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Old 07-05-2013, 10:14   #1
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varnish issues on exterior teak

I am attempting to keep the exterior teak bright in a few places on our 1961 sailboat. I am very frustrated with my current progress and was hoping for some tips before I strip the varnish and let it grey again.

WHAT I APPLIED AND HOW:
I sanded (220 grit) the gray and molding teak on the cockpit coamings and hatch covers and then wiped with acetone to remove oil. I then applied two coats of thinned west system with special clear hardener to build up some layers. I sanded in between coats (220 grit) and finished with 4 coats of flagship varnish.

HOW IT LOOKS AFTER 7 MONTHS OF MINNESOTA WINTER:
There are quarter sized patches of places where there is now exposed bare silver teak again. These are about 3 patches for each square foot of teak. I also have places where moisture has seemed to get behind my treatments and has formed a yellowing, cloudy space behind the finish work. These are about a square foot in size and happen every ten square feet or so of finished teak.

QUESTIONS I HAVE:
Is this just the way it goes with exterior varnish? Will I have repairs like this every year?

How do I repair what I have?

Why do I have these areas that have failed?

Is there a better product (I wont use Cetol, can't stand even the newest colors...)

How about Poly?


Thanks a lot,
Christian Gould
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Old 07-05-2013, 10:36   #2
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

Sounds like a prep problem causing coating failure. Some additional information regarding what you did might be helpful in diagnosing what the issue is. Some sample questions to answer:

- Were these spot repairs to existing varnished teak, or did you take all the varnish off down to the bare wood on each piece?
- How did you remove the varnish? Chemicals? Heat gun? Sanding only?
- How did you prep the wood for the thinnned epoxy sealer other than sanding and acetone?
- How long did you leave the wood after final cleaning before applying the sealer? What were the weather conditions and what time of day did you apply the sealant?
- What did you apply the sealer with?
- What did you do between coats of varnish?

A few general pointers:

- It's all about prep. The cleaner and dryer the wood when you begin application, the better. This is one reason why using a heat gun, if possible, to strip most of the varnish has advantages. It helps to dry out the wood in the process.

- The weather when you apply varnish is critical. It should be warm and dry, and you need to be careful to apply the varnish with adequate time for it to fully dry before the temperature drops below the dew point at the end of the day. At the same time, avoid applying varnish during the hottest part of the day in warmer weather.

- Thinning varnish to match weather conditions is also critical. If it's hot and sunny out, add more thinner so that the varnish does not wrinkle from the top of the layer drying more quickly than the bottom.

- Put 12 coats on when completely refinishing. Then you can topcoat it every year or as required and get a longer service life before you need to strip and refinish again.

As far as how to repair what you have, that is going to depend somewhat on what caused the failure.
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:02   #3
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

Please look up teak care in Wikipedia. Teak hates varnish. Teak hates fresh water. Teak hates sand paper. Teak loves to be clean. Teak loves salt baths. Natural weathered teak is beautiful and will last perhaps for centuries in the ocean. Varnished teak will last forever in a controlled environment in your living room!
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:12   #4
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

Sounds like a prep problem, maybe some chemical in the wood that didnt evaporate? Or were your coats of varnish real thin? I know 3 coats of thick varnish will break through in spots in the PNW rain in one winter. Amazing how abrasive rain is! It sounds like you used a 2 part base coat...? (hardener) I would avoid that personally.... makes repair very hard work.
When I varnish I put pretty thick coats on (against many recommendations) Just thin enough so it wont run.
Varnishing is a whole day discussion!
I used Varathane Exterior on a boat years ago, and have to say it's probably as good or better than "marine " varnish.
The only time I sand between coats is for leveling (to help get rid of dust or grooves etc)
On bare wood you pretty much have to sand after 1 or 2 coats as the grain raises up. I usually try to get two coats on, otherwise I'm pretty much removing what I put on and not gaining .
No, I'm not a "bristol" finish varnisher! But from a few steps away you cant tell the difference.
You will get a lot of comments "off track" regarding "dont varnish!". It's a hot button question like anchors. In fresh water bare teak isnt going to look good either. Varnishing is a matter of getting a good thick bunch of layers on the first time.. and subsequently putting coats on every year so you dont get "breakthough".
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:16   #5
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt.Fred View Post
Please look up teak care in Wikipedia. Teak hates varnish. Teak hates fresh water. Teak hates sand paper. Teak loves to be clean. Teak loves salt baths. Natural weathered teak is beautiful and will last perhaps for centuries in the ocean. Varnished teak will last forever in a controlled environment in your living room!
I couldn't have said it better myself!
If you like to varnish - get yourself a mahogany boat!
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:33   #6
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

Even small amounts of moisture in varnished wood in sub-freezing temp will cloud or separate the bond between the two. I wish you every success in what you're trying to accomplish but after years of effort I've given in to silver teak.
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:01   #7
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

For the spots that are bare wood now, do i just sand the wood and then reapply varnish to the bare spot?

Will this ever blend in to the rest of the existing varnish?
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:20   #8
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

teak hates varnish. it will not stick to teak as teak is a nice oily wood. until ye ruin it with prep stuff for varnish which will just peel off anyway...

i spend 6 hours per year on 120 ft teak wood on my boat. wash with sea water and paint it with oil--teak, tung , oil...it works. seals boat and looks nice without ruination of teak wood. ..
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:32   #9
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

You can sand and feather in the bare spots and re-varnish. They will be darker, but the feathering will help it blend in.

Lin Pardey has a good treatise on this on the Lin and Larry Pardey website. Look it up.

This is a twice a year adventure for me. I just do it. I have a CT41 ketch with lots of wood and I love it so this is what I do. No matter what varnish I use, I do not expect it to last.
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:42   #10
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

I've seen some people prepping iron wood by wiping over a small bit with acetone, light it afire and then wipe down with a moist cloth to put the fire out. They then proceeded to epoxy the thing, and only then apply lacquer. Of course, lacquer works better on epoxy than bare wood, but the prepping was, well, interesting.
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Old 07-05-2013, 12:49   #11
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ketchgould View Post
Is there a better product (I wont use Cetol, can't stand even the newest colors...)
The Z-Spar flagship you used isn't bad, but I prefer the Epifanes Clear Varnish. For exterior work go with the high-gloss with extra UV filters. Apply at least eight coats with the last four coats being full-strength, and never let it go six months without a maintenance coat.

It would be interesting to hear what other folks up in Minnesota use. I understand it snows up there from time to time. That can't be good for brightwork.
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Old 07-05-2013, 14:01   #12
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

Our teak is grey.... No trouble at all, 'just needs to be cleaned up occasionally.... just like me.

My wife loves our exterior teak.
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Old 07-05-2013, 14:36   #13
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Quote:
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Our teak is grey.... No trouble at all, 'just needs to be cleaned up occasionally.... just like me.

My wife loves our exterior teak.
Same here!
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Old 07-05-2013, 15:25   #14
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

My brother in law has an Endeavor 42 and just paid a guy about $1,500.00 to sand his teak trim (gunwales and hand rails) and apply 6 coats of varnish. And he'll have to do it again next year.
My wife and I went to our 1962 Creekmore Sunday at 1:00 pm and by 7:00 pm we had lightly sanded and applied 1 coat of Cabot Australian Oil to our coakpit coamings, hand rails and other misc trim and removed the tape.
1 coat is all it takes and it was 2 years ago when we last did it. You can buy it at Lowe's and we are very pleased with our results. Have used it for years.
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Old 07-05-2013, 15:32   #15
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Re: varnish issues on exterior teak

The problem is the oil in the teak. Acetone won't do it. Neither will the old tried and not so true method of using bleach and water mixture, though it will come close. In order for anything to stick long term to teak ALL of the surface oil must be removed and the teak treated within 48hrs. Use these guys cleaner, it works better than anything I've tried. I own a Cape Dory with lots of teak and have tried lots of stuff. Oh, the last was these guys finish. Wasn't too impressed. TeakGuard Teak Protectant - Teak Finish and Restoration Superior to Teak Oil - MarineStore.com

Varnishing teak is one treatment I'll never, ever do after taking off 8 years worth of Cetol. My next finish 'experiment' will be Starbrite Tropical Teak Oil SEALER, Natural Light.

Good luck with your teak. It's a labor of love or a pain in the a**.
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