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How to Properly Maintain Your Sportfishing and Motor Yacht Teak Deck for Looks and Longevity

How to Properly Maintain Your Sportfishing and Motor Yacht Teak Deck for Looks and Longevity

By HMY Contributor   January 9, 2020

Teak decks have long had a not-so-positive reputation as tough-to-maintain time suckers.

The reality is, while, yes, it does take some effort to maintain (as most things on a yacht do), if cared for properly teak decks will last 20 or more years. There’s no reason to be scared away from all the benefits they bring to a yacht, such as:

- Anti-slip safety: the naturally rough teak is anti-slip under nearly all weather conditions.
- Insulation: teak provides an insulating effect on the interior of the yacht and helps keep the temperature of the deck itself cooler in hot temperatures.
- Incredibly resilient and hardy.

Teak Deck of Viking 82 Motor Yacht

A little preparation, smart use of time, and the right choice of cleaners and cleaning equipment goes a long way in maintaining these beautiful decks with minimal hassle and costs.

Maintenance and preservation tips

Teak will wear naturally, turning a straw brown to silvery-gray patina color, depending on the level of wear and aging. Some people leave it while some prefer to keep it looking like new, with the glimmering, freshly sanded color, but going too far has ramifications.

One of the most common mistakes yacht owners make is the tendency to “over maintain” teak decks, scrubbing them too frequently or with rough brushes, blasting with high-pressure cleaners, or using harsh cleaning agents and brighteners. While teak is very resilient, these methods will all cause notable wear to the wood, dragging out the soft wood elements and leaving ridges of hard wood, meaning more time-consuming, laborious sanding for you, the owner. And it ages your teak much faster. Rather than replacing it at 20 years, you may be doing so at 10.

The most important advice is to wash the deck every week, but few people can spare the time. It’s quite simple however: if you don’t wash your deck regularly it will soon turn dingy and dirty. To keep your deck clean, a gentle wash with a light detergent and a large sponge or very soft brush will do the trick. Doing this regularly will wash off the dirt before it gets ingrained and help avoid wear down of the teak.

It is also advisable to inspect all of the caulked seams for damage as these can become worn over time, allowing moisture to penetrate between the deck planks. Be sure to fix any worn or damaged caulking.

Tools of the trade – brushes, cleaners, and oils

Brushes

Get the best soft brush, cleaning pad, or cotton mop you can find. It will be money well spent (you can use on fiberglass surfaces, too). This should be your primary wash down tool. Once you find one you like, buy several to always have on hand.

Avoid using the hard white bristle poly brushes as this can pull out the soft wood elements.

Every so often, it may be necessary to do deeper cleaning with asoftnylon bristle scrub brush or a Scotch-Brite pad. But use with care. While using them, only scrub across the grain of the teak. 

Cleaners

1-part or 2-part cleaner? This is a contentious topic among yacht owners as the second part of the process can negatively affect the teak, increasing the aging process. But when done right, and in consultation with your local service center, it can add looks and longevity to your teak deck.

For the most part, you’ll want to use only single part teak cleaners or soaps on your teak. Depending on your circumstances, it may be recommended to clean and treat your deck with the 2-part cleaners once or twice per year. Brands such as Wessex and Semco are popular. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions and gently scrub across the direction of the grain.

Some alternative cleaners are detergents such as Bar Keeper’s Friend, Calgon, and Bon Ami. If going this route, always dilute them thoroughly (as they do have some chemicals in them) and test on a small, inconspicuous area of your boat to ensure safe use.

For removing mildew in the grain of the teak, an easy alternative approach to cleaning and preserving the teak is to use a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water.

Oiling

The oiling of teak decks is another controversial topic amongst yacht owners.

While a freshly oiled, gleaming deck is no doubt beautiful and eye-catching, it does have its drawbacks. You have to regularly re-apply every 1-3 months, and this may lead you into a messy job of having to use teak strippers, putting your deck in touch with more harsh chemicals.

Oiled teak also loses some of its crucial anti-slip properties, leading to unsafe conditions. Wet feet and oily deck? Not a good combo. It might be best to keep the decorative look inside the yacht.

Teak decks no doubt add a sophisticated look to your yacht while enhancing safety. With a little forethought and regular cleaning, they’ll last you decades.

Have questions? Call the experts at HMY. We’re happy to help. 561-510-6200.


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