gelcoating entire hull?

hmmm, to paint, with Topsides or something like, or to add a nice thick new layer of gel coat. if only gel coat was easy to apply and smooth out. the only experience i’ve had with gel coat is in small batches, or on rental fleet boats, where the repair jobs so dire and hastily needed, slopping it on with rollers was more important than finish.

any advice for a guy who would like to redo an entire hull and build up some decent thickness, as well as end up with a nice smooth finish? i’m told gel coat doesn’t spray well, and then it orange peels. marine enamel would spray well, but i don’t know if it would be thick or hard enough, to take some the abrasion. thoughts?

Just keep in mind
that gel-coat is a non-structural egg shell that does NOT add strength, contrary to myth. So don’t make it “thick” or you’ll add a lot of weight. Add a wear strip along the keel if you so desire. Have a pro do the job and your boat will look new.

two part paint
Prep the boat, take to a body shop and have it sprayed with two part marine paint. Will last a really long time and look like new. A heck of alot less work than regelcoating an entire boat and weighs nothing in comparison.

Bill H.

Advice … don’t do it.
Better to buy a buffer or paint.

Not sure of boat, but you are looking @ 2X what it would be to buff the boat out for prep alone … then you are gonna spray on a couple / few pounds only to have to do the above “buff the boat out” with 6+X the effort if you want it come out nice …

check out Awlgrip
Awlgrip is a marine line of paints you might consider.

Evercoat has a new line of gelcoat the corvette guys are using. Eckler’s Corvette also sells gelcoat.

Gelcoat is a polyester product and does indeed provide hull protection to a reasonable degree. No coating is bomb proof.

Gelcoat also requires that a minimum thickness be applied to ensure the integrity of the coating. Gelcoat does indeed add weight as does any other coating.

I’ll be redoing one of my hulls and plan to go with one of the Awlgrip products as an experiment. Otherwise you might consider sanding the hull with varying grades of sandpaper and taking it to a body shop to be sprayed with a modern urethane paint or even basecoat/clearcoat or a tinted epoxy and clear for UV protection.

topsides urethane paints
With very careful prep and application you can get the mirror gloss of polished gel-coat with a two-part Linear Polyurethane Paint, such as Awlgrip, Epifanes Polyurethane, Detco Sterling, etc. There are many brands.

You have to be very particular about prep and application because they are so flawlessly glossy that they will accentuate any imperfection in the underlying surface. They are also very thin coatings, and while they’re much more scratch resistant than single-part paints, they won’t hold up like gelcoat, and you can’t buff out scratches.

The stuff costs about $80 a quart, but for a boat as small as a kayak a single coat will be plenty. (I’m in the middle of painting a sailboat right now, and I’m about $400 deep on supplies alone.)

It takes a little practice to get the hang of applying it with a roller and brush (“roll and tip” method), but you can practice on a piece of glass, or ask your neighbor if he wants his old dinghy painted for free. :slight_smile:

Or you can find someone to spray it for you. On bigger boats that runs a few thousand dollars, but since you can take a kayak to a body shop that might be much more reasonable.

call a professional
I took my kayak to a local fiberglass repair/manufacturer. Per his instructions I did the prep work (to save money), then he finished the job. It cost me about $200 and the hull looked new.

as i expected…
looks like gel coating isn’t an option. i know the stuff is made to be sprayed into a mold, not applied afterwards. i’ll explore the paint options more closely.

Gel Coat is Fine
A few thoughts:

Your boat is probably glass with a polyester resin. Gel coat is also a polyester resin so it would make sense to stick with one polymer.

The secondary bonding of polyester is not as good as the primary bond, but it is still pretty good.

I find that spraying is the best way to apply gel coat. It takes sanding afterward, but it works fine.

The gel coat won’t cure when exposed to oxygen. As such, you need to spray it with water soluble poly-vinyl-alcohol (PVA) to seal it from the air to allow it to harden.

The catalyst to set off the reaction with the gel coat is methyl-ethyl-ketone-peroxide (MEKP). You need about 1.5% to kick the gel coat in about 10 minutes. It is very toxic, be very careful if your proceed this way.

AWLGrip and Imron are extremely hard and very difficult to repair later on. They also contain isocyanates, which aren’t very good for you.

Two-part enamels and other automotive paints look great, but are also a PIA to repair later.

You will need a good spray gun, the measuring and mixing equipment, a spray booth made of poly sheets and a respirator. If you are the project oriented type, it’s worth the investment. If not, follow previous advice, sand and prep and let a pro spray it for you. You can do the finish sanding (180, 220, 320, 500, 600, 1200) yourself. It takes time, but the finish is oh-so-nice.


…IF you have the right equipment
Gelcoating an entire hull is not a good DIY project for the average paddler unless they have either:

A- A lot of money to buy spray equipment and set up a suitable spray booth

B- A high tolerance for the pain of sanding an entire hull

C- Both

Awl Grip May fave …
You can do your repairs and touch up WITH gelcoat after if you want … works fine.

To all - how do you gel coat a hull?
I’m familiar with gel coats in a mold but you can spray a gel coat on a surface without an air inhibitor? In other words, what I’m asking is, putting a gel coat on a hull even doable?

Spray on - see above
Spray the catalyzed gel coat on the hull, then immediately spray with PVA (a waxy alcohol type of stuff). The PVA seals the polyester from the oxygen. The PVA rinses off with water after the polyester kicks.

Again, it’s not easy or cheap, but if you like toys and projects, it’s fun.

I wait for gelcoat to ‘kick in’ a bit
before spraying pva. If you spray on pva too hard or thick right away there is a good chance of messing up the surface.

The alcohol based stuff skins over faster but the water based stuff works better in humid environment if you are having ‘fisheye’ type problems.

2-part topside paint pic

– Last Updated: Jun-19-09 1:47 AM EST –

I just finished a topsides job with 2-part paint.

I'm not sure how it would hold up on a kayak though. My kayak gets scratched by the paddle, by rocks, by the rack, etc. This paint seems quite hard, but if it does get scratched, repairs are not as easy to blend as on gelcoat. On the sailboat, the idea is definitely to avoid hitting things. In my kayak, that's all part of the fun.

My kayaks look like shit!

Why not use finish gelcoat…
…and skip the PVA?

i say don’t do it
this project sounds like one of my famous “improve till it breaks” jobs.

by the way when these guys say some of these products are not DIY projects and the stuff is lethally horrible to breathe,

BELIEVE BELIEVE BELIEVE. They tough sea dudes never shirk tough projects so for them to be saying this stuff this project is NOT worth it.

I am with Salty, kayaks are made to be used. Unless there is enough damage as to allow water to get into the laminations leave well enough alone and enjoy the boat.

Ecklers gelcoat
Sprayed black Ecklers gelcoat over a football shaped area of my fiberglass/green gelcaot Indy. Held up quite acceptably and acted as a sacrificial layer for the the areas receiving the most abrasion. To attest to the compatibility of gelcoat on gelcoat the areas not abraded bonded fine with no sign of peeling or cracking. Adding weight is always a concern with any coating.

Hull preparation is key to a successful redo.

Gelcoat need to cure in the absence of air. Ecklers has a wax mixed in the gel. when sprayed it rises to the surface and requires cleansingthe hull of the waxy coating before/during sanding and certainly before spraying paint on top of the new gelcoat. Other manufacturers have you spray the waxy coating on top after spraying the gelcoat. Those waxy coatings are easier to remove than the Ecklers stuff.

Thanks for the info on Ecklers
It’s nice to have a source for finish gelcoat other than West Marine.