Watco oil

Watco oil was suggested for my canoe gunnels. Which one? HD only had danish and teak versions. My local guru said any teak oil would do. I passed on the harmony gunnel guard at $30+ per pint.

I have not had good results with Gunnel Guard (too gummy) and I have heard similar opinions from others.

Either the regular Watco Danish penetrating oil or the Watco Teak oil will do fine. The Teak oil seems to darken a bit over time and maybe has a little more staying power.

Watco also makes an exterior penetrating oil. I have not found it offers any advantages over the regular interior oil. Canoe gunwales are not typically subjected to continuous UV exposure day in and day out.

Here ya go…

– Last Updated: Jul-22-13 9:51 PM EST –


Fer some reason stores aar not allowed ta sell it in Joisey!


Thanks. Knew there was a mystery involved. Unfortunately my boat is exterior stored year round, so I have never been a fan of wood trim. I’ll look for the exterior oil on my next trip out of state.

More important than what type of oil
is how often you apply it.

If your canoe is stored outside the wood trim is subjected to continuous cycles of damp and drying. Assuming your gunwales are ash, ash is unfortunately not terribly rot resistant. The repeated exposure to moisture tends to open up the exposed grain, especially at the ends of wood pieces where the end grain is exposed. Water then makes its way into the wood and rots it.

This will occur even if you use the exterior oil (which has more UV buffers) and your canoe is sitting unused. You can retard this process by applying a coat of oil every couple of months or so. It doesn’t take long to do so but you have to make yourself do it.

If your seat frames and thwarts are wood and oil finished, you might consider using varnish or linear polyurethane on them. You could of course do the same with your gunwales if the idea of periodic reoiling seems like too much work.

You are doomed
with exterior storage and wood trim. You will have a heck of a time with maintenance. Might just as well let them go and figure you will replace them down the road. Just one man’s experience in the same situation.

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there’s exterior and interior Watco. Be sure to get the exterior. I like Danish.

my experience
If you have the canoe up off the ground and sheltered from rain and sun you should have no problem. I leave several canoes outside with wood gunnels.Even some wood plocks and a tarp above is a big help.I ust Watco Teak oil 3 times a year.


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Danish, Teak, full varnish
I’ve been using Watco for 30 years and never heard of the flavor called Exterior. It had always been my understanding that the Danish was an interior oil (for furniture, e.g.) and that the Teak was exterior marine oil (for teak woodwork on boats). Hence, I always preferred the Teak for gunwales. The Exterior sounds like as good or better choice.

I have stored most of my canoes outside for 30 years. I always said I would oil diligently but never have. The rails that have been fully varnished rather than oiled have held up significantly better during these long periods of neglect. Some of the oil-neglected rails are almost completely rotted away, while the varnish-neglected rails are still salvageable.

If you are going to oil, you should do it three times a year for the life of the canoe. If you are going to forget or neglect to oil, I would put on five or six coat of marine varnish on the rails, which should last several years intact. If you store canoes inside, neglect will be less deleterious and the relative preservation times will be extended.

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There is a Watco Exterior Oil Finish
See here:


But I prefer the teak.

I use watco exterior oil mixed with a bit of min wax stain and apply every couple of months. Unfortunately I have to store my canoe outside and I live in south Florida. It is raised about 3 feet above patio deck and covered with a custom waterproof breathable cover that allows airflow.

So far no rot but have had dark stains in parts of the gunwales. Using a dark stain to hide imperfections allows me to stop obsessing over not having a perfect wood finish. My next canoe will not have wood trim.

One thing I would like to ask is what product could I use to remove old watco oil from the gel coat?

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I use 3M

– Last Updated: Jul-28-13 5:41 PM EST –

I have used 3M polishes to remove Watco from the gelcoat and they work fine. I can't remember the name of the specific product, but it's the kind of liquid polish that is medium to lightly abrasive, designed for bringing back the shine to dull, weathered fiberglass. I'm sure any brand will work as long as it is made for that purpose, so no need to buy an expensive 3M product. Just rub it in hard with a cotton terry cloth and the dried-on Watco disappears immediately.

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Is it this product


No, it’s this one:
It’s called 3M Marine Color/Gloss Restorer:


Thank you!

Sanded and threw on a 2 coats of starbright teak oil I had lying around.seems good enough for now.