Fiberglass boats are durable vessels that can last upwards of fifteen years. The problem is that they last so long that their finish starts to wear off over time. If you want to maintain your boats appearance and durability you need to paint the hull to protect it.
Painting a fiber glass hull is different then painting a regular wood boat. The process also tends to be a bit messy so wearing old clothes that don’t have much value is recommended. There are a few things that you have to keep in mind when painting a fiberglass hull.
The first challenge that most people encounter is that the paint does not stay on the hull. This happens because the hull has a gel coat on it that is way too slick for paint to adhere too. People painting fiberglass hulls also have strict limits on the types of paints that they can legally use. Most paints that work well on fiberglass are illegal and can only be used by licensed professionals.
There are four main steps to painting a fiberglass hull:
1– Buy a commercial solvent that can remove all of the wax from the hull. If you happen to have a silicone polish on your boat as well, you need to buy two solvents and blend them so they work on both. The easiest way to apply the solvent is to soak a rag with it and apply it to the hull. Whenever your rag gets dirty switch the section that you are using to keep things clean.
2- Once all the wax is removed you need smooth out any gaps or gashes that may be in the hull. Get some epoxy putty, the kind that comes in two tubes, mix them up, then use a small brush to paint over the gashes. Using more putty is better then not using enough. Once you are finished filling the holes the putty should bulge out a little bit. After the putty is set use a power sander or some sandpaper to smooth it out.
3- Apply the tie coat. The tie coat is a special primer which softens and binds to the fiberglass gel coat. You need to cover the whole hull with a thin coat of this stuff. The best way to do this is by using a brush or a roller.
4– Step four is where you actually apply the paint. This step is much easier with two people. The first person uses a roller to apply a thin coat of paint while the second person uses a foam brush to smooth out the section that was just applied. Using this technique will ensure that the paint will stick to the fiberglass and have a smooth finish.
Painting your hull can be a daunting task at first. But once you get into the groove it actually goes pretty smoothly. Remember it is a two person job, so call up your buddies and try to get them to help you out.