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Old 28-05-2020, 09:48   #1
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Help! Varnish yellowed on me

Hi Folks. I have a nicely varnished teak interior on my boat. Unfortunately, I had some standing water in a corner for awhile and it appears the varnish suffered. Attached is a photo - it's turned yellow and translucent. It doesn't seem so bad in the photo, but it's contrasting with the rest of the interior which is pristine.



A) how do I address this? completely strip and reapply? Is there a way to touch up? I have no idea.



B) how should I go about maintaining the rest of the teak interior that is varnished? I've previously just wiped down rags and water to clean it. It doesn't show any signs of looking worse, but then again it's hard to tell if I see it every other day. One day I'll wake up and think "this looks terrible!" and would like to prevent a massive overhaul.



I'm a cetol guy on all exterior teak (I know, go ahead and roast me for that, but I love it)


total newbie with varnish concepts.



Thoughts?
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Old 28-05-2020, 10:45   #2
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Re: Help! Varnish yellowed on me

My experience with varnish (exterior) getting yellow like that means that water got underneath it. My toe rail suffers from that where the stanchions bed down and I cannot remove them without disassembling half the interior to get at the backing nuts. So I'm resigned to strip 100' of toerail every other year and redo it all. But I love varnish so I suffer through it. And I do a lot of varnish every spring, usually go through 2-3 qts of Interlux Schooner just doing my exterior.

5 years ago I pulled all my teak and holly sole and varnished them in my barn over the winter. Was pretty simple in that all the sole came up in big plywood pieces. Sand or strip with heat and then redo.

For interior that I prefer a satin finish (which is basically everything except sole) I use Interlux Goldspar. It's very forgiving and lays down flat unlike spar varnish that you really need good technique. I tackle high wear areas like companionway to first bulkhead as a unit and then do another a couple years down the road.

Huge varnish jobs are daunting so bite off a small area and just get to work.

Based on what I can see, I would sand flat everything that isn't showing water damage, completely strip the water damage areas and get those back to bare wood.

This year I used Interlux Interprime sealer as first coats as a trial under the finish varnish coats. It levels WAY better than regular varnish and dries faster and harder. So build up 3 quick coats (with quick scuff sand in between) and then block it down smooth after 3rd coat. Apply 2-3 coats of varnish overtop of that and you should be good to go. Wide flat areas like a sole, I will use a yellow foam roller to get coverage quickly then follow up tipping with a brush. Interlux does not recommend Interprime as a primer coat for Goldspar satin (just 10% thinned) so depending on whether you want gloss or satin will dictate what you do for primer coats. I prefer gloss sole, satin everywhere else.

Maybe you were looking for a quick fix but I find there rarely are any if you want to have it look good.

There's a lot more to the art of varnishing and it can be frustrating the first couple times you do it. Take surgical care of your brushes and methodical about your application and thinning and it goes a lot better.
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Old 28-05-2020, 10:56   #3
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Re: Help! Varnish yellowed on me

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmySailor View Post
Hi Folks. I have a nicely varnished teak interior on my boat. Unfortunately, I had some standing water in a corner for awhile and it appears the varnish suffered. Attached is a photo - it's turned yellow and translucent. It doesn't seem so bad in the photo, but it's contrasting with the rest of the interior which is pristine.



A) how do I address this? completely strip and reapply? Is there a way to touch up? I have no idea.



B) how should I go about maintaining the rest of the teak interior that is varnished? I've previously just wiped down rags and water to clean it. It doesn't show any signs of looking worse, but then again it's hard to tell if I see it every other day. One day I'll wake up and think "this looks terrible!" and would like to prevent a massive overhaul.



I'm a cetol guy on all exterior teak (I know, go ahead and roast me for that, but I love it)


total newbie with varnish concepts.



Thoughts?
"Yellow" varnish has lost its bond to the underlying wood. It is only amatter ot time before it begins to peel. No repair from the top will restore it. Strip and redo is the only solution, I am afraid.
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Old 28-05-2020, 11:35   #4
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Re: Help! Varnish yellowed on me

Ok that works. strip and refinish. I just have NO idea how to do that. Kind of daunting to do that on such a small very visible piece that I"m 100% certain won't match the rest of the sole. Dangit. It's not a piece that is out of sight.



What happens if I let it ride? Does it flake and peel off like cetol? Does it buckle and fall off in pieces?







"My experience with varnish (exterior) getting yellow like that means that water got underneath it."


yup. sorry if I wasn't clear that that was what happened.
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Old 28-05-2020, 11:51   #5
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Re: Help! Varnish yellowed on me

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Originally Posted by ArmySailor View Post
Ok that works. strip and refinish. I just have NO idea how to do that. Kind of daunting to do that on such a small very visible piece that I"m 100% certain won't match the rest of the sole. Dangit. It's not a piece that is out of sight.



What happens if I let it ride? Does it flake and peel off like cetol? Does it buckle and fall off in pieces?
It will just keep getting worse but it's a slow death as long as water has been removed.

To remove old varnish, I prefer a heat gun with a scraper. It goes pretty quickly just don't scorch the wood. I'd only remove varnish from that one section. Sand everything else with something like 150 grit using a random orbital and then hand finish with a flat block 3M sander. The random orbital will leave swirl marks but as long as you finish by hand in a straight line it should be minor.

I don't know how particular you want to be but you could just throw a few coats on the damaged area after you get down to bare wood and then 1-2 coats over everything?

Sorry I wish I had good news but if you want it to look great you need to probably do the entire sole so it matches. If you just want to fix that one area you could just varnish that and then scuff it up with your shoe until it matches the rest of the sole?
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Old 28-05-2020, 12:23   #6
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Re: Help! Varnish yellowed on me

For satin, this is what I do assuming you are starting with good old finish:

-Sand to 150 with orbital and then 3M flat block
-Vacuum
-Wipe down with mineral spirits
-Apply Goldspar thinned 10% for first coat with 333 thinner either with foam roller and then tipped with brush (flat large surfaces) or with a high quality brush (I like Corona Europa brushes).
-Sand with 220 and keep repeating the steps until you get 4-6 coats. Use thinner only if necessary

If you want gloss, it's basically the same procedure but I like to start the first 2-3 coats with Interlux Interprime as it builds very quick and levels out to get me to that really smooth surface for the final 2-3 coats of gloss varnish. I prefer Interlux Schooner 96 personally for gloss.


General varnish tips I have learned from doing it a lot.

-Don't go over wet varnish with the brush after it has been down for a couple minutes or it will drag.
-Don't use foam brushes, in my experience they don't lay down enough varnish and you sand it all off because the coat is too thin.
-Don't varnish out of the can. Pour enough varnish into a plastic cup through a 190 micron paint strainer every time and work out of that.
-Scuff sand between coats. You don't want to sand heavy as you are building the finish that's just makes you insane. Lightly scuff with 220 or red scotchbrite just to get a good bond. The only coat that really matters is the last coat. so don't worry about a couple dust spots. For the final coat, I personally, will wet sand it, wash it and then wipe down with mineral spirits and tack cloth. That get's me the glass smooth finish.
-There's a saying about "laying" down a coat of varnish and it's true. You want the varnish to flow off the end of the brush. You aren't "working" it like latex paint. I have a shallow angle to the brush and let it do the hard work.
-You don't want the brush to drag, if it is the finish will look terrible. Often it is because the varnish is too thick and you can fix this by adding some thinner. I add just enough so that if flows out like a thin real maple syrup.
-Take surgical care of your brushes. I have 4 qts of mineral spirits and I work it through each can blowing it off with the bristles with an air gun after each. Then I keep cycling the cans down the line as cup 1 will get really bad and discard. You should have no dust nits or anything in your brush. If you fail to take care of your brush, it will make you want to swear off varnish forever.

If you made it this far, you are probably thinking, this dude is nuts, no way am I going to do all those steps. And you'd probably be right and why a lot of people go to Cetol. But I really enjoy it and looking at varnish just makes me happy.


Here's an example of what I did. My companionway steps were getting janky and the top step had cracked. I bored holes for brass rods and reinforced all the steps so it matched. Stripped all the satin varnish off and sanded well. Put on 4-5 coats of Goldspar and it looked and felt great.

And my helm seat that I keep in high gloss.

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Old 28-05-2020, 19:06   #7
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Re: Help! Varnish yellowed on me

Army Sailor, there is citrus stripper you can buy. I'd use that according to its instructions, to remove the damaged varnish from that one small area. If you're careful, and you mask the surrounds first, you may be able to get away with doing just that for the time being. After all the gunk is cleaned off, wash the teak with turpentine. Then apply the varnish of your choice. DON'T cheap out. With Varnish, it is better to pay some more.

If, after it is all done, there is "too much" contrast. Make it an "off season" project to refinish the whole cabin sole. Please note, you need to be aware of the minimum and maximum temperatures for this, because they both affect how the finished project will come out. Don't set out freshly varnished pieces in the hot sun to dry, because it will "blush", and need another coat. (Seems like I've learned a lot the hard way.)

Gloss varnish is harder then satin, so it is more durable for high traffic areas. It is just a matter of which you prefer for the cabin sole.

Our cabin sole was done with a matte finish, and it looks pretty nice to me. But it now has some scratches in it, and will be requiring attention. When you're living aboard, it's a hard job to get to, it really interferes with life, unless you have somewhere dust free (or almost), warm, and dry, for the wet stuff to cure. Spare pieces of plywood can help the living problems, but it's still a drag. You are not alone.

Ann
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Old 29-05-2020, 06:41   #8
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Re: Help! Varnish yellowed on me

This is all very helpful. Thank you so much. All things varnish remind me of my days as a cadet in college. When it came to polishing shoes there had to be 78.84% humidity, you gently waved a lighter over the polish (no not like that) and whether or not you spit on them was enough to cause a fistfight disagreement. Great memories.



The water is indeed gone. I'm going to let this spot ride until it actually bugs me. I was more concerned with continued damage and whether the wood underlying it would become compromised. I have other projects way higher than "cosmetic" categories.



Safety
Rigging
Storage
then...cosmetic.



Sigh. Thanks again! This thread is saved.



Maybe I'll circle back in 3 years and show the final results
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Old 29-05-2020, 10:38   #9
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Re: Help! Varnish yellowed on me

I just refinished my teak and holly. It was pretty bad, see pix. I sanded with 150 to remove old finish using an orbital sander with vacuum, as the area was about 6ft by 2ft. BE CAREFUL not to break through. the Teak laminate is very thin and even with 150grit you can sand through pretty quick. after sanding, I washed with a 25% Muriatic acid wash to get the grey out of the wood and even out the color. Then I did 2 coats of epoxy, waited a few hours between for the first coat to kick, then overnight to cure. I sanded lightly with 180 and then 2 coats of your top varnish or, in my case, I use a polyurethane. I waited overnight again and did a light 220 grit sanding and 1 last final finish coat.
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Old 29-05-2020, 14:33   #10
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Re: Help! Varnish yellowed on me

@zstine, That looks really nice! Good job.
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Old 30-05-2020, 04:47   #11
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Re: Help! Varnish yellowed on me

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I just refinished my teak and holly. It was pretty bad, see pix. I sanded with 150 to remove old finish using an orbital sander with vacuum, as the area was about 6ft by 2ft. BE CAREFUL not to break through. the Teak laminate is very thin and even with 150grit you can sand through pretty quick. after sanding, I washed with a 25% Muriatic acid wash to get the grey out of the wood and even out the color. Then I did 2 coats of epoxy, waited a few hours between for the first coat to kick, then overnight to cure. I sanded lightly with 180 and then 2 coats of your top varnish or, in my case, I use a polyurethane. I waited overnight again and did a light 220 grit sanding and 1 last final finish coat.

that does look really good. But wow, epoxy over the wood first? Ok. I feel like I need a whole book on wood finishing.
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