teak decks

I am about to start repairing the teak deck on our boat (Shawnstar BCC hull # 36, 1978), it has quite a few of the bungs missing and needs re-cauking. Has anyone any advise on the process of removing the old caulk and know how the original job was done? What kind of bedding and caulk? My understanding at this point is the process of removing it is based on the liberal aplication of elbow grease and bent file handles with the possibility of a fein tool helping, I also have heard of setting the blade of a circular saw shallow and ripping the caulk out that way.
Jonathan Fulford

I have only done some teak deck recaulking of smaller areas on my last boat.
The best advice I could give would be first of all…do no harm. I do not know the entire scope of your project but working by hand lets you apply only the amount of force needed for the area you are working. I have heard that the Fein tool works well but hear the cost of replacement blades or tips are way too expensive and there has been a number of complaints that the blade tips are too weak and have broken prematurely.
I don’t think the circular saw thing will give you the element of control and feedback you need for reefing out the seams and would seem to be somewhat cumbersome in tight spaces. I used a ground down file which gave me a good workout but did a fine job. Just my 2 cents.
Best to you
SV “Lightfoot”

I have redone portions of the 20 year old decks on Terrier with plenty of assistance and advice from a highly experienced caulker. Removal of the sealant from the foredeck was about 2-3 days. Minimal cotton needed to be removed even after 20 years. The caulking took a full day (9-6) by an experienced caulker who for the most part was “just” adding more cotton. Then another 1/2 day for the application of the sealant. I used the one part Teak deck systems sealant. The old rubber sealant is cut with a razor knife. Make a long “V” if joining another seam. With the rubber cut, use a reefing hook or a similarly fashioned tool that fits easily in the seams and has sharp edges to scrape the rubber from the teak. With some practice you’ll be removing long strips of the rubber. I have also used the Fein tool but you need to have the right size blade for the seam and they are $$$. It is important to caulk to the right tension so as not to distort the hull. As you know it is the cotton that keeps the decks watertight. The sealant is to protect the cotton. I still need to do the bridge deck but will wait for the summer. And certainly I agree with Mark, “first do no harm”. For the caulking I think cotton is preferred for the decks.

“Terrier” #31


Based on your description, Terrier’s deck must be “solid” teak over plywood - nice. I suspect Shawnstar’s deck is either 1/2" or 3/8" teak planking over fiberglass. As you know, teak decks over fiberglass are usually caulked with a seaming compound and no cotton. Your advice to Jonathan is sound. I would also recommend using Teak Decking Systems SIS 440 Teak Deck Caulk - http://www.teakdecking.com/ .

When I do maintenance on Iduna’s deck, I remove the old seaming compound with a Fein tool, followed by sandpaper to cleanup the wood. Before caulking, I tape the edges of the seam(s) with blue masking tape to reduce the cleanup work. After applying SIS 440, I push the caulk into the seam with a flexible putty knife then remove the tape. SIS 440 is a low modulus, silicone rubber compound that will stick to cured polysulfide caulks but other caulking compounds will not stick to silicone rudder nor will varnish or paint. The recommend self-life is 1 year, hence I purchase SIS 440 either from Teak Decking Systems or from a supplier that has as high volume of SIS 440 sales, such as Jamestown Distributors - www.jamestowndistributors.com or Hamilton Marine - www.hamiltonmarine.com .


Terrier’s deck is laid teak over laminated doug fir crossbeams. Its construction does make it easier to identify leaks but it doesn’t seem to make it easier to repair! But still nice to look at. Good point on the shelf life of the TDS. I have been able to use a local supplier and return the unused ones after the job is done minimizing the problem of too much or too little.


Terrier #31

We have done about 50 teak decks in the San Francisco Bay Area over the years and have used every deck sealant on the market. Please let me know what type deck structure your have, teak over glass, teak over ply, teak over deck beams and we will help you in any way we can. Why? Because it’s a BCC.


Mark, Tom, Rod, & Marty,
Thanks for the input on the task; to clarify some I am redoing the entire deck, that’s about 2000 screws & bungs. The deck is a sandwich from the top down of what looks to be once 5/8" x 1 3/16" teak (now around to -9/16" thick due to weathering), 3/4" plywood, with a 3/8" fiberglass inner layer. The weathering has caused a lot of the bungs to lose their hold so I plan on removing all the bungs and resetting the screws a little deeper, re-bunging using epoxy as the adhesive for the bungs. The old screws are 1"#10 ss, I will try and get another strong 16th out of the countersinking so as to have around 3/16" for the bungs to fasten and hopefully another 30 years of weathering, and at that point maybe my kids can redo the deck! Because the teak has been worn into a concave surface it will need to be sanded flat after the bungs have been set then begin the process of removing the old sealant and what looks like cotton string. I’ve hired a local boat builder to work on the project, he has had a lot of good ideas about how to approach things, and is open to suggestions, especially around what and how to remove and replace the old polysulfide between the teak. That is the part I feel most unsure about, I have heard that the string is used as a backer rod not a sealant, that it keeps the polysulfide from adhering to the bottom of the gap between the teak decking allowing the caulk to flex as the teak expands and contracts. I will know more about what was done before as we get into it some tomorrow.
Thanks again, and if you have any other ideas or comments I’m all ears. I need to go stoke the wood stove in the shop so the boat will be warm for tomorrow,

I’ve been reading about your teak deck re-do. All good sound advice especially what Mark said about the saw thing. Yeah, stay away from that. What I have done in the past with a Hans Christian was to use a small laminate router with a up-spiral bit and guide. I made a runner about 5 inches long and the thickness of the seam or the width that the router bit would cut. I fastened this runner to the parallel guide bars that came with the router. Adjust the space between the bit and runner to match the seam to seam distance of the decking, insert the runner into the cleaned out seam and rout out the old caulk by pulling the runner and router along the length of the clean seam. Once you rout one seam move over to the next one and repeat the process. You will have to finish the seams on the ends by hand the last 6-7 inches. Use a good hardwood for the runner. I’m not sure how this setup will work with the cotton string, may wrap up on the bit, but it worked well on the Hans Christian. Also depending on the caulk the friction of the rotating bit may cause it to get sticky. I liked this method because it gave me fresh edges on the deck planks, some of which were messed up by a previous re-paying. I used a bit a little wider than the original seam. Oh yeah, get a good set of knee pads.

Bob & Lois Plank

BCC Jolie Brise