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sailpower 24-08-2011 21:37

Refinish Formica Interior
Iím looking at some boats from the 60ís that have wood grain mica bulkheads and cabinets/drawers. Most areas have teak trim.

Iím looking for some ideas for making the interior look better. Iím not really a fan of a lot of white down below.

Is there any kind of finish that can be applied to make it look better?

Any other ideas?


cabo_sailor 24-08-2011 22:02

Re: Refinish mica interior
By mica I presume you mean formica veneer. It's not really all that difficult to put new formica over old. Not exactly cheap though, a friend recently redid his interior and a 4 x 8 ft sheet of formica was about $250. As a personal aside, even if you are not a fan of a lot of white down below, you might want to keep it light. My lady hates being stuck in what she thinks as a cave. Of course you can go too far. She had me sew new cushion covers for the saloon in white naugasoft. I explained it would show all the dirt, stains, etc. *****sigh**** I did it any way and am now making new covers in a printed fabric. Oh well, I guess I don't have enough to do anyway.


sailpower 24-08-2011 22:16

Re: Refinish mica interior
Right. Wood grain formica that the 60's and 70's loved.

stillbuilding 25-08-2011 03:51

Re: Refinish Formica Interior
I reckon there must be a thousand different types of material that you could apply over formica sheets. Paints, leather, pseudo suedes, metal finished veneers, wood veneers, metalised acrylics etc etc. Just have a look at some of the interior design magazines and let your imagination run. Maybe even have a brief consultation with an interior designer.

David_Old_Jersey 25-08-2011 15:45

Re: Refinish Formica Interior

I was faced with much the same problem from the 60' my case grey check formica - on Galley fronts and bulkheads, Formica still in great condition - but just depressing to look at (and on a 30 foot boat no getting away from it!).

What worked for me (and was first tested on some offcuts!) was:-

1) rubbing down the formica (to take the shine off, not the pattern)
2) Primer (nothing special - mine was something universal that covered wood & Metal, but I already knew it worked well on other jobs)
3) Paint :thumb: (Undercoat and a couple of top coats - plan is to add another next year - I used exterior household gloss paint for wood :p).

Wot's it look like? Like painted wood. You either like that - or you don't.

Durability will be a matter of time, but I would say easily on a par with painted wood (and with the same cure) and has taken more than a few knocks over the past year as part of the (ever :rolleyes:) ongoing refurb.

Juts FYI - the Test pieces I tried before starting easily passed the thumbnail test, indeed to remove the paint / primer (without gouging into the formica) needed a scraper..........a sharp one.

One of the more pleasant tasks - effect vs effort :thumb:

For some reason I can't find any photos :rolleyes: :banghead:

MikeTurner 25-08-2011 16:00

Re: Refinish Formica Interior
You don't say what type of boat it is. Two possibilities that give a "traditional" look interior would be,

(1) Paint, either white or another color you'd like, set off with oiled or vanished teak trim. In addition to David's suggestions above re: paint, a couple of companies now make primer and paint specifically made to cover kitchen countertops - the color choices are a bit limited, but the stuff is made to adhere to formica-type surfaces.

(2) The big box stores sell 4x8' sheets of beadboard paneling, a quick check here shows it comes in white, primed ready to paint, and stainable. Would be easy to nail/screw over the existing surfaces (if yours are like mine, it's marine ply faced with a thin sheet of the formica; I've been drilling through the facing into the wood to screw down new cabin lights and fans). You'd probably have to do some creative framing around ports and such. Could be stained a light shade to appear to be teak or other wood.

We had a friend, very handy with fabrics, who did their interior in a padded ultrasuede, actually looked pretty nice.

I agree with the above that you don't want to go too dark a color or the interior will take on a cave-like appearance.

SabreKai 25-08-2011 16:17

Re: Refinish Formica Interior
Why not just lay teak veneer over it? I did that with a boat belonging to a friend which had had a fire in the forward cabin. All the bulkhead was charred, so we ground it off and laid new teak veneer over it using contact cement.

Yours would be even easier as we had trouble keeping the surface dead flat as we ground away the charred material.

bangkaboat 25-08-2011 16:20

Re: Refinish Formica Interior
3 Attachment(s)
What's not to love?:D OK, but it's no bear cave! Even the moonlight, at the right angle, lights up the cabin.:rolleyes:

Cheechako 25-08-2011 16:44

Re: Refinish Formica Interior
whatever you do I would avoid latex hoouse paint. trouble is it really doesnt sand, just kinda peels, youll never get a good finish in the future.

David_Old_Jersey 25-08-2011 17:02

Re: Refinish Formica Interior

Originally Posted by Cheechako (Post 759464)
whatever you do I would avoid latex hoouse paint. trouble is it really doesnt sand, just kinda peels, youll never get a good finish in the future.

Always good to guinea pig new ideas :thumb: or use things you already know work.

In my case I ummed and arred long and hard on whether to take the formica all off (from elsewhere I found it comes off surprisingly easy once you have an edge - and a heat gun, after that comes an oribital sander).......but I really didn't want to do the fiddling of fitting new Formica, and I prefer the look of painted wood (even if it is really painted Formica :p) - looks a bit more homely / in character for a boat designed in the 60's............of course plan B was (is?) to go back to wood.

bstreep 25-08-2011 18:58

Re: Refinish Formica Interior
We've been happy with the products we've bought from these folks:

Bathtub Refinishing Referral Network Do It Yourself Bathtub Refinishing Repair And Paint Store

osirissail 25-08-2011 19:43

Re: Refinish Formica Interior
I don't think you will actually find "formica" anymore. The current product name is "kitchen laminate" and is sold in Home Depot for $42 per 4'x8' sheet. It comes in many different surface colours, patterns and textures.
- - Normally it is applied with contact cement over plywood in homes but for the marine uses I use slightly thickened epoxy after cutting and pre-fitting all the pieces. Epoxy comes in many versions from fast setting to quite slow setting depending upon your application and ambient temperature.
- - Depending upon your tastes you can use the stuff to restore that bear cave dark cavern boat interior common to the old teak veneer plywood they used to use - or - use the white laminate and end up with a bright, light, and easy to clean interior.

sdowney717 25-08-2011 19:51

Re: Refinish Formica Interior
I pulled off the old wood grain formica on the 1970 egg harbor and guess what is underneath?
Mahogany plywood, so I stripped and refinished that.
Every bit of the formica, the glue bond had failed.
I suppose formica is hardwearing but does not look as good as finished wood.

The only place I re formica was on the kitchen sink counter.

For the bathroom, I used the vinyl floor tile squares and used that also under the sink and it looks good. they have some nice looking vinyl tiles at
Lowes. Mine look like stone.

I used the contact cement for the kitchen. The edges are held down by wooden trim, so not a big deal if it loosens up in the next 40 years.

sailpower 25-08-2011 21:00

Re: Refinish Formica Interior
Thanks. Lots of interesting tips. The boat I am looking at is a 1967 Morgan 34.

I like the look of teak over white so it sounds like I would have to add new wood which would be pricey factoring in drawers and doors..

Guess I'll have to revisit the white with teak trim.

ssanzone 25-08-2011 21:17

Re: Refinish Formica Interior
you can adhere anything to formica. if you like wood and want to match the rest of the interior teak veneer is likely the easiest (about $80 for 4*8 roll) and simply epoxying teak (wood) planking (1*4) with or withing holly.

paint is certainly the easiest of all solutions just make sure u wash the surface with dish soap and prime before painting.

while it is a crappy project, a bunch of hours with a putty blade and a heat gun would be worth it in the long run (unless u plan on selling her). idk where you are located, but i bet posting on you could hire someone for $10 an hour to come in and heat and pry it off.



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