Paint vs Gelcoat

I am so sick & tired of patching gelcoat. Does anyone have any experience with polyurethane paint (e.g. Awl-grip) as a topcoat?

-Does it hold up better than gelcoat?

-Can you apply it over gelcoat?

-Awlgrip says it can be brushed or rolled on (as opposed to spraying). True?

-Any other comments/suggestions?


well now…
you want to change the color of your boat? as in complete paint job?

I have Awl gripped entire sailboat decks over gel coat. not bad but NOT as durable, just more convienient than a new gel coat job. tons of prep work are involved. the paint is very thin and every little flaw shows.

It can be brushed, rolled or sprayed. Spraying takes COMPLETE repiratory protection as the spray is deadly toxic.

I’m just about to do another sailboat and I’m still up in the air…paint to brushed on gel? brushed gel takes less prep but more finish work.

???everything’s a compromise!


What kind of damage are you fixing?
Urethane paint and epoxy paint are not going to fill in the kind of gouges and chips that usually bother people who own gelcoat boats. Are you trying to cover long, shallow scratches? Gelcoat isn’t much help with those. It might help the gelcoat jockeys on the board if they know what you need to fix.

Personally, because I keep boats a long time and rarely sell them, I am concerned about filling in gouges and restoring smoothness to the hull, but I don’t much care about the appearance of the result. Anyway, I’ve only had two gelcoat boats out of a dozen.

Awlgrip is still my fave for its adhesion and toughness but not / but just a long lasting as any other paint (for decks). Double up on the non-skid and make the patches bigger.

Spraying gelcoat is not really a pita if you got yer sprayin’ down but finishing it up IS over large surfaces. This is why faded boats get painted.

Paint is NOT tougher nor easier to touch up than gelcoat IMHO. I know of at least two top glass guys who repair PAINT with gelcoat.

As others have asked
What is the purpose of your repair ?

Purpose of repair

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Sorry, should have been more specific. I have a P&H Sirius that I use pretty hard; also got it cheap because it had gel-coat cracks from being strapped too tight onto car-top saddles. When I first got it I had the entire hull refinished by sanding out the cracks and then spraying a new gel-coat (I paid a friend who does this for a living).

I stored the kayak on the top level of a boat rack, and got it off by pulling down on the stern so the boat tilted up and slid down. The fulcrum where the boat rotated on the rack was at the place where it had been cracked, and apparently the hull itself was weakened by the car-topping, because the cracks re-appeared (yes, I now store the boat at shoulder height).

Anyway, I've temporarily sealed the cracks, along with various crunches & dings from rock gardening, with some leftover 3M 5200, which actually seems to be holding up pretty well. But I want to fix it right eventually, which I assume means reinforcing the weak spots in the hull and then refinishing the topcoat on the hull.

So my original question was, as long as I was going to refinish the hull anyway, if polyurethane paint such as Awl-grip would be worth considering instead of gel-coat.

Of course I'd welcome input on reinforcing the hull, too. It's carbon-kevlar.

Related Qeustion about keel strip
I’m also thinking about putting a keelstrip on the Sirius, because most of the crunches are on the rather extreme V of the hull.

I’ve seen enough holes worn through rhino-bed and other materials used for keelstrips to think that kevlar is probably the way to go.

I’m fortunate to be near Jamestown Distributors, and they have various glass and kevlar tapes. Any suggestions/advice on installing a keel strip?

Sea Kayaker Magazine had article by Brian Day

Atlantic Kayak Tours website has article as well.

Obviously, this has been covered in numerous p-net postings.

Other things:

That rhino stuff ( actually PU coating, I believe )

No slip 3M product ( WestMarine carries it) - sort of duct tape on steroids

As to the strip itself - I am still confused why people are actually laying down strip of anything, since the gelcoat with the added silica or graphite is quite resistant to dragging.

If you want to have “the thoughest” strip, I found references to “dynel” with claims it being the most resistant.

Some thoughts
Gel-coat is essentially an eggshell that provides UV protection and aesthetic appeal. It comes in different grades and can add considerable weight to a kayak…up to 6 lbs. This is why most race boats do not use it and favor a urethane finish. Race type paddlers are careful with their boats. If sprayed too thick, or covering a flexy matrix gel-coat will crack. This is not really that big a deal and if you use your good boat for what it’s intended…as you are…you will get gel-coat cracking.

5200 is insanely strong stuff… far more so than gel-coat. If it were my kayak I’d paddle the hell out of it, and every three years or so have it professionally gone over and refreshed…about $500.

Don’t drive yourself nuts chasing these minor non-structural cracks in the gel-coat. While it is true that Kevlar is hydroscopic (absorbes water), in a kayak application this is not such an issue and I would not fret over it unless you leave the boat in the water all the time (unlikely).

The sign of a happy paddler is a boat that looks like shit. Have fun

Ummm…it’s not the dragging…
I tend to push my limits near the rocks and have some crunches down to the composite…sure had fun during Kyle, though! We went out from URI Bay Campus as he passed by to the east - no wind, just 8-15’ swells. I mis-timed a pass and broached onto some rocks, it took quite a bit of rocking and hand-walking to get off and my poor hull looks like the dog ate it. Hence all the questions.

Thank you all for your input - good advice which will hopefully help others as well :slight_smile:

I recommend against Kevlar for a

– Last Updated: Nov-12-08 10:02 PM EST –

keel strip. It will fuzz when it wears, it will not wear very smooth, and it is actually not as durable as glass with regard to the kind of blows that land on the outside of the hull.

The most durable cloths for making a keel strip are S-glass or E-glass. They have good strength in compression, they wear "glass" smooth, you can readily see any cracking within the strip (which you often cannot do with Kevlar), and glass is much easier to lay up. Also, when you go to sand the edges smooth and fair them in to the hull surface, glass sands easily, while Kevlar is a bitch to sand and fuzzes.

Kevlar is an INTERIOR reinforcement cloth. Put inside a boat, its ability to stretch without splitting or tearing is better than any other commonly used cloth. But it has only about half the compression strength of E-glass, and so is not a good exterior reinforcing cloth.

Dynel is sometimes used for wear strips because it wears very smooth while losing little of its own substance in the process. However, it is a structurally rather weak cloth, and it soaks up more weight in resin than glass.

You can get E-glass tape from suppliers such as I do not recall whether they have S-glass tape, but I can tell from a year's experience with bottom reinforcement on one of my whitewater boats that even a single layer of S-glass is so hard and scratch resistant that you might not need a second layer.