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Old 31-05-2017, 02:15   #1
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How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

Hi all,

We are looking at a 1996 Oyster 55 to buy. She seems structurally sound but shabby and neglected. There are many areas where the woodwork is water damaged around the portholes and in the galley. The décor is cherry, and where it is water damaged it is blackened with white edges.

Obviously the first job would be to find the source of the leak (looks to be leaky portholes) and fix it/them. After that, how easy is it to get the woodwork restored? What experience do folks have with French polishers? The boat is currently in Corfu and we could over winter her in Greece or Turkey.

It seems like a superficial thing, but it's like a beautiful woman who smiles to show she has rotting teeth.

Thanks for your help!

Rachel
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Old 31-05-2017, 03:00   #2
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

Oh, Rach,

Oh, dear. Possibly a PM to minaret or to Mainesail might give you hope, but my experience is that it is next to impossible to repair water damage to as new condition. The water got in there, and did damage. New is no longer possible. Sorry to bear bad tidings, hope someone can offer hope.

If it's already your boat, and you love it, take all the old varnish off. Then, after the leaks have been taken care of, sand it with really fine grit, till it's as clean as it can be. Then get the finest sable hair brush you can, and, with a set of oil paints, very, very carefully emulate the grain and color of the wood that has been damaged. If you have a very light hand at this, and stain the damaged timber well, then varnish over, and never say a word. Disclaimer: I don't know if this would work, but if I loved the boat, I'd give it a go, but softly, softly.

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Old 31-05-2017, 03:39   #3
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

A good option sometimes is to look at painting the timber instead of trying to restore the veneer.

The timber can be sanded and filled quite easily and the painted finish will look a 100%. Of course the problem is that rest of the boat must match so some areas that are undamaged will need to painted as well so the finishes are harmonious. The idea is too leave most of the lovely wood but have the painted areas matching throughout the boat.

I think the combination of white and wood veneer looks very attractive, but this is personal taste. It does also help brighten up the interior and make it feel larger.

You can photograph the interior and use photoshop to change the colour to get an idea how it will look.
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Old 31-05-2017, 04:33   #4
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

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A good option sometimes is to look at painting the timber instead of trying to restore the veneer.

The timber can be sanded and filled quite easily and the painted finish will look a 100%. Of course the problem is that rest of the boat must match so some areas that are undamaged will need to painted as well so the finishes are harmonious. The idea is too leave most of the lovely wood but have the painted areas matching throughout the boat.

I think the combination of white and wood veneer looks very attractive, but this is personal taste. It does also help brighten up the interior and make it feel larger.

You can photograph the interior and use photoshop to change the colour to get an idea how it will look.
We went the white paint route on some of our weather damaged, stained surfaces, match-painting other undamaged surfaces, and the result was satisfactory. That's a decent option if the weathering is limited.

In our limited experience, the tricky part is always finding the true source of the leaks and the expensive an/or time consuming part if often repairing them, not the veneer.

Best of luck to the OP.

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Old 31-05-2017, 08:10   #5
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

This kind of neglect may require re-veneering. Why bottom feed? Look for a well maintained boat.
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Old 31-05-2017, 08:38   #6
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

If it's not rot but just blackening from water damage, I concur with careful sanding , drying and painting with a satin white around portholes etc. It looks great. Removing portlites, cleaning and resealing can be a big job, but doable for sure. If you have to remove the portlites, you might as well re veneer, or use laminate.
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Old 31-05-2017, 09:40   #7
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

Been there, done that.... Here is my take on it:
If the wood is pretty good all around, except for the stains, keep it. But before you do anything, re-seat those ports with butyl tape. Make sure they are water tight. Now, that's not as tough a job as you might think... compared to what will follow...

Next, sand around the affected areas lightly. Get all the varnish off. You will next want to mix up some wood bleach -- which is either oxalic acid or chlorine based.
Apply that and let the black disappear. At that point, you can use a very, very light stain and get the color to match. Remember if you fail miserably at this, you can always go and paint it, like some others have recommended. But if you succeed at this step, nobody will ever be able to tell that you had a problem.

Finally, once it's right, do one last step: put penetrating epoxy around the edges so a future leak won't cause any problems. Then re-varnish everything.

Warning: this process takes a long time, a lot of effort and it's not easy. The results, however, can be spectacular.

Option # 2, especially if the stains are small and just right around the port openings, is to make up some 1" rings of 1/8 " ply and glue them on. I did this with one cabin hatch, and this 1" ring of ply looks like it was original. Blends right in, hides a hideous gouge where some dry rot was. The alternative was to take the whole headliner down and engage in major surgery.

On the other hand, you may wish to just paint it all white and forget about it.
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Old 31-05-2017, 09:46   #8
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

More work but depending on how bad it is can you strip out the effected peices and use them as a template to replace the timber? If the panels come out cutting new one with a fine tooth band saw is not difficult. Weather it is worth it depends on hoe much this is affecting the price of the boat. Get the survayor to estimate boat yard repair costs and use that to negotiate because with a high end boat a lot of the value is in the interior. Also make sure everything else is good!!
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Old 31-05-2017, 10:00   #9
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

My understanding was interior damage is often a sign of core damage to deck or hull around the area visible which is hideously difficult/expensive to repair?
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Old 31-05-2017, 10:05   #10
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

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Originally Posted by carlheintz View Post
Been there, done that.... Here is my take on it:
If the wood is pretty good all around, except for the stains,
I love Oxalic acid, I had a much loved wooden dinghy which was stained badly, used Oxallic from Ebay. I also use it for stained clothes, cleaning gelcoat and getting rid of rust. But be careful, try a small area first.

It works well when mixed with wallpaper paste as a gelcoat restorer.
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Old 31-05-2017, 10:55   #11
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
A good option sometimes is to look at painting the timber instead of trying to restore the veneer.

The timber can be sanded and filled quite easily and the painted finish will look a 100%. Of course the problem is that rest of the boat must match so some areas that are undamaged will need to painted as well so the finishes are harmonious. The idea is too leave most of the lovely wood but have the painted areas matching throughout the boat.

I think the combination of white and wood veneer looks very attractive, but this is personal taste. It does also help brighten up the interior and make it feel larger.

You can photograph the interior and use photoshop to change the colour to get an idea how it will look.


I love wood interiors in boats, but even more, I like "light" interiors, and one of my favorites to see is White Painted Wood with Cherry trim.
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Old 31-05-2017, 11:39   #12
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
This kind of neglect may require re-veneering. Why bottom feed? Look for a well maintained boat.
Maybe with a little tlc this will be a great boat. Maybe they are getting a super deal on a boat they otherwise couldn't afford. Maybe everyone else does't have your bankroll. Maybe you could sail and enjoy the boat without ever touching the interior. Possibilies.
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Old 31-05-2017, 17:53   #13
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

Did you/your surveyor run a moisture meter around the ports? Fell in love with a boat a few years ago only to get the bad news every port had allowed water to saturate the sandwich. Still bummed...
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Old 31-05-2017, 18:28   #14
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

If you're not having rot in structure and want to keep a wood finish, is not too hard to laminate a thin plywood over the stained sections or the whole interior and retrim. In the US, thin plywood can be bought with almost any exotic wood face. Somewhere around 2-3mm.
But the leaks 1st or you start all over.
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Old 01-06-2017, 00:06   #15
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Re: How fixable is water damaged wood interior?

A good looking alternative to painting the wood white is to install a gloss white plastic panel. Many new boats have this look to brighten up the cabin, making it look less like a dark classic library​.
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