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Old 17-01-2017, 02:46   #1
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Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

The top of my helm needs help but I am unsure of my options. After a rain faint white streaks appear on the salon windows. I have compounded and waxed a couple of time the past two years but I can tell the gel coat is getting thin and soon only primer will remain. The top of my helm is 120" x 102".

What solutions are available to me? New gelcoat? Paint? Some new exotic materials?

Thanks in advance for your help. Rick
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Old 17-01-2017, 03:45   #2
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

Paint. You could do new gelcoat, but you'd need to wet sand the whole thing fair. It's expensive and time consuming.

Given it's a limited area you can probably roll and tip it with paint with decent results. Research two part epoxy paints, which are much more durable than pretty much any single part paint.
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Old 17-01-2017, 04:44   #3
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

I actually set sanded and compounded it once. Yes it is a lot of work.
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Old 17-01-2017, 05:37   #4
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

Wells,
Everthing in life has a birth, life and death. Your description sounds as if you're near the end of your gelcoat. If it were my boat, I would use a good quality two-part paint: Imron, Petit, etc.using the roll and tip method. Good luck and safe sailing
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Old 17-01-2017, 06:33   #5
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

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Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
Paint. You could do new gelcoat, but you'd need to wet sand the whole thing fair. It's expensive and time consuming.

Given it's a limited area you can probably roll and tip it with paint with decent results. Research two part epoxy paints, which are much more durable than pretty much any single part paint.


Dunno why people always say this. If you paint, you must prime. Often this means priming twice, or going to a hi build primer, to put on enough material to fill all imperfections/scratches. Each time you prime you must sand out, to at least 400 grit for topcoat prep. Then you can topcoat and be done.


On the other hand, new gel requires no primer. It goes on super thick and will fill all imperfections in a single three coat application. You only have to sand out the entire surface once. Yes, you must wet sand it to a much higher degree of finish, but this is easy to do.


For me, a pro, I often find new gel is actually faster and easier than paint. And far cheaper (5 gallons of gel costs me $200, no primers topcoats or special fillers). And longer lasting, easier to repair, better looking, etc etc....
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Old 17-01-2017, 06:55   #6
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

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Dunno why people always say this. If you paint, you must prime. Often this means priming twice, or going to a hi build primer, to put on enough material to fill all imperfections/scratches. Each time you prime you must sand out, to at least 400 grit for topcoat prep. Then you can topcoat and be done.


On the other hand, new gel requires no primer. It goes on super thick and will fill all imperfections in a single three coat application. You only have to sand out the entire surface once. Yes, you must wet sand it to a much higher degree of finish, but this is easy to do.


For me, a pro, I often find new gel is actually faster and easier than paint. And far cheaper (5 gallons of gel costs me $200, no primers topcoats or special fillers). And longer lasting, easier to repair, better looking, etc etc....
You're talking about a pro-quality paint job and trust me, I know how much time the paint prep you're talking about takes having done it on the topsides of my 40 footer. But he's talking about his helm roof and may not be concerned about a perfect, flawless result. Not sure.

You painted the deck of your Nauticat, no, or was that just under the nonskid areas?
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Old 17-01-2017, 07:46   #7
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

"On the other hand, new gel requires no primer. It goes on super thick and will fill all imperfections in a single three coat application. You only have to sand out the entire surface once. Yes, you must wet sand it to a much higher degree of finish, but this is easy to do." Minaret


Minaret,
You are a professional. Your skills are far beyond those of the average boat owner. Although the gelcoat is (only?) $200. a gallon, you need a quality gelcoat sprayer, compressor, tint product, thinners, sander/polisher, etc. and the skills to spray, sand, buff and wax the gelcoat after application. However, a two-part paint requires only a brush, roller, thinner and a tray. I would far prefer to have a gelcoat finish, but on an older boat it may not be cost/time effective for the do it yourself owner. Everything on a boat is a compromise. Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 17-01-2017, 08:00   #8
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

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Originally Posted by minaret View Post
Dunno why people always say this. If you paint, you must prime. Often this means priming twice, or going to a hi build primer, to put on enough material to fill all imperfections/scratches. Each time you prime you must sand out, to at least 400 grit for topcoat prep. Then you can topcoat and be done.


On the other hand, new gel requires no primer. It goes on super thick and will fill all imperfections in a single three coat application. You only have to sand out the entire surface once. Yes, you must wet sand it to a much higher degree of finish, but this is easy to do.


For me, a pro, I often find new gel is actually faster and easier than paint. And far cheaper (5 gallons of gel costs me $200, no primers topcoats or special fillers). And longer lasting, easier to repair, better looking, etc etc....
I've also used gelcoat for things like my dodger top and such. I have sprayed it on and even rolled it...although that requires more of a sanding period.
I wonder how feasible it is to re-gelcoat topsides of a boat. I'd rather have gelcoat than the bathtub finish of Polyurethane.
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Old 17-01-2017, 08:12   #9
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

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"On the other hand, new gel requires no primer. It goes on super thick and will fill all imperfections in a single three coat application. You only have to sand out the entire surface once. Yes, you must wet sand it to a much higher degree of finish, but this is easy to do." Minaret


Minaret,
You are a professional. Your skills are far beyond those of the average boat owner. Although the gelcoat is (only?) $200. a gallon, you need a quality gelcoat sprayer, compressor, tint product, thinners, sander/polisher, etc. and the skills to spray, sand, buff and wax the gelcoat after application. However, a two-part paint requires only a brush, roller, thinner and a tray. I would far prefer to have a gelcoat finish, but on an older boat it may not be cost/time effective for the do it yourself owner. Everything on a boat is a compromise. Good luck and safe sailing.

Gel is $200 for FIVE gallons. Two part paint is generally actually three part, ie base, converter, and reducer. To do good work you need more than one reducer to match ambient conditions measuring viscosity in the #2 Ford cup. So to do five gallons of mixed paint costs vastly more than five gallons of mixed gel. And will result in much more wastage, due to the nature of paint. Include the cost of the primer, which is also three part. Now add in the cost of a high build primer as well, a third product line which is also three part. Add in the cost of using an epoxy fairing compound for the worst imperfections. Add in the cost of all the sandpaper you will need to sand out those primers, which will generally involve several different grits.

Gel requires no special sprayer, in fact cheap primer guns work best, due to the larger tip sizes. I have also roll applied and polished it, though that makes for more work. A member here did his entire deck in the slip this way. Tint is only required if color matching repairs, if applying new gel to a surface you use it right out of the can just like paint, and then further repairs are also a stock color. Thinners are standard industrial, very cheap and found at any hardware store, unlike the proprietary reducers for LPU, which are quite expensive and absolutely required, even for equipment cleaning. And we haven't even begun to discuss the comparative toxicity and protective equipment required.


This particular excuse for not taking approaches deemed by most in the marine industry as "professional only" is exactly why I frequent CF, to try to convince people that in many cases there is no black magic involved, in fact it's quite simple. I can't tell you how many times I've had to teach very young people who barely had English how to do this stuff in a boatyard, certainly not all of whom were genius' (though some were). Most do pretty good in short order.


I have given a few seminars on exactly this topic now. I remember when I first got into this trade, it was quite common for owners to have their own factory gelcoat aboard and to be versed in it's use at least to some degree. I very rarely see this anymore. It's a shame.
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Old 17-01-2017, 08:14   #10
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

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Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
You're talking about a pro-quality paint job and trust me, I know how much time the paint prep you're talking about takes having done it on the topsides of my 40 footer. But he's talking about his helm roof and may not be concerned about a perfect, flawless result. Not sure.

You painted the deck of your Nauticat, no, or was that just under the nonskid areas?


I did new gel everywhere but on the non skid on my boat. There are technical reasons for this which can be discussed if you like.


Edit: I did paint all the woodwork except the hand rails. That's different than glass, obviously.
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Old 17-01-2017, 08:16   #11
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

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I've also used gelcoat for things like my dodger top and such. I have sprayed it on and even rolled it...although that requires more of a sanding period.
I wonder how feasible it is to re-gelcoat topsides of a boat. I'd rather have gelcoat than the bathtub finish of Polyurethane.


Perfectly feasible. In fact much easier today than it was even five years ago, due to better products and equipment, and falling prices on same.
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Old 17-01-2017, 08:54   #12
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

So, what are the options for redoing the non skid areas?
My Islander 32 has the "stucco" style non skid areas, different than the waffle pattern found, for example, on Catalinas.
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Old 17-01-2017, 08:56   #13
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

Minaret have you done any "How To" videos on YouTube for Gelcoat repair or application?
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Old 17-01-2017, 08:58   #14
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

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I did new gel everywhere but on the non skid on my boat. There are technical reasons for this which can be discussed if you like.
OK I'm interested. I'm probably looking at a deck job at some point in the not too distant future and you're making DIY gelcoat sound like a feasible option given my existing set of skills.

So I'll want non-skid on a significant amount of surface...deck, coach roof, sections of cockpit. Why put nonskid on top of a paint base layer and not new gelcoat?

Perhaps related, I have molded in nonskid, which I detest. The plan was to sand it off entirely.

As an aside, how are the 3m microfine pads for wet sanding to restore gelcoat, vs. compounding with a machine? Looks like a better result and honestly looks like less work than a buffer, particularly given fittings, edges, etc.
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Old 17-01-2017, 09:19   #15
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Re: Faded, Chalky and Thin Gelcoat

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Originally Posted by minaret View Post
Dunno why people always say this. If you paint, you must prime. Often this means priming twice, or going to a hi build primer, to put on enough material to fill all imperfections/scratches. Each time you prime you must sand out, to at least 400 grit for topcoat prep. Then you can topcoat and be done.


On the other hand, new gel requires no primer. It goes on super thick and will fill all imperfections in a single three coat application. You only have to sand out the entire surface once. Yes, you must wet sand it to a much higher degree of finish, but this is easy to do.


For me, a pro, I often find new gel is actually faster and easier than paint. And far cheaper (5 gallons of gel costs me $200, no primers topcoats or special fillers). And longer lasting, easier to repair, better looking, etc etc....
Minaret,

You have me intrigued as to the possibility of replacing my gelcoat on my current project boat , a Tiburon 36. Which shares the same problem as the OP.

This is the way I was leaning, but I get a lot of arguments to go with Awlgrip. I totally get what you are saying and love the life of well cared for Gelcoat.

I never liked painting my house knowing that in a few short years I was going to have to do it all over again. regardless the cost of the paint, it has to be done again. The same applies to painting a boat IMHO.

I'd rather be called lazy then a painter! not my thing. No offence to painters, you have my admiration!

So, that said, you referred to a "single three coat application". Am I correct in assuming that you are referring to applying one coat at a time, allowing each coat to kick and then applying the next coat.

I have sprayed gel before in a mold I made for dinghies. I remember it being a little difficult to get uniform thickness. Especially on the sides, it wanted to sag.

If you have post this information in death please let me know I would like to read it.

I am planning to do the spray the deck and topsides but use a roll on antiskid on the deck.

I hope this goes to help me and the OP.
Thanks
Jim
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