Laying a Teak Deck With Adhesive Over Wood

Prepare the wood sub deck by exposing it to bare wood and to a condition that will allow for a proper adhesive bond.

  • For fiberglass decks adhere a minimum thickness of 1/4" (6.35 mm) marine grade plywood to your existing deck first. The ideal thickness of the plywood is determined by the desired height of your finished deck. Note: other options are possible.

  • Determine your decking placement. Seven 1-5/8" teak strips, including six 3/16" (.5 cm) caulking channels, make up 12-1/2 " (31.75cm) of decking width.

  • Fraction to Decimal: 3/16" = .1875", 1-5/8" = 1.625"

Prepare the teak decking by wiping the undersides and edges with a solvent to remove the natural teak oils. Allow time for evaporation.

Apply sufficient adhesive on to your sub deck for three widths of decking strips (approx. 6" or 15cm.). Use narrow pieces of plastic to make up the 3/16" (.5 cm) thick spacers for the caulking gap. Begin with a caulking space and then position the teak strip. When you have two pieces of decking joining end for end, square cut the ends and position a plastic caulking spacer between the two strips. Once you have your first 3 lengths of teak decking positioned, screw wood screws with large flat washers into the sub deck between the caulking space so the edges of the flat washer hold the teak down snug to the sub deck. Place these ‘hold downs' every 10" (25cm) or so. Continue on with another series of decking strips. Leave the screws in until fully cured; depending on adhesive, up to three days.

If you are applying the teak strips to a thin plywood sub deck choose your screw lengths carefully so the screw tips do not go into the fiberglass.

Remove screws and begin sanding the deck. This is your teak deck's finished surface so sand very well with progressively finer sanding grits.

Vacuum very thoroughly and wipe down the insides of the caulking channels with a solvent.

Place a strip of 3/16" ( 5 cm) wide tape at the bottom of the caulking channel. This is called a 'break bond' strip. It has been found that a two sided bond has better long term adhesion in this application than a three sided bond.

Mask the surface edges of the caulking channel with good quality masking tape. Be very accurate when applying the masking tape as caulking adhesive is difficult to remove.

Apply the caulking by first cutting the caulking tube nozzle to 3/16" (.5 cm) diameter and begin applying the caulking. Be careful to avoid trapping air bubbles.

Use a 1" (2.5 cm) wide plastic flexible trowel to smooth the caulking. Make this perfect as it is your finished surface. Remove the masking tape as soon as possible; within 10 minutes or so, depending on temperature. The caulking starts to 'jell' quickly and will attach itself to the tape and come off in stretchy stringers ruining your good trowel job. (See step 3 on image)

Pull the masking tape slightly toward your caulking when removing it.


There are a number of good adhesive/caulking products available, such as Sikaflex 291, Sikaflex 290 DC (decking compound) and Teak Decking Systems SIS440. These adhesives bond well and are able to allow for natural wood movement. Caulking adhesive should contain an effective UV light inhibitor.

Sikaflex 290 DC is not available in the U.S..

Laying a sprung deck (curved decking to match the boat's bow shape) is a bit more challenging and usually requires 'butting' the teak decking into a central king plank. Teak deck placement around deck fittings also requires additional forethought, however, it is not overly complicated. Read as much as you can and photograph as many teak decks as you can, especially close up around fittings and the king plank. Start your decking project at the easiest section of your boat first and then work toward the areas that require more skill. Your experience and confidence in laying your own teak deck will increase rapidly as you progress.

Some decking jobs also require the teak to be bent further than the wood will naturally allow without breaking. For these applications you will use steam or a boiling water bath to soften the wood to allow for a more pronounced bend. Steaming is very effective and very basic.

If you do not want to use the 'screw down' clamping method on bare fiberglass or aluminum decks, ' vacuum bagging ' is another clamping option.