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Old 20-11-2016, 05:11   #1
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Varnish alternatives?

I'm thinking of sanding down my areas of bright work and applying some product other than varnish...or rather having it sanded and applied. I'm getting tired and broke by having this work done, and as the boat is in the water year round and in S. Florida, it needs to be done at least annually.

Of course letting the teak go grey is one option, but I am not up to date on the recent Cetol or Cetol-like products, teak oils, etc. that have come on to the market in the last decade.

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Old 20-11-2016, 05:18   #2
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Re: Varnish alternatives?

natural teak color with a hard coat either matte, satin or gloss is very attractive... and hard not to love. Problem is these finishes are not terribly strong when exposed to weather and UV. I don't believe this is a viable alternative which is as attractive.
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Old 20-11-2016, 05:32   #3
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Re: Varnish alternatives?

As I have and enjoy a wooden boat (strip plank) I have had the same thoughts...although in the SF Bay I would venture the guess that we get more time out of varnish here.

Having gone through the various finishes, both varnish and cetol, I am currently of the mindset that I prefer Starbrite Teak Oil. It is not as pretty as a nice shiny varnish, but if you are able to bring out the original (or close) color it looks nice in my opinion. Mine is a matte finish. For myself, it was either that or paint!

The good thing about wood is that you can always change your mind if you want to. Arguably with work involved.

Best with your decision!
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Old 20-11-2016, 05:34   #4
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Re: Varnish alternatives?

I am a Honey Teak fan. Much easier to apply than varnish (last run with Epifanes was 11 coats with all of the stages of sanding, wiping off, applying). HT needs three coats of the tinted material - these can applied wet on wet, followed by two coats of clear coat that are applied one a day. Varnish in the tropics just did not last. With HT if you put on one coat of clear a year (in tropics) you are good. The stuff is not cheap but the labour saving is worth it.
Have taken on the restoration of the first Nonsuch, which was launched in 1978. Needs some deck work, hull compounding, and a bit of new gear.
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Old 20-11-2016, 06:33   #5
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Re: Varnish alternatives?

The best stuff I've ever used is Tokinois... applies like oil and looks like varnish; easy to repair...

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Old 20-11-2016, 07:26   #6
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Re: Varnish alternatives?

Miami is not a good place for clear finishes. The UV really tears them up.

I remember someone asking my dad what to put on his teak. Dad handed him a can of Salmon Buff Interlux paint.

I love beautiful bright work, but in the tropics it is a huge amount of work. If you really want varnish or varnish look, cover it with canvas or store the boat undercover.

If you are determined to try to keep the bright work in the sun, take a look at Awlwood.
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Old 20-11-2016, 07:55   #7
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Re: Varnish alternatives?

Also in Florida and it is a demanding environment for finishes that dry hard. staying ahead of the finish starting to crack becomes difficult for all but the most dedicated of boaters. And of course if it cracks the task becomes even more work.

I've used Starbright Teak Oil Sealer in the past with good results. Brings out the grain, good color and doesn't crack. Just wears away if not kept up.

After this I went grey for a couple of years. A salt water washdown didn't work as well for me as some have experienced. The wood has gone away, especially the soft grain, more than acceptable.

Six months ago I used La Tonkinois on all but the toe rail. Currently I am doing the toe rail and the biannual recoat on the rest. This may be my product choice going forward.

This product is a mix of oils and resins, not really a varnish. I has no solvents so it is not gassing out while using it and is not hard to tolerate. Smells good actually. No thinning the first coat required and only the first coat requires a light sanding to continue. From the second coat each coat goes on after a twenty for hour wait. So it becomes a daily routine for a week and a half or so and looks outstanding to my eye.

It does not dry hard so it expands and contracts with the wood and won't crack allegedly. After six months with eight coats this has been the case for me. It has a good glossy finish and good natural color. After six months of Florida sun it has lost some gloss. But absent of cracks to redo it requires a light sanding and add a couple of coats. If scuffed or damaged it can be spot sanded to feather and spot repaired, though I have not had to test this out yet.

My hope is after a couple of seasons with no cracking it will build up to a smooth deep finish with only a light surface sanding and maintenance coat each spring and fall.
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Old 20-11-2016, 08:19   #8
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Re: Varnish alternatives?

I find the new 2 part Cetol very very close to varnish.
Holds up well and simple to touch up. If done right it is remarkable unlike the old Cetol. Have used it for years after struggling with varnish. Many have commented after seeing my boat that they actually thought I had varnished.
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