Recently, a survey I was doing was cut short and the buyer walked away from the sale due to the condition of the teak decks on the vessel. I don’t disagree with the buyer, but it makes me sad to see a sale fall through. The decks were 39 years old and there were plenty of missing bungs (exposed screws), cracked planks, open seams, cracked caulking, that you might expect to see, but there was also a huge amount of teak that had been literally scrubbed away making it futile to fix the other issues. The only recourse now is to remove and replace the decking.
The time and cost to repair the teak deck is huge, and potentially open-ended depending on the condition of the core material in the fiberglass deck underneath the teak.
It’s sad, because it didn’t have to happen. A properly maintained teak deck can last for 40 years, a poorly maintained one might struggle to make 10 years. It’s up to you.
DOs and DON’Ts of teak decks
- Wash gently with salt or fresh water once a week
- If you must, use a mild detergent and soft sponge or very soft brush ACROSS THE GRAIN
- Tackle tough stains with a weak solution of oxalic acid
- Let them age gracefully to a nice gray color
- Repair loose bungs and cracked caulk promptly!
- Scrub with a hard brush or with the grain of the wood
- Even think about pressure washing!
- Leave decks to get really dirty
- Sand your decks, except as a last resort
If you really love the look of teak decks (and I do) consider getting a whole-boat cover. Fit a cover over the whole deck and protect not just your brightwork, but those decks as well.