You don’t have to be a seasoned yachtmaster or mega yacht owner to appreciate the beauty and allure of a real teak deck, as the aesthetics of the hardwood are naturally pleasing to any eye. Despite the upkeep involved in maintaining a teak deck, owners continue to make it their number one choice when it comes to superyachts and as the years go by the time will eventually come when the teak wood will need to be replaced. Knowing exactly when to replace your teak, and understanding the consequences of this decision are important to know and evaluate, so I spoke to the Carpentry and Interiors team at ptw Shipyard and asked them about superyacht refit and repairs, and what advice they would give owners who are looking to revamp a teak deck.
Teak has been used as a boat building material for over 2000 years and its popularity is growing as the demand for superyachts and mega yachts among the elite classes swells. The problem is that ongoing supplies of the best quality boat teak sourced from Myanmar are unsustainable due to high demand and the country’s political situation. European teak stockpiles are diminishing, so owners need to be more mindful of this when planning refits. Our carpentry team says that when it comes to a teak deck it’s not a question of “will I replace” but more a question of “should I”.
Ripping out teak is not a straightforward or simple decision as it has ramifications for your overall project as well as the planet, so it’s imperative that you make the right call. To do this it is important to first assess the full implications of making that decision and then weighing up all the options to revamping your deck. Informing ourselves is the best route to the right answer so below are the three most important factors our ptw Shipyard carpentry team advises you to consider when appraising your teak deck and the alternatives they would suggest when it comes to restoring a teak deck.
The three most important factors to consider before embarking on a deck refit project, according to our experts, are budget, sustainability and time. Once you have ascertained your position and stance on these key questions, then you will know what your way forward will be.
The practical and aesthetic reasons for using teak for boat decking are all completely valid however all these benefits come with a hefty price tag. A new teak deck is an expensive investment and while the deck can last more than a decade with proper care, having the initial budget and getting the best value from that investment is of course a major consideration when undertaking a refit. Obviously, you need to know if you can afford to replace the deck but it’s also important to know if you can get any further value from the existing teak as you may not need to replace the entire deck.
The cost of removal and replacement of a teak deck is currently over a thousand euros per square meter, a price that is destined to continuously rise due to demand versus supply. New decking is normally installed with about 6 mm in depth, however, a 3mm teak deck could still have up to five years of usage left in it, and revamping these costs less than half the cost of a new fit, so your first task should always be to get a proper assessment of the existing deck. If only sections of the deck are severely damaged, then consider if it is possible to just replace these sections while sanding and caulking the better areas. Once you know what you are dealing with, you can accurately determine the most cost-effective solution to choose and our specialist team at ptw Shipyard will be happy to help you evaluate all your options.
While the luxurious lines of a teak deck are pleasing to the eye, the environmental impact this commodity has is far more difficult to savor and as new greener generations of millennials and centennials enter the superyacht market the sustainability of this hardwood supply, how that supply is affecting the plant as a whole and the consequences for future generations have become far more important questions to be answered. The truth is that a day will come when sustainable supplies will have dried up and a natural teak deck could be viewed by a potential buyer in the same way gas guzzling motorcars are, and greener options will be far more appreciated. In light of this the onus is on us to ensure we use existing teak decks to their maximum, retouching and revamping whenever possible, and when we do need to change it, that we give the alternatives very careful consideration and view them with a more positive and greener outlook.
While your pocket and sustainability views are considerations when deciding on the overhaul of your boat deck, timelines are a more practical concern that also have to be included in the final decision. The removal and refit of a new yacht deck takes a number of months resulting in the vessel being out of the water for a considerable amount of time and therefore not available for charter or personal use. Revamping the existing deck takes far less time so would fit better for tighter schedules and limit the amount of unproductive down time for the owner. Obviously, if the entire deck is beyond saving, you will have to accept the timeline to replace it but a chat with one of our experienced carpenters will help you best assess what must be replaced and what can be revived.
So having considered the three key questions and applied them to your own personal situation you are now in a more informed position to know if your deck needs to be replaced or not. Below are three next step options that our knowledgeable team offers for those seeking to overhaul their yacht deck.
Sanding & Re-caulking
If your teak deck has a few more years of life left in it then give it a fresh and clean look with a sanding and re-caulking. By removing and replacing the caulking, sections of the deck that are no longer watertight, and therefore allowing moisture to degrade the teak, are resealed to restore their water resistance and give protection to the deck. The entire deck is then sanded down to remove the old layer resulting in a clean and bright new look for the deck.
Refitting & Replacing
If you are planning to replace the entire deck or even sections of it then a template of the deck being removed is made and used to cut an exact replica with the replacement teak. The old decking is removed and the surface below is sanded to make it a suitable surface for the adhesive that is used to attach the new sections of teak deck.
Alternatives to teak
Should you be considering an alternative to teak for your boat deck then you will be pleased to hear that there are now some extremely good composite alternatives available on the market. These greener substitutes offer the same look as teak, with a longer life span and better non-slip qualities. In addition, the newer brands to market are heat resistant and can be walked on barefoot even in very high temperatures.
As always our ptw Shipyard Carpentry and Interiors team have been open and informative, providing useful tips to help you better understand what your yacht deck needs. Feel free to contact them directly if you have any further questions or would like more information on any of the points they have provided. They are always on hand to help.