Why paint instead of gelcoat? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 111 Old 07-27-2012 Thread Starter
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Why paint instead of gelcoat?

The common advice seems to be that when it comes time to redo original topside gelcoat, it should be sanded and painted. But what I don't understand about this is that even the best two-part polyurethanes last for less than ten years. (I think Don Casey says 5-7 years.) For the massive pain and expense of painting the topsides, and the additional maintenance complications it will cause, only lasting ten years seems like a really crappy deal!

On the other hand, gelcoat seems to last so long that I don't really see anyone measuring its lifetime in years. You see boats from early seventies with original gelcoat that's been well-maintained that could pass for new.

So why isn't redoing gelcoat with gelcoat a thing? Why are people so willing to tear off and rebed all of their deck hardware for something that they'll just have to redo as soon as half a decade later?
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post #2 of 111 Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Why paint instead of gelcoat?

I've seen scratched or damage paint that was repaired. Hard to do with gelcoat.


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post #3 of 111 Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Why paint instead of gelcoat?

to get a decent gelcoat job it is very labor intensive.
spray ,sand, buff. or
roll it on ,sand,sand,sand,sand and sand some more than buff

paint; roll it on and go have fun

(prepwork is the same so i didn't include that)
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post #4 of 111 Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Why paint instead of gelcoat?

If you think the amount of work required to get a quality paint finish is massive, you don't want to know how much work a complete gelcoat recoating job would be.

When gel is sprayed into a mold as the first layer of the lay-up, the exterior surface is pretty close to being ready to polish. Unfortunately, that's a one-time deal. Any additional gel that's applied after production will need to be applied (spray preferred) then wet sanded and finally compounded and polished. Add in the time required to remove and/or mask hardware and deck fittings, fix minor nicks and gouges, prep sand, etc, etc, and you're talking about a major job as well.

Paint is a lot more forgiving than gelcoat, and if properly applied will dry to a shine (i.e., you've crossed the finish line.)

With gelcoat, once you've applied the gel you've still got the second half -- or maybe even 2/3 -- of the race to run...
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post #5 of 111 Old 07-27-2012
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All good answers, more important polyester based gelcoats are not that waterproof and must be painted when underwater. Painting adds an easily repaired and most important water protection to structural fiberglass. Epoxy gelcoats are waterproof, but are more difficult to cosmetically repair.
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post #6 of 111 Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Why paint instead of gelcoat?

Isn't the OP's point if re-doing with gelcoat will last the rest of your life, why isn't it worth the extra labor one time to do that, instead of repainting every so many years? More labor once then you're done vs. less labor more times. Does re-applied gelcoat last as long as original gelcoat?
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post #7 of 111 Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Why paint instead of gelcoat?

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Originally Posted by utchuckd View Post
Isn't the OP's point if re-doing with gelcoat will last the rest of your life, why isn't it worth the extra labor one time to do that, instead of repainting every so many years? More labor once then you're done vs. less labor more times. Does re-applied gelcoat last as long as original gelcoat?
If I was going to keep the boat for the rest of my life, yes, I might go the gel coat route. But who isn't looking at trading up every few years? Is the added investment in cost and labor going to pay off?
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post #8 of 111 Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Why paint instead of gelcoat?

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Originally Posted by utchuckd View Post
Isn't the OP's point if re-doing with gelcoat will last the rest of your life, why isn't it worth the extra labor one time to do that, instead of repainting every so many years? More labor once then you're done vs. less labor more times. Does re-applied gelcoat last as long as original gelcoat?
But gelcoat needs maintenance as well -- take a gander at MaineSail's thread on rejuvenating a faded/chalky gelcoat finish. Gelcoat will oxidize, fade, and degrade just as paint will.
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post #9 of 111 Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Why paint instead of gelcoat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by utchuckd View Post
Isn't the OP's point if re-doing with gelcoat will last the rest of your life, why isn't it worth the extra labor one time to do that, instead of repainting every so many years? More labor once then you're done vs. less labor more times. Does re-applied gelcoat last as long as original gelcoat?
Because it doesn't last the rest of your life. That's the point.
Think about it. If gelcoat was THAT durable...why is he looking at doing it again? It's tough, but it ain't lifetime tough... and it is tough to apply to large surfaces well. small repairs, cat hulls, no problem. a 25-40' boat with 3-5' of freeboard? Good luck making it look good.
After spending four days in 2009 filling cracks, sanding, and polishing the neglected hull of our 40 year old boat, it was obvious that the robin's egg blue surface was not coming back...at least not with any sort of finish durability. It was also obvious that I was not going to get a decent colour match between the new glecoat i applied and the original hull. Now the docking scuffs that were barely noticeable before were REALLY noticeable.
I spent 10 days in 2010 prepping and painting the deck, cockpit and topsides.
First season, no maintenance beside touch-ups.
Second season, no maintenance beside touch-ups.
Third season, no maintenance beside touch-ups.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere:


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post #10 of 111 Old 07-27-2012
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Re: Why paint instead of gelcoat?

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Originally Posted by utchuckd View Post
... Does re-applied gelcoat last as long as original gelcoat?
you may as well be discussing shipping your boat to the moon...I haven't heard of a boat being gelcoated in 20-30 years, I would question if you could find a vendor with the facilities, or interest, if you did the costs would kill the idea.
Start with the fact that to re-gelcoat a surface, your first must remove all the existing gelcoat, as thick gelcoat leads to spiderwebbing. Right there makes the cost of fairing and priming the same surface for paint look cheap.
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