It’s TEAK Time Again…

Didn’t we just do this?  Yep, teak needs two coats of varnish twice a year.

Blue Taped and Sanded, Winterlude's teak is ready for another coat of varnish.

Blue Taped and Sanded, Winterlude’s teak is ready for another coat of varnish.

We heard from our Varnish Artist friends that we were “lucky” that we put on two more coats of varnish in May before we left the boat for the summer.

Old Cetol on Handrail, Stripped Eyebrow, in the background New Caprail Varnish

Original Dark Cetol on Handrail, Stripped Eyebrow and in the Background New Caprail Varnish

Apparently this summer was one of the worst on varnish in recent history.  So lots of boats are bemoaning broken varnish.  Our varnish, while it can always use another few coats, is intact despite the bird crap (and UV)  it endured over the summer.

But we’re getting ready to leave, so we’re calling in our pro friends, Varnish Artists (if you’re in the Punta Gorda/Sarasota FL area, e-mail Varnish Artists at varnishartist at sign gmail dot com), they’ll spruce it up and make it last another 10 years (as long as we keep up with the maintenance coats).   It’s been three years since we sanded down to bare wood and replaced our Cetol with real varnish…. and so far it’s holding up … but we started with 8 coats and we’ve added 2 coats every six months ….  on the other hand keeping the Cetol from breaking down required the same amount of effort and since it wasn’t as pretty, it was easier to neglect….



Here are the links to our varnish story  — there are no shortcuts — PREP PREP and PREP are the key to successful varnish and FLAGSHIP!!!  Not any other brand.  …  after another two coats sticks to our sanded teak ….

FlagshipVarnishIf you’d like to follow our story to our current glossy varnish, click these links …

3 Ways to Strip Teak

Teak Week – Day 1:  Stripping Teak

Teak Week – Day 2:  Brightening Teak

Teak Week – Day 3:  Replacing Bungs and Caulk

Teak Week – Day 4:  Sanding and Wetsanding

Teak Week – Day 5:  Finally The Varnish!

Sail Winterlude:  Teak Step By Step – my original blog posts while stripping to bare wood and switching to varnish for the first time.

Keeping Teak Pristine

For even more teak info – interior as well as exterior, click the Maintenance:  Teak link here.

Yes, it requires some effort, but every time I walk or dinghy up to our boat, my heart sings with teak so glossy I can see my reflection.  I love teak … and I hate teak … but I only hate it for the 4 days a year it takes to add those extra coats — the rest of the time, I’m in love!  🙂

Comments on maintaining varnish on your teak?  Please share!   Cheers!  Jan


  1. Keith Davie says:

    I know you like your Pettit varnish, but have you ever tried Epifanes? It’s “THE” brand up here in Maine for everyone from Schooner captains to Lyman-Morse boat building – but of course we don’t get near the UV and heat you get in a southern summer. Just wondering…

    • Interesting you ask Keith. The boat next to us has Epifanes and it breaks down quickly in the UV. He just had it completely redone, down to bare wood last year and it’s not holding up at all. When it was first done it was drop dead gorgeous – I was jealous. Anytime you bring up varnish, folks feel strongly about “their” choice — sort of like an anchor “discussion”. Sticking with Flagship here … Note: Pettit makes several varnishes including Captains which I understand isn’t nearly as good. Our choice is Pettit FLAGSHIP varnish. One other note – friends that left the US with varnish and couldn’t get their brand in the Rio Dulce, opted for the local stuff — which was just as pretty. Alot has to do with the prep. 🙂 Cheers — Jan

      • Keith Davie says:

        Great feedback, Jan! Thank you! I don’t have a horse in this race myself, and in fact we’re still debating how much brightwork to allow on “Renaissance” as we work through the refit. As little as possible, I suspect, at least outside. But like you, we have a toe-rail that would look lovely varnished, if we want to commit to that project! I’m putting “Flagship” on the list of must-haves, thanks to you!

  2. Probably hate these kinds of comments, but we have teak decks and cockpit, toe rails, and trim on our Hallberg-Rassy 372 and have left it unfinished up here in New England, except for some varnish around the companionway which is protected from the sun under the dodger. Basically, wash it with salt water twice a season (use a sponge and never scrub with a brush), and it has a lovely silvery color, provides excellent non-skid, and feels great on our feet. Used to varnish all the teak in our old boat, hated the maintenance and expense, and would never go back. Varnish in sun-exposed areas looks great until it doesn’t, and unless you have a couple of lads from Antigua on speed dial, I’d recommend the natural look.

    • Hi John — we have natural teak decks, cockpit and rub rail, it’s silver and gorgeous. But I’m a sucker for glassy teak on the caprail, eyebrow and grab rails, so those get varnish. The Pacific Seacraft 37 across from us gave up and went natural like you suggest – his is looking prettier and prettier. And there’s no argument that it’s easier! 🙂 Cheers — Jan

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