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Old 20-08-2017, 13:49   #1
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New finish for bulkheads

We are right now in a total super refit, here in Mexico, of our 44 ft trimaran.
Planning to put new finish to the bulkheads. We want to brighten it up and have been thinking of adding formica.

Has anyone here put formica on the bulkhead? Did you first apply the formica to a thin plywood or directly onto the bulkhead?

Do you have any other suggestions what to use?
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Old 20-08-2017, 14:27   #2
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

What is the existing finish on the bulkheads? Formica is adhered with contact cement. It works well on wood but I'm not familiar with what else it will stick to. If the bulkhead is painted the contact cement might eat the paint and not adhere well. Essentially, your challenge is what will adhere best to both the formica and the existing bulkhead surface.

I suggest to cut the Formica you get a handheld countertop router and a narrow router bit, and template out your panels and then use guide boards to cut the panels. The router makes a very clean cut which prevents chipping and cracking.
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Old 20-08-2017, 15:34   #3
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

I wouldn't put the formica in, at all. It will look "hard", and fakey. Paint the bulkheads some tone of white that you like; it will lighten the feel below decks, and leave the trim varnished timber. It will have a more "honest" nautical look to it. This may involve some fairing, it will look best if smooth. We have a lot of cream colored white paint below, and it looks well with the wood.

Ann
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Old 20-08-2017, 16:13   #4
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

I put satin white formica in the head on my 30 footer in 1985. It was great for a head finish with shower. Looked like uniform satin white paint. However, I must say, it's a lot of work as you really cant cut it with a sabre saw etc unless it's attached to a piece of ply etc. It would probably be pretty difficult after the boat is built. Some people know how to cut it well, I dont. How rough are they? A nice white paint job could be good.
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Old 20-08-2017, 16:32   #5
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

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Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
I wouldn't put the formica in, at all. It will look "hard", and fakey. Paint the bulkheads some tone of white that you like; it will lighten the feel below decks, and leave the trim varnished timber. It will have a more "honest" nautical look to it. This may involve some fairing, it will look best if smooth. We have a lot of cream colored white paint below, and it looks well with the wood.

Ann
Ann it depends on what color you choose and how you use it. A lot of boats with Herreshoff interiors (including those Valiants that are not all teak) have it and you'd never know it. Another plus is that it is fairly bullet proof and easy to clean.

But using acres of it would lead to a sterile feeling so I get your point.
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Old 20-08-2017, 19:02   #6
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

We have ripped out the old veneer cause it started to chip. But...I don't think I would like to paint it, paint usually looks "painted" and I want a nice and clean look. To paint it would also need a 100% perfect surface before painting which would need loads of work.

We will still have wood trims, which keeps some of the warmer feeling. We were planning to have some sort of white bulkheads, but also have a mix of green color to break the sterile feeling and make the interior look happy.
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Old 21-08-2017, 09:07   #7
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

I have some old laminate peeling in my galley ceiling. I am in the commercial office interiors industry. This is a product used commercially in high traffic areas and I am considering using this to renovate the galley ceiling.
Comes in wood metal and colors patterns.
Check it out. Easy to apply and durable. Not sure about a salt environment though.
3M Architectural Design
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Old 21-08-2017, 09:57   #8
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

My 1973 Gulfstar 41 came from the factory with formica everywhere. Bulkheads, sliding panels and seating areas were covered with wood look formica. The original owner hated it, and covered it with 3/16" thick teak plywood, and varnished it to a high gloss. After 40 years it still looks awesome and is easy to maintain.


We have had excellent success with 1/4" white corrugated plastic panels as a replacement for overhead vinyl or cloth interiors. It can be easily trimmed with heavy scissors. It can be held in place with brightly varnished, or oii rubbed 1" or 2" teak strips on 12" or 24" centers , oval head Phillips screws and finishing washers. Removal of the screws allows easy access to look for leaks or to run wiring. The panels are very inexpensive and are available in many colors.
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Old 21-08-2017, 10:27   #9
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

Formica can look nice in combination with wood, below is a picture of an Egg Harbor 33 that I replaced all the formica on after taking out and filling in the forward windows.

I always use Weldwood contact cement, I suppose any other comparable brand would work as well. Clean, dry, well fastened wood is a good surface to adhere to, two coats on bare wood is better than one; one even, relatively generous coat on the formica is sufficient. For painted or other surfaces (fiberglass, steel, aluminum, rubber; the stuff seems to stick to most everything other than the slicker engineering plastics), do a test bond first; glue a small piece of wood on in an inconspicuous place and see how hard it is to pull off.

The 'glue it on and trim router it to fit' approach works in many situations, though it's messy and sometimes you can't get the router into corners and such.

I prefer to use a variable speed jig saw with a metal cutting blade to rough cut (1/16" to flush) and then various small planes and blades to finish up, though usually I'll use a combination of both saw and router...

Let the contact cement dry completely before you put the pieces together, and make sure you have them in the right place before you do, because the bond is tenacious once made. Paper and thin strips of wood in strategic places can assist greatly in aligning large panels.

Once the pieces are in place, press them firmly together to make sure all areas are in contact. On large panels, I always take a ten or twelve inch piece of 2x4 and a hammer and go over the whole surface with fairly sharp raps to ensure bonding is complete.
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Old 21-08-2017, 12:53   #10
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

Love solid wood, copper sheets, leather and eventually cork for a "must-see" finish.

Formica may look as neat as cheap, to me, unless used as a part of a whole
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Old 21-08-2017, 13:56   #11
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

There's a 3 mm (1/8") thick phenolic panelling used for wet areas in the home that comes in a range of decorative finishes. It is an excellent replacement where a similar thickness ply is being replaced. it is heavier, less flexible and more expensive than plywood, though.
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Old 21-08-2017, 17:04   #12
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

Quote:
Originally Posted by andreas.mehlin View Post
We are right now in a total super refit, here in Mexico, of our 44 ft trimaran.
Planning to put new finish to the bulkheads. We want to brighten it up and have been thinking of adding formica.

Has anyone here put formica on the bulkhead? Did you first apply the formica to a thin plywood or directly onto the bulkhead?

Do you have any other suggestions what to use?
Formica is great. Make a pattern of the bulkhead. Cut the formica to size, use water based contact adhesive to both surfaces (unless you want a high). Insert lathes to keep the adhesives from sticking prematurely to the formica. Fix carefully to the top of the bulkhead and gradually remove the lathes pushing firmly to make a bond. Before the bond make sure no air is trapped behind the formica.
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Old 21-08-2017, 18:52   #13
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

I just finished mine. Hand sanded and varnished all teak trim and painted bulkheads with 2 coats Kilz and 2 coats almond in an eggshell finish. I don't know how to post pictures from my apple photos but it came out stunning!
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Old 21-08-2017, 19:59   #14
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

Quote:
Originally Posted by CHRIS V CLEMENT View Post
My 1973 Gulfstar 41 came from the factory with formica everywhere. Bulkheads, sliding panels and seating areas were covered with wood look formica. The original owner hated it, and covered it with 3/16" thick teak plywood, and varnished it to a high gloss. After 40 years it still looks awesome and is easy to maintain.


We have had excellent success with 1/4" white corrugated plastic panels as a replacement for overhead vinyl or cloth interiors. It can be easily trimmed with heavy scissors. It can be held in place with brightly varnished, or oii rubbed 1" or 2" teak strips on 12" or 24" centers , oval head Phillips screws and finishing washers. Removal of the screws allows easy access to look for leaks or to run wiring. The panels are very inexpensive and are available in many colors.
I used a corrugated plastic as headliner in our previous catamaran. It was easy to work with and the result was good!
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Old 21-08-2017, 21:13   #15
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Re: New finish for bulkheads

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Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
I wouldn't put the formica in, at all. It will look "hard", and fakey. Paint the bulkheads some tone of white that you like; it will lighten the feel below decks, and leave the trim varnished timber. It will have a more "honest" nautical look to it. This may involve some fairing, it will look best if smooth. We have a lot of cream colored white paint below, and it looks well with the wood.

Ann


Formica, plus all the stuff needed to tidy up the joins and edges, will add unnecessary weight too.
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