By Dale Wills
“I’m sanding my own teak to save the boss money,” says Capt. Andresen from the deck of the 78-foot Rybovich and Sons Persistence. For a captain new to the luxury of teak decks, a DIY attempt at sanding them without a little guidance and know-how can easily turn into a big mistake. If that happens, do what most uber sportfishing captains decide to do and grab your iPhone, search Yelp for a highly rated sub-contractor and continue on with your other boat duties.
For those of you who are hands-on, Capt. Andresen was kind enough to share a few quick tips from a decade of teak experience. His number one and most important tip is you need a good quality sander. As with most jobs, half the battle is having the right tools. Capt. Andresen uses the 6” Festool Rotex Sander. Yes, it is expensive, north of $600, but it will certainly pay for itself many times over after just one job. A key component of the sander is the highly efficient dust removal, which keeps the sandpaper cooler so the black rubber Thiokol material doesn’t gum up on the sanding pad. In our exclusive video, you can watch as Capt. Andresen demonstrates how well the sander works, in addition to observing the amount of sanding time needed prior to replacing a new sanding pad.
You’ll also see a vacuum hose and a shop vac to catch the dust. Also made by Festool, the vacuum hose is antistatic and will not allow dust to build up or stick to it. Capt. Andresen highly recommends the Festool hose but adds that any shop vac works great. So what is the right amount of sandpaper grit for a teak deck? That can be a personal preference, but keep in mind you’ll want to avoid making the teak too smooth. Capt. Andresen uses 60-grit, which provides enough footing on the deck for bare feet or deck shoes. “With 60-grit, you can still feel the grain,” adds Andresen.
You’ll also want to have a good supply of paper sanders on hand to maintain a consistent amount of abrasion. It’s very important to use a slight amount of pressure on the sander while revealing the golden-brown color of the fresh teak. Capt. Andresen prefers to sand the bulk of the deck first and then finish with a detail sander for all the corners and hard-to-reach voids (the detail sander is also a Festool Rotex Sander).
When all is sanded and smooth, next Capt. Andresen uses a little soap and water to clean the deck from any trace of dust particles. Once the freshly sanded deck is clean and dry, the final step is to apply Triton Teak Protector. The solution binds to the wood and creates a protective water-, oil- and UV-resistant surface. “The Triton allows my teak to stay looking new longer and protect the wood from the elements.”
So how often should you sand your teak? It all comes down to personal preference. “You don’t want to be sanding your teak down too frequently and accelerate the replacement cycle. I plan to sand mine twice a year, but it all depends on wear. The more the boat is used, the more maintenance it needs,” says Capt. Andresen.
Covering Board Tips
- Use 80-grit for covering boards.
- Any areas where sander marks are obvious, gently smooth over with 100-grit.
- Remove rod holders when doing the covering boards to maintain a uniform height.
- 6” Festool Rotex sander with antistatic hose
- Detail Festool Rotex sander
- 6” 60-grit sanders
- Shop vac
- Triton Teak Protector
- Disposable brushes