Don Casey has been one of the most consulted experts on boat care and upgrades for 30 years, and is one of the BoatUS Magazine's panel of experts. Your use of this website constitutes acknowledgement and acceptance of our Terms & Conditions. If you require further details regarding the transaction data, please contact the supplier directly. Most boat owners eventually find themselves unhappy with either look and decide that some treatment is essential.Paint provides the longest lasting protection but it hides the wood. The choices are oil, sealer, or varnish.CleaningBefore teak can be given any coating, it must be completely clean.
Your expensive teak is literally dissolved by strong cleaners, so always use the mildest cleaner that does the job.
Leave it on the wood for several minutes to give the detergent time to suspend the dirt and the bleach time to lighten the wood, then rinse the wood thoroughly, brushing it to clear the grain.If the teak is still dark or stained when it dries, a cleaner with oxalic acid is required. Spread it evenly with a Scotchbrite or bronze wool pad, then give it a few minutes to work.
Rinse the scrubbed wood thoroughly--brushing is required--and let it dry completely.Two-part teak cleaners are dramatically effective at restoring the color to soiled, stained, and neglected teak, but these formulations contain a strong acid--usually hydrochloric--and should only be used when gentler cleaning methods have failed. The cleaner will dissolve natural bristles, so use a nylon brush to paint part one onto the wet wood. Remove the dissolved surface by scrubbing the wood with the grain with a stiff brush or a Scotchbrite pad.Part two neutralizes the acid in part one, and it usually has some additional cleaning properties. Paint a sufficient amount of part two onto the teak to get a uniform color change, then scrub lightly.


Flush away all traces of the cleaner and let the wood dry.OilOiling teak on boats is a time-honored tradition.
Oil intensifies the colors and grain patterns of wood and gives the wood a rich, warm appearance.
Because it simply enhances the inherent beauty of the wood--more like salt than sauce--oiling is arguably the most attractive of all wood finishes, and it restores some of the teak's natural oils and resins. The sorry truth is that teak will last just as long if you don't oil it--longer really, since repeated between-coat scrubbing wears the wood away.
Tung oil doesn't darken the wood, and it is more water resistant than linseed oil--a notable advantage for boat use. However, a month or two after application, it may be hard to discern that much difference since both oils carbonize in the sun and turn dark. Proprietary teak oils address this problem with various additives, including pigments, UV filters, and mildew retardants.
If you are going to oil your teak, make your teak oil selection based on the recommendations of other boatowners in your area.Apply teak oil with a paint brush.
Immediately wipe up (with a spirits-dampened cloth) any drips or runs on fiberglass or painted surfaces, or the resins the oil contains will leave dark, nearly-impossible-to-remove stains.
The wood will initially "drink" the oil, and thinning the first coat about 20% with mineral spirits or turpentine encourages it to penetrate the wood more deeply.
The wood should have a matte finish without any shiny spots.SealersAnother approach to achieving a natural look is the application of a sealer. Durability and ease of application have made some sealers very popular with boat owners.Sealers don't feed the wood but, as the name suggests, they seal out moisture and dirt, and seal in natural oils and resins.


Unfortunately, the oils and resins may already be lost, so the first step in applying a sealer to old teak is to restore the oil content with a thorough application of teak oil.
Now wait at least two weeks to let the resins dry before you apply the sealer.After two weeks, wash the wood and let it dry completely. Sealers need an oil-free surface to attach to, so wipe the wood heavily with a rag soaked in acetone to remove all oil from the surface. Wood coated with varnish will not dry out and split, will not absorb moisture and rot, is unaffected by dirt and pollution, and will be untouched, thus unstained, by oily or greasy spills.The absence of pigment in varnish means it does not shield the underlying surface from the sun. Ultraviolet radiation penetrates the coating and carbonizes the oils in the wood, causing the wood to darken beneath the varnish.
To minimize this effect, varnish makers add ultraviolet inhibitors--sun screens--to their products. For exterior brightwork, select a quality spar varnish (not urethane varnish) heavily fortified with UV inhibitors. As always, get local recommendations from other boatowners before selecting a specific varnish.Teak doesn't hold varnish as well as other woods due to its oil content, but a long-lasting coating is possible with the right technique. You may not get that perfect, mirror-like finish on your first try, but as long as the wood is ivory smooth, the weather is warm and dry, and you don't "worry" the varnish with too many brush strokes, you should get admirable results. Plan on applying at least six coats.For more information about oiling and varnishing brightwork, consult Sailboat Refinishing by Don Casey.



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