For the last decade or so, the majority of all production boats built in the U.S. have been trimmed above and belowdecks with teak. Teak makes abundant sense on deck. With resistance to weathering as its primary virtue, however, teak makes less sense for use as trim below.
Probably nothing can make or break the appearance of a fiberglass boat more quickly than the appearance of the exterior teak trim. Contrary to popular belief, teak is not a maintenance-free wood that can be safely ignored and neglected for years at a time. Though teak may not rot, it can check, warp, and look depressingly drab if not properly cared for. Although it is not immune to neglect, teak is incredibly resilient, and can be brought back to life after remarkable amounts of abuse. Therefore, there is no excuse for drab, ugly exterior teak on any boat. Unlike other woods used for exterior trim, the grey weathering of teak rarely extends very far below the surface of the wood.
Gelcoat provides a fiberglass boat with a hard, water-resistant protective shell. When new, its polished and waxed to a bright shine, but after a few years of facing the elements-especially damaging UV rays-gelcoat will begin to oxidize and turn into a dull, chalky film on the surface. There are a few ways to remedy an oxidation problem (see Tips & Techniques), but for this article, we focused on coarse and medium-coarse rubbing compounds, which can be buffed on to remove the chalky layer and fine scratches. The tests evaluated ease of use, ability to remove oxidation and scratches, and whether they left swirl marks; testers also considered price, availability, and eco-friendliness.
Boat owners looking to put some stick back into a slip-and-slide deck have a few options: apply a deck paint with a nonskid additive or glue sections of specialized nonskid mat to the deck. Choosing which type of nonskid is the right one for your boat makeover is a balancing act between aesthetic taste, traction needs, and budget. Practical Sailor tested 11 commercially available nonskid options that the average boat owner can easily apply: one paint with no filler media, five paints ready mixed with nonskid compounds, three nonskid additives that testers mixed with two-part topside paints, and two nonskid mats (one is self-adhesive, and one is glued on with an epoxy). All of the products can be applied to fiberglass, wood, or metal. Manufacturers included Pettit (Kop- Coat), Epifanes, AkzoNobel (Interlux and Awlgrip), West Marine, Pachena (KiwiGrip), Durabak, Tiflex (Treadmaster), and SeaDek. Using some creative bench tests, we evaluated how much traction, grip, and drag resistance each offered; we also rated how easy the products were to apply, how uniform the grit was, and how easy they were to clean.
Our testers estimated that the exposure test was the equivalent of five years of exposure aboard a boat. Although the test demonstrated that a DIY solution using sandwich bags can nearly match performance, it also demonstrated that the makers claims of five years of protection could, in practice, be accurate.
Theres little debate over the adhesive quality and toughness of epoxy resin-just look at where its being used. We hear about its presence in crucial structures such as aircraft wings, race car bodies and high-end custom racing yachts. But it takes a little familiarity with engineering lingo to help us understand why epoxy trumps its ester relatives.
How thick is too thick for the buildup of old layers of bottom paint? This question arises because I have just finished painting the bottom of my boat. Even though I diligently sought out potential flaking spots with my knife, while rolling on the paint (Pettit Ultima Eco), I would frequently get a mess caused by the paint flaking off. I have only owned this boat for three years, so I really do not know how many layers there are.