How To

How to Maintain the Wood on Your Boat? | Best For Consumer

Wood is one of the most used materials in shipbuilding. Whether on the inside or outside of the boat, it provides a natural look and adds an elegant stylistic touch.

Due to its fibrous nature, wood tends to absorb moisture, to expand and contract under the effect of heat.

It, therefore, requires special attention and maintenance of regular wood. Here are two simple tips to properly maintain the wood on your boat. You can have a look at our Square Stern Canoe review to choose the best one for your fishing. 

Wood maintenance: Use a two-component varnish to protect the wood against infiltration

Parts of timber exposed to seawater and weather must be given special attention. They must be adequately treated to avoid the risk of infiltration.

Among the treatment products available on the market, the two-component marine varnish is the most effective; it offers many advantages. First, it has excellent resistance against moisture. It is also distinguished by a long service life and makes it possible to refine any defects on the surface of the wood. Also, it offers excellent waterproofness and adapts perfectly with wood. You may use fiberglass paints for your boat if it has fiberglass coating.

Skill level


Parts and tools needed

  • Bi-component varnish (base + hardener).
  • Acetone.
  • Sander.
  • Sandpaper (60, 120, 240)
  • Chemical mask (or dust mask).
  • Latex gloves.
  • Brush. (choosing quality brushes is essential)
  • Cloths.
  • I measure glass and spatula to prepare the varnish.


  • The first step is to prepare the wood surface. Using the sander, sand the wood with the sandpaper 60 and then with paper 120 until a well-polished surface is obtained.
  • The manufacturer’s instructions must prepare the varnish. Be sure to observe the recommended dosage and the safety measures to be taken during the development of the mixture.
  • For optimum protection of the wood, preferably apply five coats of varnish on the surface prepared. The first layer should be diluted with acetone (30%) to promote absorption of the resin.
  • The amount of acetone mixed with the resin must be reduced gradually to the 2 nd and the 3 rd layer (15% dilution). For the 4 th and 5 th layer, it is more practical to use pure resin (without dilution).
  • It is essential to sand the resin after each application with 240 grit sandpaper. The sanded surface must also be dusted with a cloth soaked with acetone to ensure a good grip for the next layer. The operation should preferably take place at a temperature between 10 and 25 ° C.

Then regularly maintain the varnish!

In addition to its aesthetic appearance, the varnish is an effective way to protect the wood of your boat against scratches, moisture, and UV rays. You should also know that marine varnishes contain special oils with excellent hydrophobic characteristics, such as linseed oil or Tung oil. Marine varnishes also contain polyurethane resins offering better protection against UV rays.

At the slightest deterioration or change of color, it is necessary to act to limit the damage. If the existing varnish has little cost and adheres well to the wood, then the treatment will be relatively more straightforward.

Begin by decreasing the surface of the varnish with a degreaser or with denatured alcohol. Then sand with a sander and 280 grit sandpaper. Dust well the treated surface and apply a diluted first coat to promote wood absorption of the varnish. You can use multiple layers depending on the desired level of gloss and protection. The idea is to “go up the repaired area to the same level as the rest of the varnish around.

In case of wholly degraded varnish, remove all the varnished surfaces using a scraper or a sharp squeegee while taking care not to damage the wood with the corners of the tool.

Personally, in this case, I use a heat gun to remove all layers of varnish successive.

Also, note that the preparation of the wood surface is the most crucial step in the varnish treatment process. Insufficient training will limit the fixing of the varnish on the wood and will cause detachments and cracks in the long term and you will have to start all over again.

Preparation is certainly not the most fun part, but it is essential for final success.

Sand or carefully clean the wood surface and clean thoroughly to remove any residue from the old varnish. Proper teak maintenance on boat decks is necessary for any boat owner. 

Then apply several layers of varnish until you reach the desired thickness. Especially avoid varnishing the wood in cold or wet weather as this can affect the quality of drying and shine. Also, avoid applying varnish on wood exposed directly to the sun.

Wood maintenance: What to remember

In general, wood maintenance is not difficult, but it takes a lot of patience and commitment. Pay particular attention to the preparation of the wood surface and take care to observe all the safety measures relating to the use of chemicals (epoxy resin, varnish, etc.). You should not miss our complete guide for anti-osmosis treatment on a boat for proper maintenance.

Finally, if you lack the necessary skills, do not try to work on luxurious or ancient pieces of wood, leave that to the experts! By cons, you can train on smaller pieces of wood.

If it interests some of you, I will do an article, or I detail step by step the realization of a varnish project.

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