Coloring Gel Coat

Anyone have advise on coloring gelcoat? I have a friend’s Impex Mystic in the shop needing a little gel repair. The boat is Ivory in color (an off-white). She’s not picky about how the repair looks, but I hate to put shocking-white gel on the pretty Ivory boat.

I’ve got some black and yellow pigment on hand, but my record of mixing colors to match is not good. Any artists out there who know how to make Ivory? She wants the boat back sooner than later, so ordering gel from Impex is probably not an option.

Cheers, Alan

This kit should help.


– Last Updated: Jun-01-10 5:54 PM EST –

Long ago, in a "previous life", I was an art major. More recently I've worked at a sign shop that occasionally repaired damaged painted signs. I have some experience mixing colors and have occasionally tried to apply that to fixing scratches and gouges in my boats.

I've found that if you mix a small amount (less than 10%, preferably less than 5%) of artist's acrylic color with a slow-set epoxy it doesn't affect the cure appreciably. It might be different with gel-coat. Try it on a piece of waxed paper or plastic to make sure it cures properly before you put it on the boat.

One advantage to artist's acrylic (and I don't think brand matters much in this application. I use the cheap stuff.) is that there are a lot of color choices and you might be able to find a close color match right off the shelf. The problem is memory. Its easier to mix a precise color than to remember a color precisely. In your situation you may not even feel the desire to be really precise in your color match.

So mix your colors if that's the way you choose to go - I'd start with a dab of white and keep adding a toothpick load of brown or a light yellowish tan) at a time until the color comes as close to that of the hull as you can get it. Compare your color to the actual hull. Do the comparisons in natural sunlight if you can. Take note of how much of each color you're adding to the dab of white base in case you need to replicate it.

When you're satisfied with the color, mix as much or a bit more epoxy or gel-coat (assuming you got a good gel-coat cure in the previous experiment) to do your patch and add your color to it after the epoxy is mixed. Go lightly with the pigment - if the fill is somewhat transparent the hull color will show through and minimize any minor color errors you may have made, and the cure is likely to be better the less pigment is involved.

I usually mask around the chip or scratch I'm filling with packing tape before I do any mixing in case I get sloppy. Pull the mask after the fill has firmed up and started to cure but before it hardens completely.

I've tried the Evercoat kit and it works. The previous advise is good, but the pigment is sooo concentrated its hard to get a really good color match unless you're patching a very "pure" color - like a pure yellow or blue. Otherwise it gets very finicky, at least for me. Ivory could be a tough match with that kit. But I'm sure it can be done - all it takes is a lot of patience and good light.

So have fun!

I have color matched Impex ivory
I have color matched an Impex that was in ivory gel coat.

I started with white gel coat and added the smallest amount of black, I mean, really small.

Then I added a bit of yellow and a tiny bit of red.

Funny thing is that after managing to get just the right shade (kept on smearing a bit of my mix onto the deck of the kayak while I was tinting the gel coat) I added the catalyzer and the shade changed to a slightly greener hue.

I quickly fixed it by adding a bit of red (color that neutralizes green) and looked good.

Next day, once the gel coat was cured, it turned out to be too red!

It appears that the MEKP changes the hue slightly and then goes back to original once cured.

I removed my “repair” and started again, this time matching the color perfectly.

Ha Ha guys … Welcome to my world
OP, ALWAYS better to mix actual gelcoat colors rather than trying to use those junk plasticized kits.

No I know someone is gonna come on to say they had fantastic results with ., etc etc …

The epoxy w/ acrylics idea is a sound one … Same / simlilar as gnarly dog came to find out by adding catalyst or hardener w/epoxy will change the color … Epoxy usually goes towards yellow once the reaction kicks in … you can see it happen as you mix it.

The color you need is GOLD … NOT like the element but both are desirable and hard to to find in the wild. Gold color pigment it truely the magic potion to fine tuning everything in the red - yellow spectrum.

Color white 75 - 80% with gold, shade with black / brown / grey / maybe yellow then tap back into gold to fine tune.

Mix more than you think you need … smear it on the hull, let it harden/air cure a bit so the sheen comes off to check.

The chemicals in the color may not mix
to make an exact color match as the post above illustrates very well. Plus, you have to get it exactly right as many times as will be required to redo the whole boat.

You might do better by doing all or some of the boat in a completely different color. For example, there have been some ads on this site featuring a black kayak. The color looks really good.

Here’s what I have found about about redoing gelcoat: I have a gelcoat garden-style bathtub that is 26 years old - in a light blue color. There are repaired “bubbles” that appeared after the tub was installed; repaired with clear epoxy, so the spots are black. My plan is to sand the entire tub and recover it in black-tinted epoxy. Since I do not want a gloss, it will not be varnished after being sanded, but a kayak would have to be sanded smooth and varnished. (Take care not to sand down into the old gelcoat/epoxy.)

Some more tips here:

– Last Updated: Jun-02-10 4:47 AM EST –

You will read in this that I also advocate using 'clear' polyester resin instead of any gelcoat in some circumstances ... You can even mix back in your sanding dust. Forgot if its in this article but somewhere I also mention mo' betta' to simply use a contrasting color instead of a lame attempt to color match.