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Old 02-23-2013, 05:40 AM   #1
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To Varnish or not to varnish, that is the question!?!

Hi all,

I am new here, but have been enjoying adding to a few posts over the last day or so.
But now I have a question....
I have just purchased a MT34DC that has been laid up for a year or so, the previous owner had all the teak stripped, apart from the transom prior to layup.

I love varnish but am not a fan of dedicating my life to it. This is what I am contemplating doing, but I am keen for other peoples thoughts on how it might change the look of the boat, for better or worse.

Transom - paint
Window trims - paint
hatches - varnish
flybridge trim - varnish
sliding door - varnish
sliding door trim - paint
Cap rails and hand rails - leave bare for now.

Man oh man I am getting tired just thinking of it!







comments welcome!

cheers.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:14 AM   #2
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Greetings,
Mr. sailtones. Whatever you decide to paint, give it a couple of coats of varnish/Cetol first to seal the pores. You never know, at some point in the future you may want to varnish that particular piece/section and having sealed the wood first, it will be a LOT easier completely to strip the paint off.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:26 AM   #3
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Sailtones: You mentioned leaving the cap rail and hand rails bare for now. If you leave them unfinished for even a season and want to finish them later, it can be (will be) more difficult. The soft grain in the teak can disappear quickly. The sanding then required to prep the rails for a smooth finish is significant. You on the right track though, don't get married to the up keep.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:32 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry M View Post
Sailtones: You mentioned leaving the cap rail and hand rails bare for now. If you leave them unfinished for even a season and want to finish them later, it can be (will be) more difficult. The soft grain in the teak can disappear quickly. The sanding then required to prep the rails for a smooth finish is significant. You on the right track though, don't get married to the up keep.
Hi Larry, thanks for the advice and good point!
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:20 PM   #5
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Good varnish sure does look great....but it sure is a lot of work. After paying $10k to re-varnish cap rails and the transom on my current boat, my new boat is varnish-free. I'm keeping the beautify wood inside, and utilitarian stuff (fiberglass and unfinished teak) outside. Unless of course you have staff to do it all for you.......
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:56 PM   #6
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solvent thinned epoxy (like esp 155 or make your own) to seal the wood and provide a stable substrate. then a few coats of traditonal spar varnish which provides UV protection and mil thickness A win-win combination.
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Old 02-23-2013, 01:39 PM   #7
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I asked that question on another forum below are some of the replies I recieved. I didn't save most of the many pro varnish ot leave natural to gray, posts as I wasn't interested in doing either. I wound up applying Cetol as it can be done quicly and doesn't seem to require as many coats, I have been using Cetol for some time it lasts about a about a year here. I applied the Behr transparent sealer as in the below recommendation on a small piece to see how it holds up it looks good, a non gloss finish, but has only been on for a week or so.
Steve W
each set of ******* preceedes a new post my original question was

'Sorry to bring this dead horse out for beating again but having spent most
of the last two days working on teak, and barely putting a dent the
project the thought of painting it keeps coming to mind,
I would like to know if anyone here has actually tried it, if so just
how did you do it and what were the results? How long lasting vs
varnish/cetol in your area?





******* Personally, I love well painted teak. I was specifically attracted to the
look of our boat when we shopped it in 2007 because of so much of the
exterior teak was painted (and done well). If you were near us in Cape Coral
FL you could come by and see our boat in person, first hand. We have a LOT
of exterior teak that has been painted. It was done by a previous owner and
maintained well since. It looks great, is durable, and long lasting. There
is some Cetol teak on the fly bridge and a few pieces of varnished teak on
the boat that each require yearly maintenance whereas the painted teak is
pretty much keep it clean and even wax it. I just re-painted the cap rail
for the first time since 2007 when we bought the boat. The doors are painted
and I do nothing for them. They still look great. I have repainted the
window trim once since 2007.

**********We have Cetol on the hand rails but they are covered with canvas. I just
redid them in Cetol for the first time since 2007.


******** When I bought my boat 4 years ago the teak was painted. What a nightmare! It took me almost 3 years to remove the paint and bring it back to its glory. Additionally, some spots had to be replaced because it wasn't done right and began to rot. In short, don't paint teak, either enjoy it or remove it and sell it to someone who will. Heck have you priced teak lately? Sorry to sound rude but the thought of painting teak just brings back sooooo many painful memories.


******** Our Defever 41’s painted teak is done tastefully in white (window trim) and gray (cap rails and doors) which perfectly match the theme of blue and white from the hull.


*********Actually, you can have it “both ways”. Cruisers spending a lot of time in the Bahamas and farther south will put 6 or 7 coats of Cetol on their teak and then a coat of white paint to protect the Cetol while they are way-south. When they get back to New England, they would sand off the white and return to perfect teak with a single coat of Cetol.



******* If you decide to paint your teak, be sure to put a couple coats of varnish
on it first. This makes the paint much easier to remove for the next guy
(teak lover) who buys your boat. (The clear varnish is in the wood grain,
not the paint).

**********Down here in Florida, the only clear coating to use for teak is Cetol. We
tried oil (gets dirty/moldy), epoxy (blisters off due to hot teak oil
expansion), and good varnish (which gets brittle and and lasts about 3 months
due to the UV).
Our Cetol has lasted an entire year so far (three coats) and is now ready
for a light sanding and a couple more coats to freshen it up.
If you head the Cetol way, make sure that you get the best grade masking
tape you can find. Cetol likes to migrate and jump all over your painted/FG
surfaces.

*********Purchased boat in Florida 2002. Chine rails had been painted two part
(blue) apparently in 2000.
The blue was bad but we lived with it till 2011 when we changed color to a
teak brown. Anything that will save me 10-12 years worth of headache is
worth it to me. Signature two part paint used this time as I could not find
out what was used prior. (as purchased gray prime, blue overcoat)
Flybridge wood all canvas covered.

Removed x hardware (cleats) as possible was at the dock. Tack sanded the
blue, rolled on three or 4 coats , brushed the bottom edges of the paint ,
which goes a long long way.
Word of advice....You can put a one part on a two part but NOT the
reverse. The solvents in the two part will saturate and cause heavy mottling.
FWIW _www.signaturefinish.com_ (http://www.signaturefinish.com) Not
cheap.


******* We scraped and sanded our teak down to bare wood and then used acrylic based
Behr home premium transparent water proofing. Slather it on and forget about
it. Need touch up, slather some more on. No sanding, taping, etc. Put a
little in a jar with a metal handle brush, then it's a quick repair kit for
scrapes. Oh, and it looks superb.

******** We use Cetol for rails and other trim - on the main deck we coated teak with a coat of Olympic Translucent deck stain, with Cetol for the sheer and king planks - opaque Olympic stain on the teak swim platform. Very happy with the colors and water runs off the Olympic stain like the proverbial duck's back. The Olympic has good non-skid properties and is very easy to use. 5 year life warranty.
Steve:
You're on a topic that gets many opinions. WE have both painted teak and teak that is Yacht
Finish. We use the Awlgip System and do it by the Book, The Awlgrip
Book. I am not a fan of Cetol. All you can do with it is keep adding more.
Contact Awlgrip and ask for a copy of Awlgrip Application Guide Edition 12

The painted teak we have is teak that for maintenance is hard to get to or
maintain like the 5" side rail on the side of our Cabin Windows on
our MT 50. The window frames are painted. What is painted we sort
of inherited so we have kept it painted. The yard who did the paint didn't
do it right, so we sanded two pieces down to Bare wood. Painting we did
put two coats of Awlgrip Quick fill, because teak was ungly, not good teak
and then applied two coats of the Awlgrip 545 Primer, After that two
Coats of Awlgrip "Stark White" We use foam brushes.

The upper deck some 22 ft by 15.5 feet was repainted with Awlgrip. We
sanded with orbital sanders 60 grit then 100 grit. Applied two coats
of the Awlgrip 545 primer. first coat of paint Awlgrip Desert Sand
went on went the Non skid "Grip Tex" Awgrip #73013 "Course" sprinkled on top of the paint with big salt shakers. After the paint dries you can sweep off the excess and put one final coat
of paint on top of it.

All the Rails are Teak Varnished using Awlgrip products and Technique.

The major thing you need to remember and is most important is Sealing
the Teak. The guys who do it for a living fill and seal the teak with abut 13 coats of Varnish so they can come back and do it again and make more money on you.

We do that with Awlgrip "Quick Fill" Part No. J3901 Base
and Awlgrip J3902 Converter. It is a two part Expoxy
and it dries fast and you can apply three coats in a day. Once the Teak
is properly sealed it is almost bullet proof. Then come 3 coats of Varnish
Awlgrip Marine Classic #3131 We lightly sand between coats.

Every couple of years we lightly sand the varnish when it gets dull from UV and apply
a "top Coat" we have never had to sand it back down to raw wood.

For some reason people seem petrified of using AwlGrip paint etc. It is no mystery. Just
read their book. My upper deck total cost for Material $500.


. ********We scraped and sanded our teak down to bare wood and then used acrylic based Behr home premium transparent water proofing. Slather it on and forget about it.
Oh, and it looks superb.



































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Old 02-23-2013, 04:32 PM   #8
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Steve,
I've known many people that almost worship Cetol. What on earth is the stuff and is it related to SeaFin? I tried that too and it didn't even come close to lasting a winter in SE Alaska. It also had some build that had to be removed before another product could be used. I'm quite sure Cetol's an oil based product but I dunno. Any info??
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:31 PM   #9
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Seafin seems to be teak oil, I have never used it, teak oil tends to get black spots in our hot and humid climate. Cetol is a Sikkens product, it is oil based in the same way as varnishes and paints are not as in teak oil. You can find more details on it on most of the marine supply websites.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:32 PM   #10
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Thanks Steve,

I think it's just a typical low gloss varnish. To get the best (hardest) varnish in an oil based product one needs to get varnish usually called "spar" varnish and it usually has high end/high gloss resins like phenolic resin. I was told a long time ago that the best varnishes were based on Tung oil and phenolic resin.

I don't know what resins are used in the low gloss clear oil based varnishes but cheaper products usually have Linseed oil instead of tung oil. I personally don't think there's much difference. I've used lots of Linseed oil but always w lots of turpentine and some "wood preservative". With that combination I get almost no "blackening". And all that I do get is found at the heads of fasteners.

Now that we're down south I'm going to go w McClosky's Spar or Interlux Schooner Varnish on top of a heavy base of my own oil mix. If that fails I'll soon be look'in at Cetol.

In the old days all the paints and varnishes had their ingredients listed on the can but now they can put whatever they want in the stuff.
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Old 02-23-2013, 07:33 PM   #11
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Anything exterior you decide to varnish it is WELL worth the $$$ to cover with sunbrella. Just today we're on a cruise and uncovered our handrail. Everyone thought we must've just had it redone. It's been a year and a half since we had just two coats put on top of the finish. Keeping it covered makes a huge difference.

Good luck with whatever you decide!!
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:56 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone for the input, always good to get other peoples opinions.

I think you hit the nail on the head Pineapple girl. The boat has a complete set of covers, so although I have done enough varnish in my life to never want to do it again, once done and covered its the best of both worlds.
The only areas without covers are the transom, the cap rails and the trim around the flybridge. I contemplate those areas a little longer.

On the product debate (which is a whole topic in it self), I use epiphanes spar varnish. It is reasonably easy to use if you know how, and very long lasting. My sailboat has a varnished hatch. I did it two years ago and have not touched it since. Although it is now ready for a coat or two.

Thanks again. I will blog about it when it comes time to varnish. Good bed time reading for everyone that cant sleep!
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Old 02-24-2013, 06:52 AM   #13
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"I have done enough varnish in my life to never want to do it again, once done and covered its the best of both worlds."

The best cover is a BOAT, so varnish to your hearts content INSIDE!

Leave varnishing on the outside to other boaters , and enjoy their fine endless work from a covered after deck lounge chair , and toast the results their unending endeavor with a brew!
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Old 02-24-2013, 07:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pineapple Girl View Post
Anything exterior you decide to varnish it is WELL worth the $$$ to cover with sunbrella. Just today we're on a cruise and uncovered our handrail. Everyone thought we must've just had it redone. It's been a year and a half since we had just two coats put on top of the finish. Keeping it covered makes a huge difference.

Good luck with whatever you decide!!
If you're going to cover the teak with sunbrella ... why go to all the trouble and expense to get that perfect varnish finish? Just leave the covers on all the time!
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:25 AM   #15
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If you're going to cover the teak with sunbrella ... why go to all the trouble and expense to get that perfect varnish finish? Just leave the covers on all the time!
The PO went to the expense if getting it looking incredible. We bought the cover and have had the wood recoated once in two and a half years. It looks like we just had it done. If we keep it up, it will probably never have to go back to bare wood to be redone. It is really quite beautiful and we enjoy it. But we're in a low labor rate area where it's affordable to get maintenance work done.
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:37 AM   #16
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Removing Cetol

While we are on the subject of Finishes, has anyone had the joy-filled experience or horror stories regarding "removing" Cetol from Teak?
Because Satori came with some exterior varnish, in particular the canvas covered side and aft windows, I made the best decision at the time (1.5 years ago) to finish the bow windows in Cetol.(only 1 so far) The previous owner had already stripped and sanded the trim.(as well as the glass....)

She is an old trawler, and the Teak has certainly seen better days, so getting a like-new Spar Varnish look will never happen. I am looking for a compromise that looks nice and shiny and still holds up rather well. Now, having spent 6 months on TF, my horizons and options have broadened. I will likely continue with Cetol as time permits, but I have to be wondering what might lie ahead if I ever want to get the stuff off. The Cetol finish appears nice enough for me, but it never seems to harden, always remaining a bit soft. Maybe that means it is more robust and flexible, but seems odd to me.

I rather get the impression that in the "Cetol" camp, that most all folks that go that way, stay with Cetol for the duration. I am looking for someone who in a few or several years decided to take it off and put down something else like a hard Spar varnish, or decided to take off the Cetol and the seal with something like West System and then a varnish-like Finish over that.

Has anyone successfully gone back to a hard shiny varnish from Cetol?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:08 PM   #17
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I am not that person but it seems if Cetol is a 100% oil based finish (and especially since it never completely dries) should be an excellent base for all oil based varnishes. If there is bare wood showing in places you may want to touch up those spots w Cetol (perhaps thinned a bit) until you have an excellent base for whatever varnish you apply full strength.

I mix my own oil finish and it remains soft (even sticky) for a month or so and after about about a month you can sit on the cap rail but when you get up it will feel like some "paint" is stuck to your pants but it never does ... never can feel or see anything on my pants.

So it looks to me like Cetol is probably kinda related to what is normally called "teak oil". A bit like if you mixed teak oil w varnish. Using lots of turpentine helps a great deal or almost eliminates the tendency for oil finishes to turn blackish as turpentine is poisonous to mildew.

So I wouldn't concern myself w removing the Cetol if it's in good condition but if you need or want to ... being that it is an oil based finish it should come off w scrapers, oil based paint remover, sanding, burning w a small (like propane) torch or any other method common to oil based finishes. I'd scrape using a scraper aggressive enough to remove the Cetol w/o removing the wood or causing gouges in the wood.

All this is of course assuming that Cetol is an oil based finish.
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:25 PM   #18
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Eric-- Cetol is described by its manufacturer as a "synthetic wood treatment with UV protection." I could not find any list of ingredients.

I do know you should not put CPES under Cetol because Cetol needs to penetrate the wood a bit in order to work properly. Applying CPES to the raw wood first will prevent this.
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:42 PM   #19
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JimS, I haven't shifted from Cetol back to varnish but.... When we purchased the boat in 2010 the Cetol was neglected one year too long so we had to sand down to bare teak. I believe we could have easily gone back to varnish. The teak was clean and fresh. I love the look of varnish but its too labor intensive for my pockets or time. We have been using Cetol for three seasons now and I am a big fan so far. Each spring I lightly sand which takes about an hour for my rails and the bridge rail. Then I put on a coat of the clear Cetol gloss. The whole job takes less than five hours. I'm only into the cetol for three years now but I like it so far. As a side not I have mahogany front porch rails at home. I varnish every other year and over the last fifteen years I have had to take them back to bare wood three time. Varnish is WORK!
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:44 PM   #20
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Jim: We stripped the Cetol off our cap rail last month. We took it down to bare wood. We used a small hand pull scraper. It was much easier to remove than the old varnish 5.5 years ago. After the Cetol was off we sanded. It looked like new wood. And then on went the Cetol, again; 3 coats of Light then 3 coats of Gloss. The old Cetol got beat up in the boat yard last fall and it was much easier to start over than try to blend in damaged areas. Many tried to talk us into varnish, but we had been down that road before in the tropics. If we had access to Honey Teak we would have applied that. I guess my point is that the Cetol was easily and fully removed so that any "new" finish could be applied.
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