How to refresh interior (and exterior) wood?

Epenn

Junior Member
Hey all! This is my second post on this forum and I'm very grateful for this community.

I am hoping someone can tell me how to make the wood in my cabin look a little nicer. I've been reading Don Casey's book which includes a section on wood refinishing, but I'm not sure if I've correctly diagnosed my issue and also not clear on what he would suggest if so.

I will attach some pictures. Much of the wood has a blotchy discoloration. My best guess as someone without any relevant experience is that the wood was painted with a sealer that is now flaking off.

The toe rail on deck has a similar look.

Is there anything I can do? What do you suggest? Would I need to sand it down before resealing? Can it be done by hand? What grit? What sealer? I assume just painting over this wouldn't look nice.
 

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Double Tap

Member II
Looks like the woods are covered in urethane and you will definitely have to sand it off to get to the staining and discoloration in the wood.
Start with some 100 grit and sand “with the grain” in the wood. Once you start getting into the wood fiber, change to 220 grit and then finish off with 320. When the wood looks how you want it, clean it with teak cleaner and then apply teak oil.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Helpful to know your year and model, while reading your message. From the 70's to the early 80's the factory transitioned from mahogany to teak interiors. Our '88 is all teak, veneer plywood and solid frame and trim pieces.
Can you add a Sig Line with you boat and location info? This helps other readers understand how to answer.

Our boat had the factory stock oil finish, albeit with years of old dirt and grime in the oiled surface. We cleaned it, and then stripped it with a commercial teak cleaner, "Te-Ka", and than laid on coats of varnish.
That said, a friend with a late 80's E-38, refinished with a hard oil surface and it looks really nice too. Once you get it refinished to your satisfaction, your satisfaction is all that counts! :)

I have some blog entries about our refinishing.

A good "before and after" photo in this one:

Also, If you have not done so already, scroll thru the blog entries for a lot of other owners here. Many examples of great workmanship!
:egrin:
 
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Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
The first two photos show typical age damage. The foot pump shows water damage, common there because the pumps leak when old. The two right-hand photos, I think, reveal a recoating with an improperly prepared surface.

Varnish is a membrane. Those white patches, often discolored dark, are violations of the membrane as result of getting dinged or by wear. Air and dampness gets in, mold discolors the wood. The idea of varnish maintenance is to maintain the membrane intact, so the tone of the wood remains uniform.

The degree of improvement required depends on how visible the damage is, or how much it bugs you. Often a light sanding and a new coat of Interlux satin varnish makes a big difference. Satin is dull and hides imperfections that gloss varnish emphasizes. That plan is good for large areas, since they have to match.

To really fix beat-up wood, it needs to be stripped of varnish. A heat gun does that efficiently and easily. Wood bleach is applied to remove stains and make the surface uniform in color. The companionway (first photo) ought to look grand, and if it were me I'd remove the existing varnish , bleach the wood, and start over toward seven coats--glossy varnish because its tougher and UV resistant. Might include the ladder, too.

The foot pumps--I don't know. I doubt I could ever get the damaged surface to match the surrounding surface., and it wouldn;t be worthwhile to attack the whole area. To neaten things up I might mask off a rectangle around the damage, then take that down to the wood (it's veneer, no aggressive sanding) and varnish or paint it. That would present a neat rectangle of renewed wood around the pumps, which would fail to match the rest but would cause the eye to think it was supposed to be like that.

Varnish is between us and our mental health professionals. But it is something that, as owners, we can work on a bit at a time, which is its own therapy.

Be aware of what is veneer and what is solid teak or mahogany. The veneer is very thin and easy to sand through, and that damage is irreversible.
 

Epenn

Junior Member
Helpful to know your year and model, while reading your message. From the 70's to the early 80's the factory transitioned from mahogany to teak interiors. Our '88 is all teak, veneer plywood and solid frame and trim pieces.
Can you add a Sig Line with you boat and location info? This helps other readers understand how to answer.

Our boat had the factory stock oil finish, albeit with years of old dirt and grime in the oiled surface. We cleaned it, and then stripped it with a commercial teak cleaner, "Te-Ka", and than laid on coats of varnish.
That said, a friend with a late 80's E-38, refinished with a hard oil surface and it looks really nice too. Once you get it refinished to your satisfaction, your satisfaction is all that counts! :)

I have some blog entries about our refinishing.

A good "before and after" photo in this one:

Also, If you have not done so already, scroll thru the blog entries for a lot of other owners here. Many examples of great workmanship!
:egrin:
Looks like the blogs are a good resource, thanks. I've also tried to adjust my profile and signature to reflect that I have a 1985 30+. You've pointed me in the direction of trying to identify what type of wood I have and what it is coated with.
 

Epenn

Junior Member
The first two photos show typical age damage. The foot pump shows water damage, common there because the pumps leak when old. The two right-hand photos, I think, reveal a recoating with an improperly prepared surface.

Varnish is a membrane. Those white patches, often discolored dark, are violations of the membrane as result of getting dinged or by wear. Air and dampness gets in, mold discolors the wood. The idea of varnish maintenance is to maintain the membrane intact, so the tone of the wood remains uniform.

The degree of improvement required depends on how visible the damage is, or how much it bugs you. Often a light sanding and a new coat of Interlux satin varnish makes a big difference. Satin is dull and hides imperfections that gloss varnish emphasizes. That plan is good for large areas, since they have to match.

To really fix beat-up wood, it needs to be stripped of varnish. A heat gun does that efficiently and easily. Wood bleach is applied to remove stains and make the surface uniform in color. The companionway (first photo) ought to look grand, and if it were me I'd remove the existing varnish , bleach the wood, and start over toward seven coats--glossy varnish because its tougher and UV resistant. Might include the ladder, too.

The foot pumps--I don't know. I doubt I could ever get the damaged surface to match the surrounding surface., and it wouldn;t be worthwhile to attack the whole area. To neaten things up I might mask off a rectangle around the damage, then take that down to the wood (it's veneer, no aggressive sanding) and varnish or paint it. That would present a neat rectangle of renewed wood around the pumps, which would fail to match the rest but would cause the eye to think it was supposed to like that.

Varnish is between us and our mental health professionals. But it is something that, as owners, we can work on a bit at a time, which is its own therapy.

Be aware of what is veneer and what is solid teak or mahogany. The veneer is very thin and easy to sand through, and that damage is irreversible.
Thank you so much for taking such a close look at the pictures!

When you say the "right hand photos" do you mean the two that aren't of the companionway, where one includes the bilge pump switch?

Is there any risk of doing a sand and revarnish on an area that had something other than varnish coating it?

So I think I'll focus on the companionway first. The approach you're suggesting is:
1. Remove varnish with heat gun. Does it need to be sanded at all? What if there is something other than varnish coating it?

2. Bleach. Is there a good product for this? Should I use the bleach+detergent+TSP mixture I've read about for this? Should oil be added afterwards?

3. Add varnish, 7 coats

Right?
 

JPS27

Member III
My two cents is to use this book as a guide if you are as mental as I am about trying to get the varnish just right (after all obligatory safety improvements are complete). I see it's become more expensive since I bought it, but i look at it every time I begin a project. I don't try to attain her level of perfection, but close :). And my favorite tool in combo with a heat gun is this one. Heating up wood is like cooking a prime cut of beef. You need to let it rest at the right time. It will keep 'cooking' after you take the gun away, so if you've gone to long you might see the burn after the fact. And burns don't come out. But I would not strip varnish by sanding. Heat, strip, sand as needed after.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
"Right-hand photos" (yes, the bulkhead pics. On my computer the four photos are lined up horizontally)

Varnish is simple but also a specialized craft. Sure, a book or the Internet or our forums (search using Google). I believe in oxalic acid (wood bleach--Clorox doesn't work). Bleach may take many cycles to get the right effect.

All varnish instruction, like hull waxing instruction, is to be taken with a grain of salt. Easy to get compulsive. Easy to listen to people (like me) who feel only varnish is acceptable (although there are in fact many alternatives).

Here's a Blog post that contains a link to Louis Sauzette that helped me a good deal. There are many videos out there.


Also, on heat guns:

 
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racushman

O34 - Los Angeles
I am also in the process of restoring my interior, which bears the sins of years of neglect and at least one prior owner making some half assed attempts to varnish a couple of the bulkheads without the necessary prep.

After contemplating options (and reading Don Casey's book too), I have decided that it's not possible to reliably restore the finish on the teak plywood bulkheads... seems very likely I would sand through the teak veneer before I got some of the discolorations out. So I am in the process of painting the plywood areas with an off white color. I'm doing a low luster finish that hides a lot of sins. And then I'll sand and varnish all the solid teak trim pieces.

For me, this will be a good tradeoff between aesthetics and maintainability. So far it also brightens up the interior of the boat, which is certainly an improvement over the some dank and dirty look things had degraded to.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
If you have not used the "Te-Ka" product you might be quite amazed at how nice it can restore teak in your interior. We started out with some major water stains under the fixed ports and some staining a couple inches up from the sole on the bottom of the bulkheads from water that had sloshed around - thankfully there was no sign that any water had ever been allowed to stay in the boat for any time , which was a good thing.
 

Parrothead

Member III
Refreshing the cabin sole of an E26-2 we had a similar discoloration at the bottom of the main bulkhead. Rather than attempt refinishing the bulkhead we decided to trim it with a covering board
.Bulkhead trim.jpg
 

JPS27

Member III
I like the idea of board to cover the problem. My last challenge in bringing my interior back to life is the result of a flooded cabin from a past life. The teak veneer in those places is rippled/buckled. I had been toying with the idea of cutting it out and patching in new veneer. Does that sound like a viable option or would it just look like a bad attempt to cover up a problem? I've bathed it in oxylic acid mix for days and no change. The acid wash worked a lot better on solid teak at the galley. The problem extends to the bulkhead next to the starboard settee and not such a problem on the head door.
 

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Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Cover board looks great. Might work for you, too. Often what we need is that kind of "cover it" thinking. Nobody knows the original design, and we can get away with a lot. Curtains, for instance. Paint. Mystery rectangles. Framed photos. Personally, I draw the line at rugs. :)

On mu current boat, I had a godawful square patch on the deck nonskid that defied matching. I turned it into a placard to call attention to itself, but with a purpose.

The first Thelonious had had a bilge overflow event in its past. The discoloration of the bunk bases didn;t look that bad, but I knew it was there. I could have covered it on both sides of the saloon with 6"x1/2" mahogany boards from Home Depot. New, elegant "baseboards".

But as usual--now you tell me.
 

JPS27

Member III
Thanks, Christian. Great advice. Saving me from myself. I was thinking of putting a small step to cover the discoloration and make getting in and out of the v berth easier. It should be easy, but the move to get in the berth always takes a bite out of my shins. Thanks, Parrothead, for the idea to simply cover the blemishes.

I'll add that my interior varnishing scheme has become laying down some gloss varnish, the type meant as base that fills in well. And then a two coat cover of matte varnish. Epiphanes. I like the muted look inside. And so easy to work with and very forgiving for a perfect final coat.
 

Pete the Cat

Member I
Thank you so much for taking such a close look at the pictures!

When you say the "right hand photos" do you mean the two that aren't of the companionway, where one includes the bilge pump switch?

Is there any risk of doing a sand and revarnish on an area that had something other than varnish coating it?

So I think I'll focus on the companionway first. The approach you're suggesting is:
1. Remove varnish with heat gun. Does it need to be sanded at all? What if there is something other than varnish coating it?

2. Bleach. Is there a good product for this? Should I use the bleach+detergent+TSP mixture I've read about for this? Should oil be added afterwards?

3. Add varnish, 7 coats

Right?

I have some experience with wood, as I rebuilt and owned a Folkboat for a number of years. All the cautions about veneer above are worth observing. But here are more ideas:
1. You should try sanding first. If you can get the bare wood without heat that is good. If the varnish is thick you might need heat, but practice somewhere where before you do it in an obvious place if you need to burn it off. Burn marks will not come out with sanding. You need a first class scraper to do this if you use heat and you need to keep it sharp (with a file) and moving. You can also use citrus paint remover which is non toxic and works well--particularly if someone used oil previously as it is virtually impossible to sand off oil and will not lift off with most 2 part teak cleaners I have tried.
2. If the bare wood still looks dark after stripping off the old varnish, you can try a teak cleaner and brightener (these are two part teak cleaners and brighteners made for boats, not TSP or household bleach), but these require careful use and will raise the grain and you will need to sand again. Don't use a brush with this stuff. Use a cloth to apply the chemicals. Two part teak cleaner is very hard to use inside and you should flush it with water. i would avoid this if possible.
3. I do not like teak oil. My other boat is a Tartan 37 (I live in Maine half the year and keep the boat there) and it has an oiled teak interior which i have had for 28 years. It is getting very dark from deep mold, even though the boat is dry. I am stripping it out with varnish remover (teak oil is often just watered down varnish) sanding and refinishing it. Teak oil is prone to mold, darkening over time, is very hard to remove. and I do not like it in the long term look--almost black now. I wish I had never seen the stuff. I have been working on that interior now for a couple seasone just trying to remove the old dark oil from the wood. It is not easy work.

4. Varnishing is hard work, too--once you have the wood clean and sanded down to 220 or 320 you should varnish with gloss varnish (this is not the final) diluted by more than 50%--I use about 70% thnner to varnish in the first coats to penetrate the wood-this is to prevent darkening of the wood at future times. Then Epifanes recommends at least 3 coats of progressively less diluted varnish to build up a base. Then I finish the interior with Epifanes "Rubbed Effect" which is a less than satin finish and it looks great. I use 6 coats of bright gloss varnish on the floors to preserve them--no you will not slip on them--this is how Hinckley finishes their floors of the yachts they produce.) Of course you need to sand between coats, vacuum well and use good tack cloths--I use foam brushes and varnishing is an art form--but if you dilute the stuff enough, you will have success if you hang in there with the coats. I understand most folks may not want to put the time in to do this, but it is the only thing that I have found that works in keeping the interior looking bright and saving the floors from becoming a dinged up dirty mess.
I am reaching the end of my project 32-200 I am redoing and will post the pictures when I am done. I use Epifanes products because I am used to them, but some pros like Captain's Varnish because it is a little less dark amber. Epifanes holds up better in the sun, but you probably do not have much UV damage below. The main thing is start out with a clean surface and dilute the first coats to make a base for whatever you want to finally lay down.

FWIW.
 

Smdckr

New Member
Hello,

I’m searching to match a new veneer piece with the rest of my interior wood. I was informed that Ericson used Watco teak oil? I’m just wondering if anyone else has an opinion on that.

Thank you.
 

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Pete the Cat

Member I
Hello,

I’m searching to match a new veneer piece with the rest of my interior wood. I was informed that Ericson used Watco teak oil? I’m just wondering if anyone else has an opinion on that.

Thank you.
I believe that most of the manufacturers used Watco oil on their teak out of the factory. It was cheap and easy to apply and makes everything look good. For awhile. This oil turns dark over time. It attracts mold and holds it. I am trying to remove years of it from my Tartan 37and it is a really hard job. I realize it is easier to apply than a penetrating flat or satin varnish that will seal the surface, but understand what you are getting into. I wish I had never seen the stuff.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Both my boats have varnished interiors. Ericson must have varied its treatments, and of course who knows what subsequent owners have done.

I think most of us here have found that careful experimentation with stains and coverings is required every time new wood needs to be matched to old. Most varnish has a stain or stain effect, so test.

A swipe of alcohol on any raw wood will instantly reveal what it looks like when finished with a clear product. I start there.
 
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