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Old 18-09-2010, 14:02   #1
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Teak Deck - My Mistakes and Lessons

For those of you in these forums that manage to build beautiful 60-foot bluewater boats out of nothing more than a bent paperclip, duct tape and belly-button lint (you know who you are) this post will be of zero value beyond its capacity to cement in you an unshakable sense of superiority. However, for those of you who have teak decks, whose technical skills are limited to pivot tables and a decent Manhattan, and who are as intimidated by as I was at the prospect of taking on a deck, read on...

I have a teak deck. I have leaks. I love my deck. I hate my leaks.

I need to re-caulk the deck, at least in places. This is an immutable fact. However, before I hunt-and-peck my way across the expanse of teak, I decided to learn my lessons on a rather beaten cockpit hatch cover. It is finite. It is self-contained. If everything went inevitably pear-shaped, I could just start again, and my capacity to damage something critical was limited...

Here's what I started with:



The hatch, for good or ill, is right beside the gate and gets a lot of foot traffic. As you can see, some yard work this year managed to deposit the holy trinity of annoyances on the innocent teak - varnish, oil and paint.



The caulking was well past its best-before, detached almost everywhere ... and missing in places...



A quick trip to Home Depot and $30 later... here are the tools I started with - the Klingon-looking thing is a "six-way-tool" - no idea what it's for, but it had lots of sharp pokey-bits, so I assumed would be handy for scraping the caulking from the hatch. The nasty-looking curved blade is a laminate trimmer - again, excellent dollar-to-nasty-sharp-blade ratio. I also bought a tube of Life-Cauk one-part-teak deck caulking, which is not to be mistaken for its sister-product that apparently requires priming. I also didn't use break-away tape, since the hatch cover won't be flexing as a deck would - this is certainly something I would, however, use on the deck itself.



STEP 1 - THE UTILITY KNIFE

This step was surprisingly simple. I ran the blade along the seam between the caulk and the teak, trying to keep the blade as tight to the wood as possible, vertical, and trying to pierce through to the bottom of the channel.



Run the knife as cleanly as possible along both edges, and if you can get a grip on the caulking, I found that I could peel entire strips out by hand...

... This is surprisingly satisfying... brought back childhood memories of trying to peel an orange in once piece...




Unfortunately, I did not manage to keep the knife perfectly vertical or aligned during the initial cuts, so in a couple of places the caulking would adhere, like this:



STEP 2 - REMOVE RESIDUAL CAULKING



After some experimenting, I found that the laminate cutter did the best job.



Patience is your friend - do not get distracted! ... lest you suffer my fate:



The brass wire brush does a spectacular job of removing the wee tenacious bits:


STEP 2 - CLEAN AND PREP

I cleaned the grooves with acetone, but now I was faced with the damage, staining and wear...



I hesitated before this next step. I had resolved to lose as little teak as possible, but the boards were highly corrugated. So, with 220-grit, I made the gentlest pass I could manage. The advantage of this was that it sharpened the edges of the grooves.



And then a brightener...



And finally tape. I used 3M blue painters tape. LESSON - leave enough tape at the end of a run, or create a little fold in the tape along a run. It looks all nice and neat right now, but trying to get ahold of the tape to remove it when it's covered with wet caulking that is intent on covering every surface within a 10m radius is a bear. Trust me.



STEP 3 - OK, HERE WE GO!

Now the caulking. First of all, a couple of idiot-mistakes to avoid. Firstly, when you cut the opening in the tube itself (not the nozzle), cut as low as possible without removing the nozzle threads - the larger the hole, the better. My first cut did not create a large enough hole, so squeezing the caulking was quite difficult as I unwittingly tried to force it through a fairly small hole. Lesson learned.

Push the caulking into the groove - don't draw it towards you. This will ensure that the caulking is pushed deeply into the groove. It makes a mess. Accept this fact.

After squeezing the caulking into the groove with the scraper, I then re-ran a smaller, neater bead along each. This allowed me to be sure that the caulking was well-bedded, but on the second pass I could be more precise, making sure the surface was smooth and neat.



Remove the tape IMMEDIATELY. The lines are wonderfully neat - unlike paint or varnish, the caulking is viscous enough that there's essentially no bleed.

STEP 4 - REMOVE TAPE AND FINISH

Like I said, when you're laying the tape, try to ensure that you have a place to 'grab' on removal. If you're patient enough when fairing the caulking, I don't think it even needs to be sanded:



... but, because I'd used a brightener and the grain lifted slightly, I gave it a very quick pass 24 hours later by hand in the direction of the grain with 320 grit.

Finally - and I wrestled with this - I gave it a coat of teak-oil. I've never done this before, and I would not do it on my deck, but my cockpit is small and I would *consider* it there. So, I figured I try it and see how it holds up over the next few months and then make a call in the spring. Truthfully, I probably won't bother, but I like to have first-hand experiences to go by. Besides, I kinda like the grey...

So, here's the final result...

BEFORE:



AFTER:




Total working time was probably 2 1/2 hours. Total elapsed time - 72 hrs.

So, lots of trial and error, and mistakes and lessons along the way, but have at it!

Where did I go wrong? I want to be sure I have a process dialed in before taking on the deck... I'd not bother with the oil on the deck, and would be sure I used break-away tape, but other than that, please let me know what you'd suggest I do differently next time ... don't hold back...
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Old 18-09-2010, 15:25   #2
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Looks beautiful to me.



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Old 18-09-2010, 15:37   #3
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Nice job. For reefing the seems I bend a screw driver with heat and grind the edges to make a shaped scraper. Sorry no picture. Basically bent 3/4' before the end and then gound back to a bevel an the aft side not pull side. Works a dream.Once modified a router base so the push or aft side had a rail that followed into the opened seem behind the blade this also worked really well on long deck seems.
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Old 18-09-2010, 17:57   #4
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Looks nicely done. I've got some teak deck work in my future too, so I eagerly await more of your tutorials, with lots of great photos

I find I learn better from making mistakes, so if it's not too much to ask - could you make some major boo-boo's so I'll know what not to do
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Old 18-09-2010, 18:17   #5
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RSMacG,
Your brief reference to pushing the caulking gun, and not pulling it, is an often overlooked point. Adjusting your body angle, to work proximity, while sqeezing the trigger and adjusting the flow of compound, takes practice to do well.
In my commercial glazing years, I have laid in miles of bead. For large jobs, like your deck seams, I would investigate a battery powered gun. Not the un-balanced kind that attaches to a hand drill, but an ergenomically designed piece, such as available from C.L.Laurence.
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Old 18-09-2010, 19:05   #6
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Nice work man. Looks terrific.
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Old 18-09-2010, 20:13   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodesman View Post
I find I learn better from making mistakes, so if it's not too much to ask - could you make some major boo-boo's so I'll know what not to do
Lodesman, major boo-boos just happen to be a specialty of mine... it is only a matter of time.

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 18-09-2010, 21:34   #8
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Looks fantastic! Based on your photos and tutorial, it seems like a doable job, if not tedious. Lots more teak on deck to be sure.

So, I get that when it gets as bad as it's state was before you started that you would want to take all the caulking out and re-do it all, however I am curious what regular maintanence can be done on a more periodic basis to not redo all the caulking the next time. What is the planned maintanence for here? What if you had some teak decks that were not quite as bad as what you had to start with? Is there some different approach that is short of taking it all down and starting over?

Never had to deal with teak decks, but increasingly I have looked at quite a few boats that seem to fit the criteria of what me and my husband are looking for, but of course they have teak decks. I told myself that teak decks were a deal breaker, however after seeing what you did, I just might change my mind....
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Old 18-09-2010, 22:52   #9
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Excellent job!

My only question is rather the brighter would be leaving a residue that is preventing the caulking form adhering to the teak as well as it could otherwise?

Sure looks nice!
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Old 19-09-2010, 09:32   #10
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Originally Posted by sweetsailing View Post

So, I get that when it gets as bad as it's state was before you started that you would want to take all the caulking out and re-do it all, however I am curious what regular maintanence can be done on a more periodic basis to not redo all the caulking the next time. What is the planned maintanence for here? What if you had some teak decks that were not quite as bad as what you had to start with? Is there some different approach that is short of taking it all down and starting over?
Hi Sweetsailing,

Believe me, I don't purport to be an expert, but with respect to the maintenance of the seams, I believe the trick is to focus not on the caulking, but on the teak. Frequent salt-water washes will keep the wood "plump" (salt is preferable to fresh as the salt will draw additional moisture out of the air, keeping the wood moist longer). The teak shrinks when it's left to dry, putting additional stress on the bonds of the caulking as the adhered surfaces draw away from one another. I intend to just keep her clean with absolute minimum abrasion and be vigilant about monitoring the seams for any failures.

Others may be better positioned to answer the question about partial re-seaming. It's certainly possible - it is my exact plan! I simply don't have the personal time or $ to do the entire deck myself in a single pass, or pay someone else to do it.

What I've done is wash down the entire deck thoroughly and, as it dries, the wood that remains darkest (wet) near the seams as the deck dries typically indicates where the major leaks are. I then marked them with tape so that I'd later remember their location, and I'll be taking them on one or two at a time as time and weather permits. When the leaks stop, I'll know I'm almost done...

I'll let you know how it goes. I think the key is going to be figuring out how to best cut and prepare the connection between the old (fine) seams and the newly-laid ones. How hard can it be, right?
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Old 19-09-2010, 10:00   #11
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Nice job. If you plan to to do an entire deck, you might want to look into the Fein Multimaster. They have a couple of bits that are designed for getting out old caulk. The Fein is expensive but I love mine. Or, just buy the bits and get one of the cheaper imitation version of the tool.

One other thing, you mentioned leaks, I rather doubt that recaulking the seems will take care of that. What will be your approach, if you don't mind my asking?

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Old 19-09-2010, 10:10   #12
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I am curious - while you were able to tape off the entire hatch, is that going to be practical for the entire deck? I am also inclined to agree with Cabo Sailor. You may have a great deck but it seems something else would have to be compromised to have leaks.
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Old 19-09-2010, 11:09   #13
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I'm really the only one who sees no photos?
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Old 19-09-2010, 12:46   #14
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Thanks, all, for the feedback and advice. I'll definitely be checking out the Multimaster - looks like a sound investment given the time savings it would seem to provide.

The leaks on the Brass Monkey have been (mostly) contained - there's one mystery leak that is reasonably minor (trickle) that I'm tracking... the source of this leak is my Great White Whale. I will defeat it, or go mad trying. Several of the previously-replaced deck screws were too long and punctured the deck. Frustrating, but no structural damage or rot that I've been able to detect. I'm systematically replacing the screws and the seams until the point of ingress is identified. I've already re-bedded every other point of penetration that I can find... the hunt continues, though.

For anyone interested, I went down this morning to re-install the hatch. It's been raining for several days here in Vancouver and I wanted to get it back on before the tarp I had covering the opening burst from the 20 kg of water it was holding. Made it just in time... I think I need a better system.






Anyway, looks good, but now the rest of the cockpit looks like a dog's breakfast. And so it begins...
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Old 19-09-2010, 13:06   #15
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I've done a fair bit of teak work. I'd caulking before sanding and then sand the whole lot. There's really no need to lay down masking tape then ( which in my experience is too tedious and awkward on the main deck)

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