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  Hull Refinish: Gel Coat, Epoxy, or Poly

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Author Topic:   Hull Refinish: Gel Coat, Epoxy, or Poly
skred posted 08-26-2008 11:26 AM ET (US)   Profile for skred   Send Email to skred  
After all the filling and sanding on the hull of my 13, I'm not sure what to finish it with. Eric Sells apparently used some sort of Awlgrip, and it looks great. Wonder if there's other polyurethane or epoxy-based finishes anyone is aware of. I'm not looking for a barrier coat. Just trying to decide what I should use to refinish the hull.
Tohsgib posted 08-26-2008 11:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tohsgib  Send Email to Tohsgib     
There are many 2 part epoxy finishes to use, Awlgrip just happens to be the most expensive and possibly the toughest but who knows. Imron by DuPont is another. Many have also used interlux with great results.
contender posted 08-26-2008 01:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
I would go for the paint as Tohsgib stated...good luck
glen e posted 08-26-2008 04:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
another way to go is automotive luxury hi-line paint (MB/Lexus) - this is Sikkens primer/base/clear - going on 4 years and still looks like the day I had it done - never waxed, just washed with car soap...not to be used below the waterline:

Blackduck posted 08-26-2008 04:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Blackduck  Send Email to Blackduck     
Is this above or below the waterline?
John W posted 08-26-2008 05:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for John W  Send Email to John W     
You are looking at three main choices: gelcoat, one-part paints, or two part polyurethanes.

Gelcoat: You can re-gelcoat a smaller boat like a 13; it involves spraying gelcoat, then wet sanding the entire boat to obtain a shine (there will be an "orange peel" look to the finish after spraying that must be sanded off for a smooth finish). This is the most durable, and most "original" finish for your boat. DOWNSIDES: there is a lot of labor involved, and you have to use spraying equipment. There are folks here who have done it & can give advice. Due to the labor involved of hand sanding an entire boat before spraying and again after spraying, you never see larger yachts re-gelcoated...they are always painted when refinish is needed. But on a 13, this is a very possible option to consider.

One-part paints: marine paints like Petit Easypoxy, etc. These are very easy to use & will improve the looks of an old boat. The finish is glossy but is less so than two-part paints, and therefore is less likely to reveal imperfections in the underlying surface the way two part paints can. DOWNSIDES: the boat looks painted, versus original. One part paints are not all that abraision resistant compared to 2-part polyurethanes or gelcoat. The boat will need to be repainted every 2-3 years to keep a good finish. In my opinion, these paints are best for "beater" type boats where perfection is not your objective.

Two-part linear polyurethanes: two part finishes that dry by chemical reaction. Brand names like Awlgrip, Sterling, Interthane, Perfection, Alex Seal, Endura, etc. All will give a mirror smooth, shiny, durable finish thant can last 10 years or more without maintenance. They never need to be waxed, and are easier to keep clean than gelcoat. These paints are abraision resistant, chemical resistant, flexible, and durable. These paints are the original finish on Hateras Yachts and virtually every custom yacht made (Rybovich, Huckins, etc). The finish is very high gloss and much so that the paints will reveal surface imperfections in the boat that were not noticeable before a result, fairing, sanding & prep work is critical to good results prior to painting. These paints can be brushed or sprayed with similar results. You generally will use an epoxy primer before applying finish coats. DOWNSIDES: lots of prep work. Paints give off harsh fumes & require a good mask & skin protection. Paints are more difficult to apply than one part. Finish is much more durable than one-part paints, but it is still a thin coating versus gelcoat, so any ding on the surface from an anchor, etc will permanently damage the finish...and most of these finishes are not easily repairable. They are also expensive.

When I redid my boat, I used two part polyurethane paint (Endura)...I am very pleased with the results. All of the various brands can give a good finish, prep work wwill make a bigger difference in the finish than the brand (although there are differences).

You can get lots of advice this site on the process for the three methods of refinishing, depending on which of the three approaches above you decide on.

Hope this helps.

skred posted 08-26-2008 08:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     

I looked up your references, and it helped a lot - thanks. I think for the inside with many very small spider cracks, the Petit product will do. Jury's still out on the hull....
I have to do both the outside and inside.

John W posted 08-26-2008 09:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for John W  Send Email to John W     
skred, spider cracks would need to be filled with putty, epoxy, or primer before putting either one-part or two-part paint on. You won't find many boats that had worse gelcoat than mine did before painting, but a two part paint job (after a lot of prep & primer) did wonders.

The one part paints will look nice & are easy to apply. But keep in mind that the one part marine paints will need re-doing every couple of years...if not, they will peel, fade, etc. On wooden boats, annual painting is part of spring commissioning, but most whaler owners want their finish to last longer than a few years. Two part polyurethanes will be more work initially, but you shouln't ever have to worry with it again once you're done.

Either way, good luck with it. Do searches on this board for more info either way. Also check the Interlux website, they have good one-part marine enamels, but I can't remember the names.

kwik_wurk posted 08-26-2008 11:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for kwik_wurk  Send Email to kwik_wurk     
To add to John W comments on gelcoat:

Gelcoat for the most part can be sprayed and then coated (sprayed) with a release agent to give a decent gloss finish. Some wet sanding may be needed. It is important to seal the gelcoat off from air otherwise the surface will not cure completely. Luckily the release agent is easy to apply, easy to clean.

Tinting gelcoat can be a pain, I had mine matched by a local outfit.

Two part polyurethanes usually have a harder surface than anything else. But as stated is usually a thin coat and damages easily.

I would stay away from one part paints. I was given (from a neighbor) a dinghy with a one part paint and it looks like crap and is peeling away. I don't have time to fix, so it just gets worse and worse. I couldn't give the boat away if I wanted too.

Good luck...

Wasatch Whaler posted 08-27-2008 09:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Wasatch Whaler  Send Email to Wasatch Whaler     
I think John W gave an excellent review of different alternatives. This is more in regard to glen e's suggestion.

I'm in the process of an automotive project and I'm using PPG's base coat, clear coat system.

I would not go that route with a boat. Here's why:

It's a pretty labor intensive process. You have many steps, primer, sealer, base coat, clear coat, and, unless you have a six figure downdraft paint booth (which I don't), you can add wet-sanding, compounding, buffing and polishing.

Yes, it looks really great after all that work, but it's a lot of work! More steps than re-gelcoating.

Cost. Not counting the primer and sealer, so only the base coat and clear coat material. Base coat was $218.00 per gallon. The reducer was about $45.00 a gallon. (The base is reduced 100% so you get two gallons of sprayable material.) The clear is about $300.00 per gallon with activator. You also reduce that so you end up with 1 1/2 gallons of sprayable material.

I very much doubt it is suitable for below waterline useage. Additionally, surface preparation is absolutely crucial to a successful outcome. You said you wanted to do the interior and I can't imagine the difficulty and time involved in adequately preparing the Whaler's non-skid.

Durability. While, I have zero empirical evidence, I can't believe that it would be close to gelcoat in longevity, and tolerance for abuse. Repairing damage would be very time consuming.

I would re-gelcoat.

skred posted 08-28-2008 09:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for skred  Send Email to skred     
Interestingly, I got a quote on having the hull (up to the rub rail) re-gelcoated. I told them I would be doing the patching, filling, and blending of anything on the hull that needed it. That left some minor final sanding and then re-gelcoating for them. The estimate wass $1,000 to $1,200... I then began wondering if I were "putting lipstick on a warthog" so to speak.... That cost is 1/2 of what I paid for the boat, motor and (alleged) trailer... And, I still have to rehab the interior.

erik selis posted 08-28-2008 10:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for erik selis  Send Email to erik selis     
John W,

You gave a very good explanation of the different options.


Like others have said, there are many 2 part topcoat paints that are of a very high quality. Awlgrip happens to be one of the best and most expensive. Glen e mentioned Sikkens paint which is also a very expensive paint and very good stuff but too much work for a boat IMO.
If you are planning on leaving your boat in the water I would definitely use a barrier coat like anti-fouling. If not I would use Awlgrip both in and out. For the anti-slip surface in the 13-footer I'm working on I will be rolling the last layer of Awlgrip with some anti-slip powder added to the paint. I haven't done it before but I have seen many pictures of people who have and the results look great. I'll post some pictures of this result when I've finished.

For the 13-Sport I'm working on I have spent approx. 700 USD for all the paint, solvents, epoxy pastes ... I think this will cover all the painting and prep. material costs.


dino54904 posted 08-28-2008 12:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for dino54904  Send Email to dino54904     
I recently used Awlcraft 2000 in Oyster color to repaint my Outrage. I sprayed a coat of primer and two top coats. It looks great and has survived a year of fishing on Lake Michigan without a nick or scratch. Caution though - the comapny recommends that you use terry cloth covers on your fenders or the abrasion will mar the shine of the paint. I took their advise and have had no problems. I even used the paint on the non-skid and it still has lots of "bite" left to it.
wayne baker posted 08-28-2008 12:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for wayne baker  Send Email to wayne baker     
I used Awlgrip on my 15 foot project 5 years ago. It is great. I used the oyster white on the top and bottom and fighting lady yellow down the sides. I still get complements on that boat.

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