How to Restore Teak on Your Boat

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Stiff scrub brush
Laundry detergent
Chlorine bleach
Cleaner with oxalic acid ( if necessary, for tough dark stains)
Bronze wool pad
Two-part teak cleaner with hydrochloric acid ( if necessary, for the toughest dark stains)
Teak oil
Teak sealer

Pollutants can quickly stain a teak boat, transforming the beautiful golden brown into a mottling of dingy black, brown, and grey. Restore teak boats back to their original condition, removing dark stains from pollution, by following these simple steps.

Step 1 - Clean and Bleach away Pollution

deck of a boat with wake behind it

Teak that isn’t introduced to pollution will age gracefully, developing a beautiful grey patina. However, boats are impossible to keep away from pollutants, so they will commonly develop black and dark stains if not cared for fastidiously. Depending on the damage, there are three options for cleaning. The simplest, cheapest cleaner is a mixture of laundry detergent and bleach, which should be done first. Mix 75% detergent and 25% chlorine bleach. For an extra punch, buy chlorine bleach treated with TSP (trisodium phosphate). Scrub this on with a stiff brush, going with the grain of the wood. Leave on for several minutes, then rinse.

If that doesn’t work, try a cleaner with oxalic acid, a single part cleaner. Wet down, then sprinkle on the cleaner, spreading evenly over the teak with a bronze wool pad (steel wool leaves rust particles). Let the cleaner sit for a couple minutes, then scrub with the bronze wool pad. Rinse off and allow to dry.

Two-part cleaners are the most effective, but contain a strong acid and should be used as a last resort. Dampen wood, then apply the first part using a nylon brush (the acid will eat away natural bristles). Scrub vigorously; the acid will literally dissolve away the top layer, removing stains. The second part will work to neutralize the acid and clean as well. Scrub lightly, rinse and dry.

Protect any aluminum, fiberglass or paint by keeping it free from any cleaner with acid.

Step 2 - Paint with Teak Oil

wood oil

Painting teak with oil will bring out the natural golden beauty and patterns, bringing out the natural oils as well. There are different types of teak oil. Many oils are treated with UV filters, mildew fighters and other additives to protect your teak. Most teak oils use a base of either linseed or tung oil. Linseed is cheaper, but will darken your wood. Tung oil is more expensive, but it is also water-resistant. Paint on several coats of the oil of your choice, carefully wiping up excess oil. Your wood is sufficiently saturated with oil when there are no shiny spots on the wood and it appears to have a matte finish.

Step 3 - Seal the Oiled Teak for Added Protection

If desired, protect your newly oiled teak with a sealer. Wait two weeks after oiling, and wash again. The seal requires an oil-free surface, so wipe down with a acetone-soaked cloth before sealing. Apply several coats with a brush until the teak regains a beautiful uniform matte finish.

Keep your teak looking gorgeous by cleaning and resealing every few months.