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Old 31-07-2015, 08:59   #1
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Covering teak deck with canvas?

Hi folks,

I'm contemplating what to do long term with my aging teak decks. They are teak strips machine-screwed (!) down to the 3/8" thick fiberglass top skin of a balsa-cored deck. Its old, no room for bungs, don't want to drill deeper, etc. etc.

I have some ideas for how to reclaim the teak without it breaking into a million pieces and then use a modern teak deck adhesive to re-apply it without fasteners, but another approach I'm considering is applying a canvas deck.

The boat is a cheoy lee with an awful lot of woodwork, and I'd like to maintain her character. Some folks have opted to simply remove all the teak, fair, and paint, and that's certainly a compelling option, but it just won't feel the same under my feet as a teak deck. I'm thinking the traditional canvas decks might be a neat option, perhaps I could even just remove the teak planks running along the toe-rail and leave the rest on, attach the canvas _over_ the teak, then relay my border teak for a classy finish along the edges. Is this insane?
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Old 31-07-2015, 09:14   #2
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

If you want to retain the teak deck, you'll have to set new screws deeper, for plugs. Otherwise remove the teak, fill the screw holes and glass over the sub deck.
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Old 31-07-2015, 09:21   #3
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
If you want to retain the teak deck, you'll have to set new screws deeper, for plugs. Otherwise remove the teak, fill the screw holes and glass over the sub deck.

Can't drill deeper, it'd penetrate into the core. Like I said, I have thought of some reasonable options for keeping the deck, but I'm enquiring here about applying canvas over the old teak deck.

I think it could look really snappy, but after doing some googling, I still don't know much about the canvas deck process and whether or not it would be insane to lay that stuff over an aging teak deck.
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Old 31-07-2015, 09:24   #4
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

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Can't drill deeper, it'd penetrate into the core...
You simply set the countersink deeper--not drill the deck deeper.
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Old 31-07-2015, 09:25   #5
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

How would you prevent water from working its way under the edges of the canvas?
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Old 31-07-2015, 09:48   #6
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

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How would you prevent water from working its way under the edges of the canvas?
Good question!

I'm assuming its sort of glued down along the edges.

In my case, if I remove the teak adjacent to the toe-rail, I'd have the canvas glued down to the fiberglass deck, and then cinched down when I reattach that piece of teak. Along where it meets the cabin trunk, I imagine it'd be made watertight in much the same way the existing teak deck is made watertight there, with a quarter inch bead of goop.

I think you've identified what scares me most about this, though, which is, if water gets in anywhere I could have a real annoying problem on my hands, much like with the existing teak deck!! I just dont know enough about the material and the lead paste/felt/whatever people use to bed it down to sort out if its a practical waterproofing layer.

-Chris
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Old 31-07-2015, 09:57   #7
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

Covering with canvas will give you no better surface than removal and painting. As well as give you all the water intrusion issues.
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Old 31-07-2015, 09:59   #8
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

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Covering with canvas will give you no better surface than removal and painting. As well as give you all the water intrusion issues.
Well, you are probably right on the 2nd point, but have you ever walked on a canvas deck in your bare feet? Its a completely different feel than a fiberglass deck. Some of us care more about that kinda thing than any sane person would.
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Old 31-07-2015, 10:21   #9
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

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Old 31-07-2015, 10:26   #10
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

I'm not a boat builder so take this for what it's worth, but canvas covered decks used to be common on laid timber decks before fiberglass or even plywood. It was eclipsed by glass cloth and resin for good reason. With a cored deck and screwed down teak I would forever be worried about further damage from water intrusion at the old screws.

I think it will be hard to get anything to stick to the existing teak deck. Canvas may have a nice traditional look and feel but however it is sealed at the edges it will have a limited life on the deck and will become permeable over time allowing water to get under it.

What ever you decide, good luck with the project. I'll be interested to see what you do and how it goes.





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Old 31-07-2015, 11:25   #11
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

It's a fantasy to think you can remove the teak deck without any damage to the wood or the deck. Not only is it hard back breaking work but the sealant is so tenacious that quite often it pulls off the gelcoat with the teak. Sometimes the the teak is the weak component and parts of it remain on the deck embeded in the sealant.

As to the bungs and screws I gave up trying to remove the bungs and get to the screws. The bungs don't pull out they just disintegrate but the screw heads get damaged or remain filled with sealant. Better just to remove the teak and use a vise-grip to turn out the screw if it's still in the deck.

I talked to a surveyor about this and he says this is quite common when refitting good old boats and it's a waste of time to try and save the teak. He said another issue with teak deck removal is just filling up the old screw holes with resin. In his experience you are just setting yourself up for more leaks. You'll need to put one layer of glass and resin over the whole deck if you want to guarantee a leak free deck.

Yes I'm not happy with the amount of work or cost either but it is what it is.
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Old 31-07-2015, 11:36   #12
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

I just went through this thought process. What to do with the teak decks? They needed recaulked and re-screwed. The hundreds of screw holes were leaking water into the core, Divinyl thank goodness, and then flowing through the scoring to come out below where ever a hole had been made into the underside of the deck. It was a mess below when I first got the boat and I would call my initial work on it "salvage" rather than restoration.

I had never had teak decks and wanted to at least try them before abandoning them. To that end I recaulked and pulled every screw and plug. I injected penetrating epoxy into every screw hole and reset every screw and replugged. I then belt sanded the whole job somewhat smooth.

That last item is important in your case. I understand that you deck cannot be refastened like mine could so you then have the choices of removal or resurfacing with canvas. Neat idea. I like it.

Based on my experience- and I'm not a shipwright, I believe you would have to sand the deck perfectly flat and bed the canvas in some type of goo for it's entire surface. Not just at the edges. The sanding flat part is what would be hard I think. Even though a big belt sander can remove a lot of wood fast you would have a lot to remove to flatten it enough for a good glue down. And given that you have a balsa cored deck you might want to consider complete removal and sealing all the holes. It wouldn't be that hard and the deck paint Kiwi Grip is awesome and easy and durable.

Now one more thing, if you do remove the teak you're likely to find soft areas of decking where the core is bad. That Sir, is Project Creep.

Good Luck
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Old 31-07-2015, 12:05   #13
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
Unsubscribed.
Always such courteous, helpful responses from this guy.

As for the rest of ya, I think you're concerns about leaks, and ability to stick to the old teak, are valid, and are in fact why I posed the question. I had hoped someone would show up and regale me with stories about how the lead paste and felt and other materials i know absolutely nothing about are simply the most super duper foolproof waterproofing strategy on the planet. Well, a guy can dream.

As for removing the old teak, on a previous boat I was able to remove some by using a hole saw with no pilot (but a jig to hold it in place) to drill around the impossibly corroded fasteners. The pieces, now separated from the fastenings, came up some effort, and left behind a fastener and a little circle of old teak to yank up (yep, vice grips). This wasn't a tight skinny deck, it was a plank on top of some molding that was easily accessible, but at least in those conditions the wood came off intact. (Of course, I didn't reuse it. )

I suppose the other upshot to any work that involves actually removing the old teak deck is it gives me a chance to deal with any soft spots. I'm sure there will be some, just hidden behind the stiffness of a 3/8" fiberglass and 1/2" teak top layer.
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Old 31-07-2015, 12:35   #14
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

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Originally Posted by chris95040 View Post
Some of us care more about that kinda thing than any sane person would.
Think the controlling word is SANE here. It helps to be commitable to want to keep teak decks and even more so to cover them with canvas. Canvas decks went out with wooden boat construction. They worked but required constant maintenance and soon rot and have to be replaced. It was the best material for the times but times have gotten way better. Give it up, remove the teak decks, fix the core rot and go with FRP decks. Teak decks are the height of stupid, thousand or more holes in a formerly water tight structure, need constant maintenance, are hotter than hell on warm sunny days, only last a few years. Never have figured out why they are still used except maybe in limited areas like the cockpit.
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Old 31-07-2015, 12:46   #15
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Re: Covering teak deck with canvas?

Actually covering wood decks with canvas was the rage throughout the wood boat era, both as aftermarket improvements as well as factory installed. When done right it is a highly durable and attractive deck. Actually, the later coverings were not canvas but very heavy guage vinyl and came as faux planking or solid colours. I recall one popular brand was Nautilex. My 1968 Owens came with the vinyl over plywood decks. All was glued down, the edges were flushed up to whatever they butted against, precisely trimmed, then caulked. Often along the cabin/deck joint the seam was covered with stainless/aluminum trim moulding much like the stuff used in 1950's 1960's kitchens. The downside was the decks had to be ultra smooth as even so much as a toothpick would ultimately show as a bump under the vinyl. The sole criteria to obtaining a beautiful leak proof deck was your expertise at caulking. If used over teak decks, every plank seam would eventually show through as a slight depression which may or may not actually make it look better.
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