DECK PAINT PREP: To fair / fiberglass or just prime? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-30-2018 Thread Starter
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Question DECK PAINT PREP: To fair / fiberglass or just prime?

Hello friends,

I am in the preparation process to prime and paint the entire deck of my 32 Valiant. Most hardware was removed and there's been a LOT of patching and repairing. I just sent an email to a friend with the following two questions, and since I wrote it out I figured I might want to hear from you as well. Here's my situation:

I am attaching pics of my cabin top with a faired repair area in the center. This was a lengthy core replacement that also involved adding a few new layers of fiberglass cloth around most of the cabintop to protect from leaks. This seems to have taken care of most leaks and the new mast area seems to be strong enough after the repair. My question is: should I fair over the sides of the cabintop too before priming? Or will the two layers of primer take care of smoothing out the fiberglass texture there? I am using Awl Grip 545 primer (brush + roller) and then brushing the sides and smooth areas with Awl Grip + flattening agent.

I am also attaching pics of the sides of the cabin that are ground out. I had hired a “pro" to help me out, and he ground out the gelcoat in the side areas with the intent of putting new fiberglass over them for some reason. However, he dropped out of the job and left me with those ground out areas. I only put strips of fiberglass where the old tracks used to be to stabilize that area which was leaky and weird, and don’t know if I should fiberglass that entire ground-out area or just sand down the strip and prime over everything. Regardless of whether I do put a layer or two of fiberglass there, should I also fair that whole area before priming? Noting that this area will be covered with Kiwigrip nonskid paint on top of the 545, so it should hide most problems (I will probably save the AwlGrip topcoat for the bulwarks there. Kiwigrip’s website says it can be laid over any primer so I’m betting on that…).

FYI I will put up a big tarp over the boat on the days before priming and painting to protect the deck from sun + rain + wind etc.

These are beginner questions, I know. I’ve just never painted anything in my life and was wondering how potent the primer really is. I know Awlgrip is weird to use and shows many imperfections, and I have it clear in my mind that I am NOT going for perfect (and my wife might just murder me if I keep on delaying the paint job to prep the deck), but I still don't want to do something plain wrong...

Thank you for any and all advice.
SV Infinito
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post #2 of 8 Old 12-31-2018
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Re: DECK PAINT PREP: To fair / fiberglass or just prime?

Primer, even a high build primer, is no substitute for proper prep. No matter what primer you use, the basic rule with Awlgrip, is that you cannot rely on your paint and primer to hide anything. Awl-Grip magnifies surface imperfections.

I don't know what your expectations are, but the pictures you provided show a deck that isn't anywhere close to being ready to paint unless you'll be satisfied with a rather sad looking, lumpy deck. I was going to say amateurish, but a lot of amateurs achieve stunning results with two-part coatings.

Only you know what sort of results you're willing to accept. If someone with Awlgrip experience could walk through your marina with you, and you could point to boats that have the finish quality you're expecting to achieve, that would clear things pretty quickly (however impractical).

If I was coating my entire deck, I doubt I would go with the Kiwi for the non-skid. I'd be more inclined to go with Awl-Grip everywhere, taping off if I wanted a two-tone, and using grit on the deck in the non-skid areas. But, whether you use Kiwi or grit is really the least of your issues.
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Re: DECK PAINT PREP: To fair / fiberglass or just prime?

the way the pictures look to me is that you have a bit of filling and fairing to do before you are ready to even apply Kiwigrip. Kiowigrip will cover the weave of the cloth but not the lumps and bumps. anything higher than 1/16" and it is going to show. for awlgrip the surface needs to look as smooth as a car finish or it will show up big time. lighter colors will show less imperfections and are cooler on the feet

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post #4 of 8 Old 12-31-2018
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Re: DECK PAINT PREP: To fair / fiberglass or just prime?

Cool! I will be repainting my V32, someday. I did paint my previous two boats, with varying success. As said previously, any imperfections will show through. I wouldn't worry about getting it perfect under any non-slip. It just won't show as much. You should have enough fairing over any areas that have glass weave showing, such that you can sand it smooth without cutting into the glass fibers. When you put fairing epoxy on, try to limit how much extra you lump on. It takes a long time to sand off a few moments of extra epoxy. This will probably involve multiple epoxy-sand efforts.

While you have all the glass and epoxy stuff out, and haven't, yet, painted, you may want to build up chainplate islands. These are just a small area under the footprint of the chainplate covers that is built-up off the deck to keep the covers dry.

Out of curiosity, did you have to deal with any blisters on the deck?

Keep us up to date on your progress.

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post #5 of 8 Old 12-31-2018
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Re: DECK PAINT PREP: To fair / fiberglass or just prime?

To bring that area back to original strength you need at least 3 layers of progressively wider mat so the pro should have ground it down to accommodate that. In the last picture it looks like you still need 2 more layers of mat now to finish the job with the next layer being double the width of the one that's already there and the last one about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wider than the double width layer. You will need to accommodate for the taper at the far end. Afterward fair to even out the contours to blend with the deck followed by paint. Fairing does more than hide the mat it helps you build up and blend contours so you won't have high spots that paint will wear off more quickly from or low spots for water to pool in plus in this area allow the track to sit flush.

Be mindful that in the time that passed to post this the repair has started to blush/oxidize so that will have to be dealt with and cleaned up with acetone before continuing. If more than overnight or so has passed since the mat was put down then you won't be getting as good a chemical bond with the new material and may have to rough it up a bit to go for a physical bond. Once you start laying glass you really should see all the layers of mat completed in the same day whenever possible and then fair it out before the next day passes.

Didn't the pro who did not finish the job tell you how he planned to complete the repair and reveal the time constraints for finishing the glass work or did he just walk away? The guy I work with will mark it out with a sharpie showing the extent of each layer if he is only doing the prep and assessment so whoever completes things will better know what he was planning.

As for filling it with paint/primer that would have to be done with a surfacer which still would need to be sanded afterwards just like the fairing compound along with may require additional coats so it still takes time (possibly more time than fairing) and won't help you build contours like the fairing compound would.
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post #6 of 8 Old 01-03-2019
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Re: DECK PAINT PREP: To fair / fiberglass or just prime?

High build primer from AwlGrip will cover a multitude of evils but not gouges, lumps or other imperfections. It will cover most cracks in gelcoat, however. I made a fairing pad for flat areas out of a round piece of plywood glued to a foam grinder pad. It will level out lumps and filler on depressions but works only on a flat surface. A foam grinder pad will work on some rounded/radiused areas but be careful as it's easy to make things worse. Coarse grit sandpaper on a radiused board will work to level out areas by hand sanding. Anyhow you've got a job ahead of you getting the deck ready for the topcoat.
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-06-2019
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Re: DECK PAINT PREP: To fair / fiberglass or just prime?

I am in the process of painting my cockpit, cabin and decks. I chose to use Petit products since they require fewer coats, and are a little easier to use.

My situation is a little different since my gelcoat was largely intact. There were a few areas where there were hairline stress cracks. Those areas I ground down to the glass, laid in a layer of cloth and epoxy, and then faired with an epoxy based filler.

I carefully sanded the flat areas using a course sandpaper on a palm sander. Then used progressively fine paper. Once fair and sanded with 120 paper I applied Petit protect to build up a moisture resistant sandable primer. I proceeded to sand the primer with a courser paper to remove brush marks and stipple. I then sanded with progressively fine paper to remove the worst sanding marks before applying the finish coats of EZpoxy top coats. There were several areas that I could see that I had sanded through the primer to the gelcoat. I should note that I spot primed those areas and sanded them fair before painting. There were problem prep areas that showed up after the first coat of paint. I went back and fixed those areas, spot painted those areas and sanded those fair before applying the top coat.

I also used Petitprotect as primer on the non-skid. Obviously there was a lot less sanding. I used a course stiff brustle brush and alcohol to prep the non-skid for the primer and each subsequent paint coat.

The jury is still out on whether I will do a coat with non-skid mixed in paint. I think that the non-skid is effective as non-skid on many new boats, without adding grit, but it is not as effective as it was before being painted.


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post #8 of 8 Old 01-11-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: DECK PAINT PREP: To fair / fiberglass or just prime?

Thank you for all the honest and informative replies! My understanding is that there is still faring to be done, as well as fiberglassing.

Since I last posted, I added another big piece of fiberglass to the area depicted in the last photo. If I had seen the message posted by SeaStar58 I'd probably have laid an intermediate piece in between. The spot is now level with the remainder of the deck so I'm hoping this will be enough of a reinforcement. Now it needs sanding + fairing + sanding before the primer.

We've also faired the cabintop sides to make the future awlgripped areas as smooth as possible. Check out the pics of the ongoing work...

As far as expectations go, I want the deck to be well protected and waterproof. Shine and dazzle are nice but not required, as I don't plan on selling this boat any time soon, and would probably not get 10% of what I put into it anyway. I'd be happy with a deck that's strong, generally uniform in color, grippy, and not overly cracked. Now that I have all the hardware out I feel like I can do just that. However, based on the responses it seems I am choosing the wrong topcoat for the results I want: since it will show all imperfections and leave me looking with a bad-looking deck, should I instead go with a one-party poly like Interlux Brightside? Something that I'd be able to re-coat in the future if I have to do a fix? Or should I just spend an extra 3 weeks fairing and sanding to try to make it perfect like Sail Life? In case I do switch paint, will the Interlux or whatever different brand still work with the 545 primer I already bought? I know manufacturer will say NO, but wondering if anyone has had experience using 545 and Interlux / different brand.

@Barquito , I like the idea of chainplate islands. How can I find out more about how to do this?

Any more tips on paint and prep are highly appreciated still!
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