Teak Restoration

The teak on my old boat is sad.  There’s not much of it on the outside and what exists is gray — even black and green in some spots — and with heavily raised grain.  The companionway doesn’t look very inviting.  It’s like walking up to a neglected front door.  You immediately assume that everything inside is similarly neglected.

Here you can see the companionway, a closeup of the raised grain, and one of the handholds (it’s under my winter cover).


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There is trim on the inside of the companionway that easily unscrews, exposing the screws that attach the exterior trim to the fiberglass.  After unscrewing those screws, I went to prying the exterior trim off the glass.  This wasn’t easy.  I’m not sure what it was adhered with but it was a white flexible sealant that was very adherent to the wood and glass.  It didn’t pull off the gelcoat though so I don’t think it was 3M 5200 that I have read about; maybe it was 4200.

I kept working a putty knife under the trim, essentially cutting the adhesive.  Once I had it worked enough, I was able to start pulling and pushing the trim itself and it worked its way free.

The handholds were much easier.  They screw from the underside in the cabin, with the screws covered by caps in the cabin liner.  I popped off the caps, unscrewed the screws, and the handhold came off very easily.

I have sanded the trim pieces and bleached them with wood bleach (aka oxalic acid):


After sanding and bleaching, they look good.  One of the companionway trim pieces split a little as I was pulling it off so I glued it with Titebond III — the waterproof version — and have set it aside to dry.  It and one of the sanded and cleaned pieces side-by-side show a stark difference although it could be because the cleaned piece is still wet.  It, nonetheless, provides a preview of how it’s going to look after sealing:


Next I’ll be doing a final sanding after the wood has dried completely.  Then I plan to stain and seal with Cetol Marine Natural Teak followed by Cetol Gloss Topcoat.

I’d like to thank Stingy Sailor, who had a great post on this process.  I don’t think my teak will end up looking quite as good as his because it started out in much rougher shape.  He provided some good tips though.