When it comes to the boat deck’s exteriors, teak wood is always preferred due to its durability and strength. Besides, teak can immediately elevate the look of a boat, making it much more elegant and sophisticated. However, teak can turn dull, drab, and ugly after a time of use if not taken care of properly, especially teak wood boat decks because of their daily exposure to moisture, saltwater, wind, etc.
The good news is this kind of wood is extremely resilient. No matter how dull it might look, you can restore teak wood’s ravishing appearance in a few easy steps. In short, you will need to clean the surface with cleaners specially made for teak wood. Then, apply a teak brightener to restore its color. Finally, coat the surface to endure its lifespan with a teak sealer.
For a step-by-step guide on how to restore teak wood on a boat, dive in!
Table of Contents
What You Will Need
Of course, water is always needed whenever we talk about a cleaning process. To proceed, make sure you have clean water handy. A pressure washer with a lower setting, a water hose, or a water bucket will get the job done.
A soft cleaning pad
The best bet here is a polypropylene cleaning pad. This texture is rough enough to scrub grime and stains off without damaging the teak surface. You can easily buy one on Amazon or in a local supermarket. If a polypropylene pad is not available, a soft bristle brush can do the trick.
Acid-based and caustic cleaners are harsh for the wood, so you should only use a mild cleaner. There are many teak cleaning detergents on the market, such as Star Brite Premium Teak Cleaner, Golden Care Teak Cleaner, and AquaTeak Teak Cleaner & Brightener. A mild boat soap can work too. But remember to do a spot test before proceeding.
A teak brightener
A teak brightener will help with teak wood color restoration, as it will brighten the wood, highlight the wood grain, and enhance its natural color. Some popular teak brighteners are STAR BRITE Premium Teak Brightener and BoatLIFE Teak Brightener.
Some products can clean and brighten teak surfaces in one step, like the AquaTeak Teak Cleaner & Brightener. However, these two-in-one products may not be as effective. To protect the wood conditions, avoid brighteners that contain bleach.
A teak sealer
This is optional but highly recommended. A teak sealer is also known as a teak finisher, teak finishing oil, or teak preserver. The product will provide protection against the sun, saltwater, weathering, and prevent mold growth.
Also, the teak sealer acts as a barrier between the wood and air, helping eliminate oxidation and stains. Do not use household furniture finishers for boat deck exterior. They won’t stand up to harsh outdoor conditions.
Besides, there are many teak cleaner sets on the market. These sets contain a teak cleaner, brightener, sealer, sponges, and brushes. If learning about the products is confusing, consider buying one of these sets. They will provide everything you need to restore teak wood.
Safety gear as needed
Detergents can dry your skin and cause red rashes, itches, bumps, or blisters. When working with them, it’s best to wear safety gear, such as goggles, rubber gloves, or safety clothing. Depending on your conditions, prepare the safety gear you might need.
Last but not least, grab a few pieces of soft cloth so you can dry the wood after cleaning. Your old cotton T-shirts can be used as long as they are clean.
Steps to Restore Teak Wood
Now that you’ve gathered all you need, prepare the deck for cleaning by picking up stuff on the wood floor, removing any obstacles like chairs or appliances. Then, brush it off using a deck brush and jump right to step number one.
Step 1: Clean teak wood on a boat
For teak restoration, you will need to wash the surface first. Follow these steps for optimal cleaning:
- Wet the area: Use a water bucket or a pressure washer in its low setting to water down the deck. Make sure you wet the whole surface.
- Apply the teak cleaning detergent: Use a soft cleaning pad or a soft bristle brush to apply teak cleaner onto the wet surface. Gently scrub off any dirt or grime following the direction of the wood grain. Take your time here, do not scrub so hard that the wood is scratched. Do one small area at a time and rinse it off immediately with clean water.
- Remember to put on rubber gloves to protect your skin from harsh chemicals.
- Repeat the steps if needed: If there are stubborn dirt spots or stains left on the surface, go ahead and repeat the same steps. You can leave the teak cleaner on for two to three minutes before scrubbing for stain absorption. But no longer than that as dried soap can leave a film on the wood surface.
For the top-rated teak wood restoration, make sure the teak is completely clean before moving on.
Step 2: Brighten the teak wood
Here is the fun part where your teak is going to restore its beautiful color and conditions. Apply the brightener of your choice following these steps:
- Apply teak brightener: While the wood is still wet and the color is muddy brown, apply the teak brightener. Shake the product well before use. With a clean pad, apply a generous amount of brightener following the direction of the wood grain. Remember to do one small area at a time, then rinse it off thoroughly. The teak color should be brightened right away.
- Re-apply if necessary: If you are unhappy with the color, you can always repeat the step. The teak color will get brighter each time you apply.
- Give your boat one final rinse: Run water down the whole surface to ensure no detergent or water spot is left.
- Dry: As stagnant water can harm the teak wood, wipe it off with a soft cloth before letting it dry naturally. Also, this will remove all water residues.
Step 3: Seal the teak surface
Now, it must be delightful to look at your freshly cleaned teak wood. However, it won’t stay clean and bright for long if you don’t maintain it with proper techniques. Because of its regular exposure to weathering and moisture, the surface will soon oxidize. Hence, treatment after cleaning is crucial.
For best results, you should apply a teak sealer to your deck in temperatures above 50°F. Wait for a sunny, low humidity day. Make sure the teak is dry, grab your teak sealer, and proceed:
- Apply the teak sealer: Shake the product well for even color distribution. Then, dab the product onto the wood using a pad or brush applicator. Take your time to ensure a thin, even coating. Be careful not to leave streaks or marks on the surface by cleaning up spills and overruns right away.
- Dry: It should take under an hour for the first coat to dry. Do a touch test to ensure the area absorbs the product entirely.
- Apply another layer: You should apply another coat to enhance the sealer’s appearance and durability. This layer must be applied on the same day. Then, let it dry for a couple of hours. For best results, do not walk on the surface until the following day.
Voila! Your brand new boat deck is back. To keep your deck fresh and polished in the long term, build a habit to maintain its best conditions.
Teak, like any other kind of wood, requires extra care and attention. If you think cleaning and sealing it once a year will do the trick, think again. Teak sealers do not last very long. We recommend washing your deck with detergents and applying a new finishing coat every one to two months.
Owning a boat is a big investment, both with your time and money. But know that the more time and effort you invest, the more you will get in return. Cleaning and sealing your exterior teak regularly will maintain its top shape. The return is not only a gorgeous deck, but also money saved from repairing and replacing the wood. Plus, restoring teak wood on a boat is not difficult at all.
We hope you’ve gathered enough information on how to restore teak wood on a boat. If you follow the procedure, please share the results. It will be exciting. Before you leave, let us know your thoughts in the comment section. Look forward to hearing from you.
Working to create content for Marine Talk has always been a fascinating experience. I get to travel, absorb knowledge about boating, and tackle all the issues when we sail into freedom!