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Cleaning and Refinishing Teak

Discussion in 'Catalina 22' started by Bill and Kathy McDonald, Sep 27, 2016. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Bill and Kathy McDonald

    Bill and Kathy McDonald

    Joined Sep 24, 2016
    93 posts, 16 likes
    Catalina C-22
    BZ San Pedro
    The exterior wood on the boat we just bought needs some TLC. I have been reading articles on cleaning the teak (detergent and bleach mix with gentle scrubbing. Light sanding....then the debate becomes.....Tung Oil or Spar Varnish or heaven forbid Lindseed Oil.

    Any advice?

  2. pclarksurf


    Joined Jul 13, 2015
    453 posts, 186 likes
    Catalina 22 #2552
    US Kennewick, WA
    This is a loaded argument :) Lot's of good and viable choices but I'll toss my favorite out-- 1) clean and sand to your comfort level 2) 3 coats of Smiths penetrating epoxy (aka CPES). Burnish with scotch bright in between coats. Top coat with three coats of Epifanes. Not qutie done yet-- but here is the mast post with it's three coats of CPES....already pretty.



  3. Bill and Kathy McDonald

    Bill and Kathy McDonald

    Joined Sep 24, 2016
    93 posts, 16 likes
    Catalina C-22
    BZ San Pedro
    Thanks. Looking good.

  4. Barnacle_Bob


    Joined May 11, 2014
    156 posts, 7 likes
    Catalina 22
    US Lake Pleasant, AZ
    Wow! That looks great! For a second - after a really long work day and a drink - I looked at your picture and, just for a second, thought "how did he get all of that stuff in his cabin?" Great pictures ... And no more drinks for me this evening!

    Trent Lindsey and Gene Neill like this.
  5. dwedeking


    Joined Aug 30, 2016
    13 posts, 1 likes
    Cabot 36
    US Jacksonville Beach, FL
    For the outside teak I went the simple route. I used a two part cleaner - Semco - (once I had all the old varnish off) and just used a teak oil - Star. Once I month I take a rag with oil on it and wipe it down (takes about 15 - 20 minutes). I have varnished trim below which is really nice but my personal taste is to a more raw (as natural isn't the right word) look.

  6. Cincy020


    Joined Apr 22, 2013
    51 posts, 6 likes
    Catalina 22
    US Cincinnati
    This was a project I took on last winter. I started by removing all the teak so I could work on it inside during the winter. I started first by scrubbing with water and bleach, then teak cleaner. It's amazing how much cleaner it looks at this point! Next I sanded, starting with 80 and moving to 120 to get it smooth. Had to get the raised grain out. Finally, finished with 3 coats of Sikkens Cetol. It has been in the sun all Sumer and still looks great!

    it is a long process, but looks a lot better after.

  7. kito


    Joined Sep 13, 2012
    2,011 posts, 133 likes
    1979 Hunter Cherubini 30
    US Clemmons
    I may get arrested here for teak abuse but my c22's crib boards looked really bad when I bought it. I just used a 2 part teak cleaner and then lightly pressure washed them to get the remaining dirt out of the grain. After they dried, I hand sanded with 100 grit to knock the fuzz off and applied 2 coats of Cetol. I prefer oil for interior teak but for exterior I like Cetol. After 2 years it still looks good.

  8. berner73


    Joined Jul 26, 2009
    161 posts, 10 likes
    Cal 28-2
    US Boston
    Regardless of what you use to clean the teak, you'll need to thoroughly remove any existing finish.

    For cleaning - after trying several different methods and products, I've settled on Semco's 2 part teak cleaner as mentioned in a post above.|10918|2303285|2303300&id=1744369

    It's relatively fast and remarkable in how much grime it removes so be prepared to wash away the dirt. You'll want plenty of water (think hose) to flush any boat surfaces that may come in contact with the runoff (deck and topsides). Pre-wet all surfaces and try to continuously wash everything during the process. I've found that using 2 spray bottles, one for each step, limits product waste during application (wear gloves and try to apply on a calm day). Treat small areas at a time with minimal scrubbing to reduce raising the grain on the teak. Your scrub brush/pad will get clogged with material, so a wash bucket is handy to rinse/ring out whatever tool you scrub with. Depending on the condition of your wood, you may have to repeat the process. You'll know when it's clean by the color of the runoff.

    Plenty of opinions elsewhere on how to finish the cleaned teak.

    Last edited: Oct 15, 2016
  9. philwsailz


    Joined Dec 11, 2008
    1,320 posts, 44 likes
    catalina C27
    US stillwater
    Whatever you put on will "stick" better if you remove the teak's surface oils prior to finishing. After all cleaning and sanding, get you some clean white cloths and some acetone. scrub the wood with the first acetone-soaked rag and then pitch the rag and do it again. You will see a lot of orange dust and oil picked up in the first rag. Repeat until the rags are coming away from the wood wet, yet clean. At that point you have removed the teak's natural oils from the fresh surface. Then within minutes, not hours, start applying your finish. The finish will soak into the wood, into the voids left by your removal of the teak oil. This will provide you a much more durable and lasting finish, regardless which type you choose to use...

  10. Bill and Kathy McDonald

    Bill and Kathy McDonald

    Joined Sep 24, 2016
    93 posts, 16 likes
    Catalina C-22
    BZ San Pedro
    This is a project that will wait until the new year. We are in the rainy season and all my work is outdoors. So far Starbrites 3 step kit is all I have found down here and of course TSA is not going to allow me to put it in my luggage.

    Concentrating on cleaning the cabin, recovering cushions, solar vent, etc.

    The beauty of living down here is you can sail almost 365.

  11. Gene Neill

    Gene Neill

    Joined Sep 30, 2013
    2,280 posts, 776 likes
    C-22, Albin Vega
    US central Florida
    Looks beautiful!! :thumbup:

    BUT ... in Bill and Kathy's case, which pertains to exterior teak, in a very low latitude, I would go some other way. ANY other way.

    Epifanes - widely considered the gold standard in varnish - flatly tells you you need TWELVE COATS to achieve good UV protection, with an additional two coats per year required in the tropics.

    In my very humble and uninformed opinion, this is madness.

  12. Jeff Miller

    Jeff Miller

    Joined Dec 11, 2017
    1 posts, 0 likes
    Kells Coaster
    Varikai US Bar Harbor
    I know the "how to refinish teak" question is as old as time, but my question is a of a slight variation. I'm in the process of "improving" (I won't call it "restoring") my 23' Kells Coaster that had been neglected for many years before she followed me home one day. I've taken off many pieces of the teak to refinish in the basement, but not all, mostly those that are screwed and bunged like the toe rails. I will probably take the rest off as well so that I can also re-bed them this winter but I'm wondering about the inevitable time down the road when the teak needs "freshening". I don't relish the thought of having to remove it all again so I'm wondering how you maintain the teak bits when they are still attached to the deck, and without making a mess out of the fiberglass. Your responses will be appreciated.

  13. Trent Lindsey

    Trent Lindsey

    Joined Sep 19, 2017
    23 posts, 6 likes
    Catalina 22
    US Porterville, CA
    Thanks for posting. I was going to ask the same questions. I am making a bunch of, what I hope to be, improvements to Merganser over the winter. Refinishing teak, sewing cushions, painting, cleaning, cleaning, and more cleaning!



    Joined Sep 24, 2017
    19 posts, 13 likes
    Catalina 22 #14720
    US Cheboygan
    I saw this on youtube.

    Varnish and Epoxy~ a Professional Wood Finish for Teak Part1" on YouTube

    A little different approach for teak that may speed up the refinish project.


  15. Will Gilmore

    Will Gilmore

    Joined Oct 19, 2017
    2,382 posts, 962 likes
    O'Day 19
    US Littleton, NH
    UV protection is achieved by adding a Sun blocking agent that makes the finish, what ever it may be, slightly opaque. If you need 12 coasts because there is less or no sun block in the finish, the build up of so many coasts ends up with the same effect. In either case, the FULL beauty of the grain is lost to some extent. One might as well use a product that requires less work.
    As far as what kind of finish to use, there are high gloss varnished looks and "raw" wood, oiled looks. The oiled look is thought of as less work overall because it is easy to apply with a rag and add to over the year. Just make it part of your cleaning program. The vanished look isn't that hard either if it is kept up with. Light sending and a recoat every few months.
    This, with oily woods like teak and rosewood, is very important.
    - Will (Dragonfly)

  16. rpludwig


    Joined May 23, 2016
    461 posts, 227 likes
    Catalina 22 #12502
    US BSC
    I'm also going to tackle our teak in the off-season, (if we have much of one here). All this is good feedback and as of yet undecided, although have had good luck with Sikkens on custom wood doors in the past, recoating every 2 years or so. Need to do more research though, I'm sure as hell not going the 12 coat Epifanes route!!

    One thing that will help preserving the teak imo is a canvas snap on cover over the cabin. A moth-eaten one came with the boat from the PO, so snaps are already installed from front lip of cabin top, along both sides and down aside the crib boards covering nearly all the teak on the boat. Had a new one made, just need to get the snaps put on, should help preserve it some....will post a pick once on the boat....fwiw.

  17. gkmoore


    Joined Nov 12, 2015
    52 posts, 7 likes
    Catalina 22
    US Lake LBJ
    +1 on canvas cabin cover to keep brightwork bright!

  18. kclancy


    Joined Jul 25, 2016
    105 posts, 22 likes
    Catalina 22
    US Sacramento
    I am starting to redo my teak. I am starting with the interior. I am installing a new halyard plate, so I have the compression post out and figured, why not give the teak some shine? I am going to try a product call Le Tonkinois. It sounds like it might be easier to apply and then maintain afterwards. I'll post a picture as I progress. I am starting the projec this weekend.

    Good luck!

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