Teak Decks – Part 3

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Some thoughts on tooling (..and how one WEST SYSTEM® distributor has created his own solution.)

A freshly laid teak deck on a brand new Halberg Rassy yacht

As part of preparing to renew your teak deck, it’s worth having a look at the materials and tools that will help get those planks perfectly aligned.

The real beauty of a freshly laid deck is getting the seams at exactly the right distance so the uniform planks are also equally well spaced.

The problem is, the planks are springy, so bending them into shape horizontally (and perhaps with a pronounced camber) whilst also keeping them flat to the deck can be a challenge. They want to twist up and outwards. The answer is to hold them down with removable fasteners whilst the underlying adhesive sets.

Here workers at Halberg Rassy are using a whole series of screws that are exactly 5mm wide, with metal plates. Each will pin the plank down by screwing it onto the deck. The smooth shank of the screw is in contact with the wood.

The deck is made first to a specific plan – note the rebated planks and also the blue lines that denote where the planks should be cut to make a neat and uniform pattern.

Clamps are used to pull the planks tightly together against the spacers so the seams are exactly the same width along the full length of each plank.

Once the adhesive has cured, the screws are removed and the application of a sealant like Sikaflex not only seals up the remaining screw holes, but also gives the deck a certain amount of flexibility.

David Jaffeux from Directeck, is a specialist distributor with WEST SYSTEM products and a major supplier of teak products. (In case you’re wondering why he is posing with mugshots of David and Richard from West System International, they were there giving demonstrations to the visiting public.)

He has developed these ingenious plastic T-pieces that literally slot on to the seams.

“The advantage is that they are easy to clean and re-use,” he said. “Also, there is no risk of the screw thread damaging the edge of the teak plank as it is inserted.”

The pieces are available in two different sizes, denoted by the colour. Orange spacers (seen at the right of this shot) are for 4mm seams and black ones are for 5mm.

“We make these in France, not China,” David said proudly.

Another tool David has devised is to create a raised bead of sealant between the planks. This specially designed ‘pull’ spatula has a notch set into the spreader head that creates a raised bead of sealant when run across the wet material. The usual way is to use a flat spatula with the seam bordered between strips of masking tape, but the sealant can sometimes slump as it settles. This technique gives a raised bead that can then be sanded back completely flat.

Thoughts on base adhesive – making it rigid.

Whilst there are many different types of flexible adhesive sealant available to bed the teak planks onto, several builders like to use a base of WEST SYSTEM Graphite Powder (additive 423) mixed with WEST SYSTEM 105/205 epoxy.

The planks need to be sanded and cleaned with solvent to remove the oiliness, but when bedded down onto the epoxy/graphite mix, the deck becomes a remarkably solid structure when the epoxy has cured.

The powder is also used for the seams, which removes any problems with heat shrinkage and forms a tight adhesive bond between the planks. Epoxy should only be used in the seams if the teak thickness is 6mm or less, any greater thickness of timber will move with moisture uptake and may cause splitting in the planks.

For more information on the spacers and for obtaining WEST SYSTEM products in France, visit: www.directeck.fr

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