Sailboat renovation

Our mistake of painting with gelcoat

After many days of preparing the cockpit for painting by adding putty and sanding, we were finally satisfied with the surfaces. We cleaned the cockpit thoroughly with both water and acetone and added masking tape. Our plan was to paint with gelcoat first and then add another layer of topcoat above. The reason for this is because if it doesn’t cover properly the topcoat most be sanded first before the second layer can be applied. If only gelcoat were to be used it would harden properly and will remain a little bit sticky.

We had discussed earlier if we should use a two component paint instead but since we had already bought the gelcoat (we did that early autumn last year) we thought we should go with it. Life would have been much easier if we had just bought the two component paint at that point.

Then our failures started. First up was the color of the paint. We had an idea that we should use a paint that wasn’t white-white, in order to make it more comfortable for our eyes when the sun is shining. So we had bought a paint named Bone-white, which we thought looked pretty white on the color map in the store. But when we opened it it we thought it looked pink/yellow, and it was not that color we wanted.

The color of the gelcoat, not what we had expected…

Nevertheless we thought we could still use it for the first layer and use a white topcoat. So we started painting with the gelcoat. Maybe not such a big surprise but it hardened really quick and it was hard to paint and get a good nice surface out of it. And after all the time and energy we have added to making the surfaces even in the cockpit, we doesn’t want the paint to ruin it. Also, a small cloud of rain passed by leaving small craters in the gelcoat, making the surface even more uneven.

We where only able to paint for like 10-15 minutes (then it hardened) and we soon decided that we wouldn’t continue with this and buy two component paint instead, which will be white, nothing else.

But since it is gelcoat that isn’t exactly easy. On some places it had been able to harden but is some other places it was still wet. On those places there had been one component paint under which had dissolved. We had removed as much of the one component paint as we could but in some narrow places there where still some left.

The gelcoat didn’t stuck to the one component paint.

We sanded the places where it had harden in order to prepare it for the next layer of paint. On the places where it hadn’t hardened we tried to help the gelcoat by heating it. It helped in some places but wasn’t good enough. Instead we started to remove the gelcoat with a paint scraper, which worked really well. We got rid of the gelcoat and the one component paint below.

Using a paint scraper to get rid of the gelcoat that hadn’t harden.
Both the gelcoat and the one component paint that had dissolved could be removed with the paint scraper.
Still some gelcoat left that needs to be removed, but got rid of a lot.

We will continue working with repairing our mistake, in the meantime we will also fix a plastic crack we have on deck so that we can paint it the same time as we paint the cockpit. After that and when we are satisfied with the cockpit we can finally start adding paint and hopefully the result will be what we expect it to be.

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