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Thread: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

  1. #1
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    Default Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    I'm new to this forum and started out by searching old posts to see if someone has experience with glassing over teak decks, but could not find any. I have a 1969 Grand Banks with teak planking on top of 9mm (roughly 3/8") plywood. The planks started out roughly 7/8" thick, but due to wear and (most likely) previous owners' sanding, they are now down to between 1/2 and 5/8 inch. This causes most bungs to pop, as I'm sure many owners have seen, and the seams are becoming too shallow to re-caulk without first re-grooving.

    I am fully capable of restoring these decks to their former glory, but I am no fan of teak for this purpose. The decks are too hot to walk barefoot on during the summer; they require constant attention in one form or another; they are extremely hard to clean fish blood and other spills off of; and they will eventually leak again, just as they do now. Hence, my desire is to have a painted, non-skid deck.

    If at all possible, I do not want to remove the planks and replace them with plywood. Why? First of all, it would be a heck of a lot of work, and additional cost. Secondly, it seems silly to throw out 40 year old, high quality teak just to replace it with something else. Hence, my approach will be to glass the decks, fair them, add non-skid patterns, and paint.

    I would like to hear from people who have done this, and have actual experience. I do not want to hear theoretical reasons why I should not do this, why bare teak is better, why this will reduce the value of the boat, or any other opinions - I'm pretty sure I've heard them all, and this is my boat so I get to decide

    If you did this successfully did you glass over the seam compound (which I would think would be the worst approach), replace the compound with thickened epoxy, or glue wood splines in the seams to create as much of a solid surface as possible? If you tried a similar approach and it didn't work, why did it fail? Did the glass/resin layer work its way loose, or did have you problems getting it to stick in the first place? Did the glass/resin layer develop cracks that allowed water intrusion?

    Oh, just to make my feelings on the subject clear: I define a wooden boat, which I absolutely love, as one with a wooden hull. I feel that using other materials for the deck, the house, or other parts of the boat, in no way diminishes the value or attraction that a wooden boat has. I've done woodworking for a hobby for a long time, and love working with the material. However, I recognize its many shortcomings when exposed to the elements, and will gladly and readily adopt new approaches to traditional problems, if the new approach promises better results. In my opinion, untreated wood, or wood finished bright, on the outside of a boat is best admired on someone else's boat, not mine.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Wrong!
    Jay

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    I have dealt with glass over several kinds of planked decks. most recently yellow pine and mahogany. both of which resulted in separation of the glass from the plank deck and cracking down the seam.

    I can't imagine teak would do anything different.

    -Thad
    There is a joy in madness, that only mad men know. -Nieztsche

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    I'm sorry, for the record, I didn't do the glassing, I repaired it.

    The yellow pine had traditional canvas put down over it and the mahogany was just cleaned up, and recaulked.

    -Thad
    There is a joy in madness, that only mad men know. -Nieztsche

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Glassing over any solid wood plank is a bad idea. In the long run, you'll wish you'd pulled up the teak, done a good prep job with plywood, and then glassed that.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Welcome to the forum...beware the bilge! I did the same thing for a customer years ago for the same reasons you cite. First, I reefed all the seams and removed all loose bungs. Then I filled the seams and empty bung holes with thickened epoxy, laid down glass cloth with some monel staples to help anchor it (probably not needed, but couldn't hurt). Faired after epoxy saturation with microballons.This deck got finished with Interlux LPU. polymeric antiskid and flattening additives in the last coat. Saw it after 5 years service, was still looking good then. Stand by for cries of blastphemy, but it was what the customer wanted.
    Ratus ratus bilgeous snipeous!

    You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
    Mahatma Gandhi

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    Wrong!
    Jay
    You beat me to it, Jay.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Jay, thanks for your enormously enlightening response. That's what I was hoping for!

    Thad, your experience is quite interesting. How long after the glassing did you have to do the repairs? Do you know anything about how/where it was done and whether it was done with epoxy or poly? Do you now what type and weight of cloth was used?

    kc8pql, your answer is very final, but offers no reasoning. Would you care to explain why glassing solid wood is a bad idea? Isn't this what is done with tillers, stringers, etc.? Without a full explanation it seems you offer merely an opinion, and, as we know, opinions differ.

    Bob, your experience is what I had hoped to find. Thanks for sharing. Have you had any feedback since the last time you saw it?

    I have an area in the cockpit I just added resin to, no cloth, and it's been almost three years (no paint to protect the resin either). I cannot pry the resin away from the plank without getting splinters, so there's no doubt epoxy sticks to teak like it would need to in my application. It doesn't stick well to the seam compound, but I never intended for that to stay in place, anyway.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Not the answers you were looking for. Seems like you are just trolling for the right answer but I will bite.

    If you are fully capable of restoring the decks to their former glory you should do so. It sounds like you still have a reasonable amount of thickness to work with.

    It seems that glassing over the seam compound is the worst option - as you say. I would think splines would take forever. That leaves removing all the seam compound and filling with thickened epoxy. If someone was holding a gun to my head to choose one of the three, it would be the latter, although i think with the time involved you would be better off removing the decks entirely and doing new glass over fresh ply or substrate or rehabbing them.

    I have a boat that has plywood decks with mahogany planks set epoxy on the surface - all edge glued, no caulking. The mahogany was long ago covered in epoxy and painted. The seams crack still crack. I can't imagine that glassing would yield a different result.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    I lost my shop in 1989 so no, no feedback in a very long time. I happened to run ito the guy on weekend on the Chesapeake. All I know is there was no cracking or other problems at the 5 year mark
    Ratus ratus bilgeous snipeous!

    You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
    Mahatma Gandhi

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Solstice, Your Grand Banks has a few Achilles heels, and the teak deck over ply is one of them, these do wear out, and when they do you are liable to suffer significant damage to the ply sub straight that can spread and cause all sorts of trouble, if it is in fact time to remove the teak deck, glassing over it is a pointless and risky approach that costs about as much to do as any of the other method, as well as being very prone to failure, as these planks are forever more going to be moving, and at war with your glass skin, if and when the planks win, it leaks, thus leaving your boat even more liable to suffer water related problems, except it is now even more out of sight buried beneath your expensive old teak, glass and nonskid skin...So, yeah it is your boat, but done is, well, done...
    Best bet in my experience is to get the teak off, repair any existing damage, if you don't want another teak deck, and add a lam or two of high quality ply to give the existing deck the approximate thickness and strength it had with the old teak, and glass and finish this surface, that is a repair you will not have to come back and redo in a year or two.
    Remember the old saw "you never have time to do it right, but you always find time to do it, again...." Best of luck, Steve/BT

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    ^ What he said.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    i would tend to rip the teak off and add more ply.
    or, rip the black caukling out with a skilsaw, and even add more seams, fill with epoxy, then 2 layers of dynel.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    The yellow pine had been glassed with epoxy and alternate layers of mat and cloth. I do not know the weight but there was three or four layers total, iirc, and it added up to about 1/8" it was around ten years old.

    The mahogany was covered in a lot of layers of cloth. it appeared to be polyester. it was definitely more that 1/8" thick. I have no definitive idea as to how old it was.
    There is a joy in madness, that only mad men know. -Nieztsche

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    by the way, I am unfamiliar with tillers or stringers that are fiberglassed. we make tillers from time to time out of laminated teak... but its just glued up with resourcinol.
    There is a joy in madness, that only mad men know. -Nieztsche

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    You may be disappointed in not receiving any positive responses from people who have succeeded in doing done what you want to do. This should cause you to think twice. The laws of physics are immutable.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    In WB 123 was the article "SARAH ABBOT Gets a Deck Makeover," 123:80

    A schooner's tired decks were covered with plywood.
    I don't know how it worked out, but the owner is in the phone book.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    If the plywood under the deck is sound, and removing the teak wasn't an option, a layer of plywood over the teak, glassed over, may be a reasonable fix...

    -Thad
    There is a joy in madness, that only mad men know. -Nieztsche

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Cumming View Post
    You may be disappointed in not receiving any positive responses from people who have succeeded in doing done what you want to do. This should cause you to think twice. The laws of physics are immutable.
    Not so much disappointment from lack of positive responses, Roger. Feedback from people who have actual experience, where it did not work, is quite useful in guiding me to the right approach. However, opinions mean virtually nothing to me. I have spent my entire professional life doing what other people claimed couldn't be done, and achieved incredible results by taking this approach. Hence, I will go against so-called "conventional wisdom" any day of the week, just to try. And, it tends to be more important to my engineering type mind to try something, even if it might fail, than go with a traditional, somewhat fail-safe method, just to learn something new.

    Steve, the plywood sub-decking is in great shape (I have access to all of it from inside and have checked both it and the beams), and it is dry. Covering it, and the planks, would not present a trapped moisture/rot problem.

    Thad, I have considered, and still do, going with a thin layer of of plywood instead of the glass, glued down with a flexible glue (polyurethane) instead of epoxy. It would be about the same price as glass and resin, but lots more work with all those curves. Thanks for the details on the jobs you had to deal with - this gives me additional reason to think I may get this to work.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    I have covered a mahogany plank over plywood deck with roofing tar, then staggered seam mahogany doorskins nailed with bronze boat nails, then yellow jacket and lagging compond, which was then painted with marine enamel and sand for non-skid. This was a temporary low cost fix I threw on in a day because we needed to move out of our house, and I did not have the time, materials or money to do anything else; it has lasted without leaks for 22 years, although I repaint every year or so, and re-nonskid about every 3. Someday (coming soon), I will tear up those old decks and do the right thing. All I can say is that it worked for me..
    Another time, I was helping a professional shipwright with his old canvas covered cabintops onboard his 1927 72' powerboat. We torn off the old canvas, replaced any nasty pieces of wood, filled, then laid down staggered seam mahogany doorskins; first in a polysulfide rubber so the cabintop planks could move, then epoxy between the doorskins, then 'glass cloth and epoxy, with epoxy paint over all. The years I was involved with this vessel afterward (about 10) the cabintops never leaked...
    I am not saying that this is how it should be done; this would never be considered "best practice". However, I think these are practical solutions that worked within the framework of the vessels overall cosmetics, and the money and time available.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Have you considered dynel or canvas? I'm not sure what an engineering type mind is, but these work pretty good on plank decks. Surface prep would be the same as for glass; it'll save you a few bucks; non-skid's taken care of; you're not really looking for added strength; and you skip the engineering of a way to isolate the dynamic substrate from the rigid skin.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Yes you can glass over the teak but what about the time spent reefing out the seams, back filling the seams with thickened epoxy, prepping for glass. It sounds like the teak has been dished out from previous sanding so now you have a lot of fairing to do ie time and $. I would just do the demo of the teak, (it goes very quick) lay down the new substrate if needed and glass it. Do it right thing the first time. You will be glad you did.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    You say in your first post that your decks leak, but in another post say your ply substrate deck is fine, how can this be if you have leaks?

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Southern California probably has rain less than 20 days per year. The leaks in the decks, which are primarily from the missing bungs, penetrate the sub-deck mostly around the fasteners. This plywood then dries up and there is no resulting rot.

    For those trying to figure out the amount of work involved with various approaches I can assure you that cutting the curves to fit new plywood is a significant undertaking (patterns need to be made first and the cuts must be done with a relatively slow jigsaw). However, cutting splines for all the seams can be done on a table saw in less than an hour. Reefing the old seams is very fast with a 4" circular saw with triple-stacked blades. Of course, covering the planks in plywood would incur the same time consuming cutting.

    I looked at Dynel and found that it would cost me lots more than glass roving ($10/yd vs $3.50/yd for 18oz).

    Rogue mentions an approach that worked, but doesn't think it would be referred to as best practice. In my opinion, planked decks is far from best practice and anything that improves on that design is a "better practice."

    I am also looking into the possibility of using an elastomeric coating, such as the spray-on pickup truck liner, which is used on workboat decks and is extremely durable. However, it also has a real workboat look to it, and I'm not yet ready to make that sacrifice.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    the cost of dynel is even greater than the cloth itself, dynel drinks up much more epoxy than fiberglass.but it is what I use.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Can we see pictures of the deck and the underside of the deck?
    There is a joy in madness, that only mad men know. -Nieztsche

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    I have not taken the route you are contemplating, but have a deck of similar structure with similar problems to yours. I agree that for various reasons teak overlay is silly-I would not reproduce the original structure on my boat.

    The most common option seems to be to remove the teak and lay glass or dynel. Whether to replace the removed teak with ply seems to depend on an assesment as to whther the underlying ply is sufficient. In many cases it is, as the teak overlay offers increased weight on deck, but little strength.

    It does appear that some have tried laying glass right over the teak, with or without splining, and the use of door panels is interesting. I don't see any value in keeping the teak just because it is nice old wood. It is full of holes, and is invisible, heavy and potential problems once you have glassed over it. It seems tempting to rationalise that it might be easier to rip out the false caulking and spline the teak befoe glassing, but I don't quite buy that.

    Anyway, I aplogise for rambling without offering the experience you have demanded-but this is an open forum and you will soon learn that once you start a thread you have no control over it.

    I wish you luck, and if you do discover a new fix for aged teak over ply decks which really works that will be a GREAT THING. The fact that the proposed course of action has not already been widely adopted should not put you off-if we all were so easily discourged there would be no learning. Although if time and money are limited, as seems ot be the case, it might be wiser to take a more conservative approach. But its your time, your money, and your boat, which is what I really love about this experiment.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    The right way to repair a deck in the condition you describe is to remove the plugs and screws, drill the screw holes about 1/4" or 3/16" deeper using a Fuller combination bit (taperd bit to match screw size plus plug hole countersink and depth stop). Replace the screws and plugs. Tedious, but your plug lifting and consequent leaking problems should be solved for a good while longer.

    But, as you said, it's your boat and a man's boat says a lot about him. You seem to be a guy who's mind is made up. If you want to fibreglass the deck, it'll pretty much work any way you do it, so long as you put enough of it down. When it cracks and leaks, just put some more resin in the crack and sand fair and repaint. With that regimen, odds are it will last as long as you do.
    Last edited by Bob Cleek; 11-30-2012 at 06:05 PM.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    I have a friend that used the truck-bed liner on his 46 ft on deck boat...cost him 10k and then the color was way darker than he wanted...also, there were patches that didn't adhere, so he had to call the contractor back to redo these areas: total coast 14,000. bucks. He became depressed and traded his boat for an old car...buyer beware!

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Sounds to me like you might want to mosey on over to the Fiberglass Boat Forum. I think you will find yourself more at home over there. Best of luck noob.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    The right way to repair a deck in the condition you describe is to remove the plugs and screws...
    Absolutely correct, Bob. However, Grand Banks didn't use screws, they used ring-shanked bronze nails. The way to work around those is to use an annular cutter, like those made by Rotabroach, to deepen the plug hole while cutting the head off the nail, drive the nail way down, and drill new screw holes at an angle. It's possible, but lots of work (around 1,200 bungs total)

    The deck construction on a wooden Grand Banks consists of placing just a thin piece of plywood down as the sub-deck, followed by quite thick teak planks. Hence, virtually all the strength is derived from the teak planks and not the ply. If the planks are removed, there will be an absolute need to add a 3/4" ply to restore the lost strength. Maybe I will try this approach on the relatively straight side decks and see how much work it is compared with the other method I outlined earlier.

    My mind is really just made up as far as not wanting a teak deck anymore. How to achieve the new non-skid is definitely not decided on.

  32. #32

    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    I am not sure why advice was even asked for.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Malcolm Jardine View Post
    I am not sure why advice was even asked for.
    Is there an indication in my posts that I am not ready for advice, Peter? All I was trying to indicate was that I was not looking for opinions, because I have discussed this issue with boaters and shipwrights for years, and many people in this field suffer from having inherited opinions that are based more on theoretical issues than actual experience. When it comes to opinions, I am no more interested in those that agree with me, as some posters have indicated, than those that disagree - I was asking for real-life experiences, good or bad, in order to learn from those who have been in my situation before me.

    When the advice on how to "do it right" is coming from people who, despite having rich experiences in general, have never tried my suggested approach, nor heard of, nor seen, this approach, why should value be assigned to this opinion? Why must a new approach be shut down, ridiculed, and garner almost hateful responses just because it doesn't adhere to the traditional way of doing something? How do we learn new approaches at all, if not by having someone willing to take a chance, and quite possibly fail, perhaps fail many times?

    I finish my exterior brightwork by using first epoxy and then clear LP. I experimented with the traditional varnish only method, varnish on top of epoxy, or Smith's CPES, some of this followed by a top coat of clear LP. In this scenario, the clear winner is epoxy followed by clear LP, with no varnish in sight. It holds up far better, retains original color, and remains exceptionally clear (I prefer seeing as much of the wood grain as possible). And it's not just my opinion - others agree, and have a hard time accepting that the result isn't achieved with some sort of traditional varnish, nor that it isn't necessary to add a new coat every six months, as they have to here in Southern California.

    I find it interesting that rogue did a job that has lasted 22 years, yet still feels compelled to tear off those decks to do "the right thing." If something lasts 22 years, in my opinion that's indicative of something done right.

    My search for new methods will continue, as it does in all aspects of my life. I am quite grateful to those of you have shared your experiences, and have indicated an open mind to alternative approaches. The decks on my boat will be finished correctly, whether that involves tearing off the existing teak planks or not, but I don't yet feel I have enough information to make a truly informed decision.

  34. #34

    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Well, that seems fair. If I were doing this I would not use wetted cloth for the initial layer. I would use fibreglass sheeting glued down with 5200. The edges are faired with epoxy, or filleted around the bulwarks. The sheet moves rather than cracks, and it reduces the chances of the overdecking being compromised as a result. The sheeting is available in different thicknesses, and epoxy sticks to it extremely well. It's really important that the original decking is stable, so so repairs might be needed before you apply the overlay in this manner.

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    Default Re: Fiberglassing a Teak Deck

    Thank you for starting this thread. I have a similar problem, though the teak is thinner and the plywood thicker. I do have experience with glassing over a deck, but it was solid fir, not teak over plywood. The original deck was canvas over fir, but the canvas was in poor condition. I used a the method described in the book, "Covering Wooden Boats with Fiberglass" by Allan Vaitses. This was about 15 years ago. The essential concepts that make this work are 1) mechanically fastening the fiberglass to the substrate at close intervals (with the fastenings buried under the final layer), and 2) making the fiberglass thick enough to resist the force of the wood as it tries to expand. The fiberglass held up well overall, but some cracks developed (the wood won). I think it would have been easy to fix those cracks. I think the same approach over teak and plywood (much more stable) would work better.

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