View Full Version : What to do with plywood decks?

07-19-2001, 08:56 PM
Have 40 foot wooden launch which has been extensively rebuilt. Most everything worked well except for the deck coating. New plywood decks (3/4" marine ply) sealed with Industrial Formulator's S1 Sealer (Canadian version of the magic epoxy sealer you hear so much about in this forum)and painted with two-part linear polyurethane paint. Supposed to last for a good long time. After two years the plywood is checking, particularly on the 'sunny' side of the boat. Gets worse after a summer rain. Obviously I need to do something soon. I reckon I have two choices: strip decks back to bare plywood and either sheath with cloth and epoxy, or do the thin-teak-planks-bedded-in-epoxy-goop thing. Would really like to hear from anyone who has done the teak in epoxy routine. Would also like to hear any other possible suggestions any of you may have. Right now I'm tempted to go out and buy a big bucket of rubber decking compound, a brush, a bucket of beer, and go to her! Maybe I should just stick with the bucket of beer for now. Thanks.

Phil Young
07-19-2001, 09:33 PM
Cloth and epoxy is likely to be far less trouble long term. Fake teak decks involve miles of seams with not enough surface area for the goop in between to really bond to. The goop lets go, the water gets in, the substrate rots, and by the time you find out about it, its really bad. And that's assuming its done without a million fasteners which in themselves provide great water access points.

Steve Souther
07-19-2001, 09:35 PM
According to Buehler, sheath it with glass and arabol. The important thing is the glass because the goog doesn't stick to ply by itself. Even the epoxy people admit that.

07-19-2001, 11:45 PM
JW, research some of the rubber deck compounds that are out there, Dex-O-Tex, Tufflex, etc. you might find that it is an acceptable alternative for your situation. I think the bucket of beer is a good idea. Whatever you decide, increase the ventilation in any closed up areas if your launch has any. Good luck

07-20-2001, 12:49 AM
My fake decks lasted 40 years.When I replaced them(pictures as soon as I can figure out photopoint)there was lots of worn out teak, but only a small rot spot caused by some fasteners that were poorly installed.
Teak over ply. works fine. Seam width is imp.Seams 3/8" with 1/2"depth of decking was how my 40 yr.old decks were done.

07-20-2001, 09:16 AM
Thanks for the replies everybody. Steve, if you happen back to this topic, I'd really like to hear more about the glass and arabol approach. I've heard of arabol being applied directly to plywood decks with great success, as long as the butt joints are properly dealt with. However, I've also heard arabol is not what it used to be. Is there a particular brand of arabol that is best for deck applications?

Bruce Hooke
07-20-2001, 09:30 AM
A couple of years ago I helped my father install a "fake" teak deck in the cockpit of his boat. Obviously it hasn't been around as long as Dasboats' deck but it certainly seems to be holding up just fine so far. If you use the "modern" approach detailed on Gougeon's website of using thin teak strips and filling the seams with black epoxy it's hard for me to imagine the epoxy "letting go" any quicker than the planks. You do need to stick with fairly thin strips to keep them from shrinking and expanding but if you do as we did and just use screws as a temporary way to hold the planks in place while the epoxy cures (just put round-headed screws inbetween the planks with a washer under the head of each one) then the deak will only be worn out when you wear all the way through the teak. I would agree that a thicker teak deck laid over plywood and caulked with traditional materials is probably asking for trouble. All of that said, while the "fake" teak deck approach is, in my opinion, a good way to get some of the advantages of a teak deck without the weight, expense and problems of a traditional teak deck, it is still a LOT more work than simply coating the plywood with something that will seal it up well...

07-21-2001, 08:11 AM
Actually the bucket of rubber compound idea has worked far better than anything else I have tried over the years for sealing my plywood decks.My 46ft. yawl lives in the tropics and three coats of 'Elastoseal and two of Kote-a Deck paint(found at Home Depot or similar)has lasted over four years so far.Some of the epoxy/ glass lovers might think this is bull#*^!but it's easy,cheap,and it works!

Bob Cleek
07-21-2001, 12:59 PM
Dynel and epoxy. It will stick to the ply quite well so long as you strip off most of your present paint (rough job is okay). Forget about Arabol... it isn't made any more. Never was intended for decks, but was a lagging adhesive for steam pipes. It was used on workboat decks as a quick fix, never as an initial building method. Amen to the problems with thin teak veneers!

07-21-2001, 01:09 PM
Ditto Bob,

Dynel and epoxy.

07-22-2001, 01:01 AM
Well, much as I'd like to just slap a couple of coats of rubber decking compound on, in my heart of hearts I know cloth and epoxy is the cheapest and easiest way to go. My thanks to all who offered advice.