Masts and Paint
The boat I just bought has a mast and spars painted an awful color that I would very much like to remove/change.
Question is, do these things really NEED paint? Why do I see both painted and unpainted masts around the marina? I've been quoted $2000 for repainting. I would like to avoid this cost and the hassle of doing it myself.
Can I sand off the paint and just leave the aluminum bare?
Thanks in advance!
"Unpainted" masts are actually clear anodized. Aluminum, if left bare, will oxidize to a degree and stabilize, but the oxidation leaves a dusty/flaky surface that is unattractive and rubs off on contact.
If the paint is in good shape you should be able to do a scuff sand and repaint. Don't lay it on too thick, as all masts move to some extent and a thick layer of paint will tend to crack over time.
If you do go down to bare metal, then it needs to be thoroughly cleaned after sanding, lightly etched with a mild acidic (we used vinegar) before priming and painting. (We used Awlgrip products)
As Faster says, sanding it down to bare aluminum is going to leave you with an uncoated aluminum mast and the oxidation from it will make everything that touches it turn a nasty black. Re-anodizing it is possible but very expensive as you've got to find a facility capable of taking something that long. Spray clear coats tend to flake off like cellophane sheets in short order.
Try to detrmine the type of paint that is on the mast. If unable to do so, try various solvents as used with different paint types; the one that dissolves the paint is indicative of your paint type. I do not recommend removing the paint on the mast as long as it is adhering well. You'll have as much, or more, trouble getting your new paint to adhere to the primed aluminum as you will the old paint. Acquire the same type of paint used to paint the mast previously and apply it over the old paint after prepping the old paint. You need to take the gloss off the old paint for good adhesion of the new. Feather out gouges and fill any dents, etc... as they'll show up much more after painting.
I'ts not that big of a job, the prep work takes the most time. Rolling and tipping gives great results and, with a good color, you'll wonder why you ever thought that plain aluminum looked good.
Thanks guys! Your input has saved me lots of $$ not to mention work!
So, what kind of paint do people usually use for this kind of job? I know you said to use whatever kind of paint is on there now but what would this likely be?
What about fittings? Should I remove and paint under them or just paint around them?
How do I "feather out gouges"?
How do I do a "scuff sand"? The paint's pretty old and not terribly glossy already.
While we're on the subject, what does it mean to "keep a wet edge" when painting a boat?
Thanks in advance!!!
EDO...prepping and painting a mast is a big job with a number of steps to make it turn out right and last. Here's an overview:
Mast painting and Mast steps.
Remove the fittings that you can and paint under them, since that will give the paint the best chance of staying on the mast, and will allow you to inspect the fasteners and holes for corrosion and re-bed them with TefGel or LocTite (blue) as needed.
To scuff the exisiting paint, use a 120 grit sand paper, and sand it just enough to remove the gloss from the surface. Wash the surface well before you start sanding so you don't embed wax, oil or other surface contaminants when you sand.
To keep a wet edge refers to only painting an area small enough that the edge of it will still be wet when you move over to cover the next area. This is so the paint flows better and will hide the different sections and allow their edges to blend into each other.
Many masts are painted using a two-part LPU paint like Awlcraft. This gives a very durable and long-lived finish.
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