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Thread: Gel coat or paint?

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    Member DannerAK's Avatar
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    Default Gel coat or paint?

    Forgive me if this question has been answered on here before. I'm restoring an old wooden Driftboat. Adding glass to the exterior. I plan to paint or gel coat and am looking for opinions about either from those who have worked with this stuff. This is my first boat project and I am almost seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
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    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    it depends. If you use and epoxy resin, most gel coats aren't compatible with the epoxy. If you do gel coat, you'll have to use a cheap/weak polyester resin for compatibility of the two. It'll be about 14 times less the strength of real epoxy resin. If you use epoxy resin, you can then use a hardcore epoxy paint that is much more abrasion resistant than gel coat. Polyester junk suffers from osmosis.....intrusive water on a molecular level. That won't jive well with the old wooden boat. Epoxy does not. I recommend giving interlux a call......they make some pimp stuff. If you feel like you're going to bugger up the project or need help give a shout.

    Also......a nice epoxy paint (below the waterline), spreads out like buttah when using a wide poly foam brush, giving a smooth/sprayed look. Gel coat does not. You need a gun to shoot it, and they're expensive. I only use gel coat as a finish for my industrial-grade molds Other n that, I choose epoxy paint and epoxy resin any day of the week over polyester based junk.

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    You want to use a breathable coating inside your boat, if you glass the outside or water will be trapped and it will rot.

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    Thanks for the input fellas. Epoxy resin/paint below the waterline...what above the waterline? Dumb question? Also reading about adding graphite for added strength on the bottom. Cetol marine or the like for the interior. Getting stoked to do the work!
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    This may not be your cup of tea but it is an interesting read and some food for thought. http://www.angelfire.com/nc3/davecar...ticles.html#A1 I did my project with Behr Premium Plus. To anyone observing my two Big Lake test runs, I'm sure it appeared as though my primary goal was to leave as much paint on the dock as possible. I'm amazed at how tenacious the stuff is...I really had to look hard to find a scuff. The big deal(s) for a low tech guy like me was cost, ease of application, touch ups take about 5 minutes and are good to go in 2 hours or less. PM me if you would like to see how mine came out. This would be a great opportunity for you to post some before/after pics. I'm sure everyone would want to see them! Good luck with what ever method you might choose! PS..Nice that his boatbuilding page is still available but Dave Carnel passed away 4/11...a response from the email link would be doubtful.

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    I am getting ready to make some repairs to a 30 year old fiberglass hull and have just spent a bunch of time doing research and talking to West Sytem, Interlux and some other "professionals", it is a common misnomer that you can not apply Gel-coat over epoxy, its done and there are a few steps that need to be followed. The big reason is why use Epoxy? Its a great product for sturcural repairs and overall strenght, which may be a atribute on a wooden hulled driftboat. It will be harder to sand and fair than polyester, however I presume it is small enough to flip it over and work on it while standing upright while using power tools. A little more diffucult while laying on your back.

    Paint of gel-coat..? Gel coat does have some additives that make it more impervious to water that just polyester resin, however it requires additives to harden, as in PVA or wax, and realistically there are epoxy paints that are probably as good or better than gelcoat. We plan to use some Interlux VC Performance epoxy for the bottom of our project, which is too big to work on with the hull inverted. The VC comes in white only and is meant for trailered boats (no anti-foul). I think the paint will be much easier to apply than gelcoat as well.

    On your project, that it sounds like you will be covering with fiberglass matt, if you are looking for added strenght than consider the west system and then paint......or use polyester resin and paint.....hope this helps, west system has a lot of info or their website and were very helpful on the phone, CAC in Wasilla has been very helpful and we are getting the paint from them.......Take the time to do the research...........and talk to the pros, glassing and painting is a trade and there is no shortage of experts on the net, my advice is what I would do from my research......... it may not fit your project..........
    “Nothing worth doing is easy”
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    Quote Originally Posted by kk alaska View Post
    You want to use a breathable coating inside your boat, if you glass the outside or water will be trapped and it will rot.
    This is absolutly correct. You do not want to epoxy and old wooden boat.
    If we all agreed....this would be no fun

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    Member DannerAK's Avatar
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    So, encapsulating the boat with epoxy is a bad idea? The boat has been stored high and dry for 9 months after being sanded inside and out. I'd assume it is pretty dry. Those that have offered the idea of a breathable interior finish, what products do you suggest?
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    The inside wood could be treated with an oil used for teak/marine purposes because it actually breaths, doesnt' trap moisture, and impregnates the wood with chemicals/and or natural substances that won't allow the process of rot. I wouldn't worry about the epoxy though, it will adhere, and once the wood is impregnated prior to laying on that first layer of glass, marine grade teak oil sure won't effect the bond of the exterior surface. I personally know of an old grand laker canoe that is glassed on the outside with epoxy, and teak n tung oiled on the inside. The canoe never seems to change much over the years. Make sure to religiously remove the old interior finish before applying this stuff:
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    just spray the interior with CWF (clear wood finish by Flood) its available at home depot. Used it on a log house i built, water beaded right up and the logs dried in minutes after rain stopped. All the old time Maine boat builders used to paint the insides of the lobstah boat hulls with red lead but i don't think its available anymore. Curpinol(the green stuff) also worked very well for preserving wood in boats.

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    It may not be good to epoxy or fibreglass the interior of an old wood boat since it's likely got a lot of moisture in it, but if it was new with kiln dried, you're better off that way IMHO. I've seen several of the Taiwanese boats in Whittier that suffered delaminated topside decks due to moisture intrusion on the interior surface from condensation since they were only glassed on one side. In these cases the upper fibreglass delaminated during freeze/thaw making for a major repair. I've not seen similar aged boats suffer the same problem with good fibreglass on both sides, unless they had sealant problems with deck penetrations.

    Reminds me too of the Mouette, a 50' old wood boat in Whittier years ago. The new owner spent the late summer and fall sanding and painting the hull. The next spring it looked like one of those before and after paint ads on TV, only in reverse! Most of the new paint had flaked off in huge chunks leaving bare hull. Dry it out good before glassing if you can.

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    I will put a crack in here guys. You tend to notice that the boat is a drift boat. Drift boats don't spend days on the water usually. So my guess is the wood is not all that moist. If the boat has never been fiber glassed adding one layer of mat is not going to give it a ton of strength. It will more have provided a layer for the resin or epoxy to bond to the boat. But if you use epoxy you cannot use mat you will have to use a fiber glass cloth. The original guy also asked about graphite. If you want to add graphite powder to the bottom of your boat it will help with abrasion resistance but it is not going to make it necessarily stronger upon impact. If you feel the wood is nice and dry i would suggest using a cloth with epoxy. I prefer System 3 epoxy because i sell it but i also sell West System. The company i work for is Plaschem Supply which is family to CAC here in Wasilla. Plaschem has moved locations from Anchorage to Wasilla. System three also makes a really good epoxy coating with is like a epoxy paint. And for the inside of the boat, your options are really endless on what to do.

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    Thanks all for your input. alaskanfever1 I will be coming to CAC in the near future for supplies and to chat further about interior/exterior options. Tough to get there as you close at 5 on weekdays. Are you open on Saturday?
    Cheers!
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    I actually work for Plaschem and not sure of what CAC's hours are but our hours of operation are from 7:30-4:30 M-F. But if you called ahead of time and let me know or even CAC i think they do it to. But we can place your product in an undisclosed location and you can pick it up after work even if we are closed.

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    Using gelcoat as a paint is kinda doing things inside out. Gelcoat is designed to provide a finish a molded fiberblass hull is bonded to. When you build up glass to a wood structure, then sand and fair the glass (and sand and fare, and sand and fare, and sand and fare) the lighest finish you can apply will be paint. Adding gelcoat is just added weight and expense.

    As to the question of glassing a wood boat. Assuming that the wood is dry and you won't be sealing the moisture inside the wood, the glass will defaintely add some strength (depending on the thickness applied) but more importantly it'll provide protection to the wood. Anytime you hit a rock with a painted wood boat you're opening up the paint and exposing the wood to the water. With a layer of glass you have a layer of protection for the wood. I'd go with 10oz glass on the bottom, 6 oz on the sides and overlap the cloth at the chine by 3" so you have have a 16oz layer on the chines.
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    Thanks Paul. Gel coat will not be used. I plan to do exactly what you suggest with the heavier glass on the bottom overlapped with lighter glass on the chine and lighter up the walls. Will be adding graphite to the bottom as well for abrasion resistance. The inside walls will be painted with epoxy (to help with checking and protecting the old wood) and then probably painted leaving as much natural wood trim as possible. I'll work on posting some pics this evening but may wait to do a before-during-after set of photos.
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    With a wood drift boat store it tarped, or turn it over in the winter, had a wooden boat that the tarp collapsed and had water in it. Had floor boards to
    keep feet dry nailed to boat with ring shank nails. Frozen water trapped between floor boards and bottom blew the bottom out, ring shank nails hold well! Surprising how well a tarped boat finish holds up. Wooden boats are nice but old finish, you spent more time maintaining them than using them!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DannerAK View Post
    Thanks Paul. Gel coat will not be used. I plan to do exactly what you suggest with the heavier glass on the bottom overlapped with lighter glass on the chine and lighter up the walls. Will be adding graphite to the bottom as well for abrasion resistance. The inside walls will be painted with epoxy (to help with checking and protecting the old wood) and then probably painted leaving as much natural wood trim as possible. I'll work on posting some pics this evening but may wait to do a before-during-after set of photos.
    I think if you just paint the interior with epoxy it will just split and crack let moisture in and come off, you need to use fiberglass cloth with the epoxy and thats a lot of work and expense for a old boat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    I think if you just paint the interior with epoxy it will just split and crack let moisture in and come off, you need to use fiberglass cloth with the epoxy and thats a lot of work and expense for a old boat.
    Huh, all the folks I've talk with and info I've read say painting the inner walls/floor with epoxy resin (and then adding some kind of UV protection) will prevent checking, cracks, and moisture intake.
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    Quote Originally Posted by DannerAK View Post
    Huh, all the folks I've talk with and info I've read say painting the inner walls/floor with epoxy resin (and then adding some kind of UV protection) will prevent checking, cracks, and moisture intake.
    And they all have all the resin/epoxy to sell ya don't they ??? What are you going to do to prevent the sides/bottom from flexing and cracking the epoxy and then sucking in/trapping any moisture between the coating and wood? Old boats move/flex a lot and unless you add a lot of new frames/knees you won't stop it. Please don't take this the wrong way but all i'm saying is i think your wasting your money on trying to perfume a pig ?? It will just be a nicely painted old boat thats coming apart/rotting after your done. Fish the boat a season and if you like it that much use it for a plug to mold a fiberglass one off of it. I certainly don't know it all when it comes to fiberglass and i'll be the first to admit i know nothing about epoxies but i've been messing about with boats and fiberglass for 40 years and have i bit of a idea of what it does. If your out the potbarn way stop by and check out the fiberglass project i've got going right now. I'm fabbing up some fiberglass panels for a pilot house addition i'm doing on my lobstahboat.

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