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Thread: Finish for white cedar floorboards

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
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    Friendship, ME, USA
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    24

    Default Finish for white cedar floorboards

    Looking for suggestions.
    My lovely Penobscot Wherry had unfinished white cedar floorboards in an off-white painted hull. I oiled them when new, but of course they now have grayed out. With beautiful varnish on the gunwales and seats, the weathered cedar looks a bit seedy.
    Not at all interested in varnish and probably not paint for the floorboards, and oil seems like a losing proposition. But it seems a shame to just let them go gray (or, maybe not).
    any other options I should consider. Low maintenance, not slippery would be my wish.
    cetol? Leave them gray?
    .BF8A765D-6147-4E6D-B700-A2DE95677F77.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Conway, MA
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    6,071

    Default Re: Finish for white cedar floorboards

    Nothing is best. Not slippery.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    South Puget Sound/summer Eastern carib./winter
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    20,344

    Default Re: Finish for white cedar floorboards

    This is one place I do NOT recommend Cetol.
    As many here have learned, the highest maintainance wood on a boat is the bare stuff.
    Sunshine,soap and elbow grease.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    77,289

    Default Re: Finish for white cedar floorboards

    If you're set on having finish on them... as Wiz hints, NO film finish. Tedious to maintain, and can be slippy. Unless other steps are taken to ameliorate it. So I'd suggest a polymerizing oil... or an oil/varnish hybrid... and renew it OFTEN!!

    For the former, I've had some small successes with Sutherland & Wells Polymerized Tung Oil. For the latter, I've used a lot of Daly's Seafin Teak Oil and love it. Both are dead simple to apply and refresh. The former dries quicker and you need to move quickly. The latter has some UV additives, which is one reason why I tend to favor it. But, unless your boat lives outside, either should serve.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
    Posts
    4,689

    Default Re: Finish for white cedar floorboards

    On my old Friendship, I used nonskid compound in the varnish on the top of the bowsprit. It worked, and looked good.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    77,289

    Default Re: Finish for white cedar floorboards

    Quote Originally Posted by johngsandusky View Post
    On my old Friendship, I used nonskid compound in the varnish on the top of the bowsprit. It worked, and looked good.
    For floorboards, 'slippery' is just one reason I don't recommend a film finish. They take a lot of wear, so need refreshing often... and LOTS of nooks and crannies requiring fiddly brush work with many opportunities for runs and holidays. A finish you can put on with a rag is MANY times easier.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Norwalk CT
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    2,111

    Default Re: Finish for white cedar floorboards

    Leave them raw. Naturally non skid, no scratches or dings in the finish to worry about. Scrub them with some TSP once in a while to brighten them up.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Location
    Friendship, ME, USA
    Posts
    24

    Default Finish for white cedar floorboards

    Thank you for all of the suggestions - looks like my ocd will have to overlook my floorboards.
    Unfinished and cleaned makes sense.
    I’ll save my time and energy for the varnish.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Last edited by RickBetterley; 10-14-2021 at 07:51 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    2,421

    Default Re: Finish for white cedar floorboards

    I bleached a weathered pair of spruce oars to good effect .Oxalic acid from Woodcraft, if the hardware store doesn't have it .

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Almost in BC, CA
    Posts
    6,933

    Default Re: Finish for white cedar floorboards

    I know nothing about white cedar, but nonetheless I will chance an opinion.
    My last skiff had Sitka spruce floorboards. Why Sitka spruce, you ask? Because it was available and free.
    I slathered them with hot boat soup about every 4 years and they were wonderfully non skid, and did not absorb water in spite of being constantly wet. An additional benefit was the intensely yachty aroma of the boat soup.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Location
    San Francisco Bay
    Posts
    11,955

    Default Re: Finish for white cedar floorboards

    What Perkins said. Keep them bleached with oxalic or citric acid diluted in water as needed to keep them bright. Wash down with salt water. They will stay "white" and be as good a non-skid surface as anyone could wish for. Oils will collect and hold dirt and eventually go black. Everything else is a pain to maintain. Leaving them bare with an wash and occasional bleaching as needed is quick and easy. (Just be sure to wear waterproof gloves and old clothes when bleaching. The bleach will take the color out of whatever you're wearing and if you soak your hands in the stuff, it will attack the quick under your fingernails and make you want to die for a couple of days. (Don't ask me how I know this!)

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