Last March, in our traditional spring maintenance issue, we diverted from tradition long enough to report the initial results of a new long-term varnish exposure test. It had been many years since wed tested varnishes, mainly because our experience testing other teak treatments (oils, stains, epoxies, urethanes, etc.) strongly shows that the best of these dramatically outlast old-fashioned varnish. Still, many of the long-lasting teak treatments don’t look as good as varnish, so for the sake of purists we decided to test varnishes.
Our two most recent reports on teak treatments appeared in the March 1999 and March 2000 issues. The panels exposed for the March 1999 report were actually placed outdoors in the sun anywhere from 3 to 36 months earlier. Twelve of those products were left untouched through the next year and into this year.
In summer 1999, we added 16 more panels for a total of 28. Some of these, however, were prototypes that never made it into production, so this report focuses just on the commonly available products.
Last year, when we reported the results, panel ratings ranged from Poor (Sav-Coat Plasticlear) to Good (Armada Gloss, Armada MC2000, Burgess HydroGuard + HydroVarnish, HydroVarnish, Cetol, and Woodmate Gloss) to Very Good (Woodmate Semi, oil and water base), to Excellent (Bristol Finish, Honey Teak, Smith & Co. Five Year Clear, Teak Shield Gloss and Satin, and Woolsey Protective Wood Coating).
What a difference a year makes! During the last 12 months, most of the coatings disappeared, many completely. Some retained film coverage over part of the panel, but had large areas of bare, weathered wood.
Just four products resisted a breakdown of the film- two-part Bristol Finish; two-part Smith & Co. Five Year Clear; one-part Armada MC2000 Gloss, and two-part Honey Teak. Note that Bristol Finish and Armada MC2000 have been exposed for less time than the other two. Time will tell if they can match the others longevity.
Runner-up was the long-time stalwart, the pigmented stain that began the revolution in teak treatments 10 years ago-Sikkens Cetol Marine. We judged about 2% of the film gone, and not just at the edges, where failure usually initiates. Woolsey Protective Wood Coating was judged about the same as Cetol, although it wasnt exposed for as long.
After these two were Armadas standard Gloss and Semi-Gloss wood finishes.
Among the four top-rated coatings, we need to look for other ways to distinguish them.
While Smith & Co. Five-Year Clear has not suffered a film failure, we do note some white blotches under the surface, which, according to the company, is the epoxy undercoat turning milky from ultraviolet rays. It lasted five years, as advertised. Now it will have to be taken down to bare wood.
Of the remaining three, Bristol Finish and Armada MC2000 havent yet proven that they can match Honey Teak in terms of longevity.
Honey Teak and Smith & Companys Five Year Clear are our top choices, with the edge going to Honey Teak because of the blotching starting under the Smith coating, and because the epoxy component will probably make removal more difficult.
Most newer teak treatments will outlast traditional varnish, and while some arent as attractive as varnish, the top-rated products look every bit as good.
Contacts: Armada Coatings, PO Box 879, Havre de Grace, MD 21078; 800/336-9320. Bristol Finish, C-Tech Marine, 489 Ballard Dr., Melbourne, FL 32935; 800/582-7508, www.bristolfinish.com. Cetol Marine, Akzo Coatings, 1845 Maxwell St., Troy, MI 48084; 800/833-7288. Honey Teak, Signature Finish, PO Box 1041, Port Salerno, FL 33492; 561/287-6077, www.signaturefinish.com. Smith & Co., 5100 Channel Ave., Richmond, CA 94804; 510/237-6842. Teak Shield, Shield Products, PO Box 56768, Jacksonville, FL 33241-6768; 904/730-7789. WoodMate, Noble House Coatings, 262 Progress Ave., Scarborough, Ontario, Canada M1P 2Z4; 416/332-9393. Woolsey Protective Wood Coating, Woolsey/Z-Spar Marine Paint, 36 Pine St., Rockaway, NJ 07866; 800/221-4466, www.woolsey-zspar.com.
Also With This Article
Click here to view the Teak Treatments Value Guide.