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Old 12-09-2006
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Extra steps to refinish deck necessary?

I bought a sailboat earlier in the summer and now that it's too cold to sail I plan on refinishing (or beginning to refinish rather) my deck. I bought all the materials I needed and was ready to go, but then the guy at the boat store inquired about my plan and made some suggestions. Currently my deck is in decent condition except for some cracks due to flexing around the cockpit sole, some starburst cracks around hardware attachment points, and a fair number of general-use scratches. Also, the previous owner decided it was a good idea to paint the deck with house paint, but I want to repaint it with two-part polyurethane. My plan was to simply fill the all the cracks and scratches with epoxy filler, then apply a couple of layers of Epoxy for extra protection and as a conversion coat, and then paint. To help with starburst cracks I was going to install better backing plates, and I decided to simply fill the cracks around the cockpit sole with epoxy and paint over them with the knowledge that if/when they reappear I'll just live with them since they aren't so bad. Soooo...after a little background, here are the two suggestions the guy at the boat store made and I was hoping someone could give me a second opinion.

First he said that simply adding a couple of layers of epoxy to the deck won't fix any of my problems and that I should add a layer of fiberglass (at a cost of €171 I might add!). He said that simply filling all of the cracks and scratches with Epoxy won't be a long term solution and that all of the cracks will reappear. I'm not sure if he is right about this but he seemed to be pretty insistent that he knew what he was talking about. With this in mind, he said it is not much more work to add a layer (and three or four layers where there the cracks are around the cockpit sole) of fiberglass to the entire deck if I am going to put some coats of Epoxy on it anyway. He also said that it is worth the investment to put an extra layer of fiberglass on parts of the deck where there are no cracks because it will strengthen the deck and increase its lifespan (in case you are lost at this point...basically he says I should add 1 layer of fiberglass to the entire deck and then 3-4 layers where the cracks due to flexing around the cockpit sole are). So my question is, a) is he right about this and b) is it worth the extra cost?

The other question is that I was planning on sanding all of the non-slip surface down so that it is smooth and flush with the non-slip portions of the deck. The current non-slip is so old and has been painted over enough times that it doesn't really serve its intended purpose anymore. To replace it, I was going to add some of that "paint on" non-slip between the epoxy coats and prior to the two layers of polyurethane. My question related to this is whether or not it will still have enough grip after it has been painted over by two layers of polyurethane.

Oh one last question too! I bought the West System catalyst for use down to 5 degrees Celsius but he told me not to use it under 12 degrees. The problem is that it could be a lonnnnng time before it is 12 degrees again, but I want to refinish the deck now when I can't sail and not in the spring when it is sailing weather again. I planned on ignoring his advice and following West Systems instructions for cold-weather use. Is this a good or bad idea?

Sorry for the long post but I wanted to give enough background so that anyone who cares to answer would have all the information. Thanks for any help!!!

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Old 12-09-2006
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I would agree that just adding epoxy really isn't going to help much, other than cosmetically. Adding several layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy will do a lot to strengthen the deck and help prevent future stress cracks. It will be expensive, but given your plans for epoxying the deck and repainting...shouldn't really be that much added work.

I'm not all that familiar with the West low-temp catalysts..but if he's suggested that you not use it..he probably has good reason for saying so.

As for the non-skid... depends on what you use for it. If you're using sand as the additive to the paint/epoxy, it will probably still work, even with two-coats of LPU paint on top.

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Old 12-09-2006
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The Dawg is right on

You are wasting your time with the coat of epoxie. However there is hope for a quick easy job of it.
At our marina last year, a guy painted his deck with a product that not only provided great traction for the nonskid, but also sealed the deck and covered spider cracks. I was impressed as it was easy on the knees, nonskid that is, and seems to be holding up after a year of crusing. People from all over the marina are starting to use it.
Here is the website, it comes in a multitude of colors also http://www.ultratuff.net/marineprod.html.

There are simlar product out there that are supposed to do the same, This one I have seen in action and am impressed, enough so to the point of doing my boat on the next haulout.
Fair Winds
Cap'n Dave
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Old 12-10-2006
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Thanks SD and CD. I imagined the guy at the boat store was right since I've never done this before...but I wanted a second opinion before I went out and spent all of the money.

I will have to ask about the ultratuff stuff...I'm not sure if they will have it here in Europe but maybe they will have something similar. He showed me something that seems to be along the same lines as ultratuff, the only problem is that it only comes in gray and I was trying to avoid having gray non-skid surfaces all over my deck.

Thanks again,
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Old 12-10-2006
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I've never heard of anyone epoxying or glassing over a deck. You will completely trash your boat if you do so. It would take days and days of fairing and sanding to get a epoxy/glass layer to look as smoth as the original gelcoat. If you didn't spend that time, you boat will look home-made.

First be sure your deck's core is compeltely dry and in place, this is where deck problems largely begin (and end). If the core is not a problem, if you fell you must strenthen the deck, add glass to the underside, not the top. Generally better backing plates should do the job.

If you want to see what's involved in doiing a deck correctly, take a look a the pictures in http://web.mac.com/bicgreen1/iWeb/Site/Photos.html
Anything less your boat will look like junk.

Good luck.
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Old 12-10-2006
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Thanks for the comment SF. The guy at the boat store actually had a boat out back that he was fixing up where he had done the exact same thing and he walked me through all of the steps on how he did it. It looked pretty good to me...although he didn't say anything about how much sanding and fairing he had to do to get it like that... One thing to note is that my boat is only 5,40 meters (approximately 19') and the deck has no core and pretty much no contours...so I anticipate that this job will be substantially less work than it would be for a boat of a larger size with lots of deck contours. To put it into perspective, it took me about 2 hours to remove all of my deck hardware.

If I had faired the deck well before applying the additional fiberglass would I still have to do so much sanding and fairing afterwards? I did hear that you should normally add additonal layers to the underside, but the access is horrible and I don't think I would ever be able to do a good job working upside down. If I applied the additional fiberglass carefully, would it still be so difficult to get a smooth surface to paint over?

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