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Old 04-11-2013, 10:20   #1
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Deck Resurfacing Project

I thought that for once instead of trying to soak up knowledge from everyone I would take the time to share one major project I have been working on with everyone.

As I have stated in a few other threads the wife and I are planning on long term cruising with an estimated departure date scheduled about two years from now. For the past year or so I have watched the paint ont he deck deteriorate into a real mess with cracks and chips and various other problems around. I had had several boat yards give estimates and bids on doing this work with most fleeing at what they believed to be major fiberglass damage (the cracking of the paint) and giving bids of around 15K-20K for sanding and resurfacing. Deciding that that was well outside of my budget I decided to tackle the job myself. Of course major stumbling block number two was where, having such a large boat the number of DIY yards is severely limited and the only local one charges about $120/day in layday rates and didn't want my boat occupying their space anyways. That left me with a yard in Guayamas or Napa as yard choices, both about 500+ miles away from me meaning that the work would never get done anyway.

Luckily for me, this is a topside job AND I am located on a private dock and while subject to the same environmental restrictions I have no silly marina restrictions so your MMV trying to tackle a similar project in your slip.

So, About two weeks ago I began down the road of resurfacing the entire deck of my 38' trimaran, by rough calculation that is around 800sqft of deck area. The existing painted surface of the deck was actually not that old, having been repainted about 6 years ago, unfortunately from the looks of it you would think more like 20+ years and from what I know of the boat it was built over a period of about 10 years by a professional builder/yard and launched sometime in the early 90's, making the orignal paint about 20-30 years old.

Given the numerous "professionals" who swore up and down about



extensive underlying fiberglass damage I decided to tackle the job as an entire strip back to fiberglass, reprimer/barrier coat and paint repairing any fiberglass damage along the way.

So, a bit about cleanliness and the materials of choice. I started by thinking that I would just and off the paint and be on our merry way. How long could it possibly take anyway? A day or two for the entire deck? No problem!

So, we stocked up on 40 grit sandpaper and a set of 5 gallon shop vacs and 5" RO sanders, connected together would yield a dustfree sanding solution. About an hour into the project I had managed to sand about 1sq foot of the very top coat of paint. At which point I came to the conclusion that I would still be doing this five years from now. We will call that a false start.

Option number two for clean paint removal was good ol' fashioned paint stripper. So I pulled off an old hatch which was wood/fiberglass/paint the same as the rest of the deck before leaving the boat that day to take home and experiment with as there were so many paint strippers to choose from.

What we tried and the results:

West Marine Citrus Paint Stripper - This actually worked reasonably well, but was a major pain to spread evenly and took about 24 hours to strip the top coat of paint (6 years old) and required another 2-3 coats left set for about 24 hours each to completely strip the paint back to fiberglass. This seemed too long to me for the area I had to do, if I was doing a much smaller area I think this would be about perfect as it is the most environmentally safe options. And the coverage is terrible, and would require us to use about 10-15 gallons to do the entire deck, possibly more.

Aquastrip - I really didn't see the difference between this as the west marine stripper.

Citristrip - This was the cheapest of the citrus/natural/safe paint strippers, was much easier to apply than the other two but the results were basically the same. 2-3 coatings over 3-4 days.

Kleen Strip Aircraft Fiberglass Safe Paint Remover - This, despite the name, is apparently a marine product that is safe for fiberglass. This *IS* the toxic chemical full type paint stripper. I found that this product stripped all layers of paint in about 4 hours with no damage or effect on my fiberglass sample piece. As an additional test I also left the product on a section of the bare fiberglass for 24 hours with zero effect on the fiberglass coating. This product, by the gallon only, was about 1/3 - 1/4 the price of any of the other three products and seemed to spread better and go further than the other three. So, unfortunately this is the product we choose to go with due to price, time to work, ease of application and general surface area coverage. As for finding this product, it proved to be a small challenege but most paint stores can order it and I also found that O'Reilly stocks this in their warehouse and can be ordered in the stores for next day delivery.
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Old 04-11-2013, 10:30   #2
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

A few pictures from this weekend.

As the project stands we have managed to remove the lifelines and all associated hardware from the first two sections of deck to be worked on.

One interesting thing to note is that, for whatever reason, I was able to remove all of the paint down to the fiberglass primer on that forward section of the port amma without any paint stripper, I was able to simply scrape it all off with a paint scraper and little effort, it literally departed the primer in sheets. This was almost reassuring to me as it proved to me that much of my paint problems were actually not the fiberglass and not even the top layer of paint but was the fact that the original layer or paint had basically lost adhesion with the deck surface.

At this point in the project I had striped the entire section of paint, addressed a few small cracks in the fiberglass by cutting them out with a dremel tool and filling with epoxy and silica filler. I had also put a couple of brush coats of epoxy over areas where I had found raw fiberglass exposed (not enough epoxy in the original coat?)

Also the hatch cover I had taken home as my test subject is from that hatch hole on the very port side there. Last week defender had an amazing deal on Vetus Magnus hatches exactly the size to fit that hole so I had also taken the time to properly cut out the old hatch, size the hole, and seal with epoxy. There was also some time spent on the hatch just next to that as the previous owner had not filled in the gap in the deck with epoxy (it is a foam core deck) and thefore the foam and wood was directly exposed so I also filled in and completed that hatch area.

There were also two small soft spots in the deck in this section. I had expected rot but upon drilling out and close inspection there was no evidence of rot and both sides of the deck as well as the foam core were completely dry. I came to the conclusion that the soft spots were a structural defect and given that they were on both sides of the hatch AND that there are identical soft spots on the other side of the boat that reinforced the theory that they were structural and not rot. Therefore I took the drill and fill method approach to soak the foam core in epoxy and provide a more load bearing capable section underneath the soft deck spots.

We also found, as you can see in the third pic, is that tests and reality don't really line up. The second section there is currently waiting on it's second coating of paint stripper as the first coating did not completely penetrate and remove all of the paint like it did on my test subject (fewer coats of paint on the hatch I tried?)

My DD also loves to help when she can. So far she has not thrown in any tools, sanding discs or other objects. Unlike my DW who lost a screwdriver the first day.
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Old 04-11-2013, 10:42   #3
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

Also, in reference to the above pictures I have an interesting commentary on paint. The previous owner had painted the boat (entirely top to bottom) with proline brand paint. For the past year or so I had basically cursed this brand of paint blaming my poor deck surface on what I had thought was cheap paint since it was a fairly uncommon brand that no one has basically used or heard of.

Let me tell you, I was WRONG! I couldn't have been more wrong. Take a look at the third picture above, the area near the port hole (by the way if anyone knows how to remove this please tell me! I have tried!). That top layer is proline 2 part polyurethane paint that has been soaking in two coats of paint stripper for more than 8 hours total it has hardly even been touched by the paint stripper and in fact I wasn't able to get through that area with the paint stripper until I broke the surface with some 60 grit sandpaper.

All the while the underlying coats which I believe (based on materials on the boat) were petit brand paint yielded to the paintstripper without much argument.
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Old 04-11-2013, 10:46   #4
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

Sounds like you are headlong into it! Aint boat work fun...
Only question i have is.... if the paint is bonded that well.... why remove it all? maybe it's a good base once sanded for the new paint?
Supthin' to think about anyway....
Good luck! keep the pics coming...
BTW: is there going to be a problem with removing all the stripper residue from the "pores" of the bare GRP prior to painting? What to use...?
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Old 04-11-2013, 11:22   #5
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

Ahh.. Very great question Cheechako. I was going to cover that in my next follow up with pictures of the same section that currently has its first coat of primer on it.

Basically all of the paint strippers mentioned claim a water based cleanup as well as a 48/hr wait time for new paint. So my cleanup method has been to wipe down with fresh water and allow to dry 48/hrs before doing any epoxy or other work. We then have been doing a light sanding over the whole surface area with epoxy touch ups/repairs as necessary and then a final light sanding. I then wipe down the whole surface area with a mix of 50/50 denatured alcohol and distilled water and primer when dry.

As for why the whole deck and not just leave the good areas.. The big problem is it is really hard to tell what areas are good and what areas are bad until you get into it. And overall I am finding that the number of generally bad areas far exceed the number of generally good areas. I will snap a few pictures of the rest of the deck so others can get a better idea.

I am also a little bit crazy when it comes to these things but I don't trust anyone else but myself and would rather put in the work now knowing full well what was done and that it was done right than to wish I had later. IF I find a particularly large section that seems to be in outstanding shape we may well do that, I am considering that already for some of the more vertical surfaces on the deck as well as the covered areas under the solar panels etc.
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Old 04-11-2013, 14:22   #6
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

Ok so here are some pictures of other parts of the deck to show the multitude of paint issues present.

You can see in the first one the waterways that have started to form tiny micro cracks basically everywhere.

The second picture is another random picture, again some issue lots and lots of tiny tiny cracks.

And finally the third one is legitimately some cracking of the fiberglass, my guess given the location that these are just run of the mill stress cracks and not necessarily any major fault in the fiberglass.

This is representative of basically the entire surface of the deck barring a few exceptional areas.
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Old 04-11-2013, 14:29   #7
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

And finally today's status for the project, the first section pictured previously has been painted with its first coat of epoxy barrier coating. There will be a sanding and another epoxy primer coat before putting the finish coat.

It is also evident that I need to work on my application technique as that coating is way rougher than I had expected. We are also planning on tackling larger sections as I ended up having to toss a fair amount of primer as I mixed too much, so we hope to do larger sections and produce less waste. Also planning on not tackling the second coat of primer until we have about half of the foredeck primered with the first coat, we will then tackle the second coat as one larger job.

And incase anyone is interested, two more pictures. One is the sanding/vaccuum rig and the other is the primer I chose. I decided to stick with the proline brand because I wanted to make sure the paint was compatible with other paint as well as continued to match as closely as possible the hull and other components. It also came out a bit cheaper than the major brands. As well, I am quite pleased at how well it has held up to the paint stripper.

One word of wisdom at this step, make sure everything fits BEFORE you primer. I am a bit angry with myself as that smaller hatch there doesn't fit anymore. This is the one that I added some epoxy around the edges to fill in where it had been previously left as exposed deck and foam core. Well, I thought that there was quite a bit of extra clearance for the hatch, but apparently it is now a little too small so the hatch does not fit in all the way anymore so I will be sanding back the primer as well as the epoxy and likely going through another epoxy/primer step for that hatch.
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Old 04-11-2013, 16:07   #8
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

Gonna be nice when done. Good for you.
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Old 04-11-2013, 16:22   #9
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

Please wear a mask when sanding,even with the rig you have. Good Luck.
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Old 04-11-2013, 17:16   #10
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I've had good luck with the "aircraft stripper" using a cheap electric pressure washer to ensure all of it is removed prior to painting.
Funny thing is, you can't use aircraft stripper on aircraft, it says you can't right on the label
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Old 04-11-2013, 17:23   #11
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

I think one of the fastest strippers I found was "Zip Strip"... something like that.
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Old 04-11-2013, 17:25   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
I think one of the fastest strippers I found was "Zip Strip"... something like that.
I think that is exactly what it's called, just remembered, don't get any of either in your eyes, and even tiny drops of it burn like the devil on your skin
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Old 15-11-2013, 15:04   #13
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

Been a bit with no updates here.. Well here goes. It took me about the last two week to completely strip the second and third section as well as fill in and repair the top layer of epoxy on that section.

Due to the pitting and general unevenness of the deck after stripping it back I decided to see if maybe I could put a new thin layer of epoxy over everything and make use of peel ply to level and smooth the surface for paint prep. The main thing I learned is that trying to apply a deck sized sheet of peel ply in one go is a nightmare. Next time I will mix less epoxy and apply smaller more manageable pieces of peel ply, for hopefully a better final finish.

I am also more satisfied with the first coat of primer on this section, learned that somewhere around a 5-10% mix of the epoxy thinner I purchased with the paint is right about the perfect amount for the primer to self level and make a fairly smooth surface.

So here we are, the first coat of primer on about 1/3 the forward section of the deck which I would constitute about 25% of the whole job. Going a bit slower than I had expected but I am also quite a bit more meticulous about things than most people.

Next up, as you can see we are stripping back the next section. Will also hopefully be applying the second layer of primer as well as atleast the first layer of top coat to that section this weekend.

PS.. We've had absolutely beautiful sailing weather the past 2-3 weeks, which is quite depressing.
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Old 15-11-2013, 15:17   #14
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

Dont worry.... it'll rain for a month when you're done! haha
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Old 15-11-2013, 16:23   #15
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Re: Deck Resurfacing Project

natew, where are you located?
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