Teak Maintenance & Finishing

Friday - October 31, 2008Views: 6364
Lessons earned are far better than lessons learned………….if they don’t come too dear !

We finish our teak to preserve it and to enhance its beauty.

However, most of us are not professional yacht finishers and thus end up with a compromised effort and frustrated. Hopefully some of these hints I’ve earned will be of help.

Most of the problems we see come from the lack of proper prep, application and then diligence to touch up any breaks in the finish in a timely manner. Any and all of this lets moisture get under the finish and break its bond.


1. Read the instructions on the product you are using………all of them !

Then follow them the best you can, knowing that any deviation may result in a compromise.

2. Remove all the hardware easily removed, mask the rest. But always leave a space between the tape and the teak to create a seal to keep the moisture out. On thin hardware such as chain-plate covers, bow rail and stern rail bases seal the entire edge of the plate with finish. If you must use tape, tape the top of the plates only.

3. Clean the surface of Dirt, Wax & Oils. (The area where the teak meets fiberglass is very important.) (If you don’t turn the rag after each pass you will just spread the D,W&O around)

4. Masking tape should never touch the teak as it leaves an unfinished area and no seal to keep moisture out. It also has a habit of lifting the edge of the new finish and breaking the bond.

5. Sand and feather any bare spots and apply enough coats of finish to the sanded area to color match the surrounding area, and then final finish with the entire job.


1. Follow the directions on the can !

2. A good yacht painter only uses the outer half of the bristles on the brush, only brushes in one direction, and “flows” the finish on, rather than brushing back and forth which introduces air bubbles and thins the finish to the point that it dries dull and blotchy.

3. On the teak “Eyebrow”, we recommend masking only the underside and lapping the finish into the valley at the top between it and the cabin side to seal the top edge to the fiberglass as water often lies in this area.

4. Where the teak cap-rail meets the deck it is very important to keep the tape at least 1/16” / 2-3 mm away from the teak to get a good seal, as water flows in this area to the drain and will find its way under and into the teak if a good seal is not achieved.

5. When using Cetol, should you experience a “milky” finish from the moisture of dew or a shower getting on it before it dries don’t despair. Scotch-Brite the milky finish and apply another coat.

Tools & Materials:

Here in Maine we like Sikkens Cetol Marine Light and Gloss. Three coats of Light and two coats of Gloss, with a new coat of Gloss as needed, usually every other season, depending on how, where and how much the boat is used.

3M Fine Line masking tape gives us the best results. Just don’t leave it on more than a couple of days in bright sun or rain.

Red-tree “Fooler” 1” throw away brushes work well with Cetol.

3M Scotch-Brite pads to dull the surface between coats.

220 Grit sandpaper for blending and feathering bare spots.

Plenty of clean cotton rags and a good vacuum with a soft brush tool.

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