If you're someone who owns a boat, loves boats, or just spends a lot of time out on the water, you’re likely to have come across dozens upon dozens of marine products that tout themselves as boating necessities. As savvy boaters, we know that there’s a world of fun to be had with our boats, but a handful of products are all that we need on deck to keep things safe, clean, and beautiful.
Among these products are two that are specifically designed to keep water, oil, and dirt from damaging your teak decks or any other unprotected wood surfaces: sealant and protectant. At first glance, these two products seem to have the same purpose– so, what’s the difference? We’re here to explain the differences and to help you decide which is best for you.
What is Sealant?
A sealant (or a teak sealer) is a product made from either polysulfide, silicone, or polyurethane. It adds an air and watertight layer to seal your boat’s wooden surfaces. This layer forms a hardened shell coating that keeps food, water, and other liquids from staining your wood.
What is Protectant?
A protectant, like DiTEC Marine Triton 2.0, binds to wood fibers and forms an invisible nano-barrier on your wood surfaces. Protectants also keep water, oil, food, and UV rays from penetrating into and damaging or staining your wood surfaces.
What is the Difference?
While both sealants and protectants are designed to, yes, seal and protect your teak and other unfinished wood surfaces, there are quite a few important differences between these two products.
Because of their chemical makeup, most sealants form a hardened shell coating that changes both the appearance and the texture of wood surfaces. Typically, a sealant will cause the wood to appear darker, shinier, and the surface becomes more slippery. If you like the natural look of your teak, a sealant will not be your best bet. A more slippery surface, of course, is also not ideal for surfaces that see a lot of foot traffic, like your decks.
A protectant, like our very own DiTEC Triton 2.0, creates an invisible, highly repellent nano-barrier that does not change the color or texture of your wood surfaces. These protectants maintain the natural look of your teak while also protecting it from rain, food spills, UV rays, and other unavoidable factors.
While a protectant may not last quite as long as a sealant (around 4-6 months with proper care), its application is much simpler. With a protectant like the DiTEC Triton 2.0, the product can be poured directly onto your teak or wood surface, applied with a foam or cloth roller from a pail, or applied from a trigger sprayer or hand pump sprayer. With DiTEC Triton 2.0, a curing period of only 12 hours is necessary before returning to use your boat. Sealants like Star Brite's or TotalBoat's teak sealers are often applied like a wood stain with a clean rag to your wood surfaces and can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours to cure.
As a boater who likes to keep things shipshape, you might finally be wondering which is easier to clean. Well, with an oil-based sealant you’ll find yourself having to clean more often. Sticky oil attracts more dust and dirt, which makes maintaining the cleanliness of your boat a little more difficult than using a protectant. With a protectant like DiTEC Triton 2.0, there are no additives that attract dust and dirt.
Keeping all these differences in mind, a product to protect the wood surfaces on your boat is an absolute essential. A protected surface is much more likely to look nicer, feel better, and last longer than an untreated surface. Whether you choose a sealant or protectant for your teak and other wood surfaces, always be sure to properly clean your surfaces beforehand to ensure a smooth application!