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A Complete Guide to Teak Maintenance on Your Sailboat

By Joshua Bremmerer, CEO at Komodo Covers
Teak surfaces are divisive in the boating world—loved by some for their sparkling appearance and perfect grip, loathed by others for the perceived difficulty of teak maintenance. The reality is that teak is nothing to be afraid of, as long as you follow some essential tips to take care of the material properly, minimizing costs in the process.

Teak is famed for its various grains of hard and softwood, making it naturally adhesive and anti-slip in practically any weather condition. Furthermore, it maintains a relatively cool temperature, insulating a boat to avoid engine overheating. Due to the several types of wood, different teak maintenance methods can drastically affect its ability to last. 

So, it’s crucial to take the following steps into account to make sure you don’t mark the surface and keep your boat in excellent condition.

Cleaning is king

First things first, whatever you do, don’t use high-pressure cleaners on your teak because they will destroy the softer wooden elements, leaving ridges and areas that can quickly rot. Additionally, hard brushes or powerful cleaning detergents will cause a similar effect, damaging the vulnerable soft sections.

Instead, it’s much better to do regular cleaning—weekly if possible—with a very soft brush or Brite pad. You will see good results from lightly brushing against the grain with a mild detergent. If you see mildew or just want to make your sailboat sparkle, you could consider using a tiny amount of bleach, but do it with caution.

Smooth sailing with sanding

Most boaters with a teak deck consider it a standard practice to sand the surface once a year before the start of a season. Sandpapers come in various grits—for a teak deck, between 80 and 120-grit is the ideal level. The higher the number of grit, the more slippery the deck will be, so a medium level is suitable for teak as it will maintain the characteristic non-slip.

Seal the deal

Once you have cleaned and sanded the teak evenly, you can be forgiven for clapping your hands together and proclaiming a “job well done.” But you are still missing one last step—and it is a crucial one. A teak sealer will prolong the natural appearance of the wood for years to come while maintaining the pristine condition. Depending on the type of seal, some can contain biocides and even UV inhibitors which go that extra step in terms of preservation.

Aside from sealers, you can also consider using teak oil products, but be careful on how much you apply as sometimes overapplication of oil can promote mildew growth. If your boat isn’t going to be used regularly, this may not be the best course of action. The other issue with teak oil is that it doesn’t last particularly long, usually 4-12 weeks, depending on how well you have applied it.

Following these tips will put you in a great position to get your boat ready for a season on the water. If you choose the right cleaning products, sand your deck appropriately, and seal it with a good sealer, you should be able to maintain your sailboat deck for longer than you had ever imagined!

About Josh Bremmerer

josh bremmerer

Josh Bremmerer is an innate navigator, an experienced leader in the boating industry with over a decade of experience in management and company development and a lifelong passion for boating.  As the manager of Glacier Ski Shop, Josh grew the small Shop into a nationally recognized business and increased profits by 400%. With that background, it’s no wonder Josh started his own business in the boating industry: Komodo Covers

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