- Remove the old teak deck and replace with new (won't work for those who are just tired of the teak)
- Remove the old teak and replace with a synthetic, look-alike form of decking (won't work for those tired of the look, or the heat, nor those who won't have anything so "plastic" on their boat - yes, I see the irony in that statement)
- Convert the surface to a painted, non-skid surface
The process is potentially different depending on whether you have a wooden or fiberglass boat. On the wood boats the subdeck was made with a high grade of exterior plywood, quite adept at resisting rotting from water intrusion through a leaky deck. A fiberglass boat, however, often used an inferior quality plywood in the deck core. Nothing else was needed since it was encased in resin and would never get wet - that is, until the teak deck leaked through the screw holes which penetrated into the core.
On a fiberglass boat which has had leaks for an extended period of time it is quite possible that the plywood core needs to be fully or partially replaced, or at least repaired. On a wood boat, however, chances are good the subdeck is still in decent condition and it is not necessary to remove the teak to perform repairs.
Now, we're getting to the issue I wanted to discuss: The option of glassing over (or at least epoxy coating) the teak. I have studied up on this for several years, read hundreds of discussions with thousands of posts, and have gathered lots of opinions, but hardly any experience. From the die-hard opponents there are several issues being pointed out. I'd like to bring a few of these up for discussion and see what real-life experience people have had.
Argument 1: The teak is oily and epoxy won't stick
Well, this argument I can pretty much kill myself. Not only have I primed most of the to-be-varnished teak on my boat with a few coats of epoxy I have experienced absolutely no signs of lifting anywhere (after more than six years). Obviously then, it is possible to get epoxy to stick to teak.
Argument 2: The teak planks will expand and contract and the epoxy will not stick
I have no personal experience with this, but all those who have attempted to remove teak attached with epoxy glue will testify to how extremely well attached the teak is to the epoxy.
So, not only do we have convincing evidence that epoxy will stick to teak, as well as CPES or other teak specific primers, but also that the force of the continual contraction and expansion of the individual teak planks is not enough to break the bond with the epoxy glue used to glue them down.
Argument 3: Epoxy will not stick to seam compound
Again, I have no personal experience with this, but I can imagine it to be true. I have spilled epoxy on other rubber-like compounds and have had little problem getting the epoxy to let go. I know of people who have coated a fully seamed deck, but don't know how long or how well it held up.
This problem, however, appears to have a simple work-around: Replace the seam compound with thickened epoxy. The Gougeon brothers, the people behind West System epoxy, have a lengthy article on their web site showing an entire boat being done with thickened (and blackened) epoxy as the deck seam compound. I have no information on how well this held up, but figure as long as they keep in on their site, and the process is being recommended by them, it should have a certain merit. I am, however, quite interested in hearing from anyone who has real life experience with this approach.
Argument 4+: It will ruin the charm/resale value/usability, etc.
That discussion is for a different forum - I'd like this one focused on practical issues, not individual tastes.
Arguments for (mine)
A surface of laminated planks of wood, such as the bulwarks on a wooden GB, holds epoxy very well and shows no signs of splitting in the seams due to contraction/expansion of the individual planks. Hence, assuming the bond with teak is as strong as that with mahogany, a laminated surface of teak planks, which is what the deck will become once the seams have been replaced with thickened epoxy, should hold equally well.
I have re-coated my bulwarks, and did not use glass cloth first, and the epoxy has held without cracking or lifting. Using nothing but logic (i.e. no real life experience) I would expect that coating the teak deck with epoxy would hold up just as well, without using any kind of glass cloth to help restrict and/or transfer any stresses in the wood itself.
Conclusion (barring any real evidence to the contrary)
The process should work. In fact, I am even wondering if the epoxy coating is required, for any other reason than as an all-purpose, high-build primer, used to even the surface prior to painting.
I am willing to be the first one to do this should it turn out no one has attempted this approach before. I will coat the bow area of my deck, where I expect more stresses and movements than on the side decks and see what happens - the resulting knowledge will be well worth it to me.
I may even take an area and just coat it with the standard paint system I use (Sterling primers and LPU top coat), with applied non-skid in selected areas, and see how this fares in comparison. After all, the bulwarks were previously painted without using anything but the low-tech primers available more than forty years ago, and they've held up well.
If you have opinions about this process, but they are not educated opinions, please save them for another topic. However, I would very much like to hear from all of you who have tried, and possibly failed, using an approach that is similar to my proposal, even if your scenario is not directly related to teak decks.