Substitute for teak

Discussion in 'Wooden Boat Building and Restoration' started by Steve W, May 13, 2014.

  1. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    I have a cockpit sole to replace on an old Mathews for a friend, i just did the tear down, 2 x layers of 1/2" plywood with nautolex, i will be replacing it with 1 x layer of plywood with 3/8" of laid something, probably not teak. I was wondering if anyone has successfully used some other wood as a substitute. There are a number of different jungle woods availabie now that are much cheaper and longer wearing than teak. I have tried Ipe on a small cockpit sole and found that when it is resawn to 1/4 it has a tendancy to check. Other available woods are cumuru, garapa, and tigerwood, anybody have experience with any of these? whatever I use must be readily available in the US, so not iroko etc. I would probably use VG doug fir if it were mine but it isn't. Im looking for suggestions based on actual experience, not guessing.

  2. motorbike
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    motorbike Senior Member

    Just use teak, its the best and for very good reason. Non skid, durable and good looking. If cost is an issue, do your sums as labour is the biggest cost in a cockpit and you're looking at the difference in cost between teak and some other timber.
  3. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    Teak is for sure the nicest wood to work with but the cost is beyond ridiculous and it is not perfect, to be clear, i have laid dozens of teak decks over a 40year boatbuilding career and many of them have been due to over maintaining, ie scrubbing them to keep them looking like teak rather than just letting them go silver, if that's your bent one of the others mentioned above will outlast teak many times over. I have only used a small amount of Ipe, it made absolutely gorgeous cabin top handrail and varnished up beautiful but was rather nasty to work with, a friend did his small cockpit sole in ipe and it was less successful as it tends to check. It looks like I will be using cumuru for the Mathews sole as the owner is getting a good deal on some left over house decking so we will see. The owner of the Mathews prefers to let his teak decks weather and all woods tend to weather to the same silver grey so it wont look any different to the full teak deck and cockpit I did on his last boat. My only question is if it will check too much but we are willing to try it and see.

  4. kirkp
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    kirkp New Member

  5. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Ipe is a good substitute. It is heavier and harder than teak, but will weather as well.
  6. 7228sedan
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    7228sedan Senior Member

    My cabin sole is cumuru, A good friend had a bunch of scrap left over from a home flooring project. I couldn't beat the price! It is heavy and real hard. I'd be interested to see how it weathers outside in the elements. It seems like it would be fine for anything above the waterline.
  7. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    Ok, since I last posted we have delayed the cockpit sole job as the boat has much bigger issues and I recommended not putting it in the water this year. However i have since built the mast compression post for my Gemini catamaran out of Ipe in the form of a three sided box with the bulkhead making up the fourth side, while this seems like a good application for this exceptionally strong wood i will probably not use it again, the problems i encountered were that even in thicker pieces it checks and regardless of prep it does not glue reliabily. Unlike teak i found that i could wipe the faying surfaces with acertone for hours and could not ever get to a clean rag, i even tried flame treating like i doolting the with great success with uhmwpe and used west systems g flex but the glue lines started to fail so i wound up bolting it together, to attatch it to the bulkhead rather than screwing and gluing it i actually drilled and tapped it and used 5/16" FHMS which worked great. Bottom line is i had a lot more labor in it than i would have if i had used teak more than offsetting the higher cost. I would still like to find a good substitute but its not ipe imho. Ive got to say that ipe sure varnishes up nice, remains to be seen if it sticks long term.

  8. SukiSolo
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    SukiSolo Senior Member

    Have you looked at Muhuhu? huillensis_En.htm

    Although I have not used this timber much at all, it might be worth a look. As I do not have the 'real world' experience of it weathering, I hesitate a little but it cannot do much harm to see if you can get a sample and try it out for yourself. I can say, I have been able to glue it OK, but as only a smallish bit, hard to tell on long lengths. Hence my caution.

    This stuff is as hard as anything I've worked, almost ebony/blackwood density but coarser. Usual slightly stripey tricky to work grain but useable. Very yellowish with slight green cast when newly sawn a little like Iroko.
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    UNCIVILIZED DIY Junkyard MadScientist

    If he's not going to splash her this season, are you open to suggestions on a few species to pick up, to set outside & let'em weather? And or maybe make a few test panels to let'em weather/check their dimensional stability & gluing receptivity.
    Also, how big of a surface area are we talking about, & what kind of weather conditions does she see?

    PS: Thanks for sharing the tips about Ipe guys.
  10. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Pitch pine is a common work boat choice and cheap.
  11. CDK
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    CDK retired engineer

    There is also "Meranti" (Shorea family). A bit darker than teak at first, but once exposed to sun, salt and water it bleaches to almost the color of teak.

    I used it for a swimming platform over 25 years ago and it still looks perfect.
  12. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    A couple of the criteria for a viable substitute from my perspective would be of course price and availability, its no use if I have to spend a lot on shipping. While I can't buy teak locally i can have it the next day out of minneapolis so realistically it needs to be something I can buy locally from the lumberyard hence the 3 junglewoods i suggested as they are used in house construction for decks. The guy whose boat I will be doing the cockpit for owns a large lumber recycling yard and mills a lot of beautiful vg doug fir and southern yellow pine(Par, is this the same as pitch pine?) but he does not want to use these, i have suggested them but i think they may just be too familiar for him. Back in 05 I worked on the restoration of a historic wooden former steam tugboat in NY and we did a laid vg fir deck which i personally liked, i think, like teak it would be very prone to over zealous scrubbing destroying it though.

  13. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    We have a deck of Ecuadorean Ishpingo, it's quite light weight and lovely to work. Left alone it greys and looks almost exactly like teak. Very stable and durable. Availability is an unknown.......
  14. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Pinus rigida is pitch pine. It's resin rich and gums tools, but still machines well. Pinus palustris is long leaf pine and the stuff seen on plantations. Southern Yellow is usually one of several versions of Pinus, such as Pinus taeda, palustris, contorta, etc.

    I wouldn't use Douglas fir, unless it was original old or first gen growth, which is hard to find. If the grain lines are really dense, than maybe. SYP or pitch pine will be heavier and a bit more rot resistant too.

  15. Yobarnacle
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    Yobarnacle Senior Member holding true course

    Any opinions on cypress?
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