Suggestion for Cleaning Teak

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Well-known member
Feb 22, 2006
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Cape May Court House, NJ
Any suggestions on what to use to clean up the teak trim in the cabin prior to re-oiling? It's in good shape (2002)...Only section that ever gets wet is the piece on the starboard side just above floor. Thanks in advance.
Hopefully, this will help. This is a 'repeat' of a project that I posted to ClassicMako last winter


So... what kind of project can I work on in this weather? Teak refinishing! [:D]

I removed all of the teak trim from inside the pilothouse and took it home to work on it...
Got on the net to find the proper way to do it, and got out the Starbright refinishing kit that GW204 gave me last season, that I had not used yet. [;)]

The first step was to use ScotchBrite pads and the Starbright cleaner to clean off 9 years of funky grunge, flush with lots of water, and allow the parts to dry for a week.

Next step was to sand each piece with 150 grit, then 220 grit, and finally 320 grit until each piece was as smooth as a babys bottom. With the sanding complete, everything was cleaned with a scotchbrite sponge and more Starbright cleaner, then allowed to dry for another week.

Next weekend, the Starbright lightener was applied to each piece with a terrycloth pad and allowed to sit for 10 minutes. The lightener was rinsed, and re-applied a second time. After drying, this is what the trim pieces looked like before oiling.


Here are the parts after the first 3 coats of teak oil...


This is what it looked like after about a dozen coats, and before the excess oil was rubbed in with a terry cloth staining pad.


The oil was applied in thin coats with a sash brush, allowed to soak in for 10 to 15 minutes, the excess rubbed in with the terry cloth pad, and the whole process repeated again.

This was continued until the wood would no longer accept the oil, and the surface remained 'wet' after 15 minutes, which took about two dozen coats.

After the excess oil was wiped from the parts, the parts were allowed to sit in the garage overnight.
In the morning, the parts were rubbed out with terry towels and placed in the basement to 'season' and wait for the weather to allow re-installation.

I know... not as exciting as ripping out floors, fuel tanks, and transoms, but some of us don't have fiberglass skills. [:D] BUT... wood I can deal with (even though this is my first time dealing with teak).

C'mon spring! [:D]
Capt. Kevin - nice work. You have just given me the motivation to do the same project. I hope my teak comes out looking as good.


basically, what kevin said.....when teak darkens, i just hit it lightly
with a palm sander to get to clean, intact wood......then do what kevin
said.......two tips for you.

[1] take the teak HOME to work on...dont ever try to bleach, clean,
sand, or refinish teak is too hard ON the boat and too
easy on the shop bench all winter...also, the "cleaners" can stain
your gelcoat forever.

[2] if you MUST have great looking teak, use a two part polyurethane
such as BRISTOL , AWLCLEAR....these are tedious and "busy" to use
but can give you multiple seasons without attention needed, ie
2-3 in FL vs 5-7 in new england......the depth and gloss are unmatched
by any other teak rx....

for myself, i let it darken and or fade for 3-5 years, applying oil to it
almost weekly when some point, it is almost black
and i then sand it to clear wood and just start over with oiling.....dan
I was motivated by Capt. Kevin. I removed all the teak from the pilothouse today. Although the teak is 9 seasons old it still looked pretty good. In any event I used Starbrite's kit to clean and bleach the teak. I will let it dry this week and then hit it with some sandpaper and then oil. Hopefully it will look as good at Kevin's.

Following Capt. Kevin's example I cleaned, bleached and oiled...stills needs of few more coats before I reinstall. This is how the teak looks now


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I reinstalled the teak trim in the pilothouse is the fishished result. Thank you Kevin for the incentive.....


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Beautiful !!
Nothing looks quite as good as finished teak. :wink:

I might be using some of your rod mounting ideas this season.
Stand-by for the project photos... :D

Looks great! I did the same to mine and will be installing on Saturday. Ready to splash in marina is not ready for me. Hopefully soon.

They're starting to pick a few bigger fish mixed in with the residents according to the bassbarn in the Del Bay.