Refinishing teak and holly soles

Home Forums Other Boat Systems Refinishing teak and holly soles

Tagged: ,

This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Bob Miller 9 months, 2 weeks ago.

  • Author
  • #8627

    Hi all. Having painted our engine room and lazarette in Fort Lauderdale, Phyllis has just started sanding our teak and holly soles. (Where does she get her energy?) When I asked how she was going to refinish it, I was suddenly tasked with answering my own question. Unfortunately, I am clueless about such things. I will happily welcome any-all advice and opinions from those in the know. Thanks in advance!

    Dick Hermann
    Avocet, N37-08

  • #8628

    Norm Miller

    I dont know if I qualify as someone “in the know” 🙂 but we clean the floor with water and dawn and use a surhold orbital buffer to agitate 3M scotch brite gray pads (very fine). We basically make sure its clean and removes a layer of old teak oil without actually sanding the floors very much at all. Teak and holly plywood veneer used in our boat is very thin. We let dry and liberally apply teak oil with a microfiber rag, let set for 30 minutes to soak in then remove it with a clean microfiber rag.

    We then let dry for 24 hrs before walking on it. This works for us and we like the look and it avoid a slick floor when we walk around barefoot or in socks (satin finish).

    Hope this helps!

    Quiet Company

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by  Norm Miller.
  • #8630

    Thanks for the feedback, Norm. I heard similar advice from Punk Pica on Carolyn Ann what Christy Comrie on Christina Sea once gave her. Punk couldn’t get the forum to take her input, so I am repeating it elbow for the benefit of all.

    Thanks again to both Punk & Norm.


    Yes, our floors. I used to do them a couple of times a year (with Tip Top), but last year I was turned on to a new technique and product and it has been over a year since I did them. They are now due!

    First you clean them with luke warm water and Dawn. You must use this “red” pad that you get from the auto parts store made by Scotch Bright. It is kind of like a green scrubbie, but finer. It is not necessary to stay with the grain. In essence you are doing a light sanding with these pads and the Dawn is getting rid of the deep down dirt. They will look really nice when you are finished!

    Next step is to oil. My guy said 2 coats, but I remember only doing one. The smell is quite strong, so plan to sleep somewhere else. The product is called Watco Teak finish. It is a rectangular, blue and white can you can buy from Home Depot. Use a staining pad to apply, also bought at Home Depot.

    Mix in with the oil a product called Japan Dryer, 1 capful to 1/2 quart, and it will dry quickly.

    Be sure to wear gloves. Also, I didn’t at first, but this year I will, put painters tape along the walls so the stuff doesn’t get on the white fiberglass…that won’t come off!

    I don’t like the smell and it is kind of slippery for the first month or so…but to me, it is worth it not to have to do but once a year or more! Maintenance is just vacuuming. If something spills I wipe it up with whatever, but generally I don’t mop…just vacuum.

  • #8635

    Henry Dennig

    You might want to check with Steve on Balena. In New Burn, he was sanding and finishing his floors.

    • #8654

      Steve Ehrler

      Balena has teak & holly veneer floors and solid wood steps. Despite hearing to the contrary, we found out that you can, indeed, lightly (or at times aggressively) sand good quality veneer flooring. You’re not going to try and sand until there’s nothing but raw wood – just to get most scratches, stains & damaged wood off. I was actually very pleasantly surprised that, using the procedure below, the refinished floors still retained a classic, aged appearance but looked in great shape !

      After a lot of searching, I found an article on the web that lays out what our basic approach was. I’ve provided the link below.

      Our flooring had a mix issues from scratches, staining and sun bleaching/darkening to minor damage and carpet tape goop. After getting most of the tape goop off (GoofOff & chisel), we used the following procedure:
      – Wash the floor with Murphy’s Oil Soap – several times, with a soft scrub spounge.
      – Use mineral sprits to removed sticky stuff that remains on the floor surface.
      – Wash again with Murphy Oil soap.
      – Using a small orbital sander & 220 grit sand paper or better, lightly sand the floors that have general wide-spread issues.
      – Where there was deep gouging, scratches, stains or carper goop that still remained, carefully spot sand with 80 grit then go over the area with 220 grit or finer sand paper. The veneer, although certainly not the same as solid flooring, is thick enough to take light sanding very well.
      – Apply teak brightener. We used West Marine’s two part system of brightener & oil.
      – Apply 1st coat of teak oil using a brush. Thoroughly coat the floor so it looks like there’s a good layer of oil sitting on the surface. We tried applying the oil with a rag but it didn’t put enough oil for the floor to allow even absorption of the oil.
      – Let it sit for awhile until most of the oil is absorbed but the remaining oil isn’t “drying” or turning to a sticky mess – maybe an hour or so. Wipe off the excess teak oil with a rag. Keep the rag with oil on it in a ZipLoc bag. – Let the floor sit for a day.
      – Apply a 2nd coat of oil and remove excess as above. Wait another day.
      – Apply a 3rd coat of oil and remove excess as above.
      – At this point, I then just used the rags with teak oil on it to touch up spots that looked like they needed to absorb some more oil. I keep the rags around to do touch up as required.

      The article that addressed how to maintain teak flooring is found at

  • #8636

    Norm Miller

    I don’t think their sole is Teak and Holley but maple if my memory is right (but don’t bet the farm on it). We toured their boat at New Bern and the floors look great! I think they also were not veneer but solid planks so sanding is an available option.


  • #8637

    Phyllis is using Christina’s suggested method of very light sanding, thorough cleaning, some teak brightener, and then Watco Teak Oil. The “after” look compared to the “before” look is just stunning.

    We have always been laid back when it comes to taking our shoes off before entering the boat. It’s our home and we want people to feel at ease, not like they are visiting a museum. But now that the cats have been returned to our daughter, we are thinking that it’s probably a good custom that will extend the life (and the looks) of our newly refinished soles.

  • #8657

    Bob Miller

    I have been following this discussion since the start and since you all seem to be sold on refinishing your teak and holly sole with oil I have been hesitant to comment, but I have finally decided to respond. Before I retired I had been a woodworking teacher for 29 years. My previous boat had a teak and holly sole in one area. I owned the boat for 15 years and never had to do anything to that sole for all the time I owned it except vacuum it. It has a satin or semi gloss polyurethane finish. When I sold the boat the sole looked as good as the day I bought the boat new. I have owned a boat since I was ten years old and have much experience working with teak. Teak looks good when sanded and oiled, but this is very ephemeral. I now have an N37. The sole will need some help in the near future. I will prepare it as the last comment suggested and then vacuum it, wipe it with a tack rag and apply three coats of a clear satin polyurethane finish and I am sure I will never have to touch it again.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.