Archive for Cleaning & Maintenance

Preventing Dry Rot in Wood

A popular option for boat floors is natural wood as it provides a classic look, high durability, and degrades gracefully. In other words, wood floors age well over time with standard wear. However, dry rot is an often overlooked enemy of wood which is a great cause for concern in a maritime environment like that of the floor on a boat.

boat wood dry rotContrary to its name, dry rot is caused by prolonged exposure to moisture. Mix that with a lethal combination of naturally found sea fungus and you have a problem that promises to destroy the life of your wooden floor. When fungi meet a bit of moisture in an inviting environment like the pores of your deck, it can compromise the integrity of the wood. And as it loses strength it crumbles, flakes, and breaks, ending up as a costly replacement bill and major headache.

Dry rot is actually a bigger problem when the boat is in storage rather than out in open sea. That’s because many boat owners tend to cover their boats to keep dirt and dust away or put them in a storage area that is too moist. Without air flow, the moisture in the wood is retained, increasing its susceptibility to dry rotting. At least out in the open waters the wood flooring is exposed to wind and sun, which gives it a chance to dry out.

To prevent dry rot, make sure the boat is stored in a well ventilated area. This means places like the dark, humid storage shed out back are a big no-no. To aid with drying out, it helps to remove everything you can from your boat. Just removing the seat cushions will do wonders to increase air flow as these objects are known to retain water and thus don’t give your wood a chance to dry. Any potential moisture retainers should be removed from the boat before storage.

While it makes good sense to cover your boat with some sort of protective barrier when you’re not using one, one that is made from plastic can actually do more harm than good. Plastic or synthetic rubber are common materials found in many commercial boat covers and these are just large moisture traps. By trapping all that water and moisture in your boat, you are inviting dry rot to invade your wooden floor by the time you use it for the next boating season. Instead, try to use covers made from cotton or any other breathable fabric that will allow your wood to breath while it remains stored. A cotton cover will still offer you protection from dirt, insects, and dust without compromising the integrity of the floor.

If you have been fortunate enough to maintain a relatively good condition wood floor up until now and want to know what preventative measures you can take, you can actually limit the chance of dry rot by sealing your wood floor with epoxy. Epoxy is basically a glue which you can use to coat the surface of the floor. The epoxy will bind to the microscopic wood pores and effectively seal it from any moisture or fungus from getting in. If any fungus does get it, it will not get a chance to spread as the epoxy does double duty to seal off oxygen from coming in contact with the wood. Without oxygen to live, the fungus cannot grow and spread into dry rot. Sealing your wood with epoxy will keep moisture, fungus, and oxygen out and prolong the life of your floor.

By understanding the cause of dry rot and following some common sense guidelines when it comes to storage, you should be able to prevent dry rot from ever ruining your boat floor. Keeping moisture out and allowing for good ventilation is key. As a preventative measure you can also seal the floor with an epoxy coat and extend the life of the wood even further. By following these practices you’ll be able to stop dry rot from ever becoming a problem so you can focus more of your time on enjoying your boat.

Yacht Flooring – Easily Repair and Refinish It Yourself

The most common material used in yacht flooring is teak and holly sole—which usually ends up taking a lot of abuse from our walking on it.  Not only does it give the boat a nice look, but also plays up the interior of it as well.  For some yacht floors, this material comes as an option while others have teak and holly sole set as the standard and default flooring.  There are many types of boat flooring available to choose from.  How to choose teak flooring may be your first and foremost issue!  The main issue that pops up however, is what to do when these yacht floorings wear out and knowing when is the best time to do something about it.

Lots of people fear the process of having to repair or replace their old and worn out yacht flooring.  What you don’t want is for the flooring to look worse than if you didn’t do anything to fix it.  There are some people who just decide to sell their yachts altogether so that they don’t have to deal with the problem of fixing their holly sole and teak flooring.  However, there is nothing to fear.  Repairing your yacht flooring is actually much easier than you think.  Not to mention, the supplies that you’ll need are also very inexpensive!

What you’ll need:

  • Sandpaper 220 grit – Use this sanding guide to determine what strength of sanding you’ll need
  • Varnish – It’s up to you whether you want a satin or glossy finish to your yacht flooring.  Read all the safety precautions on the label and all other application techniques to ensure the best results.
  • Masking tape
  • Brushes
  • Rags
  • Thinner

Before you plunge into this project, you must keep in mind a few things about different wear points on your teak and holly sole yacht flooring.  If all you have are worn down teak and holly (not bare spots) then you’re still in good shape.  If you have bare spots (meaning you’ve already reached the wood itself) then you’ll need to put in some extra work and effort.  Another thing you should do before you begin is check the hatchways or any other removable sections where the wood could have possibly splintered.  If there is too much flex as you step on it (when it is in place) then you’ll need to fix this first before or after refinishing your yacht flooring.

Refinishing yacht flooring basically means that you’re sanding it down with a sanding block by hand or using a light sanding powder.  A good way to do this is to move any detachable sections to a more spacious and comfortable place to sand down.  Be sure to clean the surface so that it is free of dirt or grit.  By the end of the sanding process, your yacht flooring should have a dull but even finish to it.

For bare spots, sand it down lightly to get rid of the grey.  Slightly feather the finish around it until it reaches the bare spots.  Take a slightly damp rag (with thinner on it) and clean off all the dust from the surface.  You should do this every time before or after you varnish.

Steps for the varnish:

  1. Thin the varnish by about 20%
  2. Paint your first coat over just the bare spots – wait until dry or for 24 hours before you add the next coat
  3. Sand down the area you just coated
  4. Thin the varnish by about 10%
  5. Coat again and allow for it to dry once again
  6. Sand down and then apply varnish full strength

Some tips about applying varnish:

  • It is best if the varnish and the yacht flooring surface are both warm in temperature – the varnish paints and settles better, which also makes it easier for you to sand in between coats.
  • If you have deep gouges in your yacht flooring, apply extra varnish in those areas.  You can apply extra coats there so that they become level and even with the rest of the surface.
  • Remember to sand in between coats and also to feather the edges.
  • As to how many coats to apply, it’s really all up to you.  You should have at least 4 to 5 coats minimum.  6 to 8 coats is good for extra durability.

Repairing and refinishing yacht flooring really isn’t that bad of a thing to do.  Although it does require quite a bit of work, you can think of it as a form of exercise!  It’s a good way to pass time taking care of something you love and pour a lot of passion into.  Varnish hides your damaged areas and helps make your teak boat flooring look luxurious and brand new every time.  You can even decide to change the overall look of your boat floors by staining it.  Following these simple steps to refinishing your yacht flooring is guaranteed to allow you to enjoy them for years on end.

Vinyl Boat Flooring a Low Maintenance Dream

When it comes time to look at boat flooring options, the word “vinyl” always seems to pop up. Vinyl boat flooring is just one of many options available including snap-in carpet, teak decking, and even truck bedliner from the auto parts store. For many people on the fence over vinyl boat flooring or the equally popular carpeting, vinyl easily wins out in the maintenance department. Certainly the look of carpet can look much more warm and inviting so people laying down vinyl floors on their boats often have utilitarian needs. Vinyl itself is not at all unattractive, and if you use your boat often having vinyl makes the deck easy to clean. Marine carpeting, though it can be washed with water, is still quite a hassle to clean.

Depending on your fishing needs, vinyl can offer several benefits over carpet. Fishing at temperatures below freezing often means frozen water on the deck of your boat which is much worse to deal with on carpet than vinyl boat flooring. And contrary to popular expectation, vinyl does not get more slippery in subzero temperatures. If you use organic baits like worms or fish, then sometimes spills are unavoidable. The gunk from worm guts or even fresh fish that you have gutted can collect in carpet. Removing this, while possible, is a lot of work. Flies also get attracted to this organic matter and can get stuck in the carpet as well. Don’t forget blood, dirt, mud, and more. These are not selling points any carpet salesman will mention.

With vinyl all those problems go away. Because it’s smooth and there are no fibers that trap matter that falls on the floor, a little hosing or light scrub is usually enough to make your boat deck clean again. It also dries much more quickly than carpet, which retains water after you wash it. Wash down kits for vinyl flooring make cleaning easier than ever.

Even boat owners with snap-in carpets that are often offered with their boats as buying bonuses don’t even put them out for use. Savvy boat dealers offer snap-in carpets as a way to give indecisive boat buyers an excuse to buy. You get the boat with the vinyl floor but if you decide you want carpet just throw it on. Fortunately in these situations, the vinyl is not the removable piece and new boat owners soon find no use for their marine carpeting. Even if you are not buying a boat but replacing your flooring, you can use this same trick on yourself. Install vinyl flooring and if you want to, add carpet from a snap-in kit on top later.

It’s easy to see why vinyl boat flooring is so popular, especially for functional boats versus pleasure boats. For anglers, the low-maintenance factor of vinyl is usually the selling point. While carpet may look inviting it can be a cleaning nightmare, even if you don’t fish often. Simply using your boat often or having one party with many guests can get it dirty. Go with vinyl boat flooring if you want a highly durable, easy to clean, and non-slip alternative to carpet.