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Author Topic:   Stripping Varnish off Teak
kazankota posted 02-25-2008 10:11 AM ET (US)   Profile for kazankota   Send Email to kazankota  
I spent a good amount of time this weekend sanding my bow locker hatch on my 87 Montauk and refinishing with TeaQua (which I might add is an incredible product). Anyway I will be restoring all the teak on the boat and would like to know of a good stripper for varnish. I have looked through the threads but no specific product has been discussed. The center console storage doors have so many cracks and crevices will take years to sand/strip properly and therefore I want to go the chemical route. I have been told that not all paint strippers are up to the task and to look for a paste/semi paste.
OutrageMan posted 02-25-2008 11:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for OutrageMan  Send Email to OutrageMan     
I am always in favor of mechanical stripping. Have you tried a heat gun and a putty knife? That should take it right off and leave your wood in better shape.

If that doesn't work, there are several soy based strippers that work very well and are much more human and enviorment friendly.


kazankota posted 02-25-2008 11:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for kazankota  Send Email to kazankota     
I've tossed the idea around with the heatgun but I've been warned that due to the natural oils in teak it is more prone to burning easily. My goal is to not have to touch the wood much (with scrapers, heavy sanding, etc). Just light surface sanding prior to the teaqua apllication. If a heatgun can get me these results I would try it.
ModernRocketry posted 02-25-2008 12:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for ModernRocketry  Send Email to ModernRocketry     
For stuff that heat guns can't remove or are impractical, here's what I do:

If you can remove the piece, do so.

Go to you local big box home improvement store and in the paint section they sell various strippers – Jabsco is great if you’re planning to brush it on, if you really lazy (like me!) buy it in a spray can!

1. Coat it heavily and evenly.
2. Cover it to keep it from drying out – I use plastic wrap – but it will eventually disintegrate. – OR – keep applying more to keep it wet. Once it dries out, it stops working.
3. Use a plastic bristle brush to clean out the detailed areas like corners.
4. Use a plastic paint scraper to remove the varnish.
5. You may have to reapply the stripper and repeat if the varnish is very thick.
6. Once it is clean, a good rinse with denatured alcohol and let it dry for a couple of days.
7. After which I will bleach it, neutralize it and revarnish

niagaraoutrage posted 02-27-2008 02:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for niagaraoutrage  Send Email to niagaraoutrage     
I used CitriStrip from Home Depot or Lowes. Brush on- let sit for 30-60 minutes- scrub or scrape off with plastic brush or putty knife. Rinse with water. Repeat if neccessary. non caustic, eco friendly and does not smell.
Tohsgib posted 02-27-2008 02:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
I used Captain Lee's paint remover to strip my entire Corvette. Great stuff and biodegradable. It is a liquid you spray wonders but have o idea where to get it anymore...try Google.
ModernRocketry posted 03-03-2008 12:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for ModernRocketry  Send Email to ModernRocketry     
One caution about chemical strippers. If you boat has been painted, you can't use them! Even if it is LP (2 part paint) I learned this the hard way on my big boat. It was a very expensive mistake.

If your boat is gel coat, I hear there are some strippers that are safe for gel coat, but I don't know which ones.

PeteB88 posted 03-03-2008 02:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Modern Rocket's advice is accurate - I have done a ton of stripping w/ chemical strippers, some on teak. Bottom line for stripping - if you cannot use heat or mechanical (sanders, scrapers) then go chemical.

Use gloves, get high quality respirator, follow Modern's advice. Once you get all the gunk off the objects (note, you MUST keep it moist and use lots of it - you will find that scraping into puddles will be helpful on some areas) with scrapers, hard bristle stripping brushes are great, dental picks (ask your dentist for some he cannot use) etc, there will be residual in the wood grain; old finish and stripper.

Here's what the pros I used to work with do: go to commercial laundry and by a bag of rags - usually torn-up linen table cloths used by restaurants and fancy caterers. I get a big bag for $10 bucks - pure white and clean - no fabric softener (silicone based) which can screw thing up.

then get yourself some medium and coarse steel wool pads (bronze if on the boat or you will be sorry ,sorry, sorry)

now find someplace that sells tall, plastic squeeze bottles with conical tip - like mustard and catchup bottles in greasy spoons. get two of them.

Now get some acetone and laquer thinner and pour some into labeled or color coded squeeze bottles.

If you followed Modern's instructions get your solvent grade gloves on, mask and the stuff above, maybe line the floor w/ big pieces of cardboard.

Start w/ laquer thinner, squirt on liberally and start scrubbing w/ the steelwool pads, keep saturated, then use the rags to sop up the gunk, do it over and over and over again until rags are clean - I am serious - then do final scrubs with acetone over and over again until real clean.

Give the objects some time to dry and then scuff sand and apply finish coats.

It ain't that bad and you will be proud of result.

Now that you've read all that - my bet is you may not have to strip all the varnish - that's the key question!!!

Good luck!

minitauk85 posted 03-03-2008 08:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for minitauk85  Send Email to minitauk85     
Pete- how do you know how far to go in the stripping process before you are ready to apply new varnish? -k
minitauk85 posted 03-03-2008 08:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for minitauk85  Send Email to minitauk85     
Any recommendations for varnishing teak plywood that has a spongy corner from water intrusion? I am told there is a product that can be applied once the wood is completely dry that soaks into the spongy area, and then hardens. I don't know the product name, but I heard it described as a gel, and it can be sanded and varnished over once it has cured. Ever heard of this stuff?-k
AtoZ posted 03-03-2008 09:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for AtoZ  Send Email to AtoZ     
I know Git-Rot is one product and there are others.
PeteB88 posted 03-04-2008 10:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
mini- indicator is when scrubbing up w/ clean rags and copious amounts of solvent shows no sign of gunk, brown tinge on the rags. If you want to get real picky looking closely into the wood grain w/ low power magnifying glass you see virtually no build up. Scrub and brush w/ clean stiff bristle brush.

That much solvent (at least at some point) will dissolve the old gunk. You have to let the objects air dry real good for sure. You have to use judgement because you can actually saturate the wood fibers which is probably not a great idea - you'll see.

You will also have to scuff sand - I almost always use 120 commercial grade paper and never finer that 220 on boats. Real sandpaper works much better than consumer grade, and the coarser you can get away with is actually better because it doesn't build up as fast, cuts great and reasonably smooth to the hand - your QA/QC meter. Always break the edges with sandpaper creating slight radius reducing sharp edge which also prevents splits and slivers ( not much of a problem w teak)

Since you are removing varnish it is a whole lot less hassle than removing paint for a clear finish. I don't wanna think about how hard it is to do that.


kazankota posted 03-11-2008 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for kazankota  Send Email to kazankota     
i decided to use the Citristrip (Spray) as well as one of the better chemical strippers offerred at Home Depot. I must say that the Citristrip did the better job, I was shocked.
Florida15 posted 03-11-2008 05:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Florida15    
I used a couple of different ones at Home Depot and Lowe's before I found that Strip Eeeze did the best job for me.
macfam posted 03-11-2008 11:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for macfam  Send Email to macfam     
I have had grat success with Franmar's Soy Strip.
Apply heavy coat of Soy Strip, a thick gel, and if possible cover with clear plastic wrap or large leaf bag.
The prevention of drying out is really essential.
Let sit overnight and scrub and rinse.

It works slower than chemical strippers, but is safe and has little or no odor. I have used this and gotten it on bare skin with no problem.

I'm always surprised just how well the stuff works.

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