The whole truth about teak decks
Theory and practice

The whole truth about teak decks

Experienced marine carpenter Robin Benjamin talks about his experience with teak decks and gives advice on how to extend their life span.
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Over the last 15 years I have worked on so many teak decks that I can't even remember how many there were. I think I've seen all the problems with them that exist. For starters, you need to understand that a teak deck requires the same care as all the other equipment on a yacht. If you keep an eye on it, it will serve you for 20 years or more, and if not, you will be shocked at how awful the boards look after 5 years of service. Because for hundreds of years teak decks have been the accepted norm in the Navy, they have earned a good reputation for their durability. Today, a teak deck is a very different story.

Today, tickling the deck is the fastest way to raise «the class» of a yacht for the manufacturer.

Most decks are poorly paved, the boards are thin, the seams are too narrow and the sealant is not enough. Because of the minimal amount of wood used, the depth of the cork covering the stud to which the deck board is attached is at best 3 millimeters.

Sealant without a sufficient section size (width and depth of the seam) can peel off due to deformation of the wood. However, these imperfections will not manifest themselves if you keep an eye on the teak. The most important advice is to wash the deck every week. Few people can allocate time for this, but it is very simple: if the deck is not washed, very soon the surface of the wood will become gray and dirty.

Don't put it on.

Many times I have seen this: the owner stands on shingles in rolled up pants, knees red. And really, his deck looks great, but only from the dock. And if you take a closer look, you can see furrows where softer areas of wood were simply worn out. Imagine that you have a nice smooth surface like the CD, for example. After you've done enough brushing, you've got a vinyl record instead of a CD at best. Now imagine how quickly all the bumps on the soft board under your feet will start to erase.

There is only one right way to keep a deck clean - to wash it thoroughly with a sponge or soft brush without aggressive detergents.

If you clean it regularly, you will not wipe the deck and at the same time prevent dirt from entering the tree. The dirt only helps to erase the boards. If this does not give the desired result, then try washing the deck with oxalic acid solution. Dissolve some crystals in warm water, but do not inhale the vapours and be sure to wear gloves. After application, wash it off with plenty of water. Acid will not hurt anything on the boat except your skin.

If even acid hasn't helped get the color back, then the only way to give the desired look to the deck is to clean it up. But if you want my advice, just keep washing it with a sponge regularly and don't pay attention to its faded appearance.

For some reason, nobody listens to me. I am happy to advise people on how to take care of teak flooring for free, given that I will not have a job because of this. But I still see people building their decks, against all odds. I always ask them, haven't I explained what happens in the end?

«But it looks great - their standard answer - so what's the problem?» The problem is that over time the deck will become grey and dirty again, and the difference is that the board will become thinner than it was.

If you don't rub your feet into all the grooves and grooves while walking on deck, the dirt will get into them and it will look even worse. There is only one way to clean up the dirt - start scraping it again, only this time you will have to act even more vigorously to see the result. And you know what then? You think the surface is too rough and you think it needs to be polished.

Grind me down completely.

Shipyards would love to do the job for you, why not? You'll see the result you want, and they know for sure you'll be back.

Soon, the sealant will start coming out of the grooves with long ribbons, and the fastener plugs will fall out, allowing water to access the screws. At this stage, you're going to have real problems.

It won't be difficult to put the plug in place, but there are hundreds of them. It's a lot harder with sealant. Some of it will fall out on its own, but don't think it'll fall out everywhere, it'll stay glued securely in places. You can make a special hook to cut it, but in the process it will surely slip and damage the board, and worse still, it will expand the groove.

You may be lucky to be able to process about 35% of the deck with a milling machine or a multifunction vibratory tool with a special hook attachment, but you still need to be able to work with this tool as it is easy to make a mistake. Even a small expansion of the seam will look terrible. In addition, you will need a template for each area to guide the router. All the work and preparation for it takes a lot of time.

The job is hard if you do it yourself, but it costs an incredible amount of money when you pay professionals for it.

A special tool exists, but it costs an awful lot. It can only be afforded by brigades that specialize in teak decks. Unfortunately for the owners, the calculation of payment to the professionals is translated into hours, and there will be plenty of work on any deck.

What will happen next when you realize that the covering has gone bad? You can't just take it off because underneath it's even worse. If the boards were laid correctly from the beginning, it means they've been dabbed with adhesive and you'll have to work with a sweeper to remove it.

I hope you understand why I promote care and problem prevention for your tick decks. Leaving them unattended is a waste of a precious resource.

If that's not enough for you to start taking care of the decking, look at the cost of replacing it.

Teak costs around £3,000 per cubic metre. But you'll need more than you think. The cost is greatly increased by trimming the boards to the right size. You can calculate how many boards you need and safely multiply by 4. You will have to take a photo and sketch an existing deck to fit the boards, clean the surface under the deck, and finally replace the teak.

To work more comfortably, you will have to remove the cable pout and therefore the mast, and after all set it back and adjust it. In general, almost all deck equipment that has not been touched for years will have to be removed. Don't be surprised if most of the fasteners won't move or break during the twist attempt. It is possible that some of the fasteners have been specially ground or have been completely covered with epoxy resin. You will have to do it outdoors. Even if it is possible to make a good canopy, it is still another expense item. Alternatively, you can have a boat in the boathouse, but it all costs money.

Peeling the decks is a huge job. It would take six weeks to replace the decking on a 9m yacht and three months on a 15m yacht. It's thousands of pounds of investment and the yacht is out of service until the work is done.

There are a few more things you need to know before you decide on a teak deck. The teak deck weighs a lot and the sealant on which the deck is laid is surprisingly heavy too. That doesn't include wood and thousands of screws. But I would especially like to draw your attention to the fact that on GRP yachts, you will have to make thousands of holes on a perfectly waterproof surface to fix the teak. The main deck on plastic yachts is reinforced with balsa, i.e. there is a layer of wood between two layers of plastic. The balsa will not last long if moisture penetrates under the plastic, I would think hard about it. If you think about it, the probability that all 2,000 holes you make on deck will remain completely sealed for many years is extremely low.

What happens when the balsa does rot after all? I don't think drilling thousands of holes in the deck is a smart decision. You can make the decking without screws, but it takes more time and therefore the cost will be higher.

Let's draw a line.

On the one hand, I am grateful to the owners of yachts with teak decks and the decks themselves, as this is my bread.

But on the other hand, I am disappointed with the waste of time and effort. People could have saved a lot of time, saved themselves the inconvenience and wasted money if they were watching the tick.

And for some reason, many people don't want to invest in buying «a» cover that's too flashy for a yacht.

Yes, it's expensive, but it'll pay for itself more than that. Not only because you don't have to rebuild the deck, but because you can sell the yacht more expensive. You'll see that the yacht is kept in good condition. The tick will not be affected by the sun, water and wind and the gelcoat, deck equipment and portholes will last longer. The Grand Canyon was created with the same erosion. If you think in that way, you'll understand why I'm giving this advice.

There's not much I can do, change the world or fashion, but I hope I can reduce the damage by telling the truth. Now you know more.

And remember, no hard brushes!

How to keep the tick in proper condition

Do it:

- Thoroughly wash once a week;
- Use only a sponge or soft brush;
- Remove stubborn spots with oxalic acid;

-


Pull awning over the whole boat


; -



Repair damaged sealant and plugs as soon



as possible.

Don't do it:

- Clean with a hard brush;
- Wait until the deck
is

dirty
;
- Hide as soon as you see the dirt

.

The article was first published in July 2007 by PBO magazine.

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