Looking after teak decks

Peter

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31 May 2001
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cumbria
Just finished recalking and sanding our teak decks back to as new finish, and a job I do'nt want to repeat. A few questions on how to look after them from now on
Do I need to oil the teak, decks 30 years old, or just leave, accepting the teak will "age" to the silvery grey colour. Have heard you need the throw salt water onto the decks every now and then.
Best way of cleaning marks off the teak ie diesels spills, suntan cream etc.
Is it worth giving the decks an annual clean or more frequent clean with a proprietary cleaner, the one I have seen mentioned before being one from Wessex Chemicals (think that's the co)

Thanks
 

ctva

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Leave to nature as oil and the other man made teak products just attract the dirt and get you into a perpetual cycle which includes buying lots of products.

Just remember to brush the salt water across the grain, not with the grain.
 

westernman

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Plenty of salt water. Never fresh water. No scrubbing - certainly not with the grain.

In winter, you might want to have a full boat cover (but you must have ventilation) to keep the deck dry.
Otherwise some people spread dishwasher salt over the deck from time to time.

I would not put anything else on it at all.
 

pcatterall

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Leave to nature as oil and the other man made teak products just attract the dirt and get you into a perpetual cycle which includes buying lots of products.

Just remember to brush the salt water across the grain, not with the grain.
+1 If you are happy with silver grey then thats the best way to let it go.
 

Tranona

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Use Boracol or Patio Magic once a year to clean and keep mould at bay and wash regularly. If it does get dirty then the Wessex Chemicals cleaner is effective. Don't see the reason for washing with salt water as it will regularly get washed with fresh water (AKA as rain).
 

KellysEye

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Emsworth Hants
I wouldn't put oil on it it looks better as it ages. As I found out Teak oil sold by chandlers has Linseed oil in it but it doesn't say that on the pack. UV causes the teak to black, I had to sand the cockpit seats and the teak on top of the cockpit sides. If anyone wants to use Teak oil make sure it is pure, it's not cheap.
 

rob2

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Can't remember all the details, but there was a short article in PBO a few years ago. The guy writing insisted that in order to avoid using agressive methods, the decks should be washed over regularly (monthly?) using only a sponge so as to avoid abrasion. A little mild detergent if required followed by a salt water rinse (the salt acts as a preservative whereas fresh water promotes rot). Chemical treatments can be used on an annual basis during Spring cleaning and they will clean, bleach and restore the original golden colour - but no scrubbing.

Rob.
 
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As others have said, definitely no oil or scrubbing. For the annual clean on a previous boat with a teak deck, I used to use dilute oxalic acid, the active ingredient in most proprietary cleaners but you do have to be careful about the run-off to prevent damage to gel coat or paintwork.
 

DJE

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Recently bought a boat with laid teak seating in the cockpit. It is either very worn or has been scrubbed in the past as the caulking (and the glue around the plugs) is standing up proud of the surface. There is plenty of thickness left in the wood (but I don't know how thick the plugs are). Can I sand back the caulking and the glue down to the surface of the timber?
The general appearance of the teak was very black when we bought the boat as she had been sitting unused in a marina for several years. The most heavily trafficked areas are now turning brown but I am wondering about using a cleaner where the black remains. Any advice on restoring old neglected teak?
 

pvb

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Boracol is the best treatment; a flood coat applied with a soft paint brush and allowed to dry. It may need doing a couple of times a year. It will kill algae so the deck doesn't go green, and it will kill mould spores so the tiny black spots (which people mistake for dirt) don't appear either. If needed, wash gently with a sponge and sudsy water. No other chemicals are necessary, indeed chemical cleaners gradually remove the teak. Boracol works better than Patio Magic.
 

pvb

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Recently bought a boat with laid teak seating in the cockpit. It is either very worn or has been scrubbed in the past as the caulking (and the glue around the plugs) is standing up proud of the surface. There is plenty of thickness left in the wood (but I don't know how thick the plugs are). Can I sand back the caulking and the glue down to the surface of the timber?
The general appearance of the teak was very black when we bought the boat as she had been sitting unused in a marina for several years. The most heavily trafficked areas are now turning brown but I am wondering about using a cleaner where the black remains. Any advice on restoring old neglected teak?

You can remove the excess caulking with a sharp chisel or a scalpel-type craft knife. It's a long and boring job. You can remove loose plugs, remove the screws, deepen the hole (buy a Forsten bit for your drill) and refit the screw and a new plug. Trim the excess plug off carefully with a sharp chisel. Then gently sand the whole lot to smooth and clean the teak - I did mine with a light DIY belt sander. Finally, treat with Boracol to keep it looking good.
 

Quandary

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Argyll
Boracol is the best treatment; a flood coat applied with a soft paint brush and allowed to dry. It may need doing a couple of times a year. It will kill algae so the deck doesn't go green, and it will kill mould spores so the tiny black spots (which people mistake for dirt) don't appear either. If needed, wash gently with a sponge and sudsy water. No other chemicals are necessary, indeed chemical cleaners gradually remove the teak. Boracol works better than Patio Magic.

I only need to make a light garden sprayer application of Patio Magic every second or third year to remove all traces of mould spots and have decks so white that we wear sun glasses all the time in Scotland. We leave the rest to the waves or the gentle rain that falls up here occasionally, so how does Boracol beat that?
Aaaah yes I know now, it is sold at a proper marine price.
 

pvb

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I only need to make a light garden sprayer application of Patio Magic every second or third year to remove all traces of mould spots and have decks so white that we wear sun glasses all the time in Scotland. We leave the rest to the waves or the gentle rain that falls up here occasionally, so how does Boracol beat that?
Aaaah yes I know now, it is sold at a proper marine price.

Boracol is a different composition from Patio Magic, and it has better fungicidal properties. It isn't usually sold at a "proper marine price" either, it's mainly used in building maintenance. But if Patio Magic works for you, it makes sense for you to keep using it.
 

maby

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Boracol is a different composition from Patio Magic, and it has better fungicidal properties. It isn't usually sold at a "proper marine price" either, it's mainly used in building maintenance. But if Patio Magic works for you, it makes sense for you to keep using it.

Boracol has two active ingredients - Patio Magic has one of them, but not the other. My impression having used both is that they do equally well at getting the mould off, but Boracol lasts longer because of the second ingredient. That said, Boracol is vastly more expensive than Patio Magic, so you could treat the boat three times with PM and still come out in pocket.

As far as other treatments are concerned, I'm experimenting with Semco after seeing excellent results on a friend's boat. I really don't like the weathered silver of untreated teak, and the teak they are fitting on modern boats is of such terrible quality that I'm scared I'll have to replace the lot within a few years, so I'm hoping that Semco is the answer. It's not oily and soaks in, letting the wood breath. So far, I've just given the cockpit a good cleaning with Wessex and applied Semco natural to the swim platform which seems to take the brunt of the wear. The result is quite pleasing - it hasn't significantly changed the colour from the light brown of recently cleaned teak, but it seems to shrug off water and stains. I will do the rest of the cockpit soon - it was getting so dirty with dropped food and drink - it that works out, I will seriously consider doing the rest of the decks.
 

Pinnacle

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This was posted by tcm many years ago.....

WESSEX 2 PART TEAK CLEANER - METHOD

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 your 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, although others 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 you 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 attachments on it , red handle – thats the one, and get the flat attachment to which you can stick on a pad that looks like a pan scrub. You want the very mildest one, a white one that is soft enough 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 teak 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 should 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 except 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 shoud 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 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 across 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.
 

Pinnacle

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Second Part......

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. 10 water to one P2 on wet teak after part 1. This is worrying to put on because 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 skill 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 till 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 because 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 disintegrating, 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 whole 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 describe, 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 enough 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 new 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 suppose you could use these over winter, that would be okay. But would a top-class superyacht or classic racer use these protective 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.
 
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