Caulking Teak Deck Seams

Caulking Teak Deck Seams

Caulking teak deck seams. A hard job made easy with Boatlife sealants.

You have all seen gorgeous teak decks with perfect black seams. Those seams all have one thing in common. They were caulked with a high quality marine grade sealant. The most widely accepted names in deck sealants are BoatLIFE Life-Calk® and Teak Deck Sealant. Life-Calk comes in two types. The popular one-part which is available in the familiar yellow tubes and cartridges and the professional’s choice for teak deck work: Two-Part Type P (pourable). The two-part is a fast* curing (24-48 hours), tough and resilient seam compound that will deliver years of leak free and aesthetic service. Teak Deck Sealant is available in cartridges and chubbs.

It is a do-it-yourself job that can be accomplished with beautiful results. Proper preparation is critical to obtain professional results.

Your seams must be perfectly cleaned and prepared prior to mixing and/or filling the material. To prepare the seam properly, first remove all the old caulking. For this we offer an electric Hot Knife which slices and removes caulking from seams. Another tool is a bent screwdriver that has been filed down to a point, much like a can opener. It should be bent to a 90º angle. After the material has been thoroughly removed it is wise to rout out the seam to provide a clean fresh edge. This step may or may not be necessary depending on how well the old caulking came out. (If you discover you have a “V” type of seam we recommend you square them off with a router. For new construction sometimes routing is needed to provide the seam. At times teak strips are laid over plywood, fiberglass, or steel at regular intervals which automatically provide the seams because 1/8″ or 1/4″ gap is calculated between the strips.)

Minimum joint size excluding the bondbreaker (we’ll explain later) is 1/8″ wide by 1/4″ deep. Bondbreaker or caulking cotton must be used to line the bottom of the seam. Reason: adhesion should not be achieved on three sides. The bottom should be able to “ride” along the base of the seam with the deck as it flexes and works. The caulking should ride much like a rubber band would. Allow for bondbreaker in calculating your seam size. If however, you are laying or recaulking a cosmetic deck (a deck laid over existing fiberglass deck), use a thin piece of paper as a bond breaker.

After cleaning and routing, the seams must be washed out with a good oil free solvent. Life-Calk®Solvent and Cleaner (Stock# 1056) is excellent for this purpose. This process will dry up any surface oil from the end grain of the exposed teak. Do not use acetone, mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, alcohol or turpentine.

When using one-part Life-Calk®you must prime the seams first with Life-Calk® Primer (Stock# 1059). This will seal the end grain from any escaping oil that will impede adhesion. It is important that you use ONLY Life-Calk® Primer for this application. Do not use a paint product such as red lead. These products are laden with oils that will produce the opposite results you are expecting and the Life-Calk® will not stick to the teak. However, if you are using the Life-Calk® Two-Part P or Teak Deck Sealant, primer is not needed as the primer is built into the product.

The next step is to put in the bondbreaker. BoatLIFE® Bondbreaker is sold in 50- or 500-yard packs. It is generally forced into place with a chisel, screwdriver or an old fashioned caulking iron. Next is choosing whether to mask the seams with masking tape. It is a tedious task but will eliminate the need to sand your deck after the caulking cures. If you mask it, it is important to get the tape right to the very edge of the seambut not to go down into it. If you are not careful the tape will be caulked over and when removed, the tape will rip out the sealant covering it. Just run the tape over all the deck surfaces getting it good and flat. Now you are ready to apply the caulking. If using the Life-Calk® Two-Part, you will be mixing two components together for at least two minutes. Afterwards the mixture will be poured into empty cartridges (Stock# 1120). We recommend using the quart can kit (Stock# 1046). You will get about 2 1/2 cartridges, which are easy in the time allotted since this material will start to skin over in 30 minutes. You’ll need about three cartridges per quart can. The mixing is a critical step. We recommend you turn the can upside down and cut out the bottom of the can with a can opener. This will assure that the catalyst will not collect under the lip of the can when mixing. Make sure you get a good top to bottom mix. We recommend the material be mixed by hand. Do not use a high-speed drill as it will whip air into the caulking and create bubbles. After the product is thoroughly mixed, squeeze the can to form a spout. Fill the cartridges 2/3 full and insert the plastic plunger provided with the empty cartridge. You are now ready to apply the material. It is a good idea to keep the other two cartridges out of the sun and in a cool place. This will slow down the already active curing process. Do not waste any time because the material is starting to cure as soon as the two components are mixed. Remove nozzle, cut end of cartridge, puncture inner seal, put nozzle back on cartridge and cut tip of nozzle. Place the nozzle at the bottom of the seam and push the gun away from you along the base of the seam slowly while squeezing the trigger. Do not pull or draw the gun towards you. By pushing the gun away from you, you are forcing the material into the seam. If you pull the gun toward you, you will trap air and produce air bubbles in the seam. Next take a spatula or putty knife and smooth out the seam against the tape. Remove the tape immediately. The result is a perfectly caulked seam.

If sanding is needed, allow the material to cure first. Life-Calk® Two-Part should be ready for sanding in 2 – 3 days; Teak Deck Sealant will be ready for sanding in 24* hours. Life-Calk® One-Part curing will depend on the temperature and humidity and may be as long as 7 days or more. When sanding, sand with the grain and do not use an oscillating type of sander as it will tear the material loose. Do not walk on the freshly completed seams until they are fully cured.

Now treat your seams right. Don’t clean the deck with two part liquids and don’t coat your teak with fancy teak treatments that can attack the caulking. Use Teak Brite® Powder Cleaner (Stock# 1085 or 1185) and Teak Brite® Teak Oil Stock# 1084, 1088, 1089, 1188 or 1189). They are the ones you can rely on for teak care. You’ll love your teak… your gorgeous teak deck.

*Note: All curing times subject to atmospheric conditions.

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