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Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

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  • Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

    I've posted on this before, and the problem continues to nag me. Since I've had my '88 wellcraft with red hull, the chalky, splotchy, unevenly-faded gelcoat has been the bane of my existence. I spent hours (and probably damaged discs in my back) trying to wet sand, compound, and polish, and the best I ever got was *temporary* improvement in SOME areas of the boat... other areas remain chalky/faded.

    I've gotten the rest of the boat beautified to my liking (i.e., the interior). The white parts of the boat (i.e., above the rubrail) are in decent shape and they polish up nicely. But the red, under the rubrail, continues to look atrocious!

    So I have 2 options:
    1. Try wet sanding, compounding, polishing, again. This just seems futile. I worked my *** off doing this a couple years ago, and the improvement was marginal. Was I doing it wrong? Maybe, I don't know. But I sanded a LOT. It's also really hard to track progress doing that... it's slow and painful, and I can't tell whether I've sanded enough or too much.

    2. Paint. Now, I've done some research here. From what I can tell, Interlux Toplac would be a good way to go, using roll and tip. Again from what I can tell, the work would be 1. clean 2. dry sand 220 (DA sander) to rough up the gel coat, 3. primer 4. paint (sanding between the 2-3 coats).

    Frankly, prep/paint sounds like less work with more predictable results. Do others agree?

    The other problem, however, is cost. I'm on a pretty limited budget here, and I don't know how much this would cost me. A qt of Toplac is about $40, but I have no idea how much paint I'd need, not to mention primer, acetone, supplies... I'm sure it adds up.

    Thoughts/tips appreciated!


  • #2
    Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

    Check Out Pettit EasyPoxy. Lot's of guys using it on here with GREAT results. Roll on Some tip some don't. Pettit undercoater for primer. Two Quarts of each should do it. Cost is about $100.00 for 4 quarts from ********************.

    Check out this post for this guys results with Easypoxy on his hull.
    http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=365820

    Good Luck and don't give up!
    1961 Lonestar Flamingo - SPLASHED...Kinda!!
    Fabricating Decks, Stringers, and Transoms
    Paint Your Boat with Tractor Paint

    Comment



    • #3
      Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

      Thanks for the tip! I hadn't heard of that one. I'll keep them in mind, however, I'm generally reading that Toplac gets better reviews (just from some Googe searching). I'll continue to research.

      I clicked your link, but it takes me to the very beginning of that gigantic thread - don't want to spend hours trying to find where he actually uses the paint!

      Comment



      • #4
        Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

        I used Easypoxy as well. Can't say enough good things about it.

        http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w...t/DSCF2357.jpg

        The blue is 1 coat!
        1976 18' Starcraft SuperSport 90HP Evinrude
        Restoration thread http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=357767
        1966 16' Starcraft Jupiter 85HP Johnson
        Restoration thread http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=338633 sold

        Comment



        • #5
          Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

          Try Vaseline first, $2 and a little time.

          Comment



          • #6
            Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

            Originally posted by skargo View Post
            Try Vaseline first, $2 and a little time.
            +1 absolutely

            Do the vaseline before you invest more $$$$$$$
            This is a great link to boat specifications http://boatspecs.iboats.com/
            Please, shop iboats first!!

            Comment



            • #7
              Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

              Originally posted by ezmobee View Post
              I used Easypoxy as well. Can't say enough good things about it.

              http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w...t/DSCF2357.jpg

              The blue is 1 coat!
              Looks great! Was that painting over gelcoat? Did you use the undercoater? I'm starting to lean more toward this product...

              Comment



              • #8
                Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

                Try all other methods before painting.

                Sand and buff a small area (1'X1') until you either get the desired results, or know its hopeless.

                I see too many people do a half hearted attempt at sanding the entire boat before doing a test patch to find a method that works. The biggest problem is that you need to remove ALL of the aged gel coat or the surface will look bad again as soon as the oils and waxes from the compound evaporates. It can be very discouraging when you think you've finished and it all looks good, but soon begins to fade back to nasty.

                Since we don't have a pic to know how much area is red, or what the surface contour is like, I would first recommend a DA to dry sand the surface with 600, or possibly even 400 grit. Take the surface down and then buff, see what it looks like. Again this is just 1'X1' area. Surface contour can make it more difficult to use a DA, but you should be able to do 95% of it.

                Dry sanding will not cut as fast as wet sanding and the scratches from each grit will be less, so you can use coarser paper dry sanding with a DA.

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                • #9
                  Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

                  Ondarvr,

                  I appreciate your thoughts. It never occurred to me to try dry sanding with a DA, but isn't that supposed to be pretty dangerous since you can cut through the gelcoat entirely? That makes me a little nervous! That said, ill gladly try it - I'd much rather do a confident sand and restore than paint.

                  So would the process be;
                  - dry sand with DA 400/600 grit
                  - compound
                  - polish?

                  As long as you tjink I can do this safely I'd be willing to give it a go.

                  Comment



                  • #10
                    Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

                    Originally posted by stephentyler20 View Post
                    Looks great! Was that painting over gelcoat? Did you use the undercoater? I'm starting to lean more toward this product...
                    Thanks. It's an aluminum boat so no gelcoat. The existing paint job was in excellent condition (not flaking or peeling) so I was able to just scuff that up and paint over it.

                    http://www.**************************...t.do?pid=1329#
                    1976 18' Starcraft SuperSport 90HP Evinrude
                    Restoration thread http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=357767
                    1966 16' Starcraft Jupiter 85HP Johnson
                    Restoration thread http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=338633 sold

                    Comment



                    • #11
                      Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

                      If the gel coat is beyond saving, then sanding through in a few places won't make any difference since you'll end up painting it.

                      You will need to be careful on any radius, but you should be able to get the feel for it quickly. Hand sand any areas that need more care.

                      Always start with the finer grit and if that doesn't work go coarser.

                      Comment



                      • #12
                        Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

                        I had the same results you described when I tried to wet sand/ compound the hull of my little cruiser. The amount of shine was marginal and did not last. Considering the old gelcoat is more than 40 years old I was not surprised. The addage that a boat retains more value with gelcoat rather than paint is a mith in my opinion. I have never owned a boat that retained value for any reason. They all cost money rather than retain it. However on the whole, gelcoat is more desirable as a durable finish rather than paint. The trade off on older chaulked boats is that it just looks bad. I would think that sanding and compounding would be the obvious first step in attempting to bring back the finish. But when compounding fails, paint is the best option. (again, my opinion)
                        Those who know me here have read, and know, that I am a big believer in painting. Modern marine finishes are very durable. They are generally easy to apply and they look great. Painting also provides the option of repainting if the finish gets damaged or dull. After the initial prep and the first coats go on, subsecuent coats will not need the degree of prep that goes in to the primary layers. Also, if you do sell the boat in the future, its been my experience that a boat that looks fresh with a new finish brings more money regardless if it is gelcoat or paint.
                        There are those that have great results from sanding and compounding gelcoat to bring it back. Its always a good idea to try it before commiting to a paint job. But if the old gelcoat is just too far gone, paint is the way to go.
                        I recommend Interlux products. Toplac is a good choice. But if you are going to invest the time it may be better to go with a higher end product. Interlux's Perfection paint is a great product. It covers exceptionally well so you wont need as much as you think. Interlux also makes the claim that Perfection can hold its shine for up to 10 years. (i think 5 is bit more realistic) Interlux Brightside is also a great paint. It is a but cheaper that Perfection and has a two year life span. Keep mind that both of these are considered topside finishes and should not be used on boat bottoms that stay in the water. They can hold up rather well on trailer boats however. Another thing I like about Interlux is the fact that they design their paints to be used by novices using common painting tools. You can get a great finish without the need for special equipment.


                        I recommend you give the Interlux website a look and do some research before you begin. The Boat Painting Guide on their website is very useful in learning about Interlux paint application processes.
                        "Your results may vary"

                        Thundercraft in Progress
                        http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=287390

                        Tri-hull Wiring
                        http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=448376

                        Comment



                        • #13
                          Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

                          Thanks guys... You may be right that I haven't taken off enough gelcoat with wet sanding, but I don't know how much more I can do! I think I'll try the DA sander approach on 1x1 area first, and see how that goes. I'm NOT going crazy with this unless I'm confident I'll get good results. I did that 2 years ago, and it was more or less a waste of time. I'd rather just paint and be done with it! Not to mention, the sanding/compounding/polishing approach ain't free either. Those supplies add up quick.

                          Comment



                          • #14
                            Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

                            I've recently sanded out and polished the very oxidized Red gelcoat on my boat. Mine was oxidized completely white in large areas on the sides of the hull. I'm not sure if I have particularly thick gel coat or not, but I was able to cut a LOT more than I expected. I was even able to aggressively block sand with 400 grit to smooth out some of the ripples in the glass without cutting through the gel. I'm by no means a professional, but you might find some useful information in my thread:

                            http://forums.iboats.com/showthread....ght=vindicator

                            As far as cost, I already had a good buffer so I spent about $40 in paper, $50 in compounds and waxes and about another $50 in buffing pads and other misc supplies. The biggest cost was TIME. On a 20' boat I was spending 2-4 hours per side, per cut. I've got about 50-60 hrs wrapped up in it so far. I could have spent far more time, as I still have some minimal sanding scratches, but I am happy with the finish.

                            You will find that after you cut the oxidation, odds are the Red gelcoat will still be discolored under. When I started on mine I did a test spot that was near where a vent had protected the gelcoat since new. Then I just sanded sanded until I had reached gelcoat that reasonably matched the unoxidized gelcoat. Then I basically color matched the entire rest of the hull on my first cut. Running water over where you sanded will bring out the color.
                            1989 19' VIP Vindicator 25th Anniversary Restoration: http://forums.iboats.com/showthread....ght=vindicator

                            Comment



                            • #15
                              Re: Wet sand/polish or PAINT old gelcoat?

                              Originally posted by Dzrtcj7 View Post
                              I've recently sanded out and polished the very oxidized Red gelcoat on my boat. Mine was oxidized completely white in large areas on the sides of the hull. I'm not sure if I have particularly thick gel coat or not, but I was able to cut a LOT more than I expected. I was even able to aggressively block sand with 400 grit to smooth out some of the ripples in the glass without cutting through the gel. I'm by no means a professional, but you might find some useful information in my thread:

                              http://forums.iboats.com/showthread....ght=vindicator

                              As far as cost, I already had a good buffer so I spent about $40 in paper, $50 in compounds and waxes and about another $50 in buffing pads and other misc supplies. The biggest cost was TIME. On a 20' boat I was spending 2-4 hours per side, per cut. I've got about 50-60 hrs wrapped up in it so far. I could have spent far more time, as I still have some minimal sanding scratches, but I am happy with the finish.

                              You will find that after you cut the oxidation, odds are the Red gelcoat will still be discolored under. When I started on mine I did a test spot that was near where a vent had protected the gelcoat since new. Then I just sanded sanded until I had reached gelcoat that reasonably matched the unoxidized gelcoat. Then I basically color matched the entire rest of the hull on my first cut. Running water over where you sanded will bring out the color.
                              Thanks for this reply!! Your boat looks amazing... Nice work.

                              So if I'm reading correctly, you WET sanded the gelcoat, correct? Did you do it by hand, or using a DA sander? I'm really thinking I'll need a DA sander this go around if I'm going to do this, and I may just do it dry.

                              I can't really tell from your pictures, but I'd argue my boat is more heavily oxidized than yours was. Even if I get the color restored for a period of time, it oxidizes back to whitish pink in no time. But I'll give it another go!

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