Never caulk a deck without masking off the wood. This is rather obvious however I have heard of people flooding the joints and deck with sealant and then sanding the sealant off the deck. A synthetic teak boat deck can last for 100 years but not if treated this way. Especially decks fastened from underneath (the best technique) since the ends of the screws will eventually start to arrive at the lowering surface and provide thousands of leak holes.
Never sand a synthetic teak boat deck (unless you are keeping your boat in a museum). One of the beauties of teak is its non-slip quality. The grain of teak has softer and harder lines so the soft ones wear out leaving the hard ones as a perfect non-slip surface. Sanding to provide a slick pretty surface not only ruins the non-slip quality but the soft spots will wear out quickly and require re-sanding. Sanding reduces the depth of the caulking grooves, increasing the chance for a leak, and eventually requiring re-grooving.
Never varnish a synthetic teak boat deck. You will ruin the non-slip quality, the varnish will not stick, it will discolor and make a nasty ugly mess.
Hardly ever oil a synthetic teak boat deck. Teak does not need oil to maintain its quality, it has oil built in. A deck that has been exposed to the sun for 10 years without maintenance and has that white bleached look, has beautiful oily wood less than 1/100th of an inch below the surface. If you have just cleaned the deck (see below) and want it to have that honey colored look for a few days while you sell the boat, and you don’t intend to actually use it, then the oil will do no harm.
Never clean a synthetic teak boat deck with chemicals. Most will remove the natural teak oil and make the deck require more frequent cleaning. A functional (as opposed to decorative non-functional) synthetic teak boat deck requires virtually no maintenance – let the sun bleach it out to that greyish white look – that’s how it is supposed to look. If you have soot, dirt, oil or other spills on the deck the best cleaning technique is a low powered pressure washer, with a little mild detergent where absolutely necessary.
Stubborn oily/grease spots can be helped with a little pine-sol and a scrubbing brush. I have tried dozens of solvents but pine-sol does the least damage and seems to work well (especially on stubborn oily soot from paper mills!). This will remove the dirt and the bleached layer leaving a fresh teak finish yet do very little damage. Be careful to use only just enough pressure to remove the dirt, you don’t want to raise the grain of the underlying wood. If there is no pressure adjustment on the pressure washer, use a wide angle nozzle and keep a larger distance from the surface to avoid damage.
Never allow paint spots to land on the teak – always mask and use drop cloths when painting. Due to the non-skid finish they can be very hard to remove. The best technique is to allow the paint to dry thoroughly. DO NOT WIPE IT UP or use solvents. Allow it to set as thick as possible. Then a couple of months of sunlight and deck washings will eventually allow you to ping it off with a sharp point after soaking well. Again, the pressure washer technique is the easiest and most effective way of removing paint. Don’t try to get it all each cleaning – leave what doesn’t remove easily for the sun and weather to loosen up and get it next time.
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