What is the best way to remove bottom paint??? - SailNet Community

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Old 10-13-2006
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What is the best way to remove bottom paint???

I know this has been asked before, but does anyone know what is the best way to remove bottom paint? I want to strip off all the bottom paint from my boat and barrier coat it. How do I get down to just gelcoat quickly, easily and gently?
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Old 10-13-2006
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Paying someone is the easiest, or you can use 36grit sand paper and some good air tools. I have seen a stripper with some special paper at the marine store, but I have never used it.
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Old 10-13-2006
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Unless you do as Nick suggests, and pay someone else, there is no easy way.

Using sandpaper is out-of-favour and often not permitted in many yards due to the likelihood of toxic dust spreading about the yard. You can tarp off your boat, but then you are putting yourself in that toxic cloud that concentrates as you work.

Wetsanding avoids the dust, but creates a runoff that must be contained and disposed of as well. In these environmentally concious times you just can't get away with much anymore.

Scrapers, dropping the product onto a ground sheet so you can collect it will do the job with a mimimum of mess and carry-over. A gel - type paint remover can be used for early layers, but caution is needed when you get close to the actual fibreglass.

Other than a full gelcoat peel, it's going to take either cash or a lot of elbow grease to get to where you want to be.

I won't say: Have fun....
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Old 10-13-2006
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I had good results with hiring a "sandblast" team. Actually the abrasive they use looks like chopped up plastic cups (the thin kind). They took off the barrier coat as well - it was badly done by a prior owner and was the main reason for stripping it.

They covered the ground with tarps, draped tarps around the hull and went underneath WITH POSITIVE PRESSURE AIR HOODS and protective suits. It is a very toxic environment in there. But it keeps the state DEC happy (this is NY) and did an excellent job. However it was not cheap!!!

Last edited by gc; 10-13-2006 at 09:29 PM.
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I've done it twice with chemical strippers. They work quite well and you can control the mess without too much difficulty. But that only goes so far depending on the type of paint in the first layer. Both times I still had to sand the bottom to get down to clean gelcoat. How you control the dust depends on the requirements of your state. I was able to connect it to a shopvac and collect the dust that way. You want as much of the paint residue off as possible so that the barrier coat sticks.
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Old 10-14-2006
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I use a 5" random orbital sander with a dust exit on it, I bought a cheap shop vac from sears. they have a 2 gal model that only costs 25 bucks or so, it's light enough to carry over your shoulder with a strap ( i used an old duffel bag carrying strap. with the sander attached to the vaccuum there's very little dust. the filter needs to be replaced a couple of times during the process. with a little experimenting and a little duct tape, it actually works pretty well. Jim L
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There's no easy way unless you pay to have it done. IMHO, the best way to do it yourself is to use paint stripper that is specifically designed for use on fiberglass. Interlux makes it, but you can also get it from a specialty store that sells supplies to auto painters and body shops. They use it for fiberglass-bodied cars, such as Corvettes and customs. Don't use ordinary paint stripper, such as for your house.

Brush it on with about a 4" brush, and when it starts to dry, brush another coat on right over it. After about 3 applications, try scraping a small spot. If most of it doesn't scrape off over a wide area, keep applying more coats. They key is to put it on, keep it wet, and let it work until it softens the paint. It'll take longer to soften barrier coat. Eventually, it'll soften the paint, and it'll be reasonably easy to scrape it off. Put a tarp under it to catch it, and then toss the tarp.

Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and goggles, and wipe it off your skin if it gets on you. It stings.
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Old 10-14-2006
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Heavy Duty Scraper Dude....followed by sanding. Its really the only way to get a smooth finish.
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Old 10-14-2006
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First question is how thick is the paint? I am in the proccess of stripping 30+ years off of a 42 and I gotta say it is worth paying a sand blasting team to do it. Breathing the dust from sanding will shorten your sailing lifespan not to mention all the EPA regs you have to deal with. The blasting team deals with all the aggravation of the EPA regs and removal of the "hazardous waste" as well, an your left with clean bottom that all you have to do is re-paint.
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I saw an article sometime ago that recommended stripping with baking soda as the blasting agent instead of sand. I would think that any sandblasting company could give you the skinny on baking soda blasting. OTOH you might be able to rent the media and blasting equipment and DIY. Just a thought and may help.
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