Tech Wiki

Cabin Sole Refinishing

New sole panels

Because the Catalina factory did not varnish the bottoms of the teak/holly sole panels on (some? all?) C34s, they are vulnerable to water damage should the bilge overflow. If your sole panels are stained, here's how to replace them.

You can get 4 x 8 panels of 3/8" teak with holly stripes from a number of marine teak suppliers (such as Yukon Lumber in Norfolk, VA). The C34's sole panels are designed to be cut out of exactly two 4 x 8 sheets. Remove the old panels and use them as templates for cutting. Because the edges need to be cut with great precision and also need rounding, you should not attempt this project unless you have the necessary skills and equipment. I hired a master woodworker who charged me $300 for the job.

NOTE: Be sure to finish the bottoms as well as the tops. This will help prevent unsightly water damage.

To finish the sole panels, I did the following:

  • Applied one coat of semi-gloss marine varnish mixed 50-50 with mineral spirits to both sides.
  • Applied three additional coats of semi-gloss marine varnish to top, with each coat followed by wet sanding with 600 sandpaper.
  • Final coat wet-sanded with 600 and 1200 sandpaper.
  • Three coats of polyurethane applied over varnish (both sides).

At the end of each sailing season, remove the sole panels and store them away from the boat. This will prevent water damage from a bilge that overflows while the boat is unattended.

Cabin Sole Floor Re-Finishing and Stair Tread Groove Filling

By Al and Michele, Kindred Spirit #55

Cabin Sole Re-Finishing

On a rainy day in June I refinished my galley and aft cabin sole floor panels. I brought the panels to my basement, applied a standard varnish/paint remover per can directions and removed the varnish. It took most of the varnish off so the next step was to sand the surface gently with the vibrator sander, being real careful not to stay on one area too long. If you do you will sand thru the veneer. After you have the panel looking like nice unfinished wood, coat it with your choice of Sherman Williams, Satin Polyurethane OR as I did use Minwax, Helmsman, Spar Urethane, Clear Semi Gloss. I prefer this because it is made for the water environment. It came out real sharp after three coats. Makes the rest of the floor panels look real bad. I will get to those after I haul in another month.

If you are good with a belt sander you can cut your sanding time but do NOT practice on these panels if you have not done much sanding.

Stair tread Groove Filling

The stairs leading from galley to cockpit have routed grooves cut into them that collect dirt and end up looking forever dirty. I read in Mainsheet about wood filler for these grooves but did not agree with that solution. After refinishing the galley sole floor, something had to be done with these steps.I first refinished the step as described in the sole floor re-finishing above. Then I filled the grooves with black silicone caulking.

This made the difference from looking only OK to looking GREAT. After the the many coats of varnish was dry on the steps, I taped very carefull around the grooves with painters tape. I could only do every other groove, as they were too close together for this process. The remaining grooves were done after the first was dry (day later). The ends of the grooves can be taped with three small pieces of tape to get close to the curve shape. Next take your caulking gun and fill the grooves, overfull, with black silcone caulk. Now take a single edge razor blade (have a few handy) and drag it on an angle firmly over the wet caulking. Make another pass to make it perfectly flat with the tape and "no ripples" in the caulk.. Carefully tear the tape off before the silicone caulk sets up. Wait a day and tape the remaining groves and complete the step.

Comments have been made about Urethane being slippery on the steps. Well....the silcone does give you a grip surface and all the "new" boats have varnished steps with grip areas. You always need to be careful.