Repairing a Pine Deck

by Paul
(Plymouth, UK)

I am currently restoring a 30 foot 1939-built wooden gaff cutter.

It doesn't need a great deal of work, it is generally in good condition and is perfectly capable of being sailed.

However, the deck is worse than most of the boat, and leaks quite badly.

At the moment, I don't have the time or the money to replace the deck, so would like to repair it in such a way that it lasts for at least a few seasons, when I might think again.

There's always lots of suggestions around for restoring teak, but not so many for pine.

The first problem is that there are many places where the dowels over the fastenings are missing.

Something needs doing to these fairly urgently as every time it rains (and I am based in SW England, so that is not a rare occurrence!) these fill up with water and will surely start to rot.

I don't want to replace dowels, I would rather use some sort of filler.

Any suggestions?

The boat lives in salt water.

I gather that something like red lead mixed with linseed oil is traditional but doubt that would be available nowadays.

Some sort of putty maybe?

After that I need to replace some of the caulking.

I might try pitch just to keep the cost down.

Finally, I would like to cover the whole thing in something waterproof.

Some people recommend using epoxy and a single sheet of woven glass matting but I do not have the skill to do that on such a large area of deck without ending up with assorted wrinkles.

I would like something I can brush on, preferably something quite thick that would help seal minor leaks.

I have been told that there is such a product, that it is varnish coloured and has good non-slip properties, and though quite expensive does a good job.

The person who told me this could not remember what it was called.

Ideally, I need to be able to buy stuff here in the UK.

Any suggestions gratefully received!

Comments for Repairing a Pine Deck

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May 11, 2011
Deck seam re-caulk
by: Timynocky

Hi Paul,

First I would suggest that using “standard zinc plated steel screws” might be the cheapest option but it would be a false economy.

Consider using brass or stainless.

Epoxy won’t flex as you rightly point out, however as it is only for the countersunk holes that isn’t going to be much of a problem.

For the seam caulking you do want something flexible.

I'm just wondering if you really need to worry too much about the deck coating?

Why don’t you see to any fastenings that need replacing, re-caulk the seams then see how she goes.

The re-caulking might be all that is needed.

May 06, 2011
More questions!
by: Paul

Thanks again for responses. A few further points as I get going:

I am going to refasten the deck planks.

A very experienced boat builder has shown me a good way of doing this without taking out the old fastenings.

There are roughly 600 fastenings in all.

One of the cheapest options would be to use standard zinc plated steel screws.

Does this sound ok?

I've been told bronze are better but I dread to think how much that number would cost.

If the coating works the screws won't be getting wet, and they will surely last as long as the deck is likely to.

I have no idea whether the planking is tongue and groove or not.

I know the boat did not originally have canvas over the deck, though I have no way of knowing whether the current deck is original.

I've been told it's unlikely.

One of the answers to my initial query said to use epoxy filler for the various screw holes.

Someone else has told me that won't last long as it will set hard and then not flex with the deck at all, which sounds reasonable.

What are the alternatives?

I could just use the flexible filler for the seams if I use a non-transparent sealer coating, or one of the white/red lead and putty mixes.

Finally, the obvious alternative to the Protectakote would be Coelans, though it sounds much more tedious to apply, going on in many more thin coats than P's 2 thick coats.

Any thoughts on that?

Many thanks again


Apr 20, 2011
by: Mike

Hi Paul,

The 'plugs' which are used to cover countersunk fastenings are not cut from doweling.

Plugs are cut into the side of the grain, if you use sections of dowelling you will have the end grain exposed and running down into the countersink.

The planking is it 'laid' planking or 'Tongue and Grooved'?

If it is 'Tongue and Grooved' then the deck was probably originally covered with painted canvas to waterproof it.

If this Protectakote is the same as Decolay and as good as Hugo suggests then it should be OK.

But it will depend on how thick the stuff is as to how well it will fill gaps, paint wouldn?t normally do that.

Maybe try painting just the seams with it first to see how well it fills them.


Apr 20, 2011
Using ProtectaKote
by: Paul

Many thanks for replies to my initial question about the decking.

The Protectakote option looks pretty good to me.

I intend to first fill various holes with dowels and/or epoxy filler.

How fastidious do I need to be about seams?

There are places where the caulking has hardened and shrunk a little and left what are virtually hairline cracks that are probably leaking.

I had intended to rake out the caulking where this has happened.

However, it looks like the Protectakote would fill those sort of very narrow gaps anyway, thus saving me a lot of very uncomfortable bending (I am a bad back sufferer).

Does doing it that way sound ok?

I know it's not perfect, and I will certainly remove any caulking that is crumbly or generally unsound, but I don't want to have to do more than I have to!


Apr 17, 2011
Deck Coating
by: Anonymous

There are a range of paints being sold for treating truck beds called 'Protectakote' which sound as though they are similar to 'Decolay'.

I have no experience of using it but if you can believe their adverts.....?

There is a 'transparent' version.


Apr 16, 2011
Deck Repairs
by: Mike

Forget the epoxy and glass cloth, not on an old wooden boat.

There is a product was called 'Decolay', it is made for fishing vessels, to give a non-slip, hard-wearing, rubberised, surface.

Hugo suggested it in a comment on a similar question from Frankie about his "Mourne Lass".

I'm not sure where you can buy it theses days in the UK, if you know any commercial fishermen they might know of a source.

For caulking deck seams you want a 'Deck Seam Compound' not the putty and red led used for hull seams try

You can buy ready cut wooden plugs for those fastenings, might be easier than trying to fill them, otherwise use an epoxy filer, or thickened epoxy.

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