Top Paint

Combined Expenses for top and bottom paint: $2256

Combined Expenses for top and bottom paint: $2256

01/25/2014: Completed all tasks.

  1. See for video instructions.
  2. Call Pacific Shipyards in Honolulu for paint: 808-286-2522.
  3. Supplies:
    1. Paint choices for the hull:
      1. Toplac – Not produced anymore. Best quality, less forgiving application.
      2. $424 Brightside (6 qts) – Good for beginners, step down from toplac.
      3. Easypoxy – Easiest to apply but fades quicker. Cheaper.
      4. $510 Awlgrip – Expensive but lasts a long time without fading.
    2. Shopping list ($953 total):
      1. $210 – (1.5 gal total) Awlgrip converter (2qts) and primer 545 (2qts) – Pacific Shipyards
      2. $277 – (3 qts) Awlgrip Carinthia Blue (2 qts) plus Converter (1 qt) – Pacific Shipyards
      3. $23 – (1 qt) Alwgrip brush reducer – Pacific Shipyards
      4. $8 – (3) 3M Maroon scotch-brite pads – Lowe’s
      5. $15 – Leather gloves – CitiMill
      6. $4 – Roll of sheet towels – O-Reilly Autoparts
      7. $3 – (2) Plastic epoxy spreaders – Hardware Hawaii
      8. $7 – (2) Safety goggles – Hardware Hawaii
      9. $11 – 5 pack dust masks – Hardware Hawaii
      10. $12 – (2) 3m Blue Masking Tape – Hardware Hawaii
      11. $5 – Masking paper – Hardware Hawaii
      12. $9 – Hand Cleaner – Hardware Hawaii
      13. $3 – 3 pack blended polyester bristle brushes – Hardware Hawaii
      14. $3 – Putty knife – Hardware Hawaii
      15. $16 – (3) 5qt graduated mixing bucket with lid – Hardware Hawaii
      16. $14 – Pack of micro-fiber wiping rags – Hardware Hawaii
      17. $8 – Rubber sanding block – West Marine
      18. $1 – 320 grit wet dry sandpaper – Ace Hardware
      19. $57 – New DeWalt D26453K Orbital Sander – eBay
      20. $17 – (30) 220 grit orbital sandpaper – Hardware Hawaii
      21. $15 – (25) 120 grit orbital sandpaper – Ace Hardware
      22. $8 – (2) Power drill drive paint mixers
      23. $8 – (1 qt) Acetone – Hardware Hawaii
      24. $6 – Metal roller trays – Hardware Hawaii
      25. $4 – (4) Paint roller tray liners
      26. $20 –(2) 9” Roller frames, extendable – Hardware Hawaii
      27. $14 – (4) 9” 3/16” nap roller covers – Hardware Hawaii
      28. $3 – 6” roller frame – Hardware Hawaii
      29. $8 – (2) 6” Velour roller covers – Hardware Hawaii
      30. $5 – (2) 7” roller frames – Hardware Hawaii
      31. $25 – (4) West System foam roller covers – POP Fishing and Marine
      32. $27 – (1 qt) Epoxy Resin – Ace Hardware
      33. $5 – Epoxy Hardener – Hardware Hawaii
      34. $17 – 4oz low density west system filler fairing – POP Fishing and Marine
      35. $3 – (6) small graduated epoxy mixing cups – Hardware Hawaii
      36. $35 – 50’ Extension cord – Hardware Hawaii
      37. $14 – Power cord splitter – Ace Hardware
      38. $50 – Wet/Dry Vacuum – Craigslist
      39. $33 – Vacuum hose extension – Hardware Hawaii
  4. Day 1 and 2 – Clean and sand old gelcoat:
    1. Wash with hose water.
      1. Wet a 3 foot vertical section with the hose.
      2. Wipe the section thoroughly with a micro-fiber (lint-free) rag.
      3. Rinse the section again to remove the loosened grime.
      4. Rinse the rag thoroughly and wring dry.
      5. Wet next 3 foot vertical section and repeat until the boat is clean.
    2. Some say to wipe with 120 Brushing Fluid (slower drying than Acetone), but I didn’t to save time and it came out great. (My boat had an old 30 year gelcoat layer that had a layer of gelcoat dust to wash off, no wax left.)
      1. This is to remove any wax from the gelcoat surface so the sander doesn’t embed the wax in the gelcoat.
      2. If the water beads up while washing, you need to remove the wax. Scrubbing with Boat Soap and a brush works well, too.
    3. Wait until the boat is 100% dry.
      1. Help it dry quicker by wiping away drips as it dries.
    4. Plug the scuppers on deck with rags to prevent future drips of water down the sides.
    5. Tape the teak and bottom paint with 3M Blue Tape to protect it from the sander.
    6. Sand with 120 grit sandpaper and a random orbital sander.
      1. This takes forever! Two people, two orbitals, two vacuums, two masks, and two scaffolds can half the time.
    7. Sand the hard-to-get places by hand. (Edges, through-hulls, taped areas.)
    8. Here I’m looking back for shiny spots that I’ve missed:
  5. Day 3 – Fill and sand imperfections:
    1. There were many minor scratches all over the boat. Some were a millimeter or two deep at the worst, but these will show up clear as day with the reflective blue Awlgrip so they must be fixed for cosmetic purposes.
    2. Mix 4:1A Epoxy Resin with 4:1B Epoxy Quickdry Hardener.
      1. Epoxy is the only thing to use for fairing. Polyester Resin doesn’t stick and crack easier.
      2. Mix small batches in a cup sized, graduated mixing container.
        1. If the batches are too big, the Epoxy with set off a chain reaction and turn into a bubbling volcanic mess.
        2. Ensure the mix is exactly 4 to 1 or the epoxy will either be too brittle or will dry with a rubbery texture. We want it to dry hard.
        3. Mix very thoroughly so every molecule of resin comes in contact with every molecule of hardener.
        4. You have about 10 minutes of working time per batch.
      3. Mix in West System low density filler fairing until it’s the consistency of peanut butter.
        1. Too thin and it drips.
        2. Too thick and it’s hard to spread smoothly requiring more sanding.
    3. Use a spreader to fair out the scratches.
      1. The less epoxy you use, the less sanding required and the less chance you have of sanding through the surrounding gelcoat.
      2. If it dries with an indent still present, add another layer of epoxy.
      3. You want the epoxy to be limited to the scratch area (don’t spread it outside the repair area) and very slightly proud of the gelcoat surface.
      4. Clean any stray drips and mistakes now. It’s way easier than after it dries.
    4. Wait a few hours until the epoxy dries completely.
      1. It’s fully cured when you can no longer indent it with a fingernail.
      2. My mix wasn’t quite perfect on one batch and it never dried completely hard. I sanded it anyway which took way longer, gumming up the sandpaper very quickly, but the final result still looked great.
    5. Sand the repaired sections with the orbital sander.
      1. Try to only sand the epoxy down touching the surrounding gelcoat as little as possible or you may sand through it to the fiberglass.
      2. If you sand through to the porous fiberglass it’s not a big deal, but then there is less protective gelcoat keeping the water out which may cause bubbling of the topcoat years later.
  6. Day 4 – 2 coats of primer.
    1. Wash the hull again (hose, scrub, hose, dry).
    2. Re-tape scuffed areas.
    3. Hang painting paper from water line to prevent paint dripping on bottom-paint.
      1. Be sure to tape the paper down so the wind doesn’t blow it into the fresh paint.
    4. Mix Awlgrip Primer components, 1 qt of primer and 1 qt of converter at a time using no reducer. We want it thick so we have room to sand it down smooth.
    5. Apply 1 coat primer with 3/16” nap 9” roller, then continue around and apply the 2nd coat within 45 minutes. After applying the paint to a 3’ section go back over the paint lightly with the roller to “tip” the paint. Getting a smoother finish now saves hours of sanding later.
      1. Applying the second coat within 45 minutes lets you skip the sanding in between.
    6. I used up the 2 qts primer plus 2 quarts converter and needed to buy more.
      1. Total primer required: 3 qts primer plus 3 quarts converter.
  7. Day 5 and 6 – Sand the primer.
    1. Sand with 220 grit until the orange peel texture is gone. Don’t sand through the primer, but if you do a little here and there it’s not a big problem. Sand until the orange peel is gone but leaving a few dark spackled spots, then go back around the boat and finish the job for a completely smooth, spackle-free surface. The more consistent the sanding, the finer the finish. Sand the edges and hard to reach spots by hand. This took the longest, 16 man-hours, so with 2 orbitals going, 1.5 days. I missed a few spackled specks with showed up after applying the first coat of top-coat.
  8. Day 7 – 1st topcoat.
    1. Wash the entire boat. (Hose, scrub, rinse, dry.)
      1. I didn’t have to wipe with 120 Brushing Thinner using this method.
    2. Tape everything again as required.
    3. Pick a day with no wind, cloud cover but no rain, around 60-70 degrees (80 cures the paint too fast which doesn’t allow the paint to smooth out completely.) You can paint with wind, but make sure there’s no dust in the air. Also, you’ll have to work much harder pinning stuff down as you work. If there’s time, wait for a better day.
    4. With 70 degree weather in Kaneohe Bay I mixed the 2 parts thoroughly using a paint mixing drill attachment in a graduated plastic container with lid. After mixing, I closed the lid and let sit for 5 minutes (15 was recommended, but Keith said 5 was plenty). I then added 15% thinner, mixed thoroughly and began painting.
    5. Use a 7” roller with West System 800 roller covers. I decided not to tip with a brush to save time. It didn’t leave any bubbles and smoothed out to a glass finish without tipping and no curtaining. I added enough paint to the tray liner to fill the deep section half-way and had to re-fill it about every 4 dips of the roller. If you fill it too full the paint will thicken as you paint and cause the applied paint to leave bubbles.
    6. I applied the paint in vertical strokes in 3 foot sections, rolling slowly to prevent bubbles, using a medium touch (a heavy touch causes the roller cover to come apart), then going over it with a light touch, then once more with almost no pressure. This acted like tipping leaving only very small bubbles that popped leaving a glass finish a few feet behind me. If the bubbles stay, the paint is too thick and needs thinner (no more than 33% as recommended on the paint can).
    7. After one side was completed and I started the second half I noticed bubbles remaining in the applied paint behind me. I added enough thinner to the mixture in the plastic container to bring it up to about 20%, stirred well, and that fixed the problem. There was an ugly section of bubbles, but oh well. It should look better after the scotch-brite before applying the second coat.
    8. While painting around tight spots, through-hulls, etc, first paint around the tight spot with a brush, then use the roller. Try to time it so the rolled on paint is going over the still-wet brushed on paint.
    9. It took exactly 1 qt of Awlgrip to finish the first coat. There was none left.
    10. Applying the first coat of Awlgrip:
  9. Day 8 – Scotch-brite and 2nd coat.
    1. Use purple scotch-brite to dull the first coat’s shine. This will allow the second coat to adhere better as well as remove any bugs that got stuck in the wet paint.
      1. Scotch-brite with a rubber sanding block is easier on the muscles in your hand.
      2. Scrub until the surface has a consistent matte finish.
      3. Dulling the shine with Scotch-brite:
      4. This process took four hours with two people scrubbing.
    2. Hose, scrub, rinse, dry.
    3. Retape as needed.
    4. Roll on the second coat using the same method as the first.
    5. It took just less than 1 qt of Awlgrip for the second coat.
      1. Total was 2 qts topcoat, 1 qt converter, 1 qt reducer.
  10. Day 9-11 – Remove the tape and let the paint partially cure.
    1. The paint needs 3 days to cure enough for light protection, but I didn’t have time. The crane put her back in the water after only 12 hours drying time, but the paint wasn’t leaving fingerprints after about 8 hours. We tried to protect the paint as well as possible by cleaning the crane’s lifting straps and laying bed sheets between the straps and the paint. Some streaking resulted from where the straps slid a little, but they were not visible when the boat was in the water.
    2. Here you can see the sheets protecting against the straps as the crane moves the boat back into the water:
  11. Day 12-25 – Let fully cure.
    1. The paint fully cures after 16 days. During those 16 days I lightly scraped some dockside rubber while docking and scratched through to the white gelcoat. I know it’s there, but visitors have a hard time finding the scratch.
    2. After 16 days, I slid against a rubber dock rail with some good pressure, but no marks were left. It now seems like a very hard protective layer.
  12. Years later – Refresh paint.
    1. Awlgrip should never be polished. The paint contains a clear-coat that rises to the surface as it dries. Polishing would remove this protective and shiny clear-coat.
    2. Instead of polishing, add another layer of Awlgrip every 5 – 10 years. Clean, scotch-brite, paint.

4 Responses to Top Paint

  1. Sharon Smith says:

    Great explanation on your top side painting experience. I plan to one day paint my Pearson 424 (in BVI). I also have a Cal 34, but not planning on painting her.

  2. joel says:

    did you only use a roller or did you tip it with a brush?
    what rooler did you use?

  3. Tyshun Jones says:

    This is an awesome post. Makes me feel more confident about doing the same to an old Grady White I’m restoring. Will definitely be using some of this as a guide during the process. Thanks!

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