19 Dec 2010

Varnished teak or natural teak? American or Brit?

5 Comments Uncategorized

I find it amusing how a society that is famous for it’s plastic breasts and perfect teeth is also the nation besotted by the appearance of their teak. They can polish their wood, I rather get mine wet.

I have a pretty teak toerail that if varnished would look spiffing against all the other colours and make marina gawpers quiver in awe. The cost of repairing the teak toerail is massive so I thought it would be best to protect it somehow and make it last a further 25 years. I set about doing some research and the results made all those wasted hours seem worth it.

I must have spent a week looking at options, everyone has a different opinion. One persons Cetol is another’s Epifanes both of which are rendered useless by Honey Teak and so the arguments goes on with lots of fancy pictures to back it all up and stories of woe as they all discover removing the products is a ball ache. Now curiously enough all these opinions and suggestions for oils / varnishes and epoxies all tend to come from US forums like cruiserforum, search a UK forum and they ALL agree ‘do nothing’.

Teak is naturally very resistant to weathering, it is supposed to go unprotected. When you reach for a hand rail it in tough conditions you want to hold on to it not marvel at it’s smooth honey like surface as you slip below the waves. If you varnish your toerail remember that all it takes is for water to get under the toerail to push the varnish off.

If you want to do anything to it, clean it with soapywater and soft brush or a scotch pad.

Wax on. Wax off!

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5 Responses to “Varnished teak or natural teak? American or Brit?”

  1. Reply steve French says:

    check out the only zero maintenance teak
    http://www.airteak.com

    • Reply april15th says:

      OMG this stuff looks amazing! Now I can have the elegance of varnished teak with the same ease as doing nothing. Sounds like the best of both worlds. Go look for yourself.

  2. Reply Courtney Kirchoff says:

    I just scrubbed my teak, using only my strength and a brush. It looks gorgeous when it’s wet and rainy, as it’s a fantastic red. But when dry, the teak is brownish gray. I’d love for the teak to be its wonderful red all the time, so I can see why people varnish, cetol, etc. I’m trying to figure out what I want to do when summer finally comes around, but your solution of just cleaning it is much easier!

    • Reply Chris says:

      I have seen some amazing varnished wooden boats that live in the blistering Canaries sun all year round. Once a year they lightly sand it back and apply another three layers of varnish, looks wonderful! But I wouldn’t do it to a toerail, too much water can get between the hull and deck joint.

    • Reply Amanda says:

      @Courtney, we got a different boat over the winter and last month I took care of all the teak on it. I read around on the internet and decided to clean it with some water, salt, and a scotch brite pad. Like you described when it was wet it was a beautiful reddish color, but when dry it was that brownish gray. I applied some Watco Teak Oil and now it is that beautiful red all the time. When teak gets dried out is when it turns that brown-gray, and the teak oil helps restore some of the moisture to the wood. I’ve started doing some teak work for others in my area and it kills me to have to sand it because somebody decided it was ok to varnish it. Varnish just does away with the important reasons that teak is used on a boat in the first place, as does sanding. Fortunately, after sanding, the soft part of the teak will eventually wear down a little and the skid-resistant properties will return to the wood.

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