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cleaning the teak deck again

tcm

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i posted a rough version of this a while ago. As requested, here's a tidied-up version - now with added saftey advice as well!

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You'll sometimes see brand-new looking decks at some boat shows that are actually selling secondhand boats. Your teak deck can look like that again. Here’s how to do it.

My own background is having swankyish boats in the med, built/maintained three teak patios outside houses one of them 200 square metres, employed various “experts” and skippers, and spent £hundreds on all sorts of jetwashers, brushes, gizmos, and chemicals.

1. First decide if you want you teak to look like teak - or teak covered with something else. Everyone can tell if it's oiled, or if it's got protective finishes on, and so can everyone else. It looks a bit yellowish, uniform, plastic and non-natural - and it's actually not as grippy as natutral teak. There's also fake teak, which some boat builders can tell you is actually twice the price of real teak. But we humans are very good at identifying real and synthetic materials even from a good distance away. Teak should look like raw teak – just a like new boat at the boat show. Any teak can look like that again.

2. Firstly, the chemicals. You need two-part cleaner which can be obtained from Wessex Chemicals. I haven’t found anyone else who does the right stuff, althou othes have better names than er “2-part teak cleaner” which is what they call it.

You get this in 1-litre or 5-litre or 10litre plastic containers, a few quid a litre. Expect to use around 3/4 litre of each for a biggish 60foot boat at each clean. If you buy in bulk, mark the containers "part 1" and "Part2” clearly as the coloured dye can go off after year and yer can't easily tell which is which. Incidentally, the part two in concentrated form removes rust stains, which is handy, but make sure you rinse it afterwards.

3. Now , the kit: NO BRUSHES, NO JETWASHERS. You need the mildest possible way of swooshing around the boat, and on new teak this means a sponge. But a sponge on a stick, so a Vileda floor mop thing that squeezes out is excellent. For outside teak tho, esp teak which is a bit “ridgy”, the floor mop will get destroyed and stick on the ridges. The Surehold range or similar is good - you get a long stick and put attachements onnit , red handle – that’;s the one, and get the flat attachment to which you can stick on a pad that looks like a panscrub. You want the very mildest one, a white one that is soft enuf to wash your face with - only just not a sponge, not as severe as a loofah. Plonk this on the flat face of the attachment.

Okay, look you MIGHT need a brush if you teak is very heavily knackered and this is the first clean for years and years. A brush will get into the ridges - but digs out the softer material at the same time. So use a soft brush if you really must. But non-ancient boat or teack under five years old - no brush.

Oh, and you need a hose too, hopefully with a decent end attachment. Actually just a bare end is ok so the water “drops” out: it’s important NOT to have it on a “blast” setting like the cheapest hose ends – better ones have 6 options, and for teak you shd only use the setting for what feels like “rain”.

3. Cleaning even a colossal floor takes minutes, not hours. Get everything out of the area, tables chairs etc so no water goes on anything cept the teak. Screw-down tables need to be out as well. Hoover dusty inside areas if necessary.

Then wet the area with water from hose NOT blasting, just dribble about with the hose set to “gentle rain”.

Now, the key thing is that you need this to take a short amount of time - so hands and knees is hopeless as you will never do it more than once - an effective AND quick clean is what we want. I saw one guy cleaning the deck with toothbrush! – not for us I’m afraid.

4. Mix a mild dilution of Part 1 in a bucket and wipe it on to the teak with that floorpad mop thing. “5 water to 1 chemical” is the most severe you shd use ever on mossy greenish teak, but try 10water to 1chemical to start if it's just greyish.

The teak will go very dark almost immediately, the colour of mahogany or even very very strong coffee. Urgh! – a bit worrying! And the spashes on the bits you haven’t done – they’re just as bad! Don’t worry.

Keep putting the solution on, and agitate the stuff over the teak, across the grain. Use that floor mop to sloosh it around, always acros the grain gently, with the soft spongy pad.

As it goes dark, there's a tendency to not bother rubbing everywhere cos it’s “doing something” but you do need to "apply" it to the wood with the sponge/mop thing, not just rinse over. At the edges, use a mild handheld green plastic panscrub – again, not one too rough to wipe your face with – to get the edges – otherwise we won’t have the “new” look as the middle will be clean, the edges murky.

Saftey warning: SLIPPERY with Part1 :the teak loses a LOT of it’s anti-slip properties with this part 1 on so be careful and keep kids and the unwary away. On an open a sailing boat deck, be especially careful as you move around – and with the next stage too. But when finished it’s back to normal, of course.

5. Pretty much as soon as the diluted part 1 has been put on everywhere and gone worryingly dark brown, it's done the business. So once it is all uniformly wet and dark, rinse the area, and tons of brown gunk will come off, often quite a shocking amount. But imagine how filthy your car would be if you left it unwashed, just rinsed a bit now and again, for a year or more. You need it all this off. I use a rubber window wiping blade on a stick to swoosh it all out. Again, don't blast with water - use low pressure and lots of it.

6. Now the part two, the red stuff. Again , mild solution. 10water to one P2 on wet teak after part 1. This is worrying to put on cos it bleaches back the colour, and even the bucket seems to leave a mark. Argh! Again, don't worry - it will all come back bright as the bleachiness goes all over. Not much skil needed - provided you stay at a mild dilution, you can't put "too much" on - it returns to it's natural colour, so it won't go white or anything like that.

Another warning: this is a mild acid, so it will sting cuts in unprotected hands and feet. But your hands and feet don’t drop off, or at least mine haven’t been damaged anyway and I’ve done this a fair bit.

On big patios or on the pontoon (yep, you have to clean the pontoon too soon, see below) I use a garden watering can and a rose to sploosh it on. The part 1 get’s the gunk off – this seems to hardly lift any more dirt, just turn back the colour. You do need to rinse off the part 2 though.

If you missed an area with p1, it'll be silvery grey after p2, so yerd have to start again –or praps leave it til next time.

You need to carefully rinse metal items around on the floor – stainless or aluminium won’t get horribly damaged provided you get the stuff off during the rinsing so target these especially.

I wipe with a “blade” (like a windscreen wiper) to speed up the drying process, and get the dirt off without needing tons and tons of water.

Walking on the now-clean teak whilst it's drying means you lose the "utterly fab clean new-boat" look, but clean footmarks do evaporate so it's ok, ish.

Now, the teak looks brand new when it dries. Hurrah! Is it clean tho? Get a white tissue and wet it, wipe on a bit of the teak, and the tissue will remain white clean. It's clean enough to eat food from.

7. Soon the teak will get filthy and go silvery grey again. Why's that? Well it's cos of the rain, or the air or (mostly) cos you or the crew did it with your feet. In the med, big boats are "no shoes" - you step aboard in bare feet, not deck shoes, not socks, but Bare Feet, even if you charter the boat and pay a zillion pounds a week. All those swanky boats , look at the pics closely and none are wearing shoes. Ok, on some they ARE wearing shoes, but they are either deck pumps (that always stay on the clean deck) or nitwits.

8. To keep the deck clean, I'm afraid that you need to try a bit harder than you are doing. You have a deck that is utterly clean and visibly so, like white carpet. But the pontoon is filthy. It's like having muddy garden path and muddy driveway, and white carpet indoors. You need to instigate a regime to limit the dirt arriving on board.

Clean the pontoon where you step aboard for a start, using 2-part teak cleaner again, and this time use a brush cos it will be filthy, it’s already ridged, and erm, it’s not your expensive boat.

If the quayside of you normal berth is concrete, clean and then paint it with garage floor paint. Put a mat down on the quayside for changing shoes. The mat will fly away in high wind so make sure you have spare mats and take it up before a gale. I lose about one mat per year, mebbe two. If you can't be shoes-off on board the boat cos in the uk it's cold, have one pair of shoes for schlepping over to the car park etc. and dedicated shoes on board that are only for on board, never ashore.

9. Knackered ridgy teak. Teak feels as hard as nails – dense and unyielding- but is actually quite susceptible to being washed away, perhaps like very weak concrete.

To keep it from disintgrating, you need to never clean it and never wash it, and never step on it and keep it covered ! - but this aint possible on a boat. A winter cover (over the whiole boat or at least over the teak) makes it last longer. If you have bare teak indoors perhaps in a wheelhouse, and also outdoors on the deck, you'll see how the indoor stuff stays new and flat and not-ridgy for much longer. The rain does this – it’s a moderate jetwash that happens lots of times per year. So, if you had a cover, or individual covers for bits of the deck, your teak won't go ridgy anywhere near as quickly. The cover needs to allow air to circulate to stop it going mouldy a bit, but never with rain landing on it. Le Grand Bleue is Abramovich’s ugly ship with loads of playtime boats incl a big 70 foot powerboat - and the first such boat (Sirius) had individual canvas /Sunbrella covers for the teak held down with poppers when owners aren’t on board - and the teak is lovely, even after a several years.

10. Sanding the teak. Yeah, well, you need a machine to do this, and make it flat. Easy to decsribe, hard to do and makes a right mess. Once the teak is flat, you can make it smooth with finer and finer sanding, tho it will be slippery if you go on too long. It will need sanding eventually. Be very very careful with a beltsander cos it will eat a lot of material very quickly: much safer is an orbital sander with about the grittiest grit you can find: yeah, 40 grit might feel awful to your hands but it still takes a while to get the teak flat. First off, the sander dances around as it “grabs” on the raised black caulking. Then, it starts at the hard raised ridges but it still takes time even with 40grit. Get a decent machine with lots of watts – the £12 850w units aren’t good enuf and get groaningly slowed down.

Its ok to leave it a bit de-ridged rather than grind down to "new" – clean as above and you still have newe looking deck with far less ridges than before. Professionals seem to insist on whamming it down to “new wood all over” which must use more material and limit the number of times you can sand.

11 Finally, about the semco and other protective coverings again: at the cost of it looking like real natural teak, these stop dirt from entering the grain. So, it's sort-of protecting the teak for the next owner of the boat. I spose you could use these over winter, that would be okay. But would a top-class superyacht or classic racer use these protecvtive finishes, or teak? No they blimmin well wouldn't, they'd be chucked out of st tropez and the skipper doomed to everlasting ridicule! Teak means teak.
 

Gunfleet

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All very good but...

a 60 ft boat isn't biggish. It's big. You are suffering from mission creep. Next you'll be telling us JoeV's barge is largish.
 

tome

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It's good stuff Matt, worked for me

Also worth repeating the following good advice from pvb on keeping it in good nick once you've cleaned it:

To keep the deck looking good, you certainly need to avoid teak oil. The main enemy of teak decks is algae and mould. There’s a way of helping to keep this stuff at bay, and it involves almost no work. Hallberg-Rassy recommend a product called Boracol, which is generally sold as a timber preservative. It’s highly effective in killing green algae, mould spores and termites. Unfortunately, in the UK it’s only licensed for professional use. However, the two active ingredients - disodium octaborate (a fungicide) and benzalkonium chloride (an algaecide) - are available in various amateur products. Easiest to find and use is Polycell 3-in-1 Mould Killer (about £5 a litre from bigger B&Q stores). It’s a colourless liquid. I’ve used it for a several years now, and I’m very pleased with the results. In comparison with neighbouring boats, my deck looks pristine.

To apply it, first clean the deck thoroughly and allow at least 24 hours to dry. Choose a day when rain isn’t expected for 24 hours and apply the liquid liberally with a soft paintbrush. I use about 2 litres on my 35-footer. You should wear protective gloves and safety glasses. Wash splashes off skin immediately. Reapply every 4-5 months.

I use the same liquid on the inside and outside of my canvas sprayhood, again with good results.

Most mould and mildew products are basically bleach. This Polycell product contains no bleach, but has the powerful fungicidal ingredients which get rid of the mould. It also has a medium-term residual effect, so a treatment every 4-6 months should keep your deck and sprayhood looking good.
 

jimh

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I bought and used 'Teak Wonder' which is a 3 part jobby - think the first 2 parts are same chemicals as you mention, 3rd part is 'finishing' sealer coat which I didn't apply beacause was so impressed with natural clean finish after part 2.

Got some left over which I'm going to try on my garden furniture...
 

Gunfleet

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<<In comparison with neighbouring boats, my deck looks pristine.>> Bloody hell. Who are you parked next to?
 

tcm

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oi! aren\'t you on a piece rate?

hee hee. Must be sodding fantastic stuff to have gotten your deck back tome.....but what a total git that capabar is, altho i still don't get his new name which i bet is ded clever tho ultimately no less boring than say "johnM" and a lot les meaningful...
 

tome

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Re: oi! aren\'t you on a piece rate?

Haven't tried the Polycell mould cleaner yet but your method worked except that it took a bit more elbow grease than whooshing around.
 

Gunfleet

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Re: oi! aren\'t you on a piece rate?

Look, it was you with your 'John this John that, I dunno who they all are' that made me change it. And I explained what a Capabar was ages ago.
 

tcm

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ah but

it was to dissuade everyone ELSE from caling themselves John - not you of course.

Anyway, capabar it is names after some er ancient job title or marine activity. Could be worse i spose, like "jimi"which he chose in honour of a visit to the bog...
 

Metabarca

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Thanks for the info re teak decks, but I've a problem: not in the UK, and Googling Wessex only gives me the YBW forum. ANy idea of the active ingredients or where I could buy the stuff abroad (Italy)?
 

tcm

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site info

http://www.wessexchemicalfactors.co.uk/ is the site and they quote their number with a +44, so no reason why can't get the stuff to you. Or you cd be the italian delaer with a nice website and credit cards, garages full of gunk and carboard boxes etc etc. Or praps not. Anyway tellem you saw about them on ybw, that uk boaty website site cos they emailed me and sed ooh that's good info so they will be ded pleased. Unles you want 50cl. Erm no flippin idea of the chemicals in there, otherwise i wd mix it up meself....

There *used* to be summink called "florida" or florida was in the name, but which cost a bomb - hence their reference to "including people in florida" perhaps, as though they are the most demanding peeps, bit weird.
 

jfm

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tcm that wessex stuff looks might impressive, esp on their www.teakcleaner.co.uk site

Can you buy it in France retailers, or do you have to get it in UK and take it out there?

With the 10-1 dilution or whatever, how much do I need per clean? A couple of litres of each potion? In which case I can easily carry it there.
 

tcm

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Not found it in france retailers.

any more than a litre would be a bit ott, think you probaly have bout same a mount of teak as us, possiblt bit less and a litre of each wd be loads for me. Consider oredring 11 litres so they will have to give you a 10 and a 1 and do carry-onnable refills. If inspected the stuff shd be in a "safe" bottle - they nicked some blimmin polish from me so it needs to be aftershave or summink, or in the hold.

I wonder if there is a young and dynamic boating company that could hawk the stuff around the pontoons with free trials etc. Heyho...
 

Chris_Robb

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Thanks a bundle TCM, as I'm headed to an (old) boat with teakdeck I can use all the advice I can get!

Arno
Well, I wouldn't go with TCM's advice! far too complicated. I have teak decks of which I am terrified of loosing teak from (and the consequential bills).

All I do is in spring, whilst the boat is still ashore and there is a least 1 week of dry weather ahead, spray the deck using a garden spray with Brintons MMC (Moss and Mould cleaner) pro plus. Then LEAVE IT. Do nothing at all. In a weeks time the green algae will have turned to brown dust, and eventually, after the second application next year, the decks will end up a very light colour as all the mildew in the grain is killed. DO NOT BRUSH. On going maintenance - throw buckets of salt water over deck regularly.

Job done - you now have almost maintenance free decks (when compared with Glass decks which show the dirt terribly.
 
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pvb

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How is it that people reply to a 7 year old thread?? Are they just slow, or maybe they don't have broadband?
 
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