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Old 05-19-2022, 01:02 PM   #1
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To Varnish or not to Varnish that is the question

Hello,
Im in a quandary with my 32' woody. Currently the only varnish is on the back cap rail and handrails and trim on the cabin. The previous owner I think was just doing teak oil on the lower caprails on the bulwark. I'm not trying to increase my maintenance but and wonder if anyone has success with things other than teak oil and varnish that has created a good durable low maintenance finish.
I have been looking at
1. Cetol
2. Le Tokonois

Any thoughts on the above or other products you have used would be greatly appreciated!! Of course if people thing varnish is the best way to go, maybe I should just bite the bullet!!

Thanks!

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Old 05-19-2022, 01:27 PM   #2
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ID:	128810I have been using Semco golden teak sealer for years. It is easy not expensive and looks great. On my last boat it lasts a year here in the NE. I am now stripping all the varnish on my Tug and using it to refinish. So far I am pleased with how it looks.
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Old 05-19-2022, 02:25 PM   #3
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Unclematt, what do you do to prepare it? Just bring it to bare wood and apply? What about seasonal recoating?

I have bare teak and places where the varnish is still flaking off. Of course I will bring it all to bare wood before I start coating it.
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Old 05-19-2022, 02:46 PM   #4
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We did Semco on the teak decks on our last boat. Simple and quick to apply. We did 2 coats to start with. Then 1 coat at the beginning of each season. In tougher climates you would have to recoat more often. But you just lay on another coat and then wipe off the caulk lines so the Semco doesn’t attack the caulk. We could do a coat in 45 minutes for the teak deck that was 13’ wide and 10’ long.
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Old 05-19-2022, 06:42 PM   #5
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I asked my friend who still works in the trade and his reply was leave the deck alone.
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Old 05-20-2022, 03:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rainydayfisher View Post
Hello,
Im in a quandary with my 32' woody. Currently the only varnish is on the back cap rail and handrails and trim on the cabin. The previous owner I think was just doing teak oil on the lower caprails on the bulwark. I'm not trying to increase my maintenance but and wonder if anyone has success with things other than teak oil and varnish that has created a good durable low maintenance finish.
I have been looking at
1. Cetol
2. Le Tokonois

Any thoughts on the above or other products you have used would be greatly appreciated!! Of course if people thing varnish is the best way to go, maybe I should just bite the bullet!!

Thanks!



Another SEMCO (Natural) user . . . After using AWLWOOD (primer & sealer varnish) 7 coats . . . 3 years later sanding/heat gun scraping) to get to bare teak, we are pleased with the finish, appearance and wear of SEMCO . . . Periodic cleaning (3/4 months in Florida sun) using Total Decking Systems ECO-300 to clean, let dry and wipe on the SEMCO (2 passes) and you will be pleased! We get many compliments on the look and finish . . . Easy Pesy!
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Old 05-20-2022, 11:51 PM   #7
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+1 for SEMCO…. the beauty of this is that there nothing for water to ‘get under’. Maintenance is a breeze and the light version allows the natural beauty to shine through.

Maintenance is a function of climate..out here in Puget sound, the bigger risk is algae. I recoat prior to winter and again in the spring. Get the SEMCO cleaner too which works well.

This is for railings etc.

I’ve come to realize the biggest risk to a teak deck is the owner. In Puget Sound the only product which may be a consideration is the Halberg Rassy endorsed Swedish product called Boracol. I’ve not tried it yet. Hard to get in the USA, some of the log cabin companies stock it. This makes sense to prevent growth of algae etc. in the first place…which is the reason owners get tempted to brush the deck and do damage in the process.
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Old 05-29-2022, 02:45 PM   #8
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On our GB32 (1966 hull #17) I use Bristol, a 2-part coating. We've had the boat 14 years up in Sidney, BC. My procedure: take to bare wood, multiple coats of Smith's Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer, sand lightly with 220 grit, 3 coats of Bristol 2 hours between coats on 3 successive days for a total of 9 coats with no sanding at all, let cure for 3 days, sand with 320 grit and apply 10th coat. My upper aft rails need re-coating (but not to bare wood) but have lasted for over 10 years. We keep Haven in a boathouse but only for the last 5 years. I keep my lower cap rails bare (for now).
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Old 05-29-2022, 02:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bongi View Post
+1 for SEMCO…. the beauty of this is that there nothing for water to ‘get under’. Maintenance is a breeze and the light version allows the natural beauty to shine through.

Maintenance is a function of climate..out here in Puget sound, the bigger risk is algae. I recoat prior to winter and again in the spring. Get the SEMCO cleaner which works well.

This is for railings etc.

I’ve come to realize the biggest risk to teak deck is the owner. In Puget Sound the only product which may be a consideration I’m told is the Halberg Rassy endorsed Swedish product called Boracol. Hard to get in the USA, some of the log cabin companies stock it. This makes sense to prevent growth of algae etc. which is the reason owners get tempted to brush the deck and do damage in the process.



Boracol is great. But it's for those who want clean grey/silver decks. It does not take it back to original brown. I've been using it for years, after deciding to stop spending upwards of 60 hours per year cleaning and oiling my teak decks. Life is too short. Learn to love grey :-)
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Old 06-03-2022, 12:38 PM   #10
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Another vote for Semco

You can't go wrong. Looked great, easy to apply and maintain. Plus it's not the same level of commitment as other finishes.
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Old 06-03-2022, 12:56 PM   #11
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When we were in Asia (lots of high sun), we used a product called Deks O'le...EZ on, good looking, EZ mx. It is a soft finish, but does a good job of protecting the wood from dirt/spills/stains/etc. But after we left Asia, we could not find it anywhere. We did a lot of looking around and research, including Borocal, and ended up with Semco. now, after 7 years in the Caribb, we still use Semco. EZ on, EZ mx and clean-up, and here (still high sun) we redo our teak decks and brightwork 1-2 /year. Simply wash and dry, then Semco Cleaner (2-part and EZ to use) if needed, then 2 coats of Semco Natural. Mark us down as another vote for Semco!
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Old 06-03-2022, 01:58 PM   #12
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I’ve had good luck with Cetol on vertical surfaces. Sand, teak cleaner and 3coats. Light sanding and one more coat every other year here in Florida. Never tried it on horizontal areas.
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Old 06-03-2022, 02:00 PM   #13
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Wanting to use Semco for my cap rails but like the feeling of them un-sanded as they are now. Any reason to sand them before applying Semco other than aesthetics?
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Old 06-03-2022, 06:31 PM   #14
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Very interested in going to Semco Goldtone in lieu of varnish for the caprail and handrails on our 32. Does anyone who has done this have photos that they could post? It's the caprail that's the thorn in our side, with our relentless PNW rain, water seems to find its way under the varnish near the stanchions within months.
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Old 06-03-2022, 06:45 PM   #15
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I'm in California and Cetol is my choice, stripped the teak gunnal on my 42 OA a number of years ago, 3 coats of clear gloss and now once a year scotch pad an wipe with alcohol. No blistering or discoloration, looks great with minimal work.
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Old 06-03-2022, 10:36 PM   #16
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Varnish

Quote:
Originally Posted by rainydayfisher View Post
Hello,
Im in a quandary with my 32' woody. Currently the only varnish is on the back cap rail and handrails and trim on the cabin. The previous owner I think was just doing teak oil on the lower caprails on the bulwark. I'm not trying to increase my maintenance but and wonder if anyone has success with things other than teak oil and varnish that has created a good durable low maintenance finish.
I have been looking at
1. Cetol
2. Le Tokonois

Any thoughts on the above or other products you have used would be greatly appreciated!! Of course if people thing varnish is the best way to go, maybe I should just bite the bullet!!

Thanks!

Cetol is ugly as ass but lasts forever. Because of my situation, I stripped all the wood of everything and let it grey. For that matter, the teak has been removed from my decks and they are glassed. The teak bow pulpit, hand rails, cap rail, eyelashes and transom is more than enough wood for me and not having teak decks solves a myriad of other problems. I prefer to use my boat rather than maintain brightwork but I’m an absentee owner so my situation might be different from yours.
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Old 06-03-2022, 11:13 PM   #17
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Varnish

Having owned a 1985 42' Passport for 25 years I did 3-4 coats of Epiphanes each 9 months to a year. 4 coats on the sunny side, and 3 coats on the other side. I had a cap rail all the way around, eyebrow, 4 6' deck handrails, cockpit trim, helm wheel etc in the cockpit. If you want that beautiful teak finish it has to start with a base of 7 coats from bare wood. The first two are considered sealer coats. The following year continue. The finish is like glass after year 2. You will be able to maintain it with a once a year light sand and 3-4 coats. I used traditional Spar Varnish only. I did my 42' in two weekends annually. I'm a very fast taper.

Your lower cap rails and bull works leave natural. For many years I wanted to let the lower rub rail go, but could not do it. Eventually, though smaller pieces of teak will wear out and have to be replaced. Varnish also does protect the wood and provide that classic beauty.

Leave the decks natural but maintain them. The decks only wash with a light yellow SOFT brush and Teak Deck Systems cleaner. Maybe did mine once a year, twice would keep them about perfect. Against the grain not with the grain. Scrubbing with the grain rips out the soft pores and causes grooving. As you use your boat give it periodic salt water baths. The salt helps to keep the decks clear of mold and the remaining salt keeps the nice silver grey and absorbs water. If the seams are rubber proud, cut them down flush so they don't trap water and or break off. If they need re-seamed do some sections each year. I did my entire decks all at once. Only once in 25 years. Don't use the oils or other products on the decks keep them natural.

So, how do you attack it. Pick a section of top handrails to do at once. See how it goes. See if you can maintain that and the rear cap rails. Add more if you love it. If you don't do it each year you will lose it. I lost mine a couple times in 25 years and had to take it off and start over. A solid varnish build up from bare wood will last 7-10 years properly maintained. With covers 12-15 maybe. You can look for my boat which was previously named Dream Keeper a 1985 Passport 42.

On your boat I would varnish up 7 coats on the cap rails, then make covers for them. It only takes about 15 minutes to remove and replace. Use a Tan cover which looks natural. You will get an easy 1.5-2 years prior to each refresh. Just doubled your time interval and reduced your maintenance significantly. However, if you get a break in the film repair it! I always wanted to do covers but did not. Easier on your style of handrail. Oval covers with twist the dot on the bottom. Look around the marina at boats like yours which have done what I'm describing and look at their boats and talk to those who have done it. Once you learn the art it is easy.

Good luck in your decision. From a lot of varnishing experience.

John
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Old 06-03-2022, 11:23 PM   #18
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Varnish

God bless those who maintain beautiful brightwork on their GBs. Because of my situation, I’m not able to do that if I ever want to use it and the thousands of dollars required to have it done professionally is not an option. If I lived close to my boat I might undertake that job. As it is, I just live with grey.
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Old 06-05-2022, 06:49 PM   #19
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Brightwork: The Art of Finishing Wood
Book by Rebecca Wittman
Buy it, read it, follow it.

We did so on our GB32 (Hull 711). Stripped varnish with heat gun and scrapers, sanded, applied three coats of Cetol Natural Teak then two coats of Cetol Gloss. Once a year we lightly sand and apply a coat of Cetol Gloss. Looks great!

Leave the decks alone! No varnishs or oils! Occasionally wash with SALT WATER with a little Lemon Joy to remove dirt or food/drink deposits. Use a swab or very soft brush across grain whenever possible. Silver-grey decks look good and can be safer than finished decks which can be slippery when wet.

The UV from sunlight is the enemy of any wood coating. Go for covered moorage or get full canvas covers for all the finished wood.

Did I mention the book? Buy it, read it, follow it! She knows her subject!
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Old 06-06-2022, 08:58 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rainydayfisher View Post
Hello,
Im in a quandary with my 32' woody. Currently the only varnish is on the back cap rail and handrails and trim on the cabin. The previous owner I think was just doing teak oil on the lower caprails on the bulwark. I'm not trying to increase my maintenance but and wonder if anyone has success with things other than teak oil and varnish that has created a good durable low maintenance finish.
I have been looking at
1. Cetol
2. Le Tokonois

Any thoughts on the above or other products you have used would be greatly appreciated!! Of course if people thing varnish is the best way to go, maybe I should just bite the bullet!!

Thanks!

Coming from the sailboat world the only one to use is Epiphanes products I loved the Matte, you are going to have to clean what you have from the pictures provided, before starting - Cetol is not a great product have had much experience with it. If you don't stay on top of it (Cetol) it will blister and then you have a whole world of hurt
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