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DITEC Marine


Teak Care

Every aspect of current teak deck maintenance accelerates surface deterioration, and increases the overall maintenance intervals and cost for the yacht!

Teak is an expensive, beautiful and luxurious part of any yacht or cruise ship. But it needs a lot of maintenance to retain its golden appearance, since teak becomes oxidized, embedded with dirt and oily residues, affected by the sun and salt, contaminated by mold and mildew spores and the golden color changes to gray. 

The suggested and practiced standard to maintain teak surfaces is "by default" destructive for the teak and other surfaces. There are three main reasons for this destructive result:

  1. Applied cleaning agents are corrosive
  2. The maintenance is performed in a reactive manner
  3. The teak is subject to mechanical damage during the cleaning

Corrosive cleaning agents

Once the teak is cosmetically unattractive, yacht crews use highly corrosive 2-part cleaners, like Snappy Teak-Nu and Teak Plus, Teak Minus, to remove contaminants and brighten the surface. But, what was the result the crew or owner intended to achieve? and, did they achieve that result?

The objectives of teak maintenance and care are

  1. Keep the golden appearance of the teak
  2. Prevent the surface condition from deterioration
  3. Reduce the general maintenance
  4. Prevent other surfaces from damage during teak maintenance*

The performed maintenance and cleaning achieved only objective No.1, while put the crew in further back in regard to remaining goals. Why?

Somehow, somewhere, someone noticed the "absolute obvious" that acids and bases have a cleaning effect and decided to use the combination for cleaning teak and deck. The observed cleaning properties in acids and bases is a result of corrosion. Phosphoric acid, Hydrochloric acid, and many other acids remove rust, clean pennies, etc. because of a reaction between the acid and rust or the oxidation on pennies. But this reaction does not stop as soon as the rust is removed or the penny is shiny. The acid continues to react with the metal as well and actually can create more rust and tarnish, unless it is neutralized as soon as desired result is achieved.

Bases on the other hand are corrosive to organic material flash, bones, wood and anything organic( most people are aware of the hazardous properties of Lye. Lye is a very strong base. It is Sodium Hydroxide) bases are also very corrosive on glass**.

Therefore, using "Snappy Teak" or "Teak plus and Teak Minus" cleans the teak. They remove contaminants and brighten the surface. The problem is that these teak cleaners corrode the wood, revealing a refreshed but damaged surface, with deepening grain structure, and give you an illusion of reconditioned surface. Yes, "an illusion", because a requirement for "reconditioning" of a surface is - as the word suggests - to make its "condition" better not make the surface "look" better and diminish the actual condition of the surface by means of corrosion.

As the grain structure deepens, the overall surface area of the deck increases EXPONENTIALLY. This means that there is more surface area to hold dirt and oily contaminants, more surface to be affected by natural elements (i.e. sun, salt, air, rain) and more surface to hold moisture and develop mold and mildew. The larger surface requires more chemicals to clean, and so on. (Objective No.2 was not achieved and got worse)

The cumulative effect is shorter and shorter intervals between necessary cleanings.  Further, a teak deck can only withstand a limited number of corrosive cleanings, before too much wood has been dissolved and the grain structure is too deep.  At this point we have failed to achieve our third objective to reduce the maintenance. Instead we have added more costly maintenance into the teak maintenance program, because the teak deck requires sanding. This process also has a cumulative damaging effect, since sanding to a smooth, tight-grained finish requires removing even more wood.  Ultimately, the teak maintenance programs used by yacht crews, causes:

  • significant loss in deck thickness
  • premature deck failure
  • and results in the need to replace the deck.  

So far the main goal of "Teak Care & Maintenance" has been converted to "Teak Destruction Project", this was never intended when the investment of time and money into this maintenance started. Unfortunately the destruction continues on other surfaces as well.

Teak Maintenance As a Cause for Paint, Glass and Metal Corrosion

There is also another downstream negative effect. The highly acidic and alkaline cleaners are also corrosive to paint, glass and metal.  When the rinse water from cleaning a deck flows overboard and runs down the painted surfaces, comes in contact with metal surfaces on the deck and haul and runs over the glass windows in lower decks, it creates corrosive scars on the these surfaces. Not only will the runoff remove any sort of paint sealant or wax, the damage is cumulative and accelerates surface deterioration, and thus shortens the service life of the paint, glass and metal surfaces.

These damages are observed on yachts as darker runs or spots on the paint appearing as dirty spots or black streaks. They are permanent discolorations caused by corrosive chemicals.

On the metal surfaces they appear as black spots on aluminum, dark spots on stainless steel that will convert to rust. Rust spots on underlying iron in chrome parts, since the chrome layer is corroded.

On the glass you observe it as runs with a white haze either on the side of the run or all over the rune. They look like salt, calcium and mineral deposits that you cannot remove.

These are excessive and financially burdensome damages that you not only invested time and financial resources to create but also could have been easily avoided.

the corrosive nature of existing teak cleaning products present health and safety concerns for the deck crew. 

Solution: How to correctly maintain teak deck

Any type of maintenance should be proactive and NOT reactive, regardless if it is about your health, car, house or the teak deck on a yacht.

Teak decks should be maintained pro-actively as well. If we wait until the surface is gray and infested with mold and mildew, then the maintenance is a reaction to an already existing problem. The maintenance becomes reactive even when the teak is care for "pro-actively" with wrong chemicals. A correct teak maintenance program must include the following components:

  • Avoid products that are not aquatic safe. It is legislated by MARPOL, NPDES and EEA and enforced See Regulatory Compliance
  • Avoid at any cost highly corrosive chemicals
  • Make sure that the teak maintenance chemicals are not harmful for other surfaces
  • Avoid oxidizers such as Oxiclean or any type of Sodium peroxide
  • Make sure that other chemicals used on deck are not reacting with each other and causing surface damage
  • As much as possible choose products that are safe for you and your crew

DITEC offers a complete line of products for maintenance and care of different surfaces. Additionally Marinial CMP is a maintenance and care system for yachting industry to be able to achieve their maintenance goal with inclusion of the above requirements at a lower cost.

For only teak maintenance using DC-100 Teak Clean™, a deck crew can maintain the cosmetic appearance of the teak regularly. Depending on a yacht's environment and intensity of use, the decks can be cleaned every three to four weeks (or once a month) with DC-100 Teak Clean™. DC-100 Teak Clean™ uses AR Technology™ and ensures the consistency in maintaining a refreshed and cosmetically pleasing surface and offers several more advantages

  • Is not highly corrosive to the wood
  • The process takes no longer than a soap wash of the deck
  • It merely requires the use of a 3M White Doodlebug pad, instead of a deck cleaning brush
  • There is no damage caused to the surrounding surfaces such as paint, metal or glass
  • It is not corrosive to skin and there are no health and safety concerns for the deck crew
  • It is compliant with MARPOL V, NPDES, EEA and all maritime international and domestic requirements
  • When following a regular preventative teak deck maintenance program, sanding the  wood will only be required to remove surface damage caused by normal wear and tear and accidents.***

Teak before and after cleaning with DC-100 Teak Clean

Picture courtesy of DITEC France

* Even if protection of other surfaces is not a direct and conscious goal for teak maintenance, it is an indirect yet obvious objective.

** Washing glass and crystals in a dishwasher may create a white haze on the glasses. This is a result of corrosive effect of dish-washing detergent on silicon in the glass.

***Because DC-100 Teak Clean is not corrosive, decks that are extremely gray and/or have deep grain structure will require sanding to achieve a level and clean surface. Once the deck is in serviceable condition, the maintenance method described above will be highly effective.

DITEC Marine Product Guide