Chef Len

Can a 50 year old Teak Deck be brought back to its original luster? YES!

Ask me to prepare a five course wine pairing dinner for my guests onboard and my response would be, “No problem.”  But, clear coat a 15 ft. x 14 ft. enclosed deck space might be a stretch for this 66 year old semi-retired restaurant owner and chef.

With some encouragement and hand holding from my partner, John, I put on my coveralls and went to work.  First order of business was to remove all the furniture to create a clear work area.  Next step was to line the area with plastic drop sheets to contain the dust that would be a result of the sanding of the deck.  John told me the prep would be more work than the actual application of the coating.  So true!

photoLet the sanding begin.  One thing I noticed, all my friends disappeared when the sanding got underway. I chose an orbital sander using 120 grit paper. The Orbit Sander was a good choice for a beginner like me providing a layer of safety to avoid leaving burn marks in the Teak.  It was slow going and half way through, I tried a larger belt sander but the expense of the belts and keeping them on had its issues.  Besides, the belt sander was very heavy and quickly wore me out.  Soldiering on with the orbital sander, after 16 hours worth of sanding, a beautiful clear Teak wood emerged.  Special note here; be sure to wear a good respirator while completing this part of the project.  I was only good for about five hours a day during the sanding phase.  It is by far the messiest part of the project.  Even with the protective plastic sheeting, the sanding dust goes everywhere.  With the help of two deck hands, we spent four hours cleaning the dust and wiping down, not only the enclosed aft deck, but the salon as well.  I also managed to burn up our wet dry vac due to a lack of frequently cleaning the air filter – big mistake!

With the plastic sheeting taken down and the dust cleaned up, the deck area was wiped down with acetone then gone over with a tack cloth.  Before applying the clear coating, the deck needs to be super clean.

After all the hard work in preparing the deck for coating, do not get in a hurry and screw things up going forward.  My good bud, John, did exactly that on his sail boat.  He made the mistake of trying to apply a third coat in the cockpit of the gCaptain late in the day when the marine layer was coming in.  He arrived at the boat the next morning only to find the coating had clouded.  It all had to be sanded back to bare wood for refinishing.  I was part of the sanding crew and when this stuff goes on, it does not come off easy.  Cardinal rule around our neck of the woods is no varnish or coating work after 3:00 p.m.

photo-4Finally, it was time to apply the first coat, a mix of the West System 105 Epoxy Resin (part A) and Special Clear 207 Epoxy Resin. I strongly suggest reading the free user manual available where the product is purchased.  I cannot say enough about how important it is to follow the directions and recommendations in that manual.  Their technical support is phenomenal and very accessible with a toll free number 866-937-8797.

I mixed part A and B using the West Systems Mini Pump Kit that are calibrated for the correct mix ratio.  They are very simple to use eliminating any guess work.  I laid the job out in three sections that had to be reachable at my arms length.  That is a very important step because each coat has to be tipped and when tacky another coat is applied and also tipped.  (Tipping is explained in the manual).  With the mix ready I cut in around the cleats and Teak trim with a small foam brush and began roller application on the open areas.  After about an hour the coating became tacky and I applied the second coat.  In the following two days I repeated this process to complete the entire deck.  I was concerned that the coating would be uneven due to the three day application and set times, but after a quick call to technical support, that problem was handled with a little light sanding.  After curing, the Teak had a beautiful deep luster.

To finish the deck and add more UV protection, I applied two coats of.  Prior to applying the varnish, I hand sanded the sealed deck with 300 grit paper which left it looking very cloudy.  Back to the phone for me — I needed reassurance from a guy named Mike that had already told me not to worry that the varnish would bring the high gloss back.  After the sanding, the deck was again wiped down with acetone and then wiped with a tack cloth preparing it for varnish.  The varnish is a two part product and the directions for application are on the side of the can.

photo-8Voila!  When the varnish went on, the gloss came back.  I also tipped that application to insure an even coating.  The finished deck is absolutely spectacular!  You are able to see the reflection of your face in the finish.  I liked it so much I ventured into the salon and coated the Compass Rose inset along with the copper top on the bar.  Both these products are well worth their cost.  From start to finish, it took me eleven days to complete the project.  The only down side were the aches and pains I developed from the use of muscles that, up until this time, had been dormant in my body.  Each day when arriving home from the yacht, I would soak a good half hour in a steaming hot bath; add a couple of Ibuprofen and I’m good for the next day.  Several guests have come onboard and are amazed at the new look in the salon and aft deck.  This finish will last for years to come.   I highly recommend both these products.  They produce exceptional results.  If I can do it, you can do it.