Advice Wanted Painting Fiberglass

I just picked up three 80’s or 90’s Downriver fiberglass kayaks that were “copied” from the Klepper. The glass is good but they have been painted repeatedly and I need to remove the existing paint and put on some new paint.

My options seem to be 1) sand it off 2) Use paint remover but will that harm the glass? 3) Use a heat gun but that may harm the glass, too. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I’m sanding off…
one bad layer of paint and it’s not a lot of fun. I hope the chemicals will work for you.

All I can give you is Random Orbital sanders work better then 1/4 sheet Palm sanders but I used the 1/4 because of the amount of paper I was using.

You might also look into a Sanding Disks on a drill.

If you sand
I’d suggest a random-orbital sander with soft pad and a shop-vac hookup. The vacuum connection makes a big difference in reducing the dust clouds. Wear a good mask and eye protection. Consider using a bag in the shop-vac to contain the dust.

How about sanding out the rough
spots and paint the boats your color? It will save a lot of work and paint can’t be that heavy.

Paint removal
I have had good success using a citrus based paint remover. I used it to clean up after some slob who thought Watco runs inside and outside the canoe were attractive. The gunk came off nicely inside and out. For paint in the inside I used the spray paint they use for plastic patio furniture. It had terrific adhesion and wore quite well. I use the same paint on my SK to make gel cuts from oyster shells pretty again after patching with Marinetex.

Ditto Angstrom
Sanding works with most paints (barring Imron and AWLGrip maybe). Solvents could be very paint-specific.

Once you have the old stuff removed, you may want to dabble in applying some gel coat. It is much easier to smooth out and repair down the road (river).

Wet sand

Fiberglass re-finishing
Here are two sites that are all about products and guides for re-finishing Polyester resin (fiberglass) boats … use a good random orbit to do the bulk of cutting off the old paint (80 and 120 grit), hand work (w/block when ideal) remaining details … apply fairing as required (on sterilized surface only) and detail sand out fairing spots … apply underbody (primer coat(s))… 220 sand … sterilize again (wipe with cleaner) … apply finish coat(s) with product of your choice … take some time to read the guides and products in the two different links … Westsystem is one , the other is Interlux … both are #1 marine applications … (LP) is a 2 part linear polyurethan finish (do not spray this 2 part without profesional safety mask and aperatuses , second thought just don’t spray it) but OK to brush on with regular dust mask … Polyester gelcoat is good but not nessasary … the links , and … not a big deal for working on small vessels upside down , you can do it perfect first time … best

Be very careful with the…
Heat Gun. Burning fiberglass is hard to put out. VF

Depends upon how much paint
You have to remove however I would make the following comments:

  1. Chemical removal such as stripping works by attacking the polymer bonds that form the paint film. As the resin used to mold the canoe is also a polymer as similar effect can take place.

  2. Heat will certainly damage the substrate as well as remove the paint film.

    3 Sanding is the preferred method using a “jitterbug” type sander rather than a sanding disk attached to a drill.

Good advice regarding caution, but
I’ll bet that a paint remover is available that will not damage the resin. I don’t think the painter was likely to be using Imron or anything like it.

I doubt that any chemical paint remover
Effective enough to remove paint would not affect in some way a substrate based on polyester resins.