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Old 31-12-2009, 05:48   #1
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Teak Decks

Seems everything I read about teak decks is bad. Seems based on reading that it is almost a universal point of view that they are hot, heavy, and WILL leak and rot out the boat's deck. I read ads where they give as a plus that the model that normally came with the teak decks never had teak decks them, which I assume would have been a cost svings when new to not have the teak. Yet there are so many boats/models with them so I have to questionwhether teak decks really are such a kiss of death.

So who has direct experience (your boat or someone you really know, not just something you have read) with teak decks. Are they really such bad things?
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Old 31-12-2009, 06:05   #2
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They are not a "kiss of death" when they are laid down as a cosmetic layer over a structurally sound deck. In these cases many have been removed and replaced with a painted non-skid, but usually with about two thousand screw holes to fill! 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 31-12-2009, 06:13   #3
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Well, yes and no.

Properly maintained (requires some work), they can be beautiful. Gorgeous, actually. They're nice underfoot in temperate weather. If they're put on in the modern fashion -- epoxied to the deck underneath with no fasteners -- then they don't leak. And, they're much easier to maintain. That's the good part.

Teak is horrible in the tropics. Hot underfoot. If built in traditional manner -- with hundreds of fastenings into the deck -- they can and do leak. When they thin out as they almost inevitably do, the bungs start popping. Sometimes the thiokhol caulking cracks. Removing old caulking and replacing with new is a BIG job, and not destined always to be a successful one.

My 42' Cheoy Lee built sloop was in the tropics for 11 years. The teak wasn't great to begin with, but after 5-6 years of fighting to maintain it -- including a recaulking job which a year later turned into a terrible mess -- I decided to remove the teak decks. That was a very good decision. Put several additional layers of cloth on the fiberglass decks, then 8 coats of Awlgrip, including one non-skid coat. Had it professionally done and the boat looked like new.

A year after doing this, I also replaced the teak in my cockpit -- seats and floor. This was done properly by a master shipwright, using epoxy and end-grain teak. Now, some 8 years later, it looks like new. I just wash it with water and, occasionally, a mild soap solution. Bare teak. Wonderful, and not too much to maintain.

Bill
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Old 31-12-2009, 06:36   #4
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Don,

Teak decks have great non-skid properties and are beautiful to look at. They're also too hot to walk on at noon in the tropics and become a maintenance nightmare as they age, (see attachment). I won't have teak decks on my next boat.

Steve
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Old 31-12-2009, 06:47   #5
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I hate to rule out a boat just because of teak decks. But, I get the feeling that when they go bad, they are really bad and an expensive item to either remove/replace or to repair. I found this statement on a boat; anyone have any idea what this means as I don't see how relacing screws with gelcoat has meaning.

"her teak decks have had all deck screws taken out and replaced with gel coat, new plugs and recaulked"
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Old 31-12-2009, 07:04   #6
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Teak Deck Replacement $$ Est.

Don,

You'll eventually have to remove the teak decks of any boat. I received quotes of $40K to $90K to have Aurelia's decks removed and relaid with teak, (46' sloop, flush deck fwd of the mast). The fiberglass and LP paint option was about 20% cheaper. Be sure to factor this into the price you're willing to pay for a boat with teak decks,

Cheers,
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Old 31-12-2009, 07:09   #7
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I love teak decks...in my eye they are one of the things that make a classic boat look classic.
When I did my refit I replaced about 20-25% of mine, removed and redid all the seam caulk, removed every plug and reset every screw over.... 3000 in all.
That’s how much I like it.

Then I added it over the raised salon where it didn’t have it before.... and the seats in the new cockpit.

I also took the opportunity to reconfigure the edges…originally they ran right into the raised salon and had a vertical trim piece against the salon wall. I remover this and brought the deck away from the salon to create a sort of a gutter.

I love teak trim but, I did remove all the half-round trim that was around the cabins top....it just looked gratuitous.

It was all a big job but for me soooo well worth it.

All though I do love the classic looks I hated that hatch forward of the mast, so this was also a good time to replace it with something drier.
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Old 31-12-2009, 07:15   #8
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My berth-neighbor has a 35'-er built in the Netherlands, with a teak deck. It leaks. He built a frame from PVC tubing and covered the entire boat with tarps for the winter. Good thing too, we've had record precipitation for December.

It is beautiful to look at. The whole boat is, in fact. Great lines. I'll probably help him with repairs when it gets warm enough to work. He hasn't asked, but I'll offer to help.

As far as heat goes, I know a lot of you like to go barefoot on deck, but I'd be wearing Sperry's or Vibram 5-fingers on deck so heat wouldn't be a problem for me.
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Old 31-12-2009, 08:14   #9
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They are too hot to walk on for my feet. I love to look at them though.

Jim
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Old 31-12-2009, 08:26   #10
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Bill Trayfors hit it right. If the decks are installed in the modern way, the problem of leaking is virtually non-existent. That is, if they are glued down, rather than screwed down, then you don't have the penetrations into the deck and deck core, so you avoid the problem of leaks. Even in this application, however, there is a potential for a finite number of leaks, as sometimes during the installation process a handful of mechanical fasteners (screws) are used to hold the deck in place while the glue cures.

Someone mentioned removing the screws and filling with "gelcoat." I'm not sure what that means, but on our last boat with teak decks, we would routinely pull screws and back fill with thickened epoxy, then re-bung the hole. If you do that for all the fasteners then you're very likely to avoid the leak problem for the same reason -- you will no longer have screws into the deck. Of course, if that fastener already leaked, and then you remove and backfill with epoxy, you may be trapping some water in there.

Teak decks look great, they feel good underfoot, and it's the very best non-skid. However, it does add a lot of weight, it is hot in warm weather and direct sunlight, it does require at least some annual maintenance (though less than people think), and there is the fact that at some point in the life of the deck you will have a big expense of re-caulking or something similar.

In short, if you're looking at an older boat with tons of bungs, particularly if you see that several of them are popping, be wary. I'm not saying categorically don't buy the boat, but go in with your eyes open (which means have the money and/or time and skill to do a big repair job). It may all come down to a question of price, as do most things in life.
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Old 31-12-2009, 15:01   #11
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So it sounds that in general; if the teak is laid onto a fiberglassed deck the only real worry is the screws?? If so it seems that if these are sealed things should be fine. Besides the great number of them, why wouldn't you take out the screws, fill the holes with expoy and then put the screw back in? Seems that would make them both tight and sealed?
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Old 31-12-2009, 15:33   #12
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Our Contest 48 was originally built with teak decks but after 15 years they had gotten too thin to hold bungs. We had to make the decision between replacing with teak or fiberglass with non-skid. Ruthie wanted teak and I wanted the non-skid. "Fine," I said, "We'll install teak and YOU can maintain it." We stripped the teak off almost 10 years ago and have been enjoying the freedom on non-skid ever since.

If I were looking at buying a different boat, teak decks would definitely be a 'knock out" factor.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 31-12-2009, 15:49   #13
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How thin are some of the teak decks that "get thin"? I read the specs on 1 of the boats I'm looking at and the deck teak is 5/8" thick. That doesn't sound like it should get too thin.
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Old 31-12-2009, 16:31   #14
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Ok, let's take 5/8" as the thickness of the teak deck: Assume you're using a #8 pan head screw to hold down the teak that has a head thickness of 1/8", you're now down to 1/2". How much thickness do you want the head of the screw to shoulder against? 1/4"? That leaves you a 1/4" thickness for the bung, which is not very long. If your deck wears down 20% over 15 years, now your bung is going to be no more than 1/8" long and it doesn't take much to pop that out nor is there much surface area to keep it in.
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Old 31-12-2009, 16:32   #15
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Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
How thin are some of the teak decks that "get thin"? I read the specs on 1 of the boats I'm looking at and the deck teak is 5/8" thick. That doesn't sound like it should get too thin.
If you don't sand them, they won't get thin. Many people have sanded them each year in order to bring back that pretty fresh, clean teak color. That's a killer for teak decks, and that's a serious issue for a boat with older decks (odds are, the previous owners sanded them down). If anyone went near our decks with a piece of sandpaper I was prepared to harpoon them on sight. Once or twice a year we used a very mild soap, with lemon, diluted with water, and a scotch brite pad. We very gently scrubbed, and that brought the color right back.

As to putting the screws back in, the probem with that is you would still have a penetration into the deck with each screw. The goal with removing the screws and backfilling with epoxy is to rid yourself of those very penetrations where water invariably will find its way.
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