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Old 08-10-2013, 13:36   #1
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Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

After long and hard deliberation, I have (almost) decided to let the cap rail, eyebrow, and hand rails on my Valiant go grey. This is the result of recently seeing another Valiant with those parts bare, and it looked great.

As much as I love the look of the boat with varnish, it's a mountain of work to maintain and I'm looking at having to take it all down in the next year or so anyway. If I'm going to go grey, now is the time to do it. I'm also going to have the topsides sprayed, and if I'm going to take the varnish off, I want to do it before that so I don't have to protect the paint job from heat and chemicals.

I have done plenty of stripping of varnish over the years, but never with the intent of restoring the teak to bare. It has always been as prep for new varnish. And whenever I have taken it down there has always been some varnish left in the grain. I generally use a heat gun and sometimes stripper in areas I can't reach with the gun.

I've had people advise me to just let mother nature run it's course and let the varnish fail and just come off of it's own accord, but that means a few years of the boat looking like a rabid dog.

Has anyone stripped their teak to bare to leave it that way? Any particular advice? Will the varnish left in the grain pop out on it's own? Any "post-op" procedure to prolong it's longevity, other than regular bathing in salt water?

Somewhat relatedly, I experimented with Cetol on my cockpit combing and was shocked at how well it turned out. One coat of Cetol natural and three coats of Cetol gloss on top of it and it looks 90% as good as varnish. Good enough to swap better durability and much easier annual maintenance for that 10%. So, the combings and dorades and companionway, along with a few other bits that don't get wear and are reasonable to maintain will get Cetol.
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Old 08-10-2013, 13:50   #2
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

When we did our teak in Cetol we opted to leave some of it to go gray. Simply stripped it with a heat gun and scrapper. The left over in the grain popped up with in a year, though scrubbing it with a teak cleaner helped even out the color. As a side note I believe Cetol recommends 3 coats of color and one of clear for longevity.
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Old 08-10-2013, 14:00   #3
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

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Originally Posted by HansSolo View Post
When we did our teak in Cetol we opted to leave some of it to go gray. Simply stripped it with a heat gun and scrapper. The left over in the grain popped up with in a year, though scrubbing it with a teak cleaner helped even out the color. As a side note I believe Cetol recommends 3 coats of color and one of clear for longevity.
Thanks! Just the verification I was looking for.

As far as the Cetol goes, I decided on my process after watching a guy put three coats of natural on his teak before putting on the gloss. I was not real happy with how it turned out given the opacity of the natural product. I did some research before getting started and they say the gloss has the same UV resistance as the other products. However, I have noticed that the gloss appears to be softer than the natural, or at least so far (it's been a week) has taken longer to really cure up. It's on an area that gets foot traffic so we'll see how it fares.
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Old 08-10-2013, 14:01   #4
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

Stop the insanity.

Search my posts on starbrite tropical teak oil and spend years between teak work and never sand ever again.
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Old 08-10-2013, 14:06   #5
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

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Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
Stop the insanity.

Search my posts on starbrite tropical teak oil and spend years between teak work and never sand ever again.
Not another varnish vs oil vs cetol vs 2 part vs gray thread!
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Old 08-10-2013, 14:37   #6
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

I'm good with cetol natural teak and the clear coat after that. A year in the BRUTAL sun down here as been fine, and a 6-12 month recoat of clear is working.

The only thing I'd add is that as wood ages water will work its way into the seams and start the expansion/splitting process which just allows more wood in. No matter how you slice it, a properly painted piece of wood will last longer than a non-painted one. By paint I'm including varnish, paint, cetol, etc. It's a barrier that keeps the environment away from wreaking havoc.

We've had 16" of rain in a day, followed by 105f sun. Repeat that a few times and any place water got in will cause the expansion/contraction thing in earnest.
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Old 08-10-2013, 18:20   #7
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

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I'm good with cetol natural teak and the clear coat after that. A year in the BRUTAL sun down here as been fine, and a 6-12 month recoat of clear is working.

The only thing I'd add is that as wood ages water will work its way into the seams and start the expansion/splitting process which just allows more wood in. No matter how you slice it, a properly painted piece of wood will last longer than a non-painted one. By paint I'm including varnish, paint, cetol, etc. It's a barrier that keeps the environment away from wreaking havoc.

We've had 16" of rain in a day, followed by 105f sun. Repeat that a few times and any place water got in will cause the expansion/contraction thing in earnest.
No doubt, untreated wood is going to deteriorate faster than protected wood, be it oil or varnish or Cetol. I accept that eventuality. But life is short and one must pick one's battles in the great war of boat maintenance.
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Old 08-10-2013, 19:04   #8
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

Sign on a friend's boat:
Teak is grey
Brass is green
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Old 08-10-2013, 19:12   #9
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

Hold the phones, stop the presses!!
Bare teak does not necessarily wear away faster than varnished/oiled. Now hear me out. The varnish cetol off shoot oil, has a cycle. You strip sand prep coat. This can take many layers of teak just as fast if not faster than leaving bare.

Key to leaving bare and preserving your teak.
1. Never never never let a bristle brush, no matter how gentle, near your teak, period. ( destroys the soft grain)
2. Never hit your teak with a pressure washer, not even at its gentlest level, period. (destroys the soft grain)
3. No harsh chemicals (destroys the soft grain)

DO

1. Wash with sponges or a 3M scotch brite pad ( white color is gentlest)
2. To get a nice silver, wash with Murphy's oil soap and rinse with good clean salt water( teak LOVES salt water) do this as much as you was your fiberglass.
3. If your teak gets a stain or you had lots of rain and are getting some green growth, use Tide with Bleach and sponge or 3M pad, rinse with salt water.
4. Stains will take care of themselves, the oil in the teak will slowly push out the stain, wait a month or two, it should fade and be gone before you know it.

The key to beautiful silver teak is to keep the wood healthy, to keep the wood healthy you must preserve the soft grain( soft grain is the life blood of your teak!)

Many folks use deck brushes on the teak( yikes) this will dig out the soft grain causing valleys/raised grain which attacks moisture and dirt.




I suggest you strip your varnish, sand to a nice smooth surface, drag your nails cross grain, if it jumps from grain to grain keep sanding.
Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of silver teak.

A good book to refer to is Brightwork by Rebecca Wittman
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Old 08-10-2013, 19:31   #10
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Let it go.

I can keep up with the important maintenance, which already means working at anchor while cruising. I enjoy finishing wood very much, but not at the expense of offshore romps and exploring new cruising grounds in my time off.

Skip the brush on the wood when washing the boat. Be gentle with the grain, and go sailing.
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Old 08-10-2013, 20:05   #11
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

I'm pretty grey... hair, beard, toe-rail, cockpit sole, and locker lids. I was told I should wash them with seawater. Some scientific stuff about chemicals leaching the oil from wood and it would check or crack, but with saltwater it wouldn't. Being lazy and cheap, I obeyed. I use elbow grease and Cetol in places I want to look purdy.
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Old 08-10-2013, 20:27   #12
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

I "let" mine "go grey". That is, I removed all the teak trim, epoxy sealed it including back sealing, re installed it, did epoxy build up coats till the grain was full and it was fair and flat, then primed in 545 and topcoated in Awlgrip Dark Gray. It's right next to a Claret sheer stripe and the Whisper Gray non skid. Looks great. Minimal maintenance.
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Old 08-10-2013, 22:04   #13
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

Suijin I know exactly how you feel and am letting all the wood on V40-169 go grey except in the cockpit which is fairly protected from the sun. Used Bristol finish on the combing and it is standing up well. Varnish is nice but I think the natural grey/silver looks pretty good for a lot less work and expense.
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Old 08-10-2013, 22:36   #14
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

I used the Cetol Natural Honey Teak. I didn't know I was suppose to clear coat it. Seems fine so far.
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:24   #15
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Re: Letting the cap rail (and more) go grey...

I don't think you have to clear coat your cetol, it an aesthetics thing. Cetol was originally used coat log cabins.
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