...Before and After...
Decks are best left unfinished but should be carefully maintained, if full life expectancy is to be achieved. This means committing to a regular schedule and sticking to it! My recommendations are as follows:
- KEEP IT CLEAN.
Dirt, grease, mold, algae, and grime in general will drastically shorten the life of a teak deck. The deck should be rinsed well with clean fresh water as often as possible. Try to do it once a day.
On a weekly basis, or when necessary, (after every fishing trip, cockpit party, and sea sick guest), clean the deck with soap and water. Add a cup of household ammonia to the wash bucket if you're in warmer climates where mold and algae are prevalent.
On a new, or newly re-surfaced deck, take the pledge: "I will NEVER again use a bristled brush to clean a teak deck!"
Consider the nature of the wood; it has both hard and soft grain structure. When you wet wood down, especially with strong chemicals, you are softening it even more. Now, you apply a good ol' fashion scrubbing with a brush,
hmmmmm.... lets see, yup, with the direction of the grain.
Sorry Cappy ....You just started digging out the soft grain and within a few short months, your once beautiful, (and expensive), teak deck is getting a "corduroy "look. Now you've got to start thinking about getting out the heavy sand paper and re-surfacing again.
The proper tool to use is an abrasive pad, such as 3M Scotch-Brite. Use only the fine cutting grade, (theirs is color coded white), and use it with the plastic backing holder that's made just for these pads.
Wet the deck down and apply the wash solution in a back and forth fashion across the grain, using a very light pressure. Keep the wood wet and continue to move the soap and ammonia around for about 5-10 minutes. I prefer to do this chore early in the morning or late in the afternoon so that the sun isn't drying the deck out faster than I can wet it down. Overcast and even drizzly days are great for cleaning teak!
Do not use the 2 part teak cleaners that are available at most marine supply houses and ships stores. The Part 1 is an acid that literally dissolves a layer of wood. Part 2 is a strong base solution that neutralizes the acid; both eat up your deck and will attack the gelcoat or paint in surrounding areas. If you do need to use a stronger cleaner, try this: 2 quarts of sudsy ammonia and a 1/2 cup of Wisk, (or any other high phosphate liquid laundry soap). Wet the deck down and use the mix without adding any more water other than to mist the deck so that it doesn't dry. 10-15 minutes of moving this solution around should do the job.
If some how you get grease or oil on the teak, (hydraulic fluid from a helm leak, the kids dropping fried chicken crumbs, your friendly mechanic who doesn't remember to remove his oily shoes, etc.), use
Marine Spray Nine cleaner in place of the soap/ammonia mix.
Once the deck has been worked down, rinse very well with fresh water, lots of it and don't use a hard jet of water, rather a moderate spray. Keep rinsing until no more soap is present. Remove the excess water from the teak using a chamois mop, string mop, or squeegee and let dry.
The deck will need periodic sanding to maintain its appearance. The key is not to wait until the deck looks like a wash board before doing it. Figure that under normal conditions, you should lightly sand the deck about once every three months either by hand or with an orbital finish sander. Use 100 grit production paper with the objective of smoothing the surface only. If a deeper sanding is required use 80 grit and a D/A, followed by the 100 grit. There should be no reason to use a grit courser than 80.
- SUN and WEATHER
Ultra violet light and weather will take their toll, but if you can manage to use a cockpit cover or other means of protecting the teak from the elements, you'll increase the life of the deck and reduce the amount of maintenance required.
In the next section, (coming soon), I will add a list of production notes with links pertinent to this project. Be on the look out for in the near future!
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