Bleaching Tips and photos are by Joel Terbrueggen

After stripping, sand the entire boat with 60 grit, followed by 80 grit. Now decide what area is to be bleached. Usually, it will be only the blond areas of the decks. However, it sometimes may be necessary to bleach the sides or even the whole boat due to stains in the wood.

I use a two-part bleach after sanding with 80 grit. 

The wood grain is clean, and the dark areas are quite visible. At this time the grain is open the most to allow the bleach to penetrate deeper.

Tape off the area to be bleached as in headline picture above. You do not want to splash bleach on the surrounding wood since that could cause spotting if the wood is raw.

After putting on Nitrile/vinyl gloves, carefully mix the 2 parts and apply with a chip brush or a cellulose sponge but be careful not to splash or pool the solution. Apply bleach in a linear motion. When bleaching the sides be sure to start at the bottom and work your way up. Otherwise, you greatly increase the chance of bleached runs in the wood.

After the bleached wood thoroughly dries, put on a dust mask and LIGHTLY sand with 120 grit to remove the residue brought to the surface by the bleach. Be careful not to sand thru the bleached surface as this can really ruin your day and you will have to start over.

Repeat the process if needed.

Now the surface is ready for the next step whether it is stain or just varnish.

Supplies needed:

  • Sand paper, 80 grit preferred
  • Tape
  • Chip brush and/or cellulous sponge
  • Dust Mask
  • Bleach and mixing container
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Safety glasses


Joel Terbrueggen is a member of the Ohio Valley Chapter of ACBS. He has presented many restoration lessons which are available in the Video Library available on our ACBS Members Only site under the Resources tab.  Joel also donated his extensive library of cataloged photos taken as he performed surveys on antique and classic boats over a 16 year period.  These are also in the ACBS Members Only site under the Resources tab.  Joel Terbrueggen currently does much of the wood restoration on boats at the Motor Boat Garage in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Watch for more tips from Joel in the future. 



Have you kept a log of the restoration of your boat?  Please share it with some pictures.  

Email to kathyparker@acbs.org
OR Click here to submit pictures OR news from your chapter events.

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