Marine Paint Primers: Priming Fiberglass Boats

Fiberglass boats are a popular choice for new and experienced boaters alike. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a commercial fisherman, fiberglass hulls are an excellent option for boaters. Fiberglass is attractive because it comes pre-painted and pre-coated, it’s resistant to corrosion, doesn’t ding or scratch easily and typically lasts a very long time with proper maintenance and care.

So how do you maintain a fiberglass hull? Typically most fiberglass boats come with a gel-coat, which is a thick coating with pigmentation that’s applied at the factory. Gel coats also have mold resistance, which protects the overall integrity of your hull. While gel-coats are excellent the first year or two after they’re applied, they break down over time and many boat owners find that their hull begins to lose its luster and fades.

When you notice the waterside hull of your boat beginning to fade and no matter how much you buff it, it turns dull, then it’s time to paint your boat or apply a new gel-coat. A new gel-coat will last several years, but over time you’ll have the same problems with fading and chalking. A quality paint job may cost more up front, but can last much longer and overall provide a much better level of protection than a gel-coat.

Whether you paint your boat yourself or use a boat yard, the most work that goes into painting a hull involves preparation. Preparing the surface of a fiberglass hull is the absolute most important step in maximizing protection of your boat and ensuring a professional job.

There are a few steps to priming a fiberglass hull. Once you’ve stripped down the wax and coating of your hull, you must apply a primer to condition the hull and prep it for paint application. You have an option to apply either a no-sand primer or a sand primer that requires sanding of the fiberglass substrate.

Priming Fiberglass Boats

Priming Fiberglass Boats

A no-sand primer is simply a primer that chemically bonds to fiberglass. These no-sand primers cut down on preparation time and can be used with anti-fouling paint. They can also be used with two-part epoxy paints as they work similarly to sand primers in that they help paint adhesion. No-sand systems generally require one to two coats of primer.

A no-sand primer protects vey good protection, but if you want ultimate protection, a sand primer is the way to go. A sand primer is a primer that requires sanding of the fiberglass substrate and in between coats of primer. This system guarantees maximum protection and bonding to the fiberglass hull. Unfortunately this system also takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s well worth it. After five to six coats of this primer, your fiberglass hull has the maximum protection against almost any marine threat. These sand primers can also be used with antifouling paint.

Priming takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s the crucial step that can make or break your marine paint job. Investigate your options and price range, and you’re sure to pick the right option for your fiberglass boats.

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