I just got my hands on an old fiberglass Phoenix kayak. Most of the spiders and things have been washed out, and barring a few scratches, the kayak is in pretty good shape, but could probably use a nice new coat of paint.
Any suggestions? What kind of paint is appropriate for painting a canoe/kayak?
You'll want to have a properly prepared surface on fiberglass for best results... this can really take some time and attention to detail. Choose a durable boat paint suitable for fiberglass - go slow, follow directions for applications. Then time to clear coat... this takes a lot of time and attention to the process. The color part is the easiest job in the whole project.
Depending on how oxidized or scratched the gel coat is, you might be able to use some buffing compound and clean up the surface. There are different types, you would probably want a more aggressive grit if its in bad shape. It would be easier than trying to re-gel coat and make it look decent.
I hosed out and washed the Kayak this past weekend. There's a couple of spots with slight delamination surrounding 3 to 4 inch cracks, but otherwise, the Kayak doesn't look too bad (for an old fella). This weekend will be for one more good wash, and then I'll start patching the inside of the cracks. It should be a learning experience with fiberglass.
I'm planning on just filling the "pock marks" in the gel coat, but again, I've never done that before. Do you add color to the gel coat (the "factory" gel coat on this one is clear)? Or do you put an enamel paint layer over the gel coat?
To patch, sand out any lose glass/repair areas in increasing concentric circles (with say 150grit) and use a (matching) increasing (concentric circles) pieces of wet fiberglass cloth (circles) until you fill the hole and build up the layers to be even with the existing glass. PREPPING (sanding) the area is the KEY to good adhesion.
Here's a good picture of what I mean by concentric circles. I would use a small orbital sander with 150grit rather than a grinder like in the picture (for better control), but you can see what I mean by removing layers in concentric circles. THE New layers will go down in the same concentric circle pattern.
Let that harden couple days, then sand it smooth. Then (IF any "dimples/depressions"), A "final" coat of light body filler to smooth with 400, then 800grit. (USE the GOOD autobody stuff (blue), NOT bondo).
For the painting part, I wouldn't worry about redoing a GEL coat unless you REALLY want this thing to look new.
(ie: you're gonna PAINT it!)
If it was me, and it was going to be a Fun/Work boat (after I patched any necessary spots) I would just sand/prep the outside hull with some 800grit to form a "prepped" surface...then give it a coat of whatever paint you choose (that's suitable for covering a fiberglass boat hull), then perhaps a "couple coats of clear" on top of that. (800grit between coats gives it a NICE glossy finish).
So, let me say it once more...Proper Cleaning and then Sanding the surface (final about 800grit) is the KEY to both good patch repair, AND good paint adhesion.
Remove any dirt, wax, etc...and properly sand it, and you'll provide a surface that is "HUNGRY" for paint or new wet glass.
Prepping the surface is the key.
When you do any patches, make sure you do your final sanding...and immediatly do your patch (or same for the paint). DON'T wait much time after sanding to patch or paint.
You want the surface "freshly" sanded...not sanded 3 days ago.
Oxidation can build up on the surface pretty quick...you want it FRESHLY sanded (hungry) when you apply new materials (whether it's new paint, new glass, epoxy, whatever)!
A slightly warm/freshly sanded surface is the KEY to the adhesion of any new material!
Screw trying to save/match the Existing gel coat...just light sand it (and do repairs), then fresh MARINE PAINT...then add clear coats to that for depth of gloss. Just make SURE the surface is clean and HUNGRY (each time)!
Good link here:
Good link here: http://www.boatus.com/boattech/casey/17.htm
It's kindof a judgement call about any small cracks. If they are "surface" cracks in the gelcoat or full on structural cracks.
Good luck, and PICTURES are required (or it didn't REALLY happen!)