oily finishes turns it darker.

To get back to the gorgeous real colour : strip everything including varnish, bleach the surface with oxalic acid, and re-finish.
 

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Also, I get the impression that teak veneers have gotten much thinner in recent years. Try what others have set. Start gently and then work your way up to more aggressive cleaners if you are not happy with the result. The two part cleaners are very effective and you don't have to scrub, which is good for the grain, but they are very powerful chemically - sodium hydroxide and a mixture of acids as I remember. On veneer I would be very careful with that stuff though.
I was worried about sanding through the "veneer" on the floor on my Bristol. Turns out, it is 1/4" thick. It's a little thinner on the Bruynzeel teak plywood bulkheads.

I just re-veneered a section that was damaged. It's surprisingly easy with self-adhesive veneer.
 
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