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Old 28-07-2014, 20:15   #1
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Interior Teak Refinish

I would like to change the finish in our 30 year old oiled teak cabin and wondering what sort of prep I would need to do. The teak is in excellent condition but quite dark. My goal is to brighten the cabin and eliminate the wet-dog smell of the teak oil.

So I'm thinking clear gloss on the trim, either varnish or polyurethane, and satin white on the flat panel areas. I had good results on our previous boat with this sort of change, but that was the dreaded wood-grain Formica and pretty easy to refinish. Has anyone done this on oiled teak? I'm hoping to avoid sanding or stripping if I can just wash or rub the teak with the correct solvent. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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Old 28-07-2014, 21:04   #2
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Re: Interior Teak Refinish

"The teak is in excellent condition but quite dark."
If you want to get the teak back to a more natural look after years of teak oil, you need to either sand the heck out of it or bleach it. Both are nasty jobs.

You can use Oxalic Acid or two part teak cleaners like Snappy Teak to bleach it.
Bleaching is really messy but it works fast. It's a good way to lighten the exterior teak but I think I'd prefer to sand the interior teak.
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Old 29-07-2014, 05:56   #3
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Re: Interior Teak Refinish

Im in the middle of doing my teak both inside and outside. The outside was neglected for 20 years and the inside companion way was blackened with mold.

First used a cabinet scrapper to get off any varnish that was left on, then Starbrite teak cleaner/restorer, a little sanding- then Starbrite teak brightner - now satin varnish inside and gloss outside. It looks amazing!

The Starbrite product line is amazing, was skeptical until I started using them.
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Old 04-08-2014, 10:17   #4
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Re: Interior Teak Refinish

I just responded to another thread on this....I used an acid based cleaner from Home Depot that is used to clean cedar decks. It cleaned up the wood nicely. I washed with fresh water and then dehumidified the boat. I then applied a teak oil and top coated with a semi- gloss (more like satin) urethane. I used Helmsman from Home Depot and it still looks great after 5 years. I personally am not a fan of glossy interiors.

Some have suggested a citric cleaner - orange clean I think - this would probably work well as well. TSP is another good option.

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Old 05-08-2014, 18:44   #5
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Re: Interior Teak Refinish

Gents, thank you for the replies - great info! It looks like I am in for a cleaning job to start off. Maybe start with the citrus stuff, it sounds less toxic than some of the others, testing in a hidden spot first etc.

Aloha, you nailed part of my question with your poly over teak oil. I was wondering whether the oil would interfere with adhesion of the poly, but it sounds like not a problem from your experience. Thanks again!
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Old 09-08-2014, 11:40   #6
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Re: Interior Teak Refinish

I would recommend you wipe it down with acetone before applying the poly. Btw I used Epiphanes hand rubbed finish on my interior. It is a beautiful natural looking finish, not too shiny. Many people don't think you need a uv inhibitor below decks but, the fact is, after several years your wood will be dark in places and lighter in others due to constant light reaching parts of the wood. Epiphanes is a strong thick varnish that will hold up well over time and has a good uv filter. It's not poly.

You might try a light sanding first to see if that removes enough of the dark varnish. Use 180 or those sanding pads that won't dig into the grain. It's old varnish that has darkened. If that does not do the trick a heat gun will be your best friend to take it back to the wood. A big project.

There is a basic rule that applies to shiny vs flat or hand rubbed finishing. Areas that are touched by your hands are best to make glossy; handholds, door rims, fiddles.

Good luck!

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Old 09-08-2014, 15:53   #7
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Re: Interior Teak Refinish

Formby's tung oil is an excellent product to finish teak bulkheads. After 6 coats the poes in the wood get filled up and it starts to take on a high gloss furniture finish look. Really nice looking and durable - 9 years now and still going in my boat. Also they make a re finishing solvent that goes on with a green abrasive sponge and eats up and lifts off the old finish. If your varnish is really thick you may need a paint stripper to lift it off. Sounds worse than it is. Just apply lightly and use several coats, then clean up with acetone, then Murphy soap and water if needed.

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