My reasoning is simple.
Time has value.
That's the most succinct way to put it...
I use a cetol finish on my external teak because I want to spend my time out sailing in the open ocean as opposed to in harbor re-applying varnish.
This past week, I sanded down all my teak trim, cleaned it up and then applied 4 coats of sikkens cetol marine natural teak. It looks perfectly fine.
|Final product - a few days after 4 cetol natural coats|
|my forward hatch right after 4 coats of sikkens cetol marine natural teak|
Now, keep in mind, I am not a perfectionist. But, to my eye, this looks almost as nice as varnish.
Here's the trade-off.
- Cetol is easier to apply than varnish (put on 3-4 coats, no work in between coats)
- It's easier to remove than varnish
- It lasts 2-3 years before you need to re-touch (varnish lasts 6-12 months)
- in general, varnish has a deeper and richer look vs. cetol
- some people complain about the orange color in cetol
Cetol is a durable satin, translucent protective wood finish (that's their wording). Historically, the major complaint with cetol is that - it has an orange hue. That is certainly the case with Cetol Marine, their first product. Apparently, it's the orange pigments in the finish that allow the Cetol to defend against the UV rays in the sun.
In response to outrage from boaters - in regards to the gross, orange color - these folks made a new product, the 'marine natural teak'.
They turned down the orange in the 'marine natural teak'. Somehow, with the natural teak version, they've managed to maintain good sun protection with only minimal orange color.
To my eye, the amount of orange in the 'natural teak' version is manageable.
If the color of my wood in these 'after' photos makes your stomach turn, then go buy yourself some real varnish and get to work!
If you don't mind the color, then go get yourself some cetol. I use about 2 quarts on my boat. That amount allows me to put 4 layers on all the wood trim you see in these photos.
West Marine will sell you a quart for about 50$ (yeah, not cheap...)
However, you can usually find the same quart of cetol on Amazon for a better price.
|The hatch and cockpit teak with 4 coats of cetol natural|
In this photo, the hatch and cockpit teak are finished (4 coats), but the hand rails are still raw teak.
Okay, if you're interested - I will walk you though my recent teak project - step by step.
Here are my 'Before' photos...
|out sailing, ignoring my crappy woodwork|
Here I am - doing what I do - out sailing. If you look close, you can see that the external teak trim on my Newport 30 sailboat is looking a little ragged. I will be generous and say, its been about 4 years since I have done much of anything with my teak.
Let's just say, my teak had degraded to the point where my marina friends regularly gave me a hard time over it. That's usually my cue to get to work.
|the shameful condition of my teak|
I should mention that the peeling finish in the photo above is the cetol natural teak finish that I applied about 4 years ago. So, you can see it is already separating from the wood, this made the sanding a bit easier.
|cleaning up the bare teak with 80 grit|
|shaving it down to bare, clean teak|
I spent 3-4 days sanding down my wood. My girlfriend, bless her heart, came down to help out.
|Jessica sanding down the hand rails|
This piece of teak in the cockpit was finally starting to look nice. Apparently, my teak has a light golden color once it's properly sanded down. After removing stains with 80 grit, I moved on to 150 grit, to smooth things out and close up the pores.
I have never seen my forward hatch look this nice. I had to take this photo, because I know this won't last.
|forward hatch cleaned up to bare teak|
I taped off with the blue 3M tape. 3M says you can leave this for 14 days and still pull it off clean. I wouldn't wait that long. After 1 week, it is anyone's bet. I left this tape on for 3-4 days in the hot sun, and it still came off easy.
|all prepped up|
Here, I have applied 2 coat of Sikkens Cetol Marine Natural Teak on the teak panel on the right. The trim on the left still remains raw.
|a close up comparing 2 coats of cetol vs. nothing|
|Glacier very excited for food|
Okay - many days later, I am done with the project. I have now applied 4 coats of cetol on all the wood.
If the sun is shining, you can easily do 2 coats in 1 day. I wait till the bottom layer is no longer tacky, then start the second coat. I should mention that I used foam brushes for this project. Personally, I think they are easier to handle/control than hair brushes.
So, I think it looks great. I have had at least one professional boat-yard guy stop by and compliment me on my varnish. He was impressed to hear it was actually cetol, because he is well aware how much more work is required to actually apply varnish.
Here's a few more finished teak photos.
I will load a few more photos up tomorrow, now that the whole boat is done and cleaned up.
Final pictures after 4 coats of sikkens cetol marine natural teak
|big improvement in the cockpit|
|handrails looking nice!|
I'm looking at the wind report and seeing 10-15 knots this weekend. I'm planning to raise sails this Saturday and head into the Pacific Ocean...
It's like the old saying...
'Varnish is for people who love boats, cetol is for people who love sailing.'
It should be noted that I owe much of my familiarity with boat maintenance to Don Casey's classic book, This Old Boat
This is a broadly respected, definitive text that has brought many novice boaters into the world of proper boat care. There's a nice section on wood work and teak maintenance.
Truth be told, I didn't know much of anything when I bought this old Newport 30. I slowly brought it back to life and it's given me 8 great years. Let's hope I see another ten years from this vessel. Lord knows I wouldn't get much if I sell it...