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Old 15-08-2014, 10:41   #1
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Topsides Paint - Cost?

We just got an estimate for labor only of $3000 (~$100 foot) to repaint roll and tipple (not spraypaint) the bootstripes and topsides on our '77 36.5' Pearson ketch, figuring while it was on the hard for hurricane season in Jacksonville FL area would be a good time to get it done.

We'd provide the awlgrip, etc. materials (thanks to my West Marine employee discount).

This quote seems high, but it's the first time we've looked into it. The folks who quoted said from their perspective our boat is in good shape.

We have some discolored spots from some prior owner gelcoat repairs and some stains and oxidation, which is why we figured a paint job would be better than a buffing, The quote for buffing was $10/foot.

Our plan is to cruise about another 2 years then sell in Australia, so we could certainly get the work done elsewhere if good work at at better price is viable.

Your advice is much appreciated.
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Old 15-08-2014, 10:52   #2
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

That sounds like a bargain to me if it includes all prepping and filling any divots etc. Why would a yard not spray though? Keep in mind that you should keep the color similar... eventually you will scratch the paint... and if you paint dark over white, the scratches show up really bad!
Let's say $4000 with paint and materials. if you use your boat 20 times in the next 2 years the paint will cost you $200 every time you go out. If you use it 40 times $100 every time. Worth it?
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Old 15-08-2014, 11:00   #3
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

I heard the best deal is In Columbia. They will spray it with gel coat and it's on your way, kind of.
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Old 15-08-2014, 11:56   #4
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

I'd have a hard time spending > $4000 on a 77' boat for something cosmetic that could be spoiled by one piling encounter. DIY. I've painted several 27-30' catamarans (smaller hulls, but more of them) and typically it took ~ 15 hours of labor spread over 3 days, the balance spent on minor unrelated projects used to fll time.

Topsides are easy to paint; no gear to rebed and minimal taping. Fairing? Perhaps some. Is the gel coat badly cracked? That can be difficult. Otherwise, sand to remove oxidation, fair the worst spots, prime as needed and paint. Rool and tip is really quite easy, the only trick being adjusting the viscosity with solvent to suit the weather conditions. The boot top is similarly easy.

I would save the $$ for reliability and livability items.
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Old 15-08-2014, 12:40   #5
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

I know someone who got a bargain for repainting the topsides after some storm damage. The paint crew got confused and literally FILLED IN and obliterated the cove stripe. Very nice job, no sign it ever existed. And the painting was done outdoors, so there's an occasional gnat or whatnot in the paint.

The holes were gone, but it can't compare to a proper job done by a proper yard, which is using an EPA-approved climate controlled indoor paint shed, not just waiting for a nice day to roll it on outside.

Half the price, but "forever" not as good a job.

All depends on what you want, because if it doesn't look right, that's a massive re-do.
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Old 15-08-2014, 12:44   #6
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
I'd have a hard time spending > $4000 on a 77' boat for something cosmetic that could be spoiled by one piling encounter. DIY. I've painted several 27-30' catamarans (smaller hulls, but more of them) and typically it took ~ 15 hours of labor spread over 3 days, the balance spent on minor unrelated projects used to fll time.

Topsides are easy to paint; no gear to rebed and minimal taping. Fairing? Perhaps some. Is the gel coat badly cracked? That can be difficult. Otherwise, sand to remove oxidation, fair the worst spots, prime as needed and paint. Rool and tip is really quite easy, the only trick being adjusting the viscosity with solvent to suit the weather conditions. The boot top is similarly easy.

I would save the $$ for reliability and livability items.

What, you don't sand the primer? 15 hrs is extremely misleading, IMHO. If you want a good finish, anyway.
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Old 15-08-2014, 13:02   #7
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

Some years ago in Tortola I learned from Bill Seifert (ex-production manager for Alden and Tartan, and renowned author/sailor) that one should only paint over gelcoat when all else fails.

He demonstrated by taking an old boat and cleaning/buffing the gelcoat for some time. After awhile, its original luster came back and it looked terrific.

I just had my 45' 1981 sloop, Born Free, hauled in Herrington Harbor, MD. While on the hard, I contracted with a local detailing shop to have my topsides cleaned, waxed and polished. The cost was $500 including labor and all materials, and this included a good cleaning of the decks and cabin trunk/top.

My topsides are original gelcoat...never painted. I believe the pics speak for themselves.

While we were at it, I installed a new SharkRazor on the 1.25" shaft just forward of the MaxProp. Lookout lobster pots, crab pots, and trout lines!!!

Bill
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Old 15-08-2014, 13:06   #8
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Some years ago in Tortola I learned from Bill Seifert (ex-production manager for Alden and Tartan, and renowned author/sailor) that one should only paint over gelcoat when all else fails.

He demonstrated by taking an old boat and cleaning/buffing the gelcoat for some time. After awhile, its original luster came back and it looked terrific.

I just had my 45' 1981 sloop, Born Free, hauled in Herrington Harbor, MD. While on the hard, I contracted with a local detailing shop to have my topsides cleaned, waxed and polished. The cost was $500 including labor and all materials, and this included a good cleaning of the decks and cabin trunk/top.

My topsides are original gelcoat...never painted. I believe the pics speak for themselves.
You're right but you'll never convince them of it. :P


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Old 15-08-2014, 13:12   #9
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
That sounds like a bargain to me if it includes all prepping and filling any divots etc. Why would a yard not spray though? Keep in mind that you should keep the color similar... eventually you will scratch the paint... and if you paint dark over white, the scratches show up really bad!
Let's say $4000 with paint and materials. if you use your boat 20 times in the next 2 years the paint will cost you $200 every time you go out. If you use it 40 times $100 every time. Worth it?

Why two years? You should get twenty out of a well done, well maintained LPU job, unless you're in the tropics full time. Even then you should get ten.
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Old 15-08-2014, 13:16   #10
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GalleyWenchTale View Post
We just got an estimate for labor only of $3000 (~$100 foot) to repaint roll and tipple (not spraypaint) the bootstripes and topsides on our '77 36.5' Pearson ketch, figuring while it was on the hard for hurricane season in Jacksonville FL area would be a good time to get it done.

We'd provide the awlgrip, etc. materials (thanks to my West Marine employee discount).

This quote seems high, but it's the first time we've looked into it. The folks who quoted said from their perspective our boat is in good shape.

We have some discolored spots from some prior owner gelcoat repairs and some stains and oxidation, which is why we figured a paint job would be better than a buffing, The quote for buffing was $10/foot.

Our plan is to cruise about another 2 years then sell in Australia, so we could certainly get the work done elsewhere if good work at at better price is viable.

Your advice is much appreciated.

Does this include a proper primer job, including sanding the primer out? Or is it no primer, or primer that is hot coated? Big difference.
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Old 15-08-2014, 14:17   #11
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

The cost of a good paint job is in the preparation. The hull should be sanded and then primed with a high build epoxy primer and that is sanded in turn. May take two coats if there are a lot of imperfections. That will fill in the small cracks and irregularities so the finish will look good. Application of the top coat takes hardly any of the time involved in doing a quality paint job.

Haiving said that, there is no substitute for the durability of gel coat. It takes a beating that paint, no matter how expensive can stand up to. Unfortunately, time, abuse, and too aggressive compounding can't make gel coat last forever.
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Old 15-08-2014, 15:05   #12
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

GalleyWench,

To me, the problem with paint is that it is not nearly as "forever" as gelcoat. Sailing to Oz over a 2 yr. period will give you plenty of opportunities for your paint to get dinged. My personal opinion about this---and all it is is opinion---if you want the boat to be cherry, then fix it up after you've cruised the Pacific. The local people who come out to your boat in their canoes don't know paint from gelcoat, and may thump into you, paint doesn't hold up well to that. So, if it were me, I'd treat the topsides with TSRW or PolyGlo. It lasts about a year, seals up the voids in porous gelcoat. And made our old gelcoat shine. A professional buffing will remove more of the existing gelcoat, and leave it porous unless it is also polymer sealed. Coatings do wear away and require redoing, but you can DIY, rather than hiring others.

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Old 15-08-2014, 15:17   #13
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by minaret View Post
Why two years? You should get twenty out of a well done, well maintained LPU job, unless you're in the tropics full time. Even then you should get ten.
I believe he stated in the original post he was keeping it two years.
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Old 15-08-2014, 15:19   #14
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

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Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
GalleyWench,

To me, the problem with paint is that it is not nearly as "forever" as gelcoat. Sailing to Oz over a 2 yr. period will give you plenty of opportunities for your paint to get dinged. My personal opinion about this---and all it is is opinion---if you want the boat to be cherry, then fix it up after you've cruised the Pacific. The local people who come out to your boat in their canoes don't know paint from gelcoat, and may thump into you, paint doesn't hold up well to that. So, if it were me, I'd treat the topsides with TSRW or PolyGlo. It lasts about a year, seals up the voids in porous gelcoat. And made our old gelcoat shine. A professional buffing will remove more of the existing gelcoat, and leave it porous unless it is also polymer sealed. Coatings do wear away and require redoing, but you can DIY, rather than hiring others.

Ann
Ann-

Gelcoat porosity is not quite that simple. IME, it is almost always a result of over catalyzation of the gel, or application of gel at very high temps. Both of which lead to the same result; a fast, hot, exotherm. This causes microscopic bubbles in the wet gel to expand to many times their normal size. This is why gel porosity is almost never visible on a new boat, surface tension prevents the air bubbles from breaking through the gel skin in contact with the mold. But as soon as you wet sand or polish heavily multiple times, you burn through this very thin outer skin and expose the billions of bubbles in the gel. This is what's known as "porosity", a misnomer for sure. This I say because properly applied gel is not porous, nor will it ever be, no matter how many times it is polished. And even improperly applied gel is not porous per se, that would imply the bubbles going all the way through, which they generally do not, in all but the most egregious cases. Basically, in laymans terms, the gel approaches it's boiling point at exotherm while it is still wet. Imagine if you took a boiling pot of water and suddenly flash froze it. That's what you get here. This means that some gel boats will never experience porosity, while others will, and there's no way to tell short of being there when the gel is sprayed. Even within the same production run, there are no guarantees. Even on a single boat, there are separate parts (ie hull and deck) which are likely to have been shot at different times in different conditions. And, even in a single part, most spray operators are still using a pot gun, which means the whole part needs multiple batches mixed. You may see a problem on just one area of a part as a result. There are no guarantees, other than the experience of the booth operator. The end result is that some boats have porosity, some will have it, and others just don't. Many manufacturers exacerbate the problem, because catalyst ratio has a long term effect on Barcall readings, ie hardness. This means most builders believe that catalyzing gel very hot leads to a more durable finish, which is true given perfect environmental controls. But in the typical high temp factory conditions, it just leads to porosity. This brings me to another point: catalyst is not just methyl ethyl ketone peroxide. It is a melange of all sorts of organic peroxides and heavy metals such as cobalt. There are many different kinds of catalyst these days, to help achieve various results with different products. And yet, many manufacturers still catalyze gel with Hi Point 90 or similar, because they buy it in bulk for laminating. A more specialized catalyst can solve this problem with shorter gel time and longer exotherm. But only high end builders generally go that sort of route, or are even aware of it.
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Old 15-08-2014, 18:17   #15
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Re: Topsides Paint - Cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by minaret View Post
Ann-

Gelcoat porosity is not quite that simple. IME, it is almost always a result of over catalyzation of the gel, or application of gel at very high temps. Both of which lead to the same result; a fast, hot, exotherm. This causes microscopic bubbles in the wet gel to expand to many times their normal size. This is why gel porosity is almost never visible on a new boat, surface tension prevents the air bubbles from breaking through the gel skin in contact with the mold. But as soon as you wet sand or polish heavily multiple times, you burn through this very thin outer skin and expose the billions of bubbles in the gel. This is what's known as "porosity", a misnomer for sure. This I say because properly applied gel is not porous, nor will it ever be, no matter how many times it is polished. And even improperly applied gel is not porous per se, that would imply the bubbles going all the way through, which they generally do not, in all but the most egregious cases. Basically, in laymans terms, the gel approaches it's boiling point at exotherm while it is still wet. Imagine if you took a boiling pot of water and suddenly flash froze it. That's what you get here. This means that some gel boats will never experience porosity, while others will, and there's no way to tell short of being there when the gel is sprayed. Even within the same production run, there are no guarantees. Even on a single boat, there are separate parts (ie hull and deck) which are likely to have been shot at different times in different conditions. And, even in a single part, most spray operators are still using a pot gun, which means the whole part needs multiple batches mixed. You may see a problem on just one area of a part as a result. There are no guarantees, other than the experience of the booth operator. The end result is that some boats have porosity, some will have it, and others just don't. Many manufacturers exacerbate the problem, because catalyst ratio has a long term effect on Barcall readings, ie hardness. This means most builders believe that catalyzing gel very hot leads to a more durable finish, which is true given perfect environmental controls. But in the typical high temp factory conditions, it just leads to porosity. This brings me to another point: catalyst is not just methyl ethyl ketone peroxide. It is a melange of all sorts of organic peroxides and heavy metals such as cobalt. There are many different kinds of catalyst these days, to help achieve various results with different products. And yet, many manufacturers still catalyze gel with Hi Point 90 or similar, because they buy it in bulk for laminating. A more specialized catalyst can solve this problem with shorter gel time and longer exotherm. But only high end builders generally go that sort of route, or are even aware of it.
Hi, minaret,

Wow, thank you for that! Great explanation. Without knowing how the gelcoat was done on the OP's boat, what treatment would you suggest that could be done by themselves?

In my non-technical world, I had not even heard of gelcoat porosity, let alone what could cause it and prevent it. Our boat at the time had been rubbed out twice, and there were bubbles cut open by the process, which tended to gather dirt. The PolyGlo, used according to the directions, made the gelcoat look new for about 6 months, with a gradual degradation. We'd renew it at haulout time, and for us, was an acceptable thing. We'd seen, by that time, a number of grp boats that were out of the US and which were on their second paint job. Paint is fragile.

Ann
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