Teak Oil vs. Teak Sealer – What’s Better for My Boat?

difference between teak oil and teak sealer

Teak has been used for centuries in boat building and today is most often seen as boat decking. However, the wood still needs the proper treatment in order to maintain its benefits along with its appearance. 

So, one question that arises is whether to use teak oil or teak sealer to protect the wood.

Understanding what teak oil and teak sealer are, their differences, and which one works better depending on the conditions will help you make the best-informed decision in choosing between them. 

But before we get into them, let’s understand why teak is used as a key timber in the building of so many boats. 

Teak for Boats

Teak is a popular wood for boats, thanks to its inherent advantages on the water. 

With so many timber options out there, the basic reasons why teak is still so popular for boats and marine uses are as follows. 

1- Durable: One of the hardest and densest woods on the market, teak is natural for boat construction. 

And while teak is rarely used for the hull today thanks to the presence of superior materials, it is still quite commonly used for decking thanks to its durability and hardness. 

2- Hardness: The hardness of the teak also allows it to resist contaminants such as fungi, mildew, and rot.

The natural oils in teak prevent such contamination from taking hold inside the wood. 

This means that even if fungi, mildew, or rot were to start on the surface, its progress would be significantly reduced if not stopped by the oil inside. 

3- Resistant: The oils inside the teak help the wood maintain its hardness and density.

This means that the wood tends not to crack or warp even when directly exposed to water or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. 

4- Surface: Because teak contains a large amount of silica, the surface of the wood keeps its texture even after many years. 

The result is a surface that grips even when it is wet. This is perfect for boats when water is often sprayed on the surface, allowing you to walk comfortably with firm contact with the wood. 

Teak Oil for Boats

For many years, teak oil has been used on boats along with furniture made from teak. Teak oil is made either from linseed or tung oil with additives put into the mix. 

The oil basically accentuates the wood, which includes the color and the grain. Teak oil can really bring out the best in wood, which is its major function. 

However, teak oil does not make the wood waterproof or protect it in the traditional fashion. Instead, it only functions to restore the appearance of the teak wood. 

Plus, you will need to add teak oil frequently to keep up the appearance of the wood. 

Multiple coats are often necessary and must be reapplied frequently, especially if the wood is exposed to sunlight and the ultraviolet rays it brings. 

teak oil or sealer for boats

Teak Sealer for Boats

A teak sealer is different than oil because it does not “feed” the wood but instead covers it like a blanket. 

The purpose of a teak sealer is to seal in the resins and oils of the wood so they not only stay in place but also prevent moisture and other contaminants from penetrating the wood. 

For boats, teak sealer is the product that should be used thanks to its protective qualities. Under normal conditions, you should apply a new coat of sealer every year. 

This will help prevent moisture and sunlight from causing damage to the wood. 

Teak Oil or Teak Sealer – Which One to Choose?

The obvious choice is the sealer. Because the sealer locks in the advantages of teak, it is the perfect choice for protecting the wood on your boat. 

The two main destructive elements of teak decking are sunlight and moisture. The sealer is a layer on top of the wood that resists water and UV rays. 

In addition, teak sealer is easy to apply and will last for some time.

If your boat is regularly exposed to the elements and sunlight, it is recommended that you apply a new sealer coating every year. 

However, if your boat is in protected storage for a good part of the year, you may not have to apply a new coat annually. 

Teak oil, while having some benefits, does not protect the wood from the elements. In fact, teak oil is not designed to protect the wood. 

Teak oil merely replaces the oil that is present inside the wood. You will need to reapply it two, three, or four times annually. Plus, it can be pretty messy, so additional clothing cleaning will probably be required. 

Also, once the teak oil evaporates, the wood may dry out to an even greater extent. This means that the teak itself may be compromised unless you reapply the oil frequently. 

While teak oil is fine for teak that is indoors and not exposed to moisture or sunlight, teak sealer is the preferred product for boats. 

It is easy to apply, will seal in the existing teak oil, and protect the wood from the elements. This means that when you are looking to protect the teak decking of your boat, choose teak sealer. 

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