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Author Topic:   Bottom Paint Removal: The Secret
AVL1 posted 06-22-2006 08:43 AM ET (US)   Profile for AVL1   Send Email to AVL1  
Is there any secret to removing bottom paint successfully ? I've been told that once painted, the gelcoat actually absorbs some pigment from the paint and becomes stained. The result requires sanding and re-gelling the bottom. Anybody had success with other processes ?
Tom W Clark posted 06-22-2006 11:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
No, the gel coat does not "absorb" the color of the bottom paint. However, it is a rare bottom indeed that has not been aggressively roughed up with course sand paper to promote adhesion of the bottom paint.

In these cases, the scratches in the gel coat will need to be sanded and then buffed out. Do not underestimate the effort, expense, mess and misery of bottom paint removal.

Eddie Mucciolo posted 06-22-2006 02:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Eddie Mucciolo  Send Email to Eddie Mucciolo     
I would check with Corvette restorers.
The Judge posted 06-22-2006 02:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for The Judge  Send Email to The Judge     
Corvette people like myself use a product called "Capt Lee's" paint remover. It is water soluable and non-toxic I think. Works great with Laquer but bottom paint is more of a pain. Best bet is to have it walnut shelled off. Just like glass beading but they use walnut shells so it does not screw up the gel-coat. Probably run you about $500-1000 to have it done.
Speedo66 posted 06-23-2006 07:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for Speedo66  Send Email to Speedo66     
Tom, I love that line, "Do not underestimate the effort, expense, mess and misery of bottom paint removal". ;>) It's a classic and should be preserved in CW archives.

For what it's worth, I used a paint remover product, Peel-Away, which helped a lot by eliminating most sanding. It's a strong chemical and will burn you if you're not carefull, but it performed as advertised. Still, not an easy job or one I'd wish to perform again.


project13 posted 06-23-2006 09:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for project13  Send Email to project13     
Gel cote is in fact porous, so I would answer yes. I have never seen a bottom stripped to the point that you can not tell what color paint was on the boat before.
Yiddil posted 06-23-2006 09:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     
Interesting thread...Ive had problems keeping paint on Das Boat in some I finally took her back to Whaler...they didn't prep her properly when I got her...

I was told they had to sand blast the whole bottom, prep and repaint her which they did to perfection...or so it seems complred to what she looked like before...I keep her in the water so I need coverage for my Nantucket...

question, what is actually ment by preping...blasting, then sandinging, then a barrier coat of epozy, then paint???? do I have that right??? whats the line by line on this....and yes its expensive, they said that job cost them 1400.

alfa posted 06-23-2006 11:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for alfa  Send Email to alfa     
Bottom paint can't really be applied without prep.
You need :
1) sanding for removing gelcoat and clean hull,
2) apply "primer" epoxy barrier,
3) apply anti foulant paint.

Next time/year you need only apply anti foulant paint after cleaning the hull (light sanding).

It's the right way to protect the hull in salt water.
So the process is painful to reverse...

Tight lines

project13 posted 06-24-2006 01:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for project13  Send Email to project13     
Between #1 and #2, you should also paint the bottom with Interlux #202 solvent wash to make sure that there are no chemical compounds (waxes etc.) on the bottom that would prevent the paint from bonding to it.
jimh posted 06-24-2006 02:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
"The best tool for removing bottom paint is your checkbook."

--Jim Hebert
January 31, 2003

rtk posted 06-24-2006 07:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
Absolutely agree with Jim, his quote sums it all up. Not worth messing with the stuff.

Between the health risk to yourself (the sanding residue and dust is very toxic) and the environmental impact (the sanding residue and dust is very toxic to others, children and pets included), burning a $500 to $1000 check is the secret to removing bottom paint.

A reputable outfit or marina that does the work usually disposes of the waste properly.

It is an absolutely miserable job. Don't let anyone tell you it is not so bad.


chesapeakecharlie posted 06-26-2006 05:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for chesapeakecharlie  Send Email to chesapeakecharlie     
Removal of the bottom paint itself is not terribly difficult or time demanding. But, like was mentioned above, the real work comes with having to sand down the scratches that almost certainly lie underneath. I just restored/converted a Revenge 20 to an outrage pilothouse on which I removed the 20 year old bottom paint and restored the underlying gelcoat. It looks like it came out of the factory----maybe even better. BUT, it involved 3 months of lying on my back under the boat (on a trailer) rubbing away with a variety of sand paper products. I found those sanding sponges used by carpenters to be particularly effective for removing the most stubborn scratches. Then, once you think you've got it licked, you must dig out the 1200 grit paper and then the 2000 grit stuff. It can be done, and the end result can be shockingly good. But, it definitly takes some time and effort. I'll be posting some pics of my project from beginning to end in a few weeks that will illustrate some serious bottom paint removal.
chesapeakecharlie posted 06-26-2006 06:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for chesapeakecharlie  Send Email to chesapeakecharlie     
Just read my reply above and I wanted to qualify something. Rich (from above) is 100% correct. I didn't mean to imply that removal of the paint is easy----what I meant is that it is easy RELATIVE to removing the scratches from underneath of it.

Rich clearly sounds like he has experience in this department. I would coin it just like he did when he called it, "an absolutely miserable job".

I would never do it again. Not for anything.

rtk posted 06-26-2006 09:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
I do agree with you charlie, it is not a difficult job from a technical perspective. It's just dirty grunt work. Mind numbing, repetitive, dirty work.

I did work at a marina that did bottom blister repair work a while ago for a short time. Nothing like spending the month of July when it is 95 degrees and 100% humidity under a 40 footer sanding,scraping and sandblasting all day. Good times!

We did have a commercial sand blaster service come in and take most of the paint off, but there was still alot of removal and sanding to do. The alternatives to sandblasting were not around then, so we had the bottoms minimally blasted so not to damage the gelcoat.

On a project you can save alot of money doing it yourself. I'd rather put my labor in the job to other needs of the boat for the amount of time the bottom job takes. Spend the time to learn and do the mechanical, wiring and cosmetic things and save the money there.

And I do understand the cost for removal is alot to some people, I am not wealthy.


jechura posted 06-26-2006 10:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for jechura  Send Email to jechura     
I'll never do it again. Can't begin to tell you how many times I felt like calling BFI.

Jerry current=IMG_3879.jpg

astanley99 posted 09-24-2009 05:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for astanley99  Send Email to astanley99     
Bottom Paint is no doubt an issue to remove correctly without damaging the hull. Bottom paint will lightly stain gel kote if it has been on there for a year or more. However, it can be removed effectively and the surface can be refurbished back to a "New looking condition."

Chemical strippers are very messy and do not always remove all of the paint. It is very toxic and not necessairly safe to use. Traditional blasting methods also are not always effective. Most of the time the gel kote will be so badly pitted after the process, re-gelling is needed.

After years of research and trial and error, I have perfected a system that uses very low pressure (30-35psi)mixed with very finely crushed up volcanic rock emitted with hot water as a slurry to achieve great results. Since I can operate at such low pressure, gel kote damage is not an issue. I have done over 200 boats and clients are still amazed at the results.

Before you hire a company to strip your boat or you do it yourself, do your homework and make sure of the process before hand. It can be very costly and time consuming to repair gel kote or wood as I am sure you already know. If you would like to speak with me about the best way to remove your boats bottom paint or top side paint, check out our web site at or give me a call. Adam (423)605-3766. We service all areas from Key West to Tennessee.

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