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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an Alberg 35' that I stripped down to the gelcoat last week with a few razor blades and a few unlucky friends I was able to Shanghai into the project. The gel is in pretty good shape - looks like she got swiped by an anchor near the bow, and there are a few other little patches with what seems to be epoxy, but no major problems that I can see, though I'm quite the rookie with all this.

I've gotten a lot of different opinions about how to proceed. A guy from the local yard said I should do some light patchwork where necessary and then coat her top and bottom with Barrier Coat before painting. Another one was adamant about the superiority of gelcoat and told me that I should never, ever put epoxy on my gelcoat because then I'm stuck painting and repainting forever.

I plan to own this boat for a long time and take it to sea in about 5 years for an extended trip, so I would really like to do this the right way, with long term durability and ease of maintenance and potential repair the highest priorities. I would prefer to roll and tip, as any spraying would require more tools than I currently have and the construction of an enclosure in the yard, but if it's going to make that big a difference, I'm willing to go all in on this job.

Of course, the obvious questions: why DIY? Here in Cleveland, most of the people at my marina would send it off to a shop to get the job done by a professional, so they're all convinced I'm a little insane after watching me and my conscripts shave down the entire topsides with a package of razor blades. But, as I said, I intend to be sailing this boat for years to come, and I'll need to have the skills to do these things by myself eventually, so there's only one good way to learn - hopping into the deep and clawing my way back up to the surface.

Any thoughts?
 

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I'm not real clear on what you're talking about. It sounds like you're talking about both the topsides, and the bottom. Is that right?

They're two different animals.

Nothing wrong with a barrier coat below the waterline, if you're saying you've taken it down to bare glass. I'd do it.

I'm fairly lost with regard to your using razor blades to remove paint. Can you explain that a little more? Did you use chemicals with the blades?

Were your topsides previously painted?

If your topsides are down to bare gelcoat, and you think they may be damaged beyond a few simple gelcoat repairs and a proper compounding and polish, then a two-part coating like Awlgrip or a similar product is a good option for a final coating after proper repairs and prepping.
 

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Gelcoat repair and refinish is easy ... if you have minimal spray gun experience; and, if not you can easily learn how. Michigan Fiberglass Gelcoat Repair with John Gabriel

For 'small' repair jobs you can use an (aerosol) PreVal disposable spray gun for 'gel' work. For larger jobs you can purchase quite inexpensive pro quality spray guns specifically made for spraying 'gel'.

Once you 'paint' a boat you will 'continue' to paint that boat over and over and over again as there is NO PAINT on planet earth that will withstand water immersion and 'dipping' as well as simple gelcoat. With a painted boat you can never ever use a winter 'cover' on the boat without risk of the paint 'lifting'. Not so with gelcoat.
 

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The problem with gelcoat repair on the topsides is matching the color, a tricky (if you do it yourself) or expensive (if you hire someone) process. Plain White, if there is such a thing, may be easier. My insurance co paid $3200 to repair a 3'x5' area that had scrapes but no structural damage.

Barrier coat the bottom by all means but I can see no reason to barrier coat the topsides.
 

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I like gel coat myself. Very strong and easy to maintain. But; new paint sure looks great if well applied. The "barrier" coat specified for the topsides paint job may have been a "primer" coat, Which i would recommend to tie the gel-coat to the paint. I have seen where epoxy barrier coat is used for this. If painted follow the manufactures recommendation. I like that Alexseal
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm not real clear on what you're talking about. It sounds like you're talking about both the topsides, and the bottom. Is that right?
That's right. The bottom had a thin, flaky coat of ablative paint on it, which is stripping off pretty easily with a combo of a pressure washer and razor blades. Beneath that is some remnant of an old copper coating, which I was planning on sanding down lightly before applying the Barrier Coat and bottom paint.

I'm fairly lost with regard to your using razor blades to remove paint. Can you explain that a little more? Did you use chemicals with the blades?
On the topsides, I'm honestly not sure what happened. I talked to Lou at the marina in Wisconsin where I bought the boat, and he said he has never seen it stripped down to the gelcoat in 20+ years, but that a number of owners had done diy paint jobs on the island. I originally started stripping it because the paint was flaking off in places in small sheets up to 6" across. About half of the hull basically just peeled right up to reveal the gelcoat with what seems to be a thin, dull, gray primer. The rest of it came up with a little more difficulty. I'm assuming that the original paint job was just poorly prepped and never adhered well. We didn't use any chemicals for the job, unless you count the four gallons of elbow grease.

In some places where we stripped off the paint, the gelcoat below has a bunch of tiny chips in it - it does not seem like blisters to me, and seems like it can be easily sanded and faired out. So restoring the original gelcoat would theoretically be possible, but I plan on either patching the gelcoat and painting, or applying a whole new coat of gelcoat.

I'll get some pictures of this once it quits snowing and I can get back to the marina.

Once you 'paint' a boat you will 'continue' to paint that boat over and over and over again as there is NO PAINT on planet earth that will withstand water immersion and 'dipping' as well as simple gelcoat.
That's definitely one of the major downsides I have heard about the painting option. That said, as I understand it, gelcoat is also porous and more liable to eventually blister than paint is, and a heavy application of barrier coat might give me longer lasting protection against structural damage to the hull.

Thanks for the replies, I'm looking forward to any opinions that you guys are willing to throw at me.
 

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My new-to-me boat's topsides were painted by the previous owner. I LOVE the color combination. I hate the paint. The paint has blistered/wrinkled in several places, and the boat has a severe case of dock rash where the fenders rubbed away the paint.

I can live with these issues for now because they are cosmetic. Yes, I want her to look her best, but for now, they are fine. If I had already spent the time stripping everything down, I'd seriously consider going with gelcoat.





The surveyor guessed that the damage in the second picture was caused by the dark paint being heated by the strong summer sun day after day as she sat in the slip.
 

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If you are a rank novice, paint. Yes, arguably you will be stuck painting again... in 4-7 years. Here's my DIY experience:
Spring 2010:
Before:

During:


After:


October 2013:


The specs for comparison: Lake Erie environment, on the hard during the winter uncovered, unshrinkwrapped, single stage paint, rolled and tipped, by rank novices who have never rolled and tipped before.
The confidence I gained from meeting the relatively low standards I set for this job gave me the confidence to tackle bigger projects aboard. Gelcoating is tougher to get right than paint- If I had failed at gelcoating, I would probably have never tackled another project.
 

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Applying epoxy to the hull is not always a good idea. If the hull (fiberglass) is already wet epoxy will keep that water inside the fiberglass, increasing the probabilty of osmosis. To apply epoxy properly, you should be sure the hull is dry. Otherwise if the gelcoat is too damaged, you have to remove it (all) and dry the hull and apply epoxy.

Minor repairs of gelcoat with gelcoat again or epoxy is the best way to follow.
 

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As the last Alburg 35(nice boat, btw) was built in 1967, the newest ones are nearly 50 years old. Can any of them have a decent gelcoat topsides, left? If they do, they're a rare circumstance. Gelcoat beyond 35 or so years starts to look faded and 'old' to me.

I paint my 53 year old glass hull, roll and tip, myself. I use a one paint enamel. It doesn't last that long, 3 to 4 seasons. And we also abuse it with constant dinghy abrasion and mediocre docking skills.

But the one part is easy. I do a 'B' job of prepping which takes an easy day of light sanding with a RO. Then I roll and tip the 38' in about 5 hours. Prep and staging take most of the time but I can do it in a weekend, including a little patching and priming.

It will never look like a pro. spray job(done inside), and it won't last as long as two part, but I'm happy with the system. It looks a lot better than faded gelcoat. It's a big step but my boats gelcoat faded long ago.
 
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