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Old 06-02-2015, 03:50 AM   #1
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Teak Top Rails - To Cetol or Not Cetol

In 2012, I began my boating life by purchasing a Hershine TriCabin Trawler (made in 1985 by Cheerman yards, Taiwan). The teak top rails were blackened, so I researched a strategy to brighten the wood. After much conversation with others at the marina, and some examples to look at, I started with the starboard rail and...
  1. Pressure washed the blackened coating off
  2. Scrubbed with teak cleaner
  3. Scrubbed with teak brightener
  4. Dry overnight
  5. Cetol, two coats in two days.

The initial results were glorious, restoring the golden color like new. (Due to change in weather, I could not get the third recommended coat on before winter).


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But....after 1 year in the Pacific NW sun and rain, the initial luster is gone and now there are discolored spots breaking through. The color of these spots reminds me of the sun exposed, oxidized discolored teak that I scrubbed clean in the first place. My first thought was that I failed to get an adequate coating of Cetol and the wood is now showing oxidation again. However, I have also read on this Forum that these stains could be fungal growth underneath the Cetol and lead to rot.

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Regardless, the result is disappointing in that it did not last 1 season, and now I am concerned about leaving the Cetol on.

Or was the original application too thin and should I re-treat these areas with brightener and then re-apply Cetol?


What do the experienced boaters on this Forum think of these stains, and how should I handle them?

Many thanks in advance
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Old 06-02-2015, 06:08 AM   #2
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Gosh, only 2 coats not 3 or 4 initially, with a product that is supposed to be topped up annually & so is due (or overdue?) for the top-up coat now....not sure what you have to complain about. I'd wash with dishwashing detergent and a very fine scouring pad and put 2 coats on...and add a coat every 12-18 months
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:59 AM   #3
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The Cetol on our cap rails lasted 7 years with an annual maintenance coat. Last fall they needed to be refurbished.

Wooded them. Then two coats of Cetol Natural Teak base followed by three coats of Cetol Gloss. Considered that the minimum for initial coating.

Will put a another maintenance coat on them this year.
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:35 AM   #4
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The key is what is stated below, you need to finish off with a clear coat otherwise it will turn into what you have, I would suggest using a random orbital sander to get some of the grain off from power washing and teak cleaner, the smoother the surface the less the dirt collects.

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Originally Posted by dwhatty View Post
The Cetol on our cap rails lasted 7 years with an annual maintenance coat. Last fall they needed to be refurbished.

Wooded them. Then two coats of Cetol Natural Teak base followed by three coats of Cetol Gloss. Considered that the minimum for initial coating.

Will put a another maintenance coat on them this year.
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:51 AM   #5
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I am still battling the Fungus in a few spots on previously neglected rails. Make sure your cleaner has anti-fungal in it or use a light bleach solution and let it soak a bit in those black spots.

Make sure the rails are good and dry this time, and be sure to get 3-4 coats on there. The PNW is hard on these rails. You may want to re-coat every year for awhile at least. With Cetol, that is relatively easy. In the end, I think you will be OK with the results. It is not a hard, shiny varnish finish, but if done right, will hold up well for many years with minimal maintenance.
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:09 AM   #6
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Your original application was too thin. In 2012 I refinished our rails and used two coats of Natural and then five coats of clear. Every year I do a maintenance coat or clear and they look as good today as when they were first done.

I find it amusing that so many people avoid teak like the plague because it is "so much" work. If it is cared for properly it takes very little work. The maintenance coat takes me about 10 hours a year. A small price to pay for the beauty that it adds.
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:29 AM   #7
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Our boat is waaaay further down the Cetol disintegration path as it sat for years in the open before being sold.

Our first priorities were working on and upgrading the engine, battery system, etc, and have now started to chip away at the exterior woodwork as weather and house renovations permit.

Still deciding on letting it go silver (Badger does have 'workboat' heritage after all) or maybe pure tung oil. At the pace I'm going, it'll be a next year decision anyways!

As you can see from the last photo, the PO's weren't too careful with their masking tape application...
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:49 AM   #8
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It didn't last because you didn't sand the teak smooth and you didn't put on enough coats.

In order for a Cetol job to last the longest the prep is the same as for a varnish job. There is no getting around that.


You don't have to you gloss as a top coat if you don't want to. Just use more of the color coat for a satin look if you like that look.
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Old 06-02-2015, 11:20 AM   #9
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LO First of all why Cetol and not varnish?

Your finish was too thin and water is underneath the Cetol.

When I varnish I always do three thinned coats first. 75% turpentine 1st coat. 50 % turp second coat and 25% turp third coat. Then full strength varnish. As far as I know Cetol is just another varnish.

Pressure washing could have created a problem by forceing water into the wood and seams ect. And you sealed the water in.

I had a thread about going from black teak to bright but can't remember the title. My wife used baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and vinigar. She used Apple cider vinigar. The black crud scrapes away easily keeping it wet and being careful w the scraper. She used scotch bright also.

The reason I use turpentine as a thinner is because it's a natural fungicide.

I see you're in LaConner. We are in K39. You can see our cap rail. Only one coat full strength varnish. Use the best varnish from the best brands and it will be excellent irregardless of the brand you use. I really don't know what Cetol is and untill I find out I'm not going to consider it. Varnishing is really a case of 98% application and 2% product. Do the work, make the effort and a good base will last many years w one coat a year applied to the base. My opinions.

Buy the way our cap rails were far worse than Murray's. Just plain black.

Found the pic. Up to that point the teak had only been cleaned by Chris's method. More sanding and detail cleaning came after this picture. Now the cap rails look good (2nd pic) but we still only have one 100% varnish coat applied. Plan in several coats this summer.
The reason they didn't look like Murray's is because of all the oil I had put on in Alaska. Mixed my own oil finish.
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Old 06-02-2015, 12:16 PM   #10
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This is 6 coats of epifanes on NEW TEAK . They say magic happens at 13 coats . We will probably do a couple more coats this fall . Prep is important and also those first couple coats need to be thinned to have a good base to work off of . My Dad always said to let the varnish get to know each other by thinning it first . Kinda like a first date don't lay it on too heavy at first. . I tried Cetol once but I only put a couple coats , not enough to really give it a chance to prove itself .
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Old 06-02-2015, 12:55 PM   #11
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We do 2 or 3 coats of Cetol, then another coat every other season.
They look good not super duper but good. And we are not afraid to touch them, lean on them etc.
Works for us.
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Old 06-02-2015, 02:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manyboats View Post
LO First of all why Cetol and not varnish?

Your finish was too thin and water is underneath the Cetol.

When I varnish I always do three thinned coats first. 75% turpentine 1st coat. 50 % turp second coat and 25% turp third coat. Then full strength varnish. As far as I know Cetol is just another varnish.

Pressure washing could have created a problem by forceing water into the wood and seams ect. And you sealed the water in.

I had a thread about going from black teak to bright but can't remember the title. My wife used baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and vinigar. She used Apple cider vinigar. The black crud scrapes away easily keeping it wet and being careful w the scraper. She used scotch bright also.

The reason I use turpentine as a thinner is because it's a natural fungicide.

I see you're in LaConner. We are in K39. You can see our cap rail. Only one coat full strength varnish. Use the best varnish from the best brands and it will be excellent irregardless of the brand you use. I really don't know what Cetol is and untill I find out I'm not going to consider it. Varnishing is really a case of 98% application and 2% product. Do the work, make the effort and a good base will last many years w one coat a year applied to the base. My opinions.

Buy the way our cap rails were far worse than Murray's. Just plain black.

Found the pic. Up to that point the teak had only been cleaned by Chris's method. More sanding and detail cleaning came after this picture. Now the cap rails look good (2nd pic) but we still only have one 100% varnish coat applied. Plan in several coats this summer.
The reason they didn't look like Murray's is because of all the oil I had put on in Alaska. Mixed my own oil finish.
Manyboats
Thanks for your input I note that you don't talk about sanding the varnish between coats Is sanding necessary if the varnish is in good condition?
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Old 06-02-2015, 02:30 PM   #13
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All the varnishing I've done required a light scuff and tack rag after, the bigger issue I had with Varnish is it needed really good weather conditions for application, which just so happened to be good boating weather, the Cetol is less fussy and results are good, not as good as an Epiphanes job, but like anything its all about the time and energy put in that makes the difference.
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Old 06-02-2015, 02:33 PM   #14
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I think if the first few coats of varnish are not thinned the varnish may dry on top before it dries next to the teak and the natural oils in teak push the varnish off. On our teak we wiped it down with acetone about 15 minutes before the first thinned coat of varnish . I can still feel the grain in mine even thru six coats so that tells me it needs a few more coats.I think cetol has some pigment in it so it probably fills the grain sooner than thinned varnish .
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Old 06-02-2015, 04:03 PM   #15
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ocean,
Sanding is a must for me but I haven't gone w/o. Read the stuff on the can or/and ask your paint supplier. We go to a paint store that has a very wide viriaty of product and they are knowledgeable about most everything. Find a paint store and over time you'll know if the're good. We're excellent customers so we don't feel bashful about asking them about marine stuff. Get the Maine paint wherever you find it.

Also Interlux has a good website and I'm sure others do also. But mostly depend on what the can says. Every person you talk to is questionable including me but I think you can depend on what the can says. I'm sure a lot of thought goes into what they print. And if you read the can it will have limited value unless you have something to indicate what the humidity is. One can be WAY off looking at the sky. Don't overlook the value of a good brush too.

Pack Mule,
I wonder how compatible teak oil is w tung oil, linseed oil ect. It's all tree oil so there may be a significant advantage to oil based varnish on teak. The teak oil may help the other tree oil penetrate the wood and aid adhesion. Or if one uses acetone the paint oil may rush in to take the place of the tree oil removed by the acetone. Just a few thoughts.
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Old 06-02-2015, 04:44 PM   #16
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Eric ,
Yes I think the acetone dries out the natural teak oil on the surface only long enough for the varnish to have time to dry .I always acetone before first coat of varnish or epoxy on teak. If the top of the varnish dries before the bottom it's always a mess for me even in paint . It's always easier to get better results with new lumber .
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Old 06-02-2015, 07:42 PM   #17
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Cetol versus the rest of them

I've applied a lot of varnish, Cetol is the easiest to maintain and repair. You can sand out small areas and recoat and blend with out having to redo the whole piece unlike non pigmented varnishes. I think on older weathered teak Cetol is your best bet. It may not have the beauty of Ephanes, Bristol, Captains but it is more durable and easier to maintain. That's why it's on my boat. but like all varnishes you need at least 8 coats. One or two maybe three coats of light Cetol followed by 6 or more coats of gloss. The nice thing about Cetol is no sanding between coats, short time between coats. Once on, it stands up for several years in the Sac Delta heat and cold, my rails are over 5 years since coated last. 8 coats of Ephanes is good for six months in the same conditions, apply eight coats over smiths and you get a year maybe, Bristol maybe a year year and a half. Since I work on others boats for a living, I want to work on my brightwork as little as possible so I sacrifice the a little beauty for durability.
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:00 PM   #18
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I use Cetol, lasts at least a year here in Fl. and is easy. You may enjoy 12 coats of longingly applied varnish every 4 months, I have other things to do.

Yes... varnish lasts about 4 months here, have fun.
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:23 PM   #19
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Greetings,
Mr. Cheech. First off, my humblest apologies for not noticing sooner that this was your first post. WELCOME ABOARD!!!!....Ahem, OK...Cetol all the way for us, or rather the Admiral who does all the brightwork.
Tried the Cetol gloss for the first time last fall and we really like the finish. In your case, looks like not enough coats. But in one way, that's secondary at this point. As suggested above, the raised grain warrants a sanding. Yes, you'll be removing wood but it should be a one shot deal IF you maintain the subsequent refinish. Hold off on the pressure washer. It was adequate although possibly not the best way to initially remove the staining but I think a sanding should remove most if not all current stains. Any stain that DOES remain after sanding will simply add character to the boat. 3 or 4 coats of gloss should go a long way in improving looks. I would also not use any brightener, soap or any preconditioning aqueous liquids. Solvents for a wipe down, yes but no water.
Aside: Whilst in the process of doing our cap rails, Cruiser (55lb Redbone Coonhound) took it upon himself to plant his dirty front paws on our first coat of gloss. Well, it is what it is and now his pawprints are immortalized on board. Coated right over the "evidence".
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:24 PM   #20
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Marty,
I've not used acetone on my teak. Not had any problems w adhesion either.

Quite a few raves for Cetol but I still don't know what the stuff is.

One thing that can be said for it is that my paint store stocks it but more significantly Alaskans use lots and lots of Cetol. Very popular. I've tried just about everything else though.
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