View Full Version : Varnish Teak Toerails?

07-09-2015, 06:51 AM
This may seem like a dumb trivial question but I can't figure out what to do. I have teak decks and toenails. The only pictures I've found of similar Concordias show the the toenails varnished. It's possible their toenails are not teak. If I'm leaving my decks unfinished, is there any reason to varnish the toenails?

Peerie Maa
07-09-2015, 07:35 AM
This may seem like a dumb trivial question but I can't figure out what to do. I have teak decks and toenails. The only pictures I've found of similar Concordias show the the toenails varnished. It's possible their toenails are not teak. If I'm leaving my decks unfinished, is there any reason to varnish the toenails?

I would varnish them.

Something like this perhaps?
http://new4.fjcdn.com/comments/Goddamn+i+love+a+girl+with+painted+toenails+_08670 bdde9f35cb26b9e3d50932437b9.jpg

Peter Gottlund
07-09-2015, 07:41 AM
I think that the original toerail specification was locust. They are hard to keep "the black" out, but very hard and durable. Teak seems pretty soft for something so exposed. But if that's what you have, I'd oil it. You might try a nice pink polish on your toenails!!!

07-09-2015, 08:03 AM
Could be the originals were replaced? I see several mentions of teaks toerails in the fleet newsletter but no evidence whether they could be had originally.

07-09-2015, 08:07 AM
Varnish. Lots of coats....


While Neoga has caprails on bulwarks, same idea I think.

07-09-2015, 08:37 AM
I'm going to try to locate some Osage, or failing that locust for my toe and rub rails on the Rambler. The Osage on my Knickerbocker hold up great with just an occasional wipe of deck oil.

07-09-2015, 10:25 AM
I think some tougher stuff might be a good idea Mark. I still can't decide what to do. Leaning toward varnish because I'm feeling that the toerail is exposed on three sides and more subject to weathering than the deck boards with only one exposed face. (this reasoning may be total hooey) Plus it looks nice--like Garret's.

No one would want to see my toes Nick. Thanks for the patriotic picture though

Dan McCosh
07-09-2015, 10:55 AM
Only reason to varnish is because you like the looks. Teak is a tad less friendly to varnish that, say, mahogany. Remember the toerail is more than twice as long as the boat.

07-09-2015, 11:11 AM
Deks Olje is a good solution for that, especially with Teak.

None of the fussy sanding, blocking, brushing, and etc needed for varnish, you can just wipe it on and forget it. If the teak has already gone grey, I wouldn't fool with it but if it is still "bright" that type of oil finish is a good solution.

07-09-2015, 11:27 AM
The boats could be customized if you ordered them according to the reading of newsletters and the 50th Anniv. Book. There were lots of notes on what the original customers wanted. Why not toe rails? Or they could have been redone...

Peerie Maa
07-09-2015, 11:39 AM
Whether you oil or varnish, do finish them to look different to the deck. You need them to define the deck by having a different tone or shine.

07-09-2015, 11:53 AM
John Eide is fond of saying "103 identical boats with no two alike." Or something like that. Mine also has bronze cleats everywhere instead of the normal locust. Kinda wish I had the locust like most everyone else.

07-09-2015, 11:58 AM
Found a pic. Duende's look nice unfinished. Changed my mind.


Bob Cleek
07-09-2015, 02:28 PM
It's really an aesthetic decision, but there are practical considerations. Teak, if properly cared for, is the one wood that really looks great bare. I've lived with a lot of teak and have concluded, through trial and error, the following points.

1) Do not oil it. Oil collects dirt and "goes black" and is difficult to remove. (I'm talking about the outdoors here. Oiled teak furniture indoors looks beautiful.)

2) Do not use any coating on it but real varnish, preferably over a sealing with CPES, which hugely improves the varnish's adhesion to the teak. The CPES will darken the teak a bit, much like wetting it with water, but looks great when the varnish is applied. Stuff like Cetol looks like, well, Cetol. You will never get it to look like either bare teak or varnished teak unless it really is. Teak resists shortcuts!

3) Bare teak will weather and turn gray unless it is washed down daily with salt water. Few of us have that kind of time, or a paid crew, to do that. Grayed teak is easily bleached back to its "white" color using a mild solution of oxalic acid ("wood bleach" at the paint store,) and then rinsed off with soap and water from time to time. (Be sure to wear rubber gloves when working with even mild oxalic acid. Otherwise, it will get under your fingernails and acid burns under your fingernails are not fun. Don't ask me how I know this!) Do not use "Teak Brite," "Te-ka," or any other product with a boat on the label that promises to be specifically for teak bleaching. These are far, far too aggressive and will destroy your teak. Teak is a soft wood, particularly between the grain. These overly acidic chandlery products will eat the soft wood from out of the grain. If you see a bare teak deck or rail that looks like corduroy, that is why. You can sand it fair again, but after a while, your plugs will be popping out and, well, just don't go there.

4.) After bleaching and cleaning, if you want to preserve the "bare" look without frequent bleaching (which is hard on the teak and work you don't need to do) you can apply an ordinary clear architectural deck sealer such as Thompson's WaterSeal or Flood's WoodLife. When dry, these will be invisible and don't build up on the surface. They wear off in about four months in the sun, but do not need to be stripped. Just a light bleaching and another application and you are good to go.

5.) While some designs really do demand varnished cap and toe rails, varnishing a rail is a huge pain because there are so many details to work around, headsail tracks, fairleads, stanchion bases, inside scuppers and so on. You really don't want to have to pull up your headsail tracks every time you want to put a coat of varnish on the rail. Many classic headsail tracks actually require you to varnish under the track and around the spacers through which their fastenings run, which makes it practically impossible to varnish around and under the rail. A rail will always get nicks and dings over time. Headsail turning blocks flopping around on the track at each tack are big culprits in this respect. Bare teak takes that in stride much better than varnished does. All it takes is a slight crack in the varnish and when water gets in there, the varnish is eventually going to start to lift and peel. Finally, as anybody who's ever maintained a varnished boat knows, varnish on horizontal surfaces is to be avoided if at all possible. Sometimes it isn't possible, of course, but the effects of UV radiation are many times more severe on horizontal surfaces upon which the sun beats down all day than on vertical surfaces, which hold up much better. As a cap rail is nearly all horizontal surface, if you elect to varnish it, you will be spending a lot more time maintaining that varnish job, and stripping and refinishing far more often, than you will something like the vertical side of a dog house or cockpit coaming.

6. If you opt for brightwork anywhere on a boat, there is only one thing for it and that is a decent quality alkyd varnish applied properly: for openers six to eight coats minimum, and those not sanded off between each coat as many novice varnishers do, and then properly maintained. (If it gets ahead of you, there's nothing for it but to strip to bare wood and start again.) They have been seeking the Holy Grail of "easy, long lasting" varnish shortcuts since varnish was invented and they haven't found anything yet that compares to real varnish. Real varnish done well is beautiful, but takes a lot of work. (Hint: Indoor storage, full boat covers or a covered berth are essential accessories.) Anybody who tells you "oil it," or "put Cetol" or "Deks Olje" on it, doesn't know the difference between crap and the real thing or is just in denial about how their boat looks because they can't confront the amount of work that a proper varnish job requires to apply and maintain. There's no shame in bare teak. If you are cursed with mahogany or the like, you're damned forever to either varnish or paint.

07-09-2015, 03:16 PM
Thanks Bob. Bare. As Forrest Gump says: "One less thing"

willin woodworks
07-10-2015, 10:18 AM
Bare teak can be brightened up real quick with a stiff bristle brush and a bucket of warm water and TSP. Quick scrub and it looks like new. Wear decent gloves and rinse everything down real well with salt or fresh water. Mason supply houses carry Tampico brushes for washing down new brickwork. The are perfect for cleaning up teak.