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Old 12-10-2009, 13:52   #1
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Cetol vs Bristol Finish

I'm about to start refinishing my bright work. Last 5 years or so I've used Cetol with fairly good results. Usually get about 2 years out of a 4-6 coat job. I'm considering switching to Bristol Finish which is a 2 part polyurethane application. Anyone have any experience comparing these two finishes?

Joe Ward
Southern Dream
New Orleans, LA
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Old 12-10-2009, 13:57   #2
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I used them both on our last boat. I much preferred the Bristol, it gives a super smooth finish and since you can apply wet on wet it goes on very fast. Lasted much better than Cetol gloss did, looked far better after 3 years and no sign of any lifting or peeling. This was on teak rails on the cabin top, the teak cockpit table done with Cetol looked dull after 3 years and that was out of the sun under a bimini. Even though it's a lot more money the results are worth it, IMHO. I stripped everything to raw wood with chemical stripper and lightly sanded the raised grain before applying finish.

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Old 15-10-2009, 13:33   #3
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Bristol over Cetol


I have Bristol applied over a base of Epiphanes on Aurelia. Once per year I repair the nicks and dock rash. I then apply one full coat to the toe rail, grab rails, etc. I think it looks better than Cetol on my boat and I can live with one coat applied once per year. Make sure you get seven or eight coats on to start with. You don't have to sand between coats, but you'll get a smoother finish if you do.

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S/V Aurelia
Bowman 46
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Old 15-10-2009, 14:13   #4
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I've never been a Cetol fan but certainlly understand why people use it. To me a varnish like Epiphanes is the way to go but then you have to apply 12 coats or so but you must sand between coats.
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Old 15-10-2009, 21:47   #5
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Cetol is a "paint" that protects the teak by putting an opaque covering over it. Bristol and other Ultra-UV varnish/finishes are transparent and allow the Teak natural texture and color to come through. Cetol's best feature is the longevity (I got 5 years before it started to peal) and that was enough to convince me to "get used" to the "orange" color of the paint. But now there are several super-Hi-UV protectant varnishes/finishes available so you can choose to maintain the Teak color if that is what you want.
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Old 16-10-2009, 10:44   #6
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i used cetol light for years (and now will use cetol natural teak). however, 2 yrs ago i decided to use brisol finish---what a mistake. after 2 1/2 mos of hard work (scraping/sanding/applying) the bristol (i put on 6-7 coats) started coming off after only 2 mos. i did everything right the 1st time and even after adding a few more coats it looks like s@#t. when i had the tech guy to the boat, his 1st comment was "gravity"---guess i'll have to send the boat up on the next space shuttle--and suggested the extra coats. it continued to deteriorate and now looks bad. the instructions said the pot life would be 4 hrs.---WRONG---2 hrs until it turned into goo. i would recommend anything else than bristol.
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Old 16-10-2009, 11:29   #7
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Have been using Bristol for years and consider it to be the best product on the market. Spent over two months this summer applying 8 coats on the Westsail. A brutal job but woth all the time. Like any finish job thats worth doing right the instrutions have to be followed to the letter. If a new Bristol job failed it will be the result of filure to follow the instructions.

A big key is if the wood is going over teak it needs to be stripped clean with a two part cleaner to remove any trace of oil.

I have attached a pic of a Bristol job I did on a customers boat to give an idea of the results possible.
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Old 17-10-2009, 14:02   #8
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After 40 years of trail and error, I started to use Bristl and will never go back to anthing else. My first experience lasted 3 years and then a simple touch-up.
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Old 17-10-2009, 14:14   #9
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Bristol hands down...................

Never start vast projects with half vast ideas
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