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Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:36 pm
by eepstein
I have been wanting to put something down on the main floor of the cockpit for a long time. The cover over the fuel tank is a bit slippery and is always a bit dirty looking.

I looked at various imitation teak products over the years. But the work effort and expense was fairly high. I have purchased some test pieces from SeaDek but they only sell custom cuts that are pricey.

I have some fenders from and when checking the site, they have basic EVA foam sheets of their version of the teak tread. So I purchased one.

Over the last six months I have been playing with some various ideas for placing them, which minimal tools and effort. Also testing their durability. Here are my observed results.

There an ever increasing combination of options available, even on Amazon.
EVA foam is cheapest and softest. Is removable, and is not a tough as the PlasTeak and other PVC options.
PVC teak is almost as much work as real teak.
The job can be done very inexpensively and will little effort using EVA Foam teak.
The life of the imitation 'EVA foam' teaks all seem to be about the same. My guess is about 5 years, or more. Not as long a PVC.
EVA foam sheets are easily removed and replaceable.
You need a very sharp carpet knife (not a cheap box cutter or low end carpet knife blade. (I had not realized that carpet knife blades very greatly in quality)
You can't caulk seams in EVA foam
You can use Rustoleum flat black paint to create black edges by taping off the areas and painting with a small artist brush.
The adhesives on the EVA foam are all of low to medium quality, except SeaDek which is much stronger. But that is not necessarily bad, as removing the EVA foam for repairs is easy.

So from this, I decided to go with EVA foam.

I prepped the area by washing, using alcohol and wet/dry vacuuming any debris.
I started by making templates, the way custom parts are ordered. But I did not like my lack of quality edges as its hard to mimic the quality of a C&C router.
So I went to using straight lines and squared corners. I used a straight edge as a guide and cut on old plywood. This is where the sharpe carpet knife made a huge difference.
After a few tries at black caulk and teak caulk, I found black epoxy was easy. I taped off just the non-black portion on the edge and hand painted it black with an artist brush. It was pretty easy and little risk of a mess with everything taped off.

Lessons learned

I learned to be sure the knife was not at an angle (left or right) when cutting.
I learned that a super sharp knife is crucial
I made many mistakes and pulled up a few of the pieces as i did not like the cut or make a mistake.
I learned that I can not cut radius turns on corners well, even with a guide.
I learned that there is brushed and buffed teak, and that they are very different surfaces. I bought some buffed by mistake and wasted a bit of money. Try to stay with the same manufacturer and type of EVA foam for the same areas, as you will notice the difference.
Weigh down the EVA foam with zip lock bags of sand or stone, or other weights. That ensure adhesion.
Where adhesion does not happen well, water can get under the edge and cause the foam to no longer stick in places.
To fix it, a small amount of contact cement or light adhesive works well. Don't use anything you can remove later, if you make changes.
The EVA foam can be damaged by sharp objects. But it does protect the fiberglass and it removable.
More than once, I used mistakes as templates for replacements.
The EVA foam is an even better non-skid when wet
If I don't like it, it's all removable.

I have a couple flat fenders, and used some leftover EVAfoam on them to turn them into seats, when not used as fenders.

Costs and materials:

About $150/3x5 sheet. 3 sheets could do the cockpit if you are error free. (I wasn't, and used 5 sheets total, but one was the wrong type)
Rustoleum paint
Small Artist brush
Blue tape
Paper Towels, gloves 7 trash bags
High end carpet knife blades
Carpet knife
Metal straight edge and T-square
Old plywood or something to cut on
Band-aids and hand cleaner if you are a clutz like me. There is a reason I do system engineering and not construction.

I made this into a Google Doc for ease of access and uploading photos. Here is the link. ... sp=sharing

Re: Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:07 pm
by thinwater
Very slick!

I've been happy with a wooden grating. What I like best is that of the grit and bits fall through, so that I'm not always looking at sand bits of debris. It is on a flexible backing, so I can lift it up with one hand and hose out under it several times each season. Basically, no more sweeping the cockpit!

It was made with western red cedar, which I treated for rot and varnished. There was an article in Good Old Boat. I'd do it for my new boat, just the same, but it's open transom and thus self-cleaning via rain.

I have always wondered when someone is going to invent a fixed cushion material, sort of like what you describe, so we don't have to keep moving them. I wonder if this would be helpful as sort-of-cushions on a sport boat.

Re: Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:11 am
by Johnsail
I really like the look! I saw a picture you had posted of the cockpit on FB I think, and enjoyed seeing more detail.

Re: Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:32 pm
by duetto
i will probably never do this project but kudos for sharing this kind of nuts and bolts info. this forum needs this. well done!

Re: Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 12:03 pm
by chicagocat
Hey Eric,
It looks very cool. I have a couple questions.
From the link and from the Ultralon website video, one thing isn't clear to me.
Did you cut templates, then send the templates to them, and they cut they actual teak foam and sent it to you?
Or did you order standard sheets and then use your templates to cut them yourself?

The video makes it sound like the customer cuts templates and sends them to the manufacturer, who cuts the teak foam.

Also, what material did you use for templates? And which US distributor did you use?


Re: Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:28 am
by eepstein
Hi Brendan:

I did all the cutting myself. That's why I limited myself to squared edges.

They do offer custom cut pieces, as a nice option. Those were more expensive. I had purchased a SeaDek template kit for $15 that included all the markers and clear mylar template material. I made a few, and tried to cut them myself, but did not like the look.

I found that a T-Square, a sharpie, a really good carpet knife and patience made it quite easy. I did use some of the mylar for a couple odd corners, then taped it to the sheet I was cutting.

When they do it, it's printed on a computerized system. I was looking for a very inexpensive way, that I would not fret over if I decided to remove it.

Hope that helps.

Re: Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:39 pm
by Ed Ellis
Not sure whether Eric or Bonnie posted this detailed description, but whomever did, you ROCK! Grate post. Ed

Re: Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:39 pm
by Ed Ellis
Not sure whether Eric or Bonnie posted this detailed description, but whomever did, you ROCK! Great post. Ed

Re: Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:43 pm
by eepstein
Thanks so much. It’s been quite durable and I have abused it a lot. Lots mor projects to go...

Re: Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Mon Apr 20, 2020 12:56 pm
by Ed Ellis
Hi Eric,

Now that you’ve had the Eva installed fo awhile, what’s your assessment on how well it’s holding up? Corners and edges staying glued down, etc.?


Re: Imitation (inexpensive) Teak in the cockpit

Posted: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:46 pm
by eepstein
Hi Ed and Linda:

Thanks for your inquiry. Yes, I've got some experience with it now. I plan to redo a lot of the cockpit this Spring as I was testing a couple brands and styles of EVA.

Here is what I learned;

- EVA feels great on bare feet. Better then other synthetic teaks
- The quality of adhesive from different companies varies - even when they say its all 3M adhesive
- The teak patterns from different companies varies enough to notice
- The 'smooth teak' vs 'brushed pattern' teak hold up the same. If you sand out a deep stain, the brushed teak shows the spot more, but both show some flaw in the sanded area
- Rust stains are not removable!
- The EVA teak does not seems to be affected by split gasoline
- The darker the teak, the hotter it is in bare feet
- Cutting the teak square at the corners provides the easiest and most consistent edges
- Painting the edges with black or white enamel paint to match the caulk color works really well, to help cuts look like proper edges
- Darker teak and black caulk hides dirt, but while caulk and gray teak look better outside of the cockpit and holds less heat
- Removing it to replace damage or change color is not 'too' hard, and alcohol removes the glue with a it of elbow grease
- Running the synthetic teak to a raised edge looks good, BUT can trap water that will weaken the adhesive over time
- Use a very sharp razor knife to make cuts and change the blade often. I started with a box cutter and it was near impossible to cut in straight lines.
- Clamp the sheet to a piece of plywood and use a metal straight edge to help make the best strait cuts
- A palm router used to try to bevel the edge DOE NOT work. Its chops up the edges.
- Sanding the edges with a palm sander works 'fairly well' to fix errors and rough spots. But nothing beats a straight cut.
- Clean the desk with alcohol and get impurities out before mounting, or the adhesives wont adhere well
- Always put weights on the teak to set the adhesive (I used a piece of plywood and SCUBA weights)
- You can caulk edges where water might enter and eventually breakdown the adhesive. Not ideal but works.
- Spray contact cement works for touch ups, but is hard to used 'cleanly'
- Don't try Sikaflex in combination with EVA. Its tougher than the EVA foam and the adhesion is inconsistant.
- Don't use a power washer on it, except to help remove it.
- Don't focus a hard stream of water at an edge or seam.

Here is what I can tell you about brands:

- SeaDek is much better quality and has the best adhesive I found. But its expensive and they do not sell raw sheets. If you have the money and are okay creating patterns, you will get the best results with them. It will also last longer.
- Cheap Synthetic Teak from EBay or Amazon i.e. ( ... _lig_dp_it) is fine, if the surface is perfectly prepared. Its very inexpensive (my entire cockpit was $350 the first time and with price drops would be $280 now), its worth trying. Just expect to do spot replacements after a few years. Not everything, but some spots that did not adhere as well.

That's about it. Message me if you have any questions.