Features January 2011 Issue

Boat Maintenance: 18-month Checkup on Wood Finishes Test

Practical Sailor rates varnishes and varnish alternatives as they search for the best exterior wood coating.

Testers rated dozens of wood finishes—including one-part varnishes, two-part varnishes, synthetic systems, and teak oils—after the test panels faced a year and a half of Florida weather exposure. Find out how the finishes ranked for ease of application, gloss, appearance, and durability. Still going strong in the ongoing long-term test are 20 of the original 22 one-part varnishes and all six of the original two-part varnishes. As a group, varnish alternatives such as Interlux Sikkens Cetol, teak oils, and teak sealers struggled to make the 18-month cut, but nine remain in the test. Products that were doing well 18 months after application include coatings from Interlux, Coelan, Pettit, HMG, and Nautiking. The report also includes a brief look at a new product, Vermont Natural Coatings PolyWhey, which was applied to PS's Cape Dory 25 test boat. This unique coating's base is whey, a byproduct of cheesemaking, rather than oil.

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