Cleaning, protecting and restoring varnished wood on your boat

Wood makes beautiful boats, but the downside is a significant maintenance overhead. A well-kept wooden boat will, however, last generations. The key is to keep the wood well-sealed. Sealants and paints must be regularly updated to prevent water from soaking into the porous wood itself and permanently damaging the structure of your wooden boat.

Even wooden features and trim will need time-consuming restoration if water is allowed to soak in and raise the grain. It is a good idea to take a look at the wood each season and make touch-ups. Oils can be replaced regularly and paints can be layered, but varnishes will need to be removed to bare wood and recoated every few years.

Keeping your boat covered will help make it last longer, as rain and UV rays will break down the protective coatings applied to the wood. If your boat is too big to keep it out of the water when not in use, you will extend the longevity of the boat if you can lift it out once a year for a thorough inspection and re-paint degraded areas.

The type of wood also has some bearing on how often it is best preserved. Some woods, like teak, are much more water resistant than others, such as oak. The age of the boat also affects durability – if the timber was 50+ years old when felled it will be more tightly grained and stronger due to different growing conditions and having been harvested from more mature trees.


Wash gently with Boatwash and a cloth or soft brush, then wipe dry.


BoatSheen Best Brazilian can be used to provide a durable waxy protection.


Strip and re-varnish at the first sign of deterioration.