Caring For Interior Teak

363 days a year I love the teak interior of our Passport 37 sailboat.  Twice a year, I curse it. That’s the two days I have to pay attention to the teak or it will turn dark, spotted and ugly.   204 louvers, hundreds of solid teak staves, Murphy’s Oil Soap and some serious lemon oil and the spring session has concluded!

Teak Louvered Doors throughout the boat... 204 louvers to be exact.

Teak Louvered Doors throughout the boat… 204 louvers to be exact.

WooHoo, next week’s looking good to go play on the boat!    If you’d like more detailed information about how I keep the teak looking good after 28 years, click on the link below the photo.  The same article that Cruising World featured in their online newsletter about taking care of interior teak.

Click here for more …..

Teak Teak Teak … Inside This Time

How do you take care of your interior teak?  Please leave a comment and share!  Cheers!  Jan


  1. Keith Davie says:

    Im curious, why not varnish? Not much more work involved, and inside, it should last for years without the damage from salt and sun. And it looks nice!

  2. Keith Davie says:

    Of course, I could be missing something important here!

    • Hi Keith! Actually, it IS varnished. Satin sheen varnish originally done at the boatyard in Taiwan in 1985. When we bought the boat, the prior owner told me the only thing he did to it was clean the wood annually with murphy’s oil soap. Our original caretaker was a teak guru and he suggested doing the murphy oil clean twice a year and coating with lemon oil, letting it soak in & then wiping it off. I have no idea if this is the right approach, all I know is the teak inside sv Winterlude still looks good and isn’t starting to turn dark. So I keep doing it.

      • P.S. You mean I wouldn’t have to do this maintenance at all and it would continue to look good? There’s a thought! 🙂 But there’s no way we could ever redo the varnish inside, so ….

      • Keith Davie says:

        Hmm… Jan, I’m not positive, but IF the oil you apply is soaking in, then I have to assume that the varnish is long gone. Varnish is water-proof.
        I’m guessing that the 1985 varnish has been worn away by the annual washing you describe, so you are, in fact, maintaining an oil finish perfectly by your twice-a-year cleaning and rubbing. Nothing wrong with that, and as you said, it smells wonderful!
        If you wanted to do the varnish over, you’d start by cleaning the surface oil off, then perhaps use a mineral spirits wipe to get the surface pores opened up a bit, then two coats of varnish – the first thinned 50% with spirits, the second straight – would likely be enough on interior teak to last for years, unless you scrub it twice a year with Murphy’s!
        It’s a thought, but if you like the look of the rubbed oil and don’t mind the 2-days-out-of-365 routine… 🙂
        BTW your boat looks stunning with all that teak! I’m jealous!

        • Interesting Keith. The varnish is definitely not completely rubbed off, but the lemon oil doesn’t soak in everywhere. We wait a couple of days and then wipe the excess off with a soft rag. The problem with adding more is the teak staves. Anytime I add varnish coats outside (a project coming up in the next few weeks), we wetsand exhaustively. Before the first coat and between coats. That’s what gives the gorgeous mirror-like finish — well, that and 10 + coats of varnish. Inside the teak staves have grooves between them where the staves fit together and would be near impossible to sand. So I’d end up with the raised areas sanded and the grooves not. I don’t think varnish will stick to a surface that hasn’t been at least minimally “roughed up”, so I’d be terrified to try and redo the inside teak in this boat. We’re definitely not experts, we just report what we do and hopefully everyone else can use it for considerations on their own boats. THANKS! Cheers — Jan Teak Staving - look at the

  3. Hi Jan….had to smile that you know there are 207 louvers….but then again, when I thought about it, of course it’s you. If it makes you feel any better, Winterlude looks gorgeous in the pics and you deserve a lot of respect. I always wonder why someone would spend thousands of dollars (usually scores of thousands) on a boat and allow it to deteriorate — most would never allow a luxury sport car to sit out in the elements unprotected or uncleaned to waste away…one of life’s quandaries.

  4. oops, that would be 204 louvers, I guess! 🙂

    • 🙂 — Hi Bari! I had to do SOMETHING while cleaning each and every one of those louvers. And I am amazed every time and how filthy they get in such a short period of time. Cheers! Jan


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