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Old 03-06-2024, 09:34   #1
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Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

4 weeks ago we had a haul-out and paint sanding dust made a mess of our deck gelcoat. (Big mistake!). I thought we'd be able to wash it off, but a few stubborn stains are persisting (on both non-skid areas and smooth gelcoat cabintop areas). I got 80% of it out by scrubbing with Starbrite Non-skid deck cleaner about 4-5 times. The remaining stains are frustratingly resisting this treatment.

I've tried:
- Starbrite Non-skid Deck Cleaner (best)
- Starbrite Rust Remover (minimal to moderate effect)
- Plain old boat soap (no effect)
- Salt Away (no effect)
- Mineral spirits (no effect)

Any suggestions? The strange thing is the stains disappear or reappear in new places dependent on some factor I can't determine - rain seems to bring them out (which makes me think there's still paint dust somewhere that is washing into the deck? Perhaps from halyards / lines or dodger canvas). Oddly enough, leaving something on deck (like a paddleboard or crab pot) for a few hours while it's raining also brings out new stains.

(Pictures attached are post-haul-out, before starting cleaning, but are representative of the remaining stains).
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Old 03-06-2024, 09:56   #2
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

Weve had the same thing happen to us. On & Off hull cleaner will remove the staining but note it also removes any wax or protectant. Use gloves and you might consider safety goggles as it contains both oxalic and hydrochloric acid. Also make sure you only use in a well ventilated area. Its powerful stuff. I would brush it on with a disposable brush and then within a minute you can rinse it off (rinse thoroughly). Our boat was in the yard for six months so about every two weeks I cleaned the staining. Since getting out of that yard Ive not had to use it again.

Good luck.
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Old 03-06-2024, 11:37   #3
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

Barkeeper's Friend. It is a formulation of oxalic acid with surfactants and mild abrasives that works wonders on stains in gelcoat, especially ones from metals like iron rust, or the copper compounds in bottom paint.The late appearance of staining is pretty common with metal contamination as the metals oxidize in the air and damp.

I've seen this on someone's boat who was dumb enough to grind some steel parts on deck. They thought they had swept up all the dust, but after the first rain rust spots bloomed EVERYWHERE.
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Old 04-06-2024, 16:31   #4
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

Thanks. I'll look into getting On & Off and maybe Barkeepers Friend as well. I'm in a remote area where it's hard to find these things. Will ship it if I have to.
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Old 04-06-2024, 16:38   #5
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

Strangest thing - Ammonia. We had the same happen to us, and the yard suggested we use straight ammonia and for some reason, it worked and never returned.
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Old 04-06-2024, 17:16   #6
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

The oxalic/hydrochloric acid suggestions are probably pretty good. I had this happen years ago and used diluted phosphoric acid to clean it off. It's available in a number of products, but the cheapest I've found is concrete etching solution which is 40% and available at Home Depot for about $18 a gallon. I don't know if you have HD in Alaska but similar products should be available at any similar store. You'll want to dilute it to about 5-10%. I applied it with a 2 gallon garden sprayer and let it sit for about an hour then rinse. Once over the wetted deck with a deck brush won't hurt. If it's real bad it may take two treatments. It also seems to work better in bright sunlight. Fair warning though, your boat will be so white that looking at it will be uncomfortable in bright sunlight without sun glasses. You will want to use some sort of wax/ptfe product after treatment as this will remove any you have on there. The nice thing about phosphoric acid is that it's less problematic to work with than HCL. Having been in your position, it's not the end of the world.
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Old 04-06-2024, 17:44   #7
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

I would next try acetone. (fumes are very flamable so use only in open air)

If that fails try On&Off which is a mix of hydrochloric, phosporic acid, and oxalic acid. It's usually pretty easy to find as even the commercial fishermen use it. If you can't find it, many toilet bowl cleaners have similiar ingredients
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Old 04-06-2024, 21:35   #8
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

If you can find out from the yard what kind of paint was used in the sanding, you could try using the proper thinner for the paint itself.

I wonder how that footprint got on there?

Another "soap" to try would be tsp, trisodiumphosphate. It is alkaline, not an acid, but it is a great degreaser (which isn't your problem), and it is often usedto prepare surfaces for paint.

Good luck with it.

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Old 05-06-2024, 05:05   #9
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

Try a cleaner wax like 3M or Collinite.
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Old 05-06-2024, 06:02   #10
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

Barkeepers Friend is available in powdered form which is the best for this in my experience.

On & Off is a bit too aggressive to start with imo
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Old 05-06-2024, 14:37   #11
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

Gelcoat is funny stuff, it is actually microscopic bubbles, really close together. Things that people sometimes use on it abrade the tops off those bubbles (rubbing compound, or scouring powder). If you use something like that, anything abrasive, it would be a good idea to use something like TSRW or PolyGlo to seal it. PolyGlo is a 2 part process, first an acid wash then you spread on the polymer with a soft cloth. If your non-skid is gel coat, you'll be able to use it on all of the affected area, and it will look almost like brand new.

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Old 15-06-2024, 17:41   #12
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

Ok, reporting our results:

Laundry stain remover such as OxiClean actually worked, surprisingly enough. We already had that on hand, only used it on small spots.

Barkeepers Friend worked as well. (And only cost like $4, powder form). With that I had to be careful to thoroughly wash it off afterwards, since it could damage our anodized aluminum toerails perhaps.

Thanks for all the ideas!
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Old 15-06-2024, 19:02   #13
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Re: Yard Dust stained deck gelcoat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tessellate View Post
4 weeks ago we had a haul-out and paint sanding dust made a mess of our deck gelcoat. (Big mistake!). I thought we'd be able to wash it off, but a few stubborn stains are persisting (on both non-skid areas and smooth gelcoat cabintop areas). I got 80% of it out by scrubbing with Starbrite Non-skid deck cleaner about 4-5 times. The remaining stains are frustratingly resisting this treatment.

I've tried:
- Starbrite Non-skid Deck Cleaner (best)
- Starbrite Rust Remover (minimal to moderate effect)
- Plain old boat soap (no effect)
- Salt Away (no effect)
- Mineral spirits (no effect)

Any suggestions? The strange thing is the stains disappear or reappear in new places dependent on some factor I can't determine - rain seems to bring them out (which makes me think there's still paint dust somewhere that is washing into the deck? Perhaps from halyards / lines or dodger canvas). Oddly enough, leaving something on deck (like a paddleboard or crab pot) for a few hours while it's raining also brings out new stains.

(Pictures attached are post-haul-out, before starting cleaning, but are representative of the remaining stains).
Try bleach undiluted. Check that the paint is not worn off the tops of the nonskid grit. This usually exposes as black. No fix but Awlgrip.
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