Teak Week: Day 2: Brightening the Teak

Brightening the teak is the process to kill all the mold and mildew, not just surface, way down deep.  This will help insure after you build up the varnish that mold doesn’t spontaneously begin growing again.  In the past, I’ve skimmed over this part, but our “Varnish Artist” friend, Rodney, told us we didn’t want to use my normal bleach, water and sunshine solution to clean the mildew and mold out of the teak since our teak was badly mold spotted under the cetol.

He recommended Snappy Teak Nu — a 2 part cleaner to brighten … i.e. kill all the mold & mildew and melt away any remaining embedded cetol in the wood.  The instructions clearly said to wear rubber gloves and protective clothing.  So I got the long rubber gloves, but the protective clothing part turned into old clothes because it was 85 degrees and sunny with the wind blowing about 20.  I couldn’t quite stay out of the spray and another tank top bites the dust!   In the meantime…..
Note The Side Cabin Paper Taped to Protect the Cabin Sides.  We Redid it for the Snappy Teak and Varnish

Note The Side Cabin Paper Taped to Protect the Cabin Sides. We Redid it for the Snappy Teak and Varnish

Before you begin, make sure you have everything blue taped and ready.  We also taped “side curtains” over our cabin top sides to help protect them – turned out Snappy Teak got to the bronze porthole frames anyway, leaving them zebra striped, but scrubbing them with bronze wool and Comet made them look better than ever.  Keep in mind Snappy Teak is a strong chemical.   Test it on an out of the way place on your hull and any other areas it’s likely to come into contact with to make sure you don’t get any nasty surprises.  Winterlude’s hull is awlgripped and the runoff solution it didn’t seem to affect it at all, but we’ve seen other boats painted with who knows what paint that the Snappy Teak took the color right out of the paint.  NOT something you want to happen to your boat!
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Prior to applying Snappy Teak Part 1, the teak had to be wet.
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Applying part 1 … first I diluted part 1 by about 40% … then used a red scrubby pad to put it on, scrubbing lightly across the grain as instructed. The teak turned BLACK! Then dripped on the rub rail below, creating black spots on it and forcing me to do it as well! All’s well that ends well, but it was touch & go for a bit! And it had to be kept wet, as it kept drying out again & again in the 85 degree sun and 20 mph winds!
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After standing on the teak for 2 minutes (David timed it), part 1 had to be rinsed off with water. It was a MESS! But finally all the black and reddish potent chemical washed off.
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After rinsing off part1, it was time for part 2. The instructions say to put it on straight – so we used twice as much part 2 as part 1. It was put on with a polypropylene brush provided with the kit. It was fascinating watching it neutralize part 1. The black crappy looking teak turned golden and even colored. And with a bit of light scrubbing, more cetol kept coming up out of the teak. After applying part 2, we rinsed it again and again.
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WOW! Blonde teak! You can see down the cap rail… first the new blonde teak, then the test patch I’ve already varnished with 2 coats, then the still wet already part 2’d cap rail. On the port side, you can see the blonde teak on the cap rail all the way back!
Teak Drying in the Sun, Looks Cleaner Than We've Ever Seen It!

Teak Drying in the Sun, Looks Cleaner Than We’ve Ever Seen It!

Normally we’re not big on using strong chemicals.  But this was much more effective than my bleach/water for killing the mold & mildew! And since our objective is to make the varnish on the teak last for longer than 3 years, we need to be as sure as possible that the mold & mildew are dead.

Next steps … sand with 80 grit, then sand with 120 grit and FINALLY I’ll get to apply the first two thinned down sealer coats of varnish. I found out they don’t even count when you’re counting coats … so a ‘minimum of 5 coats’ means 2 thinned down sealer coats and THEN 5 more coats of varnish.
In the meantime, we need to replace some of the black caulk so that may be the next major project.
Anyone using other brightening products?  Maybe they’re less harsh and still effective?  Leave a comment and let us know!  THX!   J

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