We recently reported that teak is becoming pricey and its deliveries iffy due to stricter trade and logging rules. In a 2nd report, we look at Esthec, the Dutch company whose innovation yields ever more versatile synthetic nautical decking

HENDRIK-IDO-AMBACHT – Tougher logging and trade rules are sounding the death knell for teak, long yacht building’s gold standard in decking. Teak’s fortunes as decking material are fading as sustainability rises on many agendas.

Royal Boogaerdt Group of the Netherlands sells top-quality teak to yacht builders across Europe. But CEO Cees Boogaerdt says teak is becoming scarce. He sees delivery issues looming large. As teak is losing its gloss, synthetic alternatives offer ever more versatile materials and options.

Esthec of the Netherlands invests significantly in marketing composite nautical decking (photos) with a big ‘wow’ factor: easy to install, low-maintenance, fire-retardant, anti-skid, light-weight, cool underfoot and offering a world of design freedom. What’s not to like?

Esthec is a stand-alone company within Bolidt Synthetic Products & Systems. Bolidt has been developing, making and installing thermosetting, synthetic floor and deck materials _ i.e. materials that strengthen through heating _ since 1964. Bolidt goes on cruise, naval and offshore vessels and very large yachts. As hardy flooring material you’ll also see it in sports arenas, museums, schools, factories, roadways and railway stations.

“We have always invested in innovation”, says CEO Rientz Willem Bol. “If you don’t think about the future, you will not have one.”  Bolidt sells €65 to €70 million a year in synthetic decking and flooring applications.

Esthec is a prefab product. It is delivered in sheets or cut to size, and glued to decks of super yachts, sailing and motor boats. The company sees demand for alternative decking growing. “The natural stock of teak is disappearing faster than anyone realizes,” says Esthec Commercial Director Marcel van der Spek. This is reflected in Esthec’s widening business activities. A year ago, Bolidt and Esthec opened an office at Barcelona’s MB92 repair and refit yard and set up a joint refit division. More recently, Esthec entered the Chinese market. “We see significant growth possibilities in China,” says Van der Spek.

Esthec was launched in 2007. Its synthetic decking system is durable, comes in 13 standard colors. Installing an Esthec deck can be done in a week, compared to 5 or 6 weeks for a teak deck.

Esthec boasts a strong innovation drive. Nothing reflects that more than the Innovation Center it will soon open, jointly with Bolidt, next to their headquarters in the Port of Rotterdam’s east end. The glassy facility, company officials say, will be an innovation incubator, a site where Bolidt and Esthec suppliers and clients can brainstorm about synthetics technology, applications and design.

Bolidt and Esthec’s innovation has lately yielded surprising results. Esthec Sensor Deck offers an alarm option alerting the crew to someone entering an unauthorized yacht zone. Esthec Solar Glow stores sunlight that can light up a deck at night and save energy. Bolidt and Esthec have also managed to integrate LED lighting into their decking. And they have significantly lowered the temperature of their composite decking under a hot sun.

Innovation has also led them to reach out to young designers. Esthec and Bolidt stage an annual Young Designers event, together with Dutch superyacht maker Oceanco and the yachting lifestyle magazine Boat International. The aim: to familiarize young designers with the myriad design possibilities of synthetic decking. Top designers, including Andrew Winch and Bannenberg and Rowell Design, have used Esthec in their work.