Teak - Finish or Let It Grey?

Jules

Super Anarchist
8,587
3,396
Punta Gorda
I just made a new piece for the bow and am trying to decide it I finish it or let it grey naturally.  Florida is brutal on varnish, even two-part.

To those who have their boat teak unfinished, what's been your experience compared to brightwork slavery?

 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
68,723
12,369
Great Wet North
I love varnished boats but I learned decades ago to keep it to the interior and let the outside grey.

And I live where UV is much less of a problem than Floriduh.

Scrubbed teak looks really nice to my eye.

IMG_9268-1024x683.jpg


 
Last edited by a moderator:

Sail4beer

Usual suspect
10,035
3,421
Toms River,NJ
If you let the teak gray out naturally it is easy enough to lightly scrub it across the grain occasionally to clean the dirt and mineral deposits out of the grain and it will have a nice sheen.

Teak sealer-NOT TEAK OIL!- will keep any mold or other contaminants out of the wood grain much like a fabric spray makes clothing waterproof. It comes in clear or tan. I like the tan because it leaves the teak evenly colored. It lasts a few month before you have to apply more, but it goes on like water, soaks in and dries quickly. 

 

Rain Man

Super Anarchist
7,194
2,061
Wet coast.
If you decide to varnish it the process is acetone to remove oils - 207 epoxy thin coat to seal - 2-3 more coats 207 - 4-5 coats of Epifanes gloss with the extra UV filters - make a sunbrella cover for it and keep the cover on when the boat is at the dock for long periods.  Make sure that the piece is hermetically sealed by the epoxy and varnish - if there are holes for fasteners drill them oversize, fill with epoxy and re-drill.

Depending on where you live this might have to be redone from time to time.  I've had pieces last 5-6 years and more with this method in the PNW.

If you can live with the grey it is a much less labour-intensive solution - just scrub it with salt water once a year.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Sail4beer

Usual suspect
10,035
3,421
Toms River,NJ
As a person who has had the pleasure of refinishing many an older epoxy sealed varnish job, I plead with you to never use thinned epoxy to seal teak or mahogany brightwork. After the UV in the varnish lets sunlight through to the epoxy, it turns a shitty yellow color and has to be completely removed before the wood can accept a filler/stain or a new varnish layup. Usually chemical removers don’t get it all and the wood has to be sanded down past the epoxy level to clean wood. 

 

Sail4beer

Usual suspect
10,035
3,421
Toms River,NJ
Oh yeah, I used to use Epiphanes, but it failed after just 2 seasons amd couldn’t recommend that in the future. Total boat Lust varnish works well and lasts for years compared to a regular phenolic resin based varnish. 

 

fastyacht

Super Anarchist
12,928
2,596
I tested Epifanes 35 years ago and it was best. Flagship was virtually identical though. Captains was not far behind.

But that was 35 years ago. I still have a can of that 35 year old varnish--my last can of it!. If you buy new Epifanes it is surely not the same. Laws and stuff.

On the other hand, a highly successful and respected varnisher in Dania was maintaining the whole fleet of a notable yacht owner there with Epifanes. What is different is the viscosity. IT is MUCH thicker than other varnish and if you thin it wrong it will not go well.

On my current personal stuff I have gone rogue. This year I used minwax spar varnish on the gunwales of my rowboat and on my oars. So far so good. We will see. 8 coats of course. That stuff is much thinner than Epifanes. On the other hand I try to get to 8 coats with E too. Usually get to 6 and I've had enough.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Rain Man

Super Anarchist
7,194
2,061
Wet coast.
As a person who has had the pleasure of refinishing many an older epoxy sealed varnish job, I plead with you to never use thinned epoxy to seal teak or mahogany brightwork. After the UV in the varnish lets sunlight through to the epoxy, it turns a shitty yellow color and has to be completely removed before the wood can accept a filler/stain or a new varnish layup. Usually chemical removers don’t get it all and the wood has to be sanded down past the epoxy level to clean wood. 
Hence the need for a cover at the dock.  If using epoxy and varnish you have to keep it out of the sun and keep it perfectly sealed.  Any water that gets between wood and the coating will fail the entire coating resulting in a redo.

I may have a slightly biased perspective because I am in the PNW and the sun basically disappears from November to March.  What works here may not work in other places.  Varnish is a decent choice here because unvarnished, uncovered teak turns green with mold over the wet mild winters.  That probably doesn't happen in Florida.  I had to construct a complete cockpit cover for the winter to keep my unvarnished teak cockpit sole from turning into a green slimy mess.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
68,723
12,369
Great Wet North
As a person who has had the pleasure of refinishing many an older epoxy sealed varnish job, I plead with you to never use thinned epoxy to seal teak or mahogany brightwork. After the UV in the varnish lets sunlight through to the epoxy, it turns a shitty yellow color and has to be completely removed before the wood can accept a filler/stain or a new varnish layup. Usually chemical removers don’t get it all and the wood has to be sanded down past the epoxy level to clean wood. 
This.

Coating exterior teak with epoxy before varnishing is a huge mistake.

Don't torment me any further by asking how I know.

If you want a varnish finish you simply have to accept the ongoing maintenance work - there ain't no magic bullet.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Jules

Super Anarchist
8,587
3,396
Punta Gorda
I thought of making covers for all the wood - cockpit coamings, hand rails, companionway boards.  But it's kind of like putting plastic on living room furniture. 

For the bow piece I just finished making, with the hardware and the anchor chain, I can't see a cover being practical.

 

Jules

Super Anarchist
8,587
3,396
Punta Gorda
This.

Coating exterior teal with epoxy before varnishing is a huge mistake.

Don't torment me any further by asking how I know.
The BoatworksToday YouTube guy did a video doing pretty much what Rain Man suggested.  First time I ever saw anyone recommend epoxy before varnish.

 

Overbored

Anarchist
711
59
So. Cal
This.

Coating exterior teak with epoxy before varnishing is a huge mistake.

Don't torment me any further by asking how I know.

If you want a varnish finish you simply have to accept the ongoing maintenance work - there ain't no magic bullet.
I agree never put epoxy on the teak under the varnish. anyone suggesting that has never made that mistake .there is nothing to gain and a lot of rework ahead for you . big gain for the epoxy manufactures  

 

AnotherSailor

Super Anarchist
1,276
403
SF Bay
Oh yeah, I used to use Epiphanes, but it failed after just 2 seasons amd couldn’t recommend that in the future. Total boat Lust varnish works well and lasts for years compared to a regular phenolic resin based varnish. 
"Just" two seasons is not a failure necessarily

 




Top