Filed Under (Boat/Trailer Maintenance) by Debbie on 16-11-2007

Teak looks great on boats and if you have teak on your boat then you know the dilemma each of us faces. Teak gives boats a warm, classic feel and look. The problem could be looked at like the ‘paper or plastic’ dilemma.

There’s something to be said for varnished teak. It’s so…Bristol! Yet for me (no offense to those of you with varnish) it looks ‘plastic’. Plus, I’m just too lazy for the upkeep on varnish. Scrape…sand…work, work, work…varnish. Then repeat as needed. I suppose if I could varnish the teak on my boat and it lasted for years, like a good paint job on a house, I’d think about it. However, I hate the plastic look and it doesn’t last all that long.

Teak before and after teak oil

Below deck we have quite a bit of teak and topside there’s a bit of trim and some handholds, which we oil. I like the way the wood looks. I like how it feels to my hands and I think Whisper likes it too. There’s a warm welcome inside a well-oiled teak interior. As you can see from the picture, there is quite a difference after the oil has been applied. We used a ‘light golden’ color teak oil.

We just finished oiling the inside of Whisper. I bought inexpensive teak oil. Since I’d washed the ‘walls’ with oil soap this spring and since we’re on the Columbia River, I didn’t use any ‘teak cleaner’. We just poured the oil into small plastic cups and used paint brushes to apply a generous coat. I let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then wiped off any excess with a clean dry shop towel.

The difference is amazing. It took us about eight hours to oil the inside of our 30-foot sailboat. It would have taken much, much longer to prep the wood if we had varnish going. We’ll get maybe two years out of that oil. Although, the head and galley will probably need some extra help before the rest of the cabin does.

For our outside teak we buy more expensive teak oil. It seems to be much thicker and more able to stand up to the beating of water and sun. We also use a cleaner before we apply the oil. Be sure to tape around the handholds, as I’ve found on our classic plastic, the oil doesn’t want to come off the fiberglass if it drips on it.

Teak oil makes life on your boat (sailboat or power) a ton easier. You don’t have to get the entire job done in one day. It’s a great winter activity/excuse to spend time on your boat with the tunes up and a beer in your hand. Take your time, enjoy the rhythm and come spring you’ll be floating in classic happy land!

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