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Old 02-22-2016, 11:30 AM   #1
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Cetol vs Epifanes

I've done some reading on this subject and it seems that folks can be very passionate one way or another. I'm not looking for an argument, but some experienced feedback based on my situation and experience level.

My new to me boat has some exterior wood, primarily rails around the aft deck, steps to the flybridge, and doors to the salon. The existing varnish has spots where it's completely worn through, so I will need to strip and reapply some type of stain or varnish. I don't live on the coast and my boat sits under a covered slip, so sun and salt damage shouldn't be an issue.

I have used sikkins cetol on a teak swim platform that I redid a few years ago on my old boat and it turned out pretty nice, but I don't really have any other experience. I've read that epiphanes are the bees knees, but I don't know that for a fact and I'm not sure that my product application would do it justice if it really is all that.

So, is there really a difference? Is application that much more difficult between the two products? Is there something else that I should be looking at?

Thanks for any and all thoughts.

Chris
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Old 02-22-2016, 11:36 AM   #2
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I would continue with varnish. It is a lot nicer than Cetol, in my opinion, and it is what is there already so it will be less work.

In the worn places you need to sand in order to get an even color. You probably want to avoid staining.

For steps, it is best to avoid varnish as it can be slippery when wet. You may want to remove what is there now and leave the wood bare. Alternatively you can add sand or similar to the wet varnish but, in my experience, it does not work well or last long.

What is wood? Teak? Mahogany?
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Old 02-22-2016, 11:45 AM   #3
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How often do you want to refinish? Varnish here is a chore every 3-4 months and 5-7 coats while Cetol is every 18-24 months 2 coats, your choice.

Varnish looks better....but.
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Old 02-22-2016, 11:51 AM   #4
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Greetings,
We're quite happy with Cetol gloss. Ah, should have added no color/tint as with regular Cetol marine which has an orange tinge that some don't like.
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Old 02-22-2016, 11:54 AM   #5
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If you're going to strip down to bare wood, then Cetol is going to be about the easiest to use and longest lasting finish you can put on. For it to look it's best and last the longest you need to prep the wood just as well as if you were going to varnish and apply at least 6 coats. You also have to like, or at least be able to tolerate, the look of Cetol.

If you want the look of varnish while getting the most longevity out of a "varnish" style of finish, I'd look at using epoxy base coats with something like Bristol Finish or Awlgrip as your top coats. And again you'll need to apply 6 or so top coats.

All that said, Epifanes is one of the best of the more traditional varnishes out there.
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:03 PM   #6
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I'm a fan of Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane, if I'm up north once a year quick sand and re-coat, the Summer Florida sun was not nice and need to re-coat every six to eight weeks. I have removed all the Cetol the PO had done I find the finish too cloudy.

Exterior Wood Finish Test Two-year Update - Practical Sailor Print Edition Article
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:04 PM   #7
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Have to agree with Gilberto - perhaps a bit more work but after 40 years, experance says " marine " varnish - your under cover in a shed, could perhaps go 2 years plus between coats - strip the old stuff down to bare wood, remove all the mold, dings, spots, get a uniform color, sand starting with 60 gt, then 120 gt and finally 180 gt - wipe down with a tack cloth, wash down with mineral spirits, thin the first coat or two, add AT LEAST 6 more coats - beautiful !
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:36 PM   #8
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I haven't used Cetol, but I do use Epiphanes on my teak. I find it as easy as any varnish to apply and it looks and lasts well up here in NE.

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Old 02-22-2016, 01:20 PM   #9
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I use Epifanes Rubbed Effect on interior teak and Cetol Natural Teak and Gloss on exterior teak. Epifanes definitely looks better, but we are cruisers and our exterior teak takes a beating at docks and locks, and from the sun. We apply 3 coats of Natural Teak, lightly sand the 3rd coat then apply a fourth coat. We then apply 2 coats of Cetol Gloss. A couple of advantages of Cetol is no need to sand between coats, touchups of damaged areas don't show or destroy the integrity of the finish, and the UV protection is superior.
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Old 02-22-2016, 01:40 PM   #10
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I can speak as someone who has actually used both Cetol and Epifanes Wood Finish. Based on our results, the Epifanes Wood Finish is far superior in about every way, and every bit as easy to apply as Cetol, requiring no sanding between coats. No contest IMO, both were applied to areas that got a lot of exposure and abuse.
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Old 02-22-2016, 02:23 PM   #11
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Thanks for everyone's input. After reading more about it, I think i'm going to try the Epifanes Wood Finish on one of the steps and see how it goes.
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Old 02-22-2016, 02:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clynn View Post
I think i'm going to try the Epifanes Wood Finish on one of the steps and see how it goes.
The top surfaces of the steps are the one place you do not want to varnish unless you use some anti-slip additive (like sand) as they would become dangerously slippery when wet!
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Old 02-22-2016, 04:06 PM   #13
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On your steps, DON'T put the varnish where you will be stepping.
I tried strips of glue-on nonskid on my boarding ladder. They worked fine for almost 5 years, but by then I needed to touch up the varnish, and the strips started curling at the edges. Another year and some started coming off, so I am without, and, not having followed my own advice, have slippery varnish on the top surfaces. OK if I am really careful when it is wet, but soon I will go back to the store and get some more non-skid strips.

As for Cetol, I tried some on my cedar entry porch at my house. Under cover, but still gets the sun, it lasted a couple of years before it started looking ugly. No help once that happens, you have to strip it all off and start again.

At least with a good quality varnish, (Epifanes is the best I have run across) you won't need to take it all off, just fix the holes when you see them, then when re-doat time comes, add one or two coats, until you have a good base. I need to spend 1/2 hour a couple of times a year with a 1/4" brush, getting the holes. Then I redo the top coat on whichever boards are the worst on the boat, until I am back to getting lots of compliments on my "just done" varnish. As I too keep my boat in a shelter for the winters, I haven't had to do the whole boat in a season since I discovered Epifanes. Before I had the shelter, varnishing with Spar varnish (various brand names) twice a year round the whole boat, still didn't quite get it to the compliments stage.
If you stick to th ecombination of Epifanes and a shelter, you will get to the "compliments" stage pretty quickly.
I sand before the last coat with at least 320 grit. I also use a Badger hair brush.
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Old 02-22-2016, 05:58 PM   #14
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I believe Cetol was invented for fence coatings. It is best described as 'translucent orange paint'. It might be good for fences, but it isn't good for much else. I still have to get rid of it from my bow rails. Fortunately it comes off easily.

Deks Olje is something you should consider. For rails you first saturate the bare wood with #1 (multiple wet-on-wet coats etc) then after it has dried for several days put 4 or 5 coats of #2 on top. For steps/decks you don't go further than the #1 application. Touch-ups are simple: some #1 oil with fine wet&dry paper and then a couple of coats of #2.
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Old 02-22-2016, 06:02 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xlantic View Post
The top surfaces of the steps are the one place you do not want to varnish unless you use some anti-slip additive (like sand) as they would become dangerously slippery when wet!
Not true. We used Wood Finish on our stairs to the flying bridge as well as the floor of our aft deck some of which led to the much used swim platform. If you are paranoid, you can add some of the small glass beads that Awlgrip markets to add some grip (which I did on my anchor pulpit) and a few other places, or the 3M traction tape to the stair risers (used on the aforementioned stairs).
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Old 02-22-2016, 06:15 PM   #16
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Like Insequent, I`ve had some success with Deks Olje, over the last 5 years. The finish is not as good as varnishes, but the easy maintenance compensates for that. I use Cetol on my nameboards, side and transom, it looks good. Last refinish of the FB side name boards I applied a teak color stain before 5 coats of Cetol, to restore teak color without severe sanding, all good so far.
After removing, stripping, applying 5 coats of Cetol, and refitting my FB stairs, I put grooved hard rubber type self adhesive steptreads on the steps. Looks good, non slip, hard wearing, replaceable if/when needed. The stairs are undercover, so I`m expecting good service from both the Cetol and the treads.
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Old 02-22-2016, 06:41 PM   #17
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No varnish on the steps! You'll create a serious slipping hazard.

I'm a huge fan oif Epifanes gloss varnish and Epifanes Wood Finish. Great products. If you're in a freshwater, covered slip, you'll get many years of service from the Epifanes. I'm in a covered slip and have seen great longevity in the varnish and finish coats.

I recently had some repair work done on my bow pulpit and the shop covered the new teak pulpit in 2-part Awlgrip clear epoxy. It's a great match to the varnish and seems hard and strong. I wasn't thrilled at first since I had requested Epifanes on all surfaces, but now that it's done, it looks fine. I'm told I can add coats of Epifanes to it as needed. We'll see...

I think in the debate of Epifanes vs Cetol, it all comes down to your preferred look and willingness to touch up as needed. Epifanes in the sun and salt will need more work than in the shade and freshwater environment. Cetol has a look all its own and is not my cup of tea. Both seem to be good products aimed at different preferences. If you're not sure, but a small can of Cetol and try it out on some scrap teak.

When I redo my doors, I'll seal the bare wood with CPES epoxy, then cover it with many coats of Epifanes Wood Finish. The last couple coats will be Epifanes Gloss for its UV protection. I'm hoping that will last many years in my covered slip.
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Old 02-22-2016, 07:28 PM   #18
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Just want to put a word in here and it's Cetol. I've been though it all and have many friends. Cetol natural teak. I owned and Island packet and still do. I have been in the bis for a long time. I can get seven years and repairs are not so bad. Talk to someone that has teak!!!
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Old 02-22-2016, 09:23 PM   #19
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http://www.boat-coating.com/documents/Varnishtest.pdf

anyone using coelan?
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Old 02-22-2016, 09:26 PM   #20
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I use mostly McClosky's spar varnish and bought somne Epifanes "clear varnish" recently for a dining room table. I knew McClosky's is a high oil rather soft varnish and I wanted something harder for the table. The table is't done yet so I can't coment on the hardness. The first coat or two looks very nice.

The Epifanes is very different to brush. By comparison McClosky's is a joy to use. Epifanes is a ureathane and McClosky's is a traditional oil based varnish so it's not supprising they are different but I didn't expect the big difference in application. I don't think I'm going to use Epifanes on my boat as I think the softer oil based varnish is much more flexable and flexability is very important IMO. However I'm sure Epifanes is harder and longer lasting.

But re the original question the big difference w Cetol and Epifanes is how it looks. Epifanes is beautiful and Cetol looks more like an oil finish. With rough use and lots of time the Cetol may then look better .. just a guess .. But w propper brightwork care the Epifanes or McClosky's would probably look much better over time. Again just my opinion.
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