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Old 08-06-2019, 05:39 PM   #1
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Cleaning and Oiling a Teak and Holly Sole

This technique was recommended by a fellow boater and I just tried it for the first time. The oil used is Watco Teak Oil, available at Home Depot or hardware stores, a 3M "red" scrub pad (can be found at auto part stores or ordered online) and Dawn dish soap. The steps are as follows:

Fill a bucket with warm water and a splash of Dawn soap.

Use the 3M scrub pad with plenty of soapy water to scrub the sole. This acts as a mild sandpaper without scratching, but it will deep clean most of the built in grime. If further cleaning or surface imperfections need to be addressed, a light hand sanding with 100 to 200 grit sandpaper or a sponge should be all the additional attention that the sole needs. This is also a good time to use a toothbrush or pointy Q-Tips to clean edge moldings and hard to get at corners. Make sure you have a wet towel or rag to keep wiping up after you have cleaned each area. Continue rinsing this rag as required to mop up the dirty water left behind after you have scrubbed. Depending on the condition of your sole, the soapy water in the bucket will turn brown very quickly and I changed it out frequently.

As you wipe down the sole with your wet rag, this will give you a good idea what it will look like once the teak oil has been applied. As the sole dries, go back and touch up any areas as required. These areas will be easy to spot once you have done your first overall scrub. I like to do a final fresh rinse wipe down after I have finished cleaning and let the sole dry for several hours before applying any oil to it.

Now the fun part begins. Applying teak oil is an instant gratification exercise and it goes on quickly. The hardest part is trying to decide what your order of attack will be so that you don't box yourself into a corner. Use a soft cloth, like an old cotton t-shirt or specialty cloths available for this purpose from a paint department, to spread out the oil that you have applied with a foam brush. After you finish applying oil to the area you are working on, let it absorb into the wood for 30 minutes and then apply a second coat. Fifteen minutes later, use a fresh soft cloth to smooth out the oil and wipe up any excess. The only thing left to do now is stay off the sole for at least 8-10 hours as it dries. I have found that using a fan can help this process. Depending on humidity and temperature, it may still feel a bit tacky after the drying period, if so wipe it down again with a clean cloth. This should absorb any residual oil traces left on the surface.

Any deck hatches are easier to clean if you remove them and take them outside. After scrubbing them clean, you can hose them off and let them dry in the sun. When it is time to apply the oil, you will also find that this is easier to do the hatches if they are removed. It makes it easy to trim the edges.

I was very pleased with the end result and the sole looks almost as good as when it was first installed.
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Old 08-06-2019, 06:14 PM   #2
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Do you have to put anything over the oil? How durable is it? Someday I will have to refinish our teak and holly decks in the salon. Trying to find out what is the best thing to use.
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Old 08-06-2019, 06:33 PM   #3
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AT the 4:27 mark, Lou talks about his way of oiling wood fast. It's a very similar fashion as mentioned above.


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Old 08-06-2019, 06:43 PM   #4
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Hi Boat Nut,

Nothing else needed once the oil has dried. It should look nice for a couple of years or more with some minimal upkeep. We are full time liveaboards so we have a lot more more foot traffic than on a boat used seasonally. Keep it vacuumed as needed and wipe it down with a damp cloth once in awhile. Ideally I would like to apply a polyurethane finish at some point, but that is a much bigger job and not one that I am comfortable doing myself. Oiling is very straight forward once you have done the cleaning and it is relatively easy to renew. Here is a photo of our galley sole.
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Old 08-06-2019, 06:56 PM   #5
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That's nice. I may reconsider the wood accents in my boat.
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Old 08-07-2019, 12:20 PM   #6
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Before and After Images

To give you a better idea of how dramatic the transformation can be, here are before and after photos of the same sole area. The first photo was taken in May of 2013 on my first visit to see Semper Fi. The darkness that you see is built up grime over the years.

The second photo was taken today more than six years later and the warm honey color of sole shines through. The only difference between the two photos is a very deep cleaning process and fresh teak oil reapplied afterwards.
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Old 08-07-2019, 02:34 PM   #7
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Looks great, what a difference.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:17 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Island Bound View Post
To give you a better idea of how dramatic the transformation can be, here are before and after photos of the same sole area. The first photo was taken in May of 2013 on my first visit to see Semper Fi. The darkness that you see is built up grime over the years.

The second photo was taken today more than six years later and the warm honey color of sole shines through. The only difference between the two photos is a very deep cleaning process and fresh teak oil reapplied afterwards.
Looks great. I see you got rid of the trip hazards and upgraded the upholstery. Nice. Let your sole shine through.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:05 PM   #9
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Looks great. I see you got rid of the trip hazards and upgraded the upholstery. Nice. Let your sole shine through.
Here is the big picture view of the salon. You will note that there are still two "trip hazards", but to paraphrase Walter Sobchak, "Those rugs really tie the room together". We have also added non-slip pads under each rug to hold them in place. Overall, the space exudes a lot of warmth, especially in the evening with indirect valance and lamp lighting.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:12 PM   #10
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Here is the big picture view of the salon. You will note that there are still two "trip hazards", but to paraphrase Walter Sobchak, "Those rugs really tie the room together". We have also added non-slip pads under each rug to hold them in place. Overall, the space exudes a lot of warmth, especially in the evening with indirect valance and lamp lighting.

That's a nice interior. Ah, no sliding rugs to knock someone down.
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