Teak Decks – Part 2

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How to design your new teak decks to compliment your boat, and get some stunning results.

A deck layout design for a new Hallberg-Rassy.

With the old teak decks stripped off the decks and any holes left filled with epoxy, now comes the fun bit – designing the new decks.

Most refitters will religiously follow the original pattern, mainly because they already have a template from the old deck and know that everything fits where it should.

However, renewing the planking provides a golden opportunity to get a little more creative with the overall aesthetic effect. Some owners, for example, experiment with some in-deck marquetry; the process of creating patterns or even images in the teak by inserting some carefully cut pieces. Putting the yachts name into the deck is a typical use of marquetry but gives a new owner some extra expense if the yacht needs renaming. 

Others defy convention and run the planks in a fishbone sequence, or even across the boat rather than going with its natural lines.

Some of these designs work really well; others may have looked good on paper but not so good for real. The key to success is that the design should enhance the yachts good looks by drawing the eye in to her symmetry.

To give you some inspiration before we get to gluing the new deck down, here are some ideas gleaned from new build and refit yards around the world as they go for that ‘wow’ factor underfoot. 

Go with the line
 

The conventional way of laying a teak deck is for the planks to follow the line of the deck, as seen on this Oyster (left) and Hallberg-Rassy. Each plank is being aligned with the curve of the gunwale.

But be prepared to break convention

On this Italian-built Azimut the designers have gone for a fishbone effect. Here it is on the main sundeck…

…and repeated on the bathing platform to create a common theme right across the boat.

 

It works really well on the steps, as the planks appear to line up perfectly as you descend between decks.

Make your mark

Some builders will put the brand of the yacht into the teak with a simple route-and-fill technique, such as seen here with the Swedish yard Hallberg Rassy. (Note the neat V-shaped spike in the capping rail caulking near the bottom of the picture).

Other owners will actually incorporate the boats name into the planking – risky when it comes to resale.

Pre-made panels

Wherever possible, builders prefer to make the teak decking off the boat by mounting the planks onto plywood or composite boards. They are attached later using epoxy, as we will see in part 3. These examples are being prepared for a Dutch-built superyacht, allowing other works to be done to the deck simultaneously. 

Cutting in

The challenge with any deck design is planking around significant deck fittings. However, these can be cleverly incorporated into the pattern with some artistic design flourishes. On this Italian-built superyacht, for example, the stainless-steel cleats are complimented with a curving design of inserts at the base.

On this drain in the corner of a Sunseeker’s flybridge in build, the inserts surround the fitting so it appears included in the deck, rather than simply drilled into it as an afterthought.

Also on a Sunseeker, these craftsmen are routing out a trim so the teak embraces the workings of a forehatch. These pieces will be used to compliment the stainless-steel hinges.

Here is the insert being put into place. When designing your own deck, you will need to consider what happens around openings like this.

Lockers

Lockers are perhaps the one area where the most intricate border design takes place, mainly because each lid is an independent unit but has to blend with the deck as a whole. Here is an example from Hallberg-Rassy. Note how the trims surround each lid, but also merge seamlessly into the rest of the deck to create a pleasing pattern. Note also the use of solid timer pieces on the cockpit coaming and the in front of the engine dials.

Functional inserts

You may need to add pieces into the design to accommodate occasional furniture or removable fittings. These threads have been incorporated into circular pierces, allowing them to be easily found whilst not detracting from the deck design. They do this by appearing intentional. A thread on its own may appear as a blemish otherwise.

Don’t forget the solids

Part of your deck design will also include areas of much thicker wood, as in this toe rail. These solid pieces should match the overall design and so follow a similar pattern. If possible, using the same grade of wood will help if you intend to maintain the golden colour, although untreated wood will weather to a fairly consistent silver grey. 

Use thick wood, not veneers

 

Boats mass-produced for a budget price tend to feature very thin teak veneers, and these quickly wear through of high use charter boats. As you will be investing a lot of time and effort in your new deck, don’t scrimp on the raw material, increasingly costly though it is.  Always use quite thick wood where possible. Have a look at these examples being deployed on larger craft. You can see that the average thickness is around 10-12mm, or half an inch or more. In contrast, some production boats only have veneers of 3mm-4mm.

Mix and match with faux

This garage (tender bay) on an Italian superyacht features artificial teak made from PVC. If kept clean, it will mirror the teak on deck but will better resist the heavy use it will see in the garage. Modern fake teak is now exceptionally good and many owners are now switching to it as a harder-wearing and maintenance-free alternative to wood.

If you missed part one, find it here – https://www.epoxycraft.com/the-secrets-to-renewing-teak-deck/

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