Gelcoat Spray Gun Maintenance Tips

A spray gun can be your best friend when you’re reapplying gelcoat or applying gelcoat to your boat for the first time. Gelcoat is notoriously viscous and can be quite hard to clean up, since it dries quickly and hardens to a very tough coat. Most painters will use disposable brushes for small areas they need to coat with gelcoat, but what if you need to use your spray gun for a larger area?

Before you spray your first coat of gelcoat, you need to consider how you will cleanup the mess from your spray gun. Once gelcoat dries within the spray gun system, you might as well throw the gun nozzle and cup away because no amount of soaking in cleaner or acetone will completely dissolve the gelcoat.

Knowing how to clean and maintain your spray gun when using it with gelcoats prevents you from needing to replace your system after using it. You also want to make sure you have the right supplies before you paint because the last thing you want to do is run to the hardware store for acetone while your gun dries out with gelcoat.

Immediately after you’re done spraying a coat of gelcoat, you’ll want to disassemble the nozzle component and O-ring attaching it to the gun. Consult your user’s manual if you don’t know how to do this- but most will simply screw off. Then, soak the assembly pieces in a cup of acetone to prevent the gelcoat from drying and caking the inside of the assembly.

When painting with gelcoats, your best bet is to use disposable paint cups that attach to the back end of the gun. Using less expensive disposable cups will let you quickly throw away any leftover gelcoat without needing to clean out the cup of your gun.

Gelcoat Spray Gun Maintenance Tips

Gelcoat Spray Gun Maintenance Tips

If you accidentally have a situation where the gelcoat has dried to the nozzle or internal components of your gun, you can try to salvage your gun by first trying to scrap away as much of the gelcoat as you can from the metal. Scrap away as much as you can with fine point needle or small knife. Sometimes, gelcoat will come off metal and plastic quite easily, which means you will likely be able to salvage the nozzle of your gun.

Soaking the nozzle part of the gun in acetone will allow you to unscrew it, if the gelcoat has sealed the nozzle to the gun. If you start painting and you notice paint leaking from the nozzle where the O-ring seals it to the gun, you probably need a new O-ring because small paint flecks have been permanently sealed to the ring. Replacing the O-ring is simple and consult your user manual to do so.

Proper maintenance of your gelcoat spray gun ensures you can use your gun for the lifetime of your boat. Since spray guns won’t technologically advance much more than they already are, using the same gun in a few years when you re-coat your gelcoat saves you money and time.

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