Ask Sail: Restoring Teak - Sail Magazine

Ask Sail: Restoring Teak

I’ve just purchased an older boat that has a lot of unfinished teak trim both inside and outside. The teak is very grey and even black in a few places and I’d like to brighten it up. What’s the best way to clean it?
Author:
Publish date:

Jake Wise Virginia Beach, Virginia

Q: I’ve just purchased an older boat that has a lot of unfinished teak trim both inside and outside. The teak is very grey and even black in a few places and I’d like to brighten it up. What’s the best way to clean it? Also, what’s the best way to keep it clean and nice looking if I decide to leave it unfinished?

Don Casey 

A:To return grey or black wood to the color of fresh teak, you have to wash and bleach it. For interior teak, a cup of laundry detergent and a cup of chlorine bleach mixed into a gallon of water may be sufficient to clean away grime and mildew. For exterior teak you need the stronger bleaching action of oxalic acid. Scrubbing the treated wood with a Scotchbrite pad will help the cleaning process.

HR-D-Casey-gray_100

If the exterior teak has been long neglected, you might need the additional power of a two-part teak cleaner. Here the active ingredient is hydrochloric acid, which eats away the top surface of the wood, so use a two-part cleaner only as a last resort. However you bleach your exterior wood, the surface will still be rough afterwards. Before applying any protective coating, you should sand the wood smooth with 100-grit paper.

To keep unfinished teak in the cabin looking nice, you’ll need to keep it clean and “feed” it by periodically wiping on a thin coat of teak oil or some other furniture oil. Varnishing your interior wood will minimize care. A varnish coating will keep the wood bright and make keeping it clean in a snap.

Exterior teak can also be protected with oil, but unless you keep your boat somewhere with little sun and minimal pollution, you’ll have to scrub the wood and reapply the oil every few weeks to maintain its appearance. A hard coating is almost always a better choice. This can be a sealer, a clear varnish, or a varnish-like product with pigment. Talk to fellow boatowners in your area to figure out what treatment works best.

Got a question for our experts? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com

Related

ElanGT5-a

Boat Review: Elan GT5

Aboard many modern yachts, it can be hard to remember exactly what boat you’re on until your eye happens to light upon a logo. However, this is most definitely not the case with the Elan GT5, a performance cruiser with a look all its own and style to burn.Design & ...read more

01-Lead-P1060210

Handheld VHF Radios

For many sailors, cell phones have become their primary means of both ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communication. Even the Coast Guard will often ask for a cell number after it receives a distress call. None of this, however, makes a VHF radio any less important—and this goes ...read more

Seascape24

Boat Review: Seascape 24

Since its inception in 2008, Slovenian builder Seascape, founded by a pair of Mini Transat sailors, has focused solely on creating boats that are both simple and loads of fun to sail. With their 18-footer and then a 27-footer they succeeded in putting out a pair of trailerable ...read more

01-Trash-Tiki_in-partnership-with-Subtch-Sports_starting

The Adventurers Aboard Trash-Tiki

If you were in Gotland, a popular island vacation destination off the coast of Sweden, on the morning of July 3, your holiday might have been interrupted by a startling sight: a tiny island of trash approaching shore with people aboard. It was, in fact, a sailboat made from ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more

hardangerfjord

Cruising: Holland to Norway

In 2015, we cruised to Norway’s Lofoten Islands on our Nordic 40, Juanona, which we’d sailed transatlantic from Maine to England. Our 2016 plan was to cruise through the Netherlands to the Kiel Canal, sail into the Baltic as far as Stockholm, then cruise the western coast of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comThe Watch-keeper’s Nightmare The commercial watchkeeper’s most awkward decisions come with a vessel converging from abaft the starboard beam showing a red light. If he’s more than 2 points, or around 22 ...read more

cosair760R

Boat Review: Corsair 760R

We’d only been out on Miami’s Biscayne Bay aboard the Corsair 760R a few minutes when Corsair Marine marketing manager Shane Grover and I began bemoaning the fact neither of us had a GPS with us to determine our boatspeed. Moments later, though, we both came to the same ...read more