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I have heard a lot of negative things about teak decks (upkeep, leaking, etc.), but when I was at the boat show a couple of weeks ago I noticed many boats from Sweden and surrounding areas had teak decks (Hallberg Rassy, Sweden Yachts, Swan, Beneteau) and I just wondered why they would continue to use them.

Also, do people still have leaking problems with these decks? Why would someone spend the huge amount of money on a Swan or HR only to have the deck leak??

Interested in any comments.

Thanks
 

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Most of teak decks being constructed today will not leak as they are ''glued'' down and the screws that were used to initialy ''spring'' the staves into place are removed and the hole is filled with epoxy, etc. ... then a wooden bung is used to cover the hole if a screw was used to hold the board down while the glue cured. ..... I wish my deck was laid in this manner but it wasnt; but will be, when I ultimately have to repair it.
 

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Sometimes the folks that can afford a Swan or HR are affluent enough to hire a person to maintain their boats in pristine condition. If there are leaks they will never see them since they someone to fix them while the owners are not present. I doubt if the owners perform much maintenance themselves.
 

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To me teak decks are a ''lose-lose'' situation in every way. Teak is expensive at time of purchase. Teak requires a lot of maintenance or it deteriorates more rapidly. Teak decks are heavy and their position above the waerline reduce stability. When they get wet they take longer to dry. They are really hot in warm weather.

If you leave them natural they deteriorate most quickly. If you oil them the track oil and become slippery when wet, need frequent attention and eventually ''go dark''. Varnish (or simulated varnish) has its own problems beyond the increased maintenance. Varnish is slippery when wet and breaks down at the edges of the planks.

Then there is the issues of the material itself. When I was growing up, the ''normal'' teak used in boats was Burma Teak from old growth tree. This is the durable species of teak upon which teak''s reputation is based. Burma teak has become comparatively rare and expensive. Today, we see inferior grades and species (angelique and the like)substituted for the great quality teak of the past. I am also uncomfortable with the idea of cutting down old growth forests for this kind of purpose.

Then there are the construction technique problems. Conventional ''laid'' decks leak. Screw down decks are drier down below but it is only a matter of time before the core rots out. Glue down decks have their own problems. In order to glue down a teak deck the planking needs to be fairly thin (3/8" or so). Burma teak, which is denser than the teaks of today, erodes at a rate of 1/8" per decade. Starting at 3/8" thickness this means a useful lifespan of 15 to 20 years vs. the 40-50 year lifespan of a ''laid deck''.

I have no idea why teak decks are popular in expensive boats.
Jeff
 

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First of all teak decks should be allowed to weather naturally and should never be painted, stained, oiled, etc. Deak has been the traditional decking material for hundreds of years. While I think modern boat builders use teak decks for their aesthetic beauty, teak has other advantages: it is cool under foot in tropical regions and has natural non-skid properties. High-end boats have teak decks because high-end boat owners can both afford the maintenance on the decks and can afford to replace them every 15-20 years. Given high quality materials and a good application to begin with, leaking should not be a problem.
 

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I have several ideas why teak decks are popular on expensive boats:
They DO look good. They do provide unparalleled footing. Those that install them like the aesthetics.... the same aesthetics that include lots of britework, lots of wood cabinetry, lots of ''ambience''. My definition of ''ambience'' being the direct opposite of a sterile chlorox bottle. Not all who sail are concerned about saving 0.04 seconds per tack because of the heavier weight. There are even some that dont need to have the fastest, lightest, most ''state of the art'' (fad) .... and yet seem to be very happy, satisfied and content. (I even sand my deck every two years - oh horror of horrors) Some people simply like the aesthetics. Simply put, individual taste is not disputable.
......The same argument can be posed for adding pigment to gelcoat or anodizing aluminum: ... heavier, adds to maintenance, changes stabilty charactersistics, lessens strength, degrades after 15-20 years, etc. etc. Its all in the eye of the beholder. BTW the prettiest deck I ever saw was .... clear white pine.
 

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We had the aged variety of teak decks, not pretty, not cool under foot, and not cheap to repair or replace. Repairing turned out to be a mute issue, to much sanding over the years left only replace or removing. For $25K (or more) we could replace. For under $3K, we could remove and paint non-skid. We reluctently removed, filled a zillion holes, repaired core damage and painted. And wonder of wonders, we are thrilled with the result. Our decks are cool to walk on and the cabin is at least 10 - 20 degrees cooler in the heat of mid-day! We thought we wanted new teak decks, we were wrong. The prettiest deck I ever saw is mine, water tight for winter and cool in the summer.

....and I still have an abundance of teak for ambience.
 

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Just for the record, if anyone is interested in enjoying the aesthetics and excellent non-skid properties of a teak deck on their next boat - without the risks of water intrusion, then consider the wide variety of yachts produced by Nauticat Yachts. http://www.nauticat.com/

All Nauticats with teak decks are made with a 3/4" thick solid fiberglass substrate. Absolutely no coring is used anywhere, therefore even though the decking is screwed and bunged to the fiberglass, no leaks should ever occur.
 

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Jeff where would you get the info that teak erodes at the rate of 1/8" a decade? Under what conditions? I am professionally trained as both a cabinetmaker and a boatbuilder and I would never make such a blanket statement about any wood. It would all depend on exposure to weather, use, care (sanding or not, oiled or not), etc. For instance, the boat I am currently rebuilding is 34 years old, has 3/8" teak decks in the cockpit, has never been taken care of that I am aware of and is still very close to 3/8" thick. By your statement there should be nothing left of it.
 

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Steve: One thing you have to understand is that with Jeff you have the master of the baseless statement. Just go with the flow.
Now, Jeff and I butt heads over issues like this and I can only add personal experience to the mix. Fist of all Teak Decks look awesome and really make a boat look more expensive and more beautiful.
I also questioned Jeff's proclamation that they don't last as long....But then I thought about it like this: A cedar shingle roof on a house should last 25 years. Why wouldn't a teak deck last longer than 15 years? I would be interested in seeing some data on this.
 

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When I was restoring the 1939 Stadel cutter that I owned in the 1970's I noted that the 5/4 Teak decks were roughly 3/8" thick. At the time, I thought that this boat had experienced exceptional wear to her deck.

It so happened shortly after this period, I was attending one of the first of Woodenboat Magazine's wooden boat shows. I had a list of items that I wanted to kick around with professionals and this was one of them. I spoke to quite a few professional wooden boat restorers at the show, and there was a clear cut consensus that the erosion rate on teak decks in the middle Atlantic states and south was approximately an 1/8" per decade. One of the restorers produced a older book on wooden boat building and maintenance in which this same number was repeated. Northern yards where boats were stored under tarps for the winter and where sun intensity was lower reported slower rates. Four and a half years ago when I posted this original post, I was apparently in a hurry and did not insert the word "approxiamately" in front of the 1/8" per foot.

Whether the number should be 1/8" or 3/32", perhaps is less relevant than the discussion that I have had in recent years with a couple yards that specialize in replacing teak decks and which report similar lifespans for thin set teak decks in the Mid-Atlantoc states and south.

Having lived with teak decks, they are a deal killer for me, but that is just my personal opinion, and nothing more.

Gotta go sailing,

Jeff
 

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Surfesq-

A roof isn't generally walked on, or have things dragged over it, etc... A teak deck will not last as long as a cedar roof for those reasons, among others.

Also, the conditions a roof is under is generally a bit more benign than what happens to a teak deck. Salt water, ice, freezing rain, sand, mud, seaweed, chain dragging, ropes dragging, feet, dirty shoes, and dropped items are all things a deck is exposed to that a roof generally doesn't have to face.

BTW, a cedar shingle is rarely more than 3/8" in thickness.
 

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the whole teak vs. non-teak is one of personal preference, and maint.issues.

I love teak, but I also do my own maint. I'm an oiler. No Cetol, Epiphanes, varnish, 14 coats, plus yearly sanding, and touch-up for me. A rag, a quart of oil and a kid just work out better for me.

I've seen more than my share of teak that hasn't been maintained and it looks like hell. Add in that on a deck, you've most likely got a gazillion holes screwing it down, leaves me conflicted. But I love the look of a teak deck. go figure.
 

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IIRC, alot of the new teak decks are not screwed to the underlying deck structure, but glued...to avoid the gazillion holes to seal/fix/repair.
 

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Following is a Nauticat brochure photo of how the 7/16" thick teak decks on my Nauticat probably looked when it left Finland almost 2 decades ago. Every plank was screwed & bunged to solid fiberglass, and grooved reveals caulked with a 2-part polysulphide sealant.



This is how they look now:




I recently cleaned the teak with an oxalic acid solution and lightly sanded some areas which had excessively raised grain. I also needed to recaulk a few gaps where the caulking became loose and tighten about 1/2 doz screws & reglue the bungs. But most of the planks measured a strong 3/8" or more. I only wish the color would stay this way without oiling - but it has already started to turn grey again.

Granted, the boat was stored indoors for 4-5 months each winter by the former owner, exposed the remaining time. If exposed outside for 12 months and abused, perhaps the deck would weather away to nothing when 3 decades old. But I love my teak decks, take care of them and can't see that happening during my custodianship.
 

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TrueBlue,
You make my point. A blanket statement like "teak wears away 1/8" a decade" just can't be made because every situation is different. I can appreciate Jeff's clarification that he is talking about a rule of thumb for exposed decks in the Middle Altalntic states and south but even then it is only a rule of thumb and each boat needs to be evaluated individually. BTW, while I like the look of teak I don't think I would have a boat with complete teak decks. Especially one with a cored or plywood deck underneath and fastened with screws. That construction is just asking for trouble.
 

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SteveCox said:
TrueBlue,
. . . BTW, while I like the look of teak I don't think I would have a boat with complete teak decks. Especially one with a cored or plywood deck underneath and fastened with screws. That construction is just asking for trouble.
Especially boats constructed in Asia with teak decks - typically laid by cheap labor using inferior fasteners over poor grade coring or plywood. Asian boats give teak decks the worst reputation.

http://epole.tripod.com/sailinfool/id7.html
 

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Jeff is simply expressing an opinion. I think teak looks great and is very comfortabale on bare feet. Hey quit picking on Asian Boats!
 
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