Painting a fiberglass hull ? - SailNet Community

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Old 07-08-2010
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Painting a fiberglass hull ?

Hi all,

I have been interested in learning to sail for some time now, and just recently I obtained a project sailboat. It is a 13.5 foot flying junior. The sail, mast and boom are all in good shape but the hull has sat outside for the last 20 years, upside down on the trailer. I want to restore it to sail-able condition and any tips would be appreciated.

1.) As long as there is no fiberglass damage, when repainting, do I just need to sand down the hull, and then primer and paint the same? Or, is it more involved than this? I am not interested in wining any awards, I just want it to be usable.

2.) What is the recommended paint and primer? I would like to do it as cheap as possible.
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Old 07-08-2010
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Sand, prime, paint. I used interlux products throughout, primer underneath Brightsides single part polyurethane, thinned with 333 reducer. A quart goes a LONG way. For a great description of the steps invloved, go to the interlux site,

http://www.yachtpaint.com/usa/diy/me...ing-guide.aspx
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Old 07-08-2010
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Before trying to paint it, I'd try and see if the gelcoat can be restored. Try Maine Sail's polishing and waxing instructions.
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Old 07-09-2010
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+1 on the gel coat work before sanding idea.

Gel coat goes on amazingly thick.. anywhere between 35 and 50 mils, sometimes more. For comparison, most paint goes on at around 3 to 5 mils. So you can spend a pretty fair amount of time working with a 600 grit paper before you do any real 'damage' to the gelcoat.

You might consider - and keep in mind, i'm just some nimrod from an internet forum - simply starting with a 180 grit sandpaper (use light pressure, don't rub 'over' edges, and keep moving around) for the really ugly stuff, if there is any. Then move to a 320, do until everything looks about even. Finish with some 600, then get a standard automotive buffing compound, your favourite drill, and buff away. I'm always surprised what an afternoon of sweat can do for gelcoat.

Failing that, paint is always an option. A little fairing compound (think: fancy bondo) is easy to apply, can be sanded down to remove any dents/scratches/blemishes, and then painted over to make a shiny hull like the one painted above. But paint is not cheap, and if you are thinking of doing it yourself expect to finish the project wishing you hadn't started it. I know.. everybody says they enjoyed it. I think they are lying, based in large part on the delusions suffered while enduring the painting experience.

Guess who didn't enjoy painting a sailboat by hand?

Anyway, that's my two pennies. Which is over inflated, even adjusting for current inflation.
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I second reviving the gelcoat...
Wipe the hull down with acetone first on some clean rags to remove any wax. Use gloves.
Then get a hose and wetsand it by hand with 220 wet/dry sandpaper wrapped around a sponge, then go up to 550, then finish it with 1000, you can get all the stuff you need at any auto parts store.
If you have a buffer you can use that or just use a good paste wax and apply by hand.
Go sailing
You want it to look okay, but the point is to go sailing with it, not to take it to the car show
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BTW, here are MAINE SAIL's instructions: LINK
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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 07-09-2010 at 06:55 AM.
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I move that we change the phrase "many ways to skin a cat" to "many ways to sand a boat".

That is all.
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Thanks all for the tips. Unfortunately, buffing this boat will not be an option. It has sat in the sun for 20 years, and I believe it was painted in the past before its hiatus.

I apologize if this topic has been brought up elsewhere, but I did do an extensive search of the web and could not find answers to my specific questions. Also, another reason I started a new thread is because I wanted to take pictures today and then ask some specific questions based on the pics.
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I am a little bit stuck right now regarding the prep work on my boat , so I am curious if someone might be able to take a look at the below link. I have posted two pictures with questions. Any tips would be appreciated.
Boat pics and questions
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Old 07-10-2010
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If it were me, I would use some sort of paint-stripper or a heat-gun to get the old paint off, then give it a light sanding with some 220 grit (or so). Once you have it all prepped, paint it with a one-part polyurethane (I've had surprisingly good results with EasyPoxy; forget about the two-part stuff, it's a pain-in-the-ass). A little brushing thinner, and several thin coats (with very light fine-grit sandings on all but the very last coat), will give you a much better finish. You won't get a mirror finish --- but it's a boat, not a vintage show car.

Oh yeah, make sure you let the paint cure for a couple of weeks before you put it in the water. As long as you don't leave the boat in the water overnight, one-part polyurethanes are fine for use below the water-line.

Last edited by SlowButSteady; 07-10-2010 at 04:06 PM.
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