All Decked Out

David Worden of Kemah, Texas, asks:

“I’m thinking of buying an older Cheoy Lee pilothouse 32-footer with sections of teak deck on either side of the pilothouse that flexes when I walk on them. I can see signs of water damage when I look up from below. Do you have an opinion on the best way to repair the deck?

Could I cut the fiberglass skin out from belowdecks and recore the damaged areas? I’m also considering removing the screws in the teak deck, drying the core, and then injecting epoxy into the affected areas through the screw holes.”

Don Casey replies:

Teak planks screwed into the top skin of a cored fiberglass deck look great when they are new. But the thousands of perforations from the screws will, in time, almost certainly produce some core damage. Repairing the deck core can be done, but the process is too long to describe here. It is useless to attempt any repair from underneath without first correcting the underlying problem: the holes made by the screws.

Injecting them with epoxy is only a temporary fix and at this point the only real solution would be to remove all the teak, seal every screw hole in the deck with resin, then put down a non-skid overlay and bond the teak strips to the surface rather than screwing them down.

There’s a good chance that the core has been badly damaged by water intrusion and even if you do dry it out, it probably will have to be replaced. That involves removing the top skin from the damaged areas, replacing the core and then rebuilding the skin. A professional survey will tell you what may be involved; be sure you have the time and resources to fix this problem before you put down your deposit.

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