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Old 26-04-2016, 22:46   #1
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Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

I am refinishing my masts I keep hearing that I should use a satin or flat finish on them. I would think a gloss finish would stay cleaner (or be easier to clean) and last longer.
Is glare off a mast a real issue? I can see a gloss white deck being quite blinding but a mast? Is this really something to be concerned about?
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Old 26-04-2016, 23:20   #2
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

What type of paint do you plan on using?

Gloss paint is always "harder" when fully cured. The problem with gloss is if you do not do a good prep, primer and paint job, you will see all the imperfections. Matte will be much more foregiving but will not last nearly as long.

Make sure you are using a good two part polyurethane like interlux perfection.
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Old 27-04-2016, 01:56   #3
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

Glare off of masts is a non issue. Well, unless you go with electric blue or something truly garish.
The bigger catch is quality of finish. As, generally, it's easier to see imperfections (& dirt, etc.) with darker colors than with lighter ones. And matte black, for example, looks good on a spar.

Though, generally speaking, spars are pretty easy to paint, given that you don't have to deal with a lot of surface area. And that you can easily shoot a number of light coats onto them, whereas with a hull, that would involve geometrically more labor.
IE: Putting 3-5 coats onto a mast is easy, but is pretty tiring to do on a hull.

PS: A boom works well as a test item, as well as to dial in your equipment & technique.
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Old 27-04-2016, 06:39   #4
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

I planned to use Awlgrip or Awlwood. If the glare is no issue then I really just need the best finish to be in the bottom 10 feet of the mast. I painted my new lower spreaders with Awlgrip and there is some dirt specs and a drip or two. I was a it the worried about the the finish but once they were up on the mast, nothing could be seen.
Thanks for the input. Now to make the decision of paint or clear coat. I've been wresting with that one for months.

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Old 27-04-2016, 07:35   #5
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

my experience with painted wooden masts is the rot issues that develop are more difficult to see. i will be clear coating mine after epoxy coating.
nothing glossy on my topsides,, as sun glare is a real issue.
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Old 27-04-2016, 07:37   #6
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

I have two spruce spars with one set of spreaders each, all varnished. The varnish on the top surface of the spreaders degrades in about 1/2 the time as the varnish on the spars.

My idea and plan for the next time the spreaders need refinishing is to use an alkyd based white paint for the top surfaces. I will mask so that the paint is 1/2 way down the chamfer.

I am thinking that this approach will reduce the thermal loading, reflect the UV better than varnish, and thereby holding up longer.

Anyway, you may want to consider the use a more durable coating on the top surface of the spreaders.
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Old 27-04-2016, 07:44   #7
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

automotive clear coat outlasts varnish.
issues with rot on older spars is a real issue.
\mine are 40 yr old thai cedar. they have withstood much abuse and use.
i have replaced one horizontal spar, my mizzen boom, with perota (ipe, huanacaxtle) wood, hollow box constructed. weighs in at same or similar weight as the thai cedar did. i plan to replace all my horizontal spars, including sprit, with same.
it is beautiful and durable, compares with teak in rot and bug resistance.
post patriciacane, i noticed spots on my spars that are hidden by paint, a wonderful blocker of inspection of wood. these spots are unacceptable for high wind sailing.
hence my rationale for clear coating my spars. all of em.
rot hidden by paint is a real issue in our old boats.
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Old 27-04-2016, 08:34   #8
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

Yeah, I was going to chime in about automotive clear coat too. As even with little care, most cars (of quality), still look great after 20yrs. Like my '98 Toyota 4runner for example, when I switched to something else last year. And she was FAR from babied, but was well looked after mechanically.

Also, most folks get at least a decade out of a good Awlgrip (2-part poly) paint job on a hull. And too, as I suggest to many contemplating their boats, Imron is nigh on as good as Awlgrip (but cheaper). And you can usually find a guy who does "post ding" touch ups on cars, to do a boat on the side.
For they already know the recipes & magic, needed in order to get a great finish with expensive paint, the first time.

Not that it's rocket science, & like I said, you can do several light coats on a spar pretty easily, in order to get a primo finish.

PS: Here's a GOOD example of a Primo paint job, in a color which would show even the slightest of defects. I Love this color!
1985 40 ONE-TONNER VISION YACHT Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
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Old 27-04-2016, 08:46   #9
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

Second that!
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Old 27-04-2016, 08:46   #10
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
automotive clear coat outlasts varnish.
issues with rot on older spars is a real issue.
\mine are 40 yr old thai cedar. they have withstood much abuse and use.
i have replaced one horizontal spar, my mizzen boom, with perota (ipe, huanacaxtle) wood, hollow box constructed. weighs in at same or similar weight as the thai cedar did. i plan to replace all my horizontal spars, including sprit, with same.
it is beautiful and durable, compares with teak in rot and bug resistance.
post patriciacane, i noticed spots on my spars that are hidden by paint, a wonderful blocker of inspection of wood. these spots are unacceptable for high wind sailing.
hence my rationale for clear coating my spars. all of em.
rot hidden by paint is a real issue in our old boats.
On your new spars, have you at all entertained the idea of going with a layer (or two) of Xynole/Polyester cloth, or Spectra, etc., set in epoxy. Followed by several coats of quality varnish on top of that?

Such cloths are much more flexible than fiberglass, so they work better with wood, in terms of not cracking. So as to better protect things. And then the varnish protects the epoxy.
All while keeping your finish easy to see the wood through.

Plus, of course, if you choose, you can paint overtop off all of the above as well. For triple layered protection.
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Old 27-04-2016, 09:15   #11
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

Zeehag has brought up a really, really important point. Painting over wood spars is just gambling. I love the idea of impregnating as much the wood with liquid epoxy as possible. The ends and around any screw holes, for sure. The liquid epoxy also makes a great underlayment for the varnish. Do a search on penetrating epoxy. I have used this both on boats and my home, and the stuff works.

As to gloss vs non gloss, I vote for gloss. It looks classy, and hey, don't we all just love sanding, varnishing, sanding, varnishing . . .

After you get about 14 coats on, life is wonderful.....
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Old 27-04-2016, 10:29   #12
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

The clear coat issue is one I have been wrestling with for a long while now. I am not willing to varnish and have been looking at Awlwood for a longer lasting solution.
I want something that is going to last as long as possible before re-coating. I have tossed this about with other Leaky Teaky owners and it seem about split down the middle for paint or clear.

It seems that many are adamant that the wood coating needs clear to be able to see rot starting and I agree, you certainly would not see it through 4 coats of Awlgrip until the paint started dimpling. I have stripped my bowsprit, which was painted (and I believe epoxy coated) and it was pristine other than a small amount of darker wood around a couple of the penetrations. The paint was still in pretty good shape. As far as I know the bowsprit is original (34 years) and I saw two slightly different shades of paint when stripping.

The masts on the other hand were severely neglected when I got the boat and I waited even longer before tackling this project. The paint was completely flaked off on large portions of the mast and the mizzen had got some cracks where water got in and rotted from the inside out. I was told by a local shipwright that this is almost always the case - rot from the inside out.

So how real is seeing rot through the clear coating before it has already done damage inside. Looking around the local marina's here in San Diego, I see more painted wood masts than clear coated ones. Are we all just lazy in our maintenance and willing to take the risk of unseen rot? I am of the thinking that if I keep a painted mast sealed and water out of, it should not rot. Is that flawed thinking?

You can see in my pictures how bad the mizzen mast paint was, and the cracks that developed. In the picture I had already started opening up these cracks to explore the rot inside. It was much worse than what can be seen in these pictures but once again, if there were no cracks allowed to develop to allow water inside would there still be rot? Other than the crack itself, the outside surface showed no signs of rot, all the soft wood was inside.

Am I correct in thinking that the rot seen under a clear coat is from water getting under the clear coat and rotting wood on the surface and therefore able to be seen? If so, I didn't have that with my painted masts.
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Old 27-04-2016, 10:33   #13
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

when the carpenter built my mizzenboom, he painted entire interior and exterior with west 105, which is better than penetration epoxy.. stays on the wood. i will be smoothing this and placing the clear coat over it for uv protection.
boom is awesome gorgeous perota wood/ipe/huanacaxtle wood.
the white shows what the rotted mizzenboom was looking like, and the pretty one is my new replacement. gorgeous, eh? how can one cover that with white stuff?? or anything else that obstructs the sight of the beautiful wood used.....
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Old 27-04-2016, 10:45   #14
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
when the carpenter built my mizzenboom, he painted entire interior and exterior with west 105, which is better than penetration epoxy.. stays on the wood. i will be smoothing this and placing the clear coat over it for uv protection.
boom is awesome gorgeous perota wood/ipe/huanacaxtle wood.
the white shows what the rotted mizzenboom was looking like, and the pretty one is my new replacement. gorgeous, eh? how can one cover that with white stuff??
I have done three coats of west 105 on my bowprit as it started drying out and cracking as soon as I stripped the old paint. Not a single split or crack until the paint was removed. I'm pretty sure I will be painting the bowsprit again so the epoxy coating was not a worry.
If I use Awlwood on the masts, they don't want epoxy. They want you to use their colored primer that bonds to the wood and the topcoat chemically bonds to the primer. Therefor I have not done anything with the masts yet. Still need to repair them first anyway.
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Old 27-04-2016, 10:46   #15
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Re: Gloss or not to gloss, that is the question.

I'd go gloss. Masts do get surprisingly dirty.
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