Since I've been working on removing half a million feet of CETOL from Turtle Chaser, I thought I'd take a moment to wax on about some of the lessons learned as well as what we are going to be using in the future to replace the CETOL.
First, let's talk about what CETOL is. CETOL is a Teak sealer and protector. It's very good at what it does and you can't complain about the results. The biggest issue is, is that it's alot like a deck protectant only thicker. When it's applied correctly, it provides a very durable and good looking finish. It's been around for a long time and you'll probably find it on any boat with Teak. Of course, in the same vein, when it's applied incorrectly it looks like (pardon) crappola. Ours was just like this expecially on our cockpit seating. It looks like the previous owners just slathered it on top of itself over and over. No sanding, so attempt to feather areas where it had pealed, etc., as you can see in the picture.
Removing CETOL is not as hard as it sounds although it's time consuming. You'll need a few things depending on where your CETOL is. A heat gun, a good scraper (we use a small, flexible paint scraper), sandpaper (100 and 200 grit). Now, you are going to try very hard not to burn yourself please while doing this. First, using the high heat setting on your gun, begin to warm the CETOL. You don't want to get it to melting but just warm enough that it will lift. Practice makes perfect here. A piece of advise...keep that gun moving so you don't burn anything, expecially your gelcoat. Using the scraper, begin to work the area you're heating up. You'll find that once the scraper begins to work, you can just move along the teak and the CETOL will continue to lift off. If you hit a spot that is particularly stubborn, you can work it slowly with a bit more heat until it lifts. Again...it's VITALLY important not to let the gun be still or you'll melt the CETOL, burn your Teak or your gelcoat. For those removing CETOL from cockpit seats where you have Sikaflex between the slats, if there is CETOL on the Sikaflex you will need a smaller tool to scrape it out of there. The paint scraper 'can' work but I found a rounded, edged scraper, like a nail file, works best. Another tool that might work well is a caulking tool...those things you can use that level your caulking and make a nice line. Of course, do NOT use your fingers for this operation. After you have all the CETOL off you can begin to sand. I start with 100 grit, sanding WITH THE GRAIN! I then move to 200 grit. I have found that 200 grit is plenty for Teak.
Now, we like the color of our Teak. That warm, golden hue works well on Turtle Chaser and I have much better things to do after I finish this process. To that end, we chose not to put the CETOL back on and instead are using Semco. Semco comes in 3 different hues, clear, golden and dark. We are using the clear so as to keep the natural Teak color. The nice thing about Semco is that a gallon will last you forever! You put it on once or twice a year. It simply wipes on with a cloth! No sanding required! My kind of product. Semco has also been around for quite a while and works in fresh and salt water. They say it may require an additional coating if you get alot of salt water on it. We started with 3 coats on our toe rails and it seems to be holding up well. We'll be experimenting with the seats this year. Semco is a sealer and UV protectant. It wipes on like water and dries very quickly. Reapplication does not require sanding before applying. For those interested in Semco, you can buy it online or through West Marine, however, the only store that carries it is in the city. Of course you can order it to the store.
I hope someone finds this helpful.
Bill Fetter- Turtle Chaser