Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Northern Vermont
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Straight epoxy is hard to sand, if you add silica filler it is about like trying to sand a piece of granite. On the other hand, if you load the epoxy with micro-balloons and/or other lightweight fillers, it is much easier to sand. I agree with the post above about putting it on carefully; the better job you do of spreading the filled epoxy the less sanding you will have to do. The West System booklets have the info you need on how to mix epoxy and fillers to serve as a fairing compound.
For the best job I would remove all old paint down to gelcoat or fiberglass, otherwise you are relying on the bond of the old paint to the gelcoat.
If I am fairing a hull I always use a longboard to sand the epoxy down flat, on a deck that will be covered with non skid, maybe not.
Regular bondo is polyester resin based, not especially water proof and likely to crack if you need to build up any thickness. I think epoxy is better.
The easiest way to go would be to use a really coarse non skid, you won't be albe to notice any imperfections in the underlying surface. I have sailed on a boat where the non skid was coarse walnut shells in paint; it looked great and you never slipped, which was good, because you didn't want skin to contact the walnut shells.
Chuck Paine Sarah 32 under construction