Leave at gel coat orange peel stage?

So, I’ve been restoring a fiberglass kayak and my initial attempts at filling in cracks and scratches via the paintbrush and wipe on (putty scraper) methods weren’t very successful…

As I sanded down to even the repairs out, I’d start wearing into adjacent areas and start to see fiberglass underneath (ugh!). No, I didn’t listen to the experts who say, leave the scratches alone… I did have several significant scratches going down to fiberglass, but I figured I wanted everything to be even steven… People in the know are not kidding when they say attempting to refinish with gelcoat is time consuming.

I did weigh the epoxy paint option, but being in south florida (lots of shallow water, sand, coral, oyster beds), I wanted something I could maintain a bit, and figured gel coat, despite the extra work would be the better option. I don’t regret the choice.

I checked out some boating forums and followed some leads there, which led me to a cheapo hvlp spray gun (already have a compressor) and over to B&F marine for a couple quarts of gelcoat, mekp, styrene, and modifier c (waxed styrene).

I sanded her down with 80 all the way around, sprayed, sanded down to even things out with 100 (dry power sander), and sprayed again. That’s where I’m at now.I plan on going over with 100 one more time and spraying one more coat.

Here’s the question. I’m under no illusion this thing will stay anywhere near pristine in our waters if I were to wet sand down and compound to a shine. My question is, if were to leave the last coat in an orange peel state, would I be sacrificing any appreciable efficiency in the water? This is a touring kayak that will be taken out on longer runs and multi-day camping. No racing or anything like that.

Not trying to take a short cut here on the back end, just don’t want to go through all that sanding and polishing effort if it won’t affect performance in the water and the it’s going to get scratched up again anyway…

(BTW, anyone reading this thats contemplating recoating a hull, consider your time…if you do opt for coating the entire hull and have a suitable compressor (and the space), skip the brushes and go for the spray. I could have saved myself more than half the time going directly to this method.)

No appreciable efficiency, but
remember that carniverous ocean life has evolved to deal with citrus fruit floating down from the mainland…

No efficiency loss

– Last Updated: May-28-11 7:08 PM EST –

We are talking in the range of 1 % or 2 % difference
- definitely in the negligible range.

The smoother, the better, but stay reasonable.


Buff out orange peel
Just don’t be to aggressive.

Not critical
But you can do it next year, or later, as you find time.

I also find that spraying wax (PVA) on after the gel coat gives a better finish than adding wax to the gel coat itself.

or go finer than 100 grit
spray it, work it with 250 through 600 grit and then buff.