Tech Wiki

Brightwork refinishing

Toivo Mykkanen, Cat Tales, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

I just got done refinishing the exterior teak on "Cat Tales" and am really happy with the result, and I am no painter! I used Sikkens Cetol Marine SRD translucent satin, but added a gob of Pettit Red Mahogany Paste Wood Filler (#7666) to give the Cetol some life. Plain Cetol is brown and boring, and the Pettit product really livens it up. I used this same combination a year ago and I get a lot of positive comments.

Thought I would pass along the following advice for those getting ready for the fall maintenance work.

Brightwork Refinishing Steps:

  1. Remove all hardware such as lock hasps, snaps, and hinges.
  2. Sand the old finish with 180-grit wet/dry sandpaper until you can see the grain of the wood. (There is no reason to go to a finer grade of sandpaper, as the grain of most brightwork is fairly open.)
  3. If any hole plugs have swollen, use a razor-blade style paint scraper to shape down the tops. Sand the plug flush with the wood. (Raised plugs can really make the finish coat look bad!)
  4. Vacuum up all the dust you have created, and wipe the wood down with a clean cloth shop towel.
  5. Add Pettit filler to the Cetol until you have the color you are looking for. Stir thoroughly to get the Pettit filler in suspension, and then stir every 20-30 minutes as you work.
  6. Apply the Cetol/Pettit mixture with a 1 inch or 1.5 inch foam brush per the Cetol directions. Wipe up spills immediately.
  7. Apply a second coat an hour later. (Instructions say wait 24 hours, but I have had no problems by just waiting until it is tacky.) This second coat will almost completely fill the grain.
  8. Use acetone to clean up spills you missed, or to areas that you over brushed.
  9. Come back the next day, admire your work, and decide if you feel you have good enough coverage. If you decide that you need a third coat, use a fresh foam brush, stir the Cetol thoroughly, and apply. If the finish looks okay, reinstall the hardware, and call your crew.

Other Hints:

  • Keep the can of paint on top of its own rag to avoid scratches and drips.
  • Wipe up spills immediately with another rag.
  • Keep a stick in the can to make stirring easy.
  • Use a sheet of sandpaper as a shield when brushing near other surfaces.
  • Don’t bother with masking tape as the Cetol will wick underneath it. Just brush carefully and clean up your mistakes.

Fair Winds and Nice Finishes!