How to Apply Gelcoat – The End-all Guide

Gelcoat PhotoProperly applying gelcoat is the key to a good finish. Many of our customers are hesitant to use it, thinking it’s too complicated or they think they can’t end up with a good finish. So, we are here to provide a step-by-step guide on how to properly apply gelcoat. As with all our products, if you have any questions, we are here to help!

First thing you want to do is look at the surface you want to apply gelcoat to. If the surface is already covered with gelcoat, or if the surface is a fiberglass, or polyester resin, then applying gelcoat will be a snap. If the surface is paint, then the paint would have to be removed before applying the gelcoat.

gelcoat-sandingSo, you’ve decided the surface is gelcoat, so it’s time to begin. You want to sand the surface to create a mechanical bond with the gelcoat. Start by sanding the surface with 150 grit or lower sandpaper. Our technicians recommend using Dyekum Steel Blue to be very thorough. Steel Blue is a dye you wipe on. Once you don’t see the blue dye anymore, you know you have properly sanded everything. You can also use a pencil, but it’s harder to see and won’t guarantee complete coverage.

Next, you want to clean the surface. We recommend using Acetone, as it doesn’t leave a residue and evaporates quickly. Once the surface is clean, you want to get going pretty quickly; if the surface sits for any extended amount of time, you will want to re-clean the surface. Dust and dirt particles are your enemy here, so be thorough on the cleaning.

We are ready to gelcoat! First, decide if you need one or two coats of gelcoat. It will take a minimum of two coats of gelcoat if you are changing colors. If this is going over a patch, we recommend 2 coats at least, to get a nice, uniform surface. Otherwise, one coat will do.

Gelcoat needs to be applied relatively thin. We recommend 18 mils mil-gauge-2thick, to properly cure. 18 mils is approximately the thickness of a matchbook cover. If you aren’t sure how thick, pick up a mil gauge. It’s a quick, easy way to see the thickness of your gelcoat.

Gelcoat requires Methyl Ethyl Ketone Peroxide or MEK-P to activate the hardening process. The amount is very small. We recommend 1-1/4% to 1-1/2% by volume, which means 13-15cc’s per quart. Darker colors require a bit more catalyst for the same reaction, so you can catalyze up to 2%. Refer to the catalyst chart on the side of the can, or you can find one HERE.

Be sure to have a plan of attack for applying your gelcoat. Once you mix it, you have about 15 minutes to apply the gelcoat before it starts to get hard or “gel.” The actual working time depends on your amount of catalyst and how hot your working conditions are. Anything below 60 degrees, and your gelcoat will not cure, but as you get warmer and warmer, your working time decreases rapidly. At 70 degrees, you get your 15 minutes, but at 90 degrees, you only have about 5 minutes. If you need more working time, be sure to sit the can in some cool water, or even some ice to cool it down to 60 degrees give you a bit more time.

Brushable gelFor applying your gelcoat, you can either roll the gelcoat on, like paint, or you can spray it on. We also sell a Brushable Gelcoat that can be applied with a brush. If you decide to roll on the gelcoat, be sure to use a solvent-resistant 1/8” or ¼” nap. Be sure not to use foam rollers, as they tend to leave bubbles. If you brush it on, be sure to use a solvent resistant brush. Your first coat will simply consist of the gelcoat and the MEK-P catalyst. Once applied, you want to wait about an hour and a half, for the gelcoat to set. It won’t be completely cured by then, but it should be hard and tacky.

Your second coat will consist of the same amount of Catalyst, but if you are doing one more coat, your next coat will include Sanding Aid, or ‘wax.’ You will mix in 1 oz per quart to the gelcoat, which will seal the surface from oxygen, causing the gelcoat to dry tack-free. If you roll or brush your seconding coating, be sure to go the opposite direction from the previous coat, allowing a uniform coating.

If you are using our standard Exterior gelcoat, you will be ready to sand and buff your freshly gelcoated surface. If you are using our brushable gelcoat, you will want to let it sit overnight to ensure it’s completely cured. To start sanding, begin with 320 grit sandpaper and sand the surface completely. From then on, start going up to 400, then 600, and finally 800 grit sandpaper.

At this point, you can use an 800 grit compound to compound the gelcoat. You want to use a buffer that turns at 1600-3000 RPM’s. The car polishers will not work, as they spin too slowly, so you want to check the spin speed. It’s best to do a 4’ by 4’ area and go from there. Every 10’ or so, you will want to clean your pad with a spur or with some air to ensure pieces don’t scratch your surface.

If you want a beautiful, glossy shine, use a machine glaze and then two coats of wax, and you will have a beautiful finish that any professional would be envious of.

The definitive How-To on Table Top Epoxy

table top kit1One of our most popular products is our Cyrstal Clear Table Top Epoxy. This two-part epoxy is not only crystal clear, but UV Resistant and is great for many kinds of projects from River Rock to castings to topping a bar or table. The product has many uses and is relatively easy to use, but there are a few tip and secrets that will give you better results, and an easier experience.

The first step of any resin product is always the surface preparation. You will want to start by sanding the surface down. Once it has been lightly sanded, you do need to make sure it’s completely clean and oil free before applying. Be sure to wipe down the surface with Isopropyl Alcohol before starting. If you are using this product on wood, be sure the wood is completely dry, or it will give off moisture and cloud the coating.

Epoxies are extremely sensitive to temperature and our Table Top is no different. If your environment is under 60 degrees, the epoxy will likely not cure out properly. Also, if the temperature is over 90, you will find an extremely quick working time. One thing our technicians always recommend is setting the product in warm water for a half hour to get the epoxy warm. You will find it flows better and makes getting rid of air bubbles much easier.

Fiberglass Coatings Crystal Clear Table Top Epoxy is a 1:1 ratio mixture. The most important part of this whole process is getting the two parts mixed properly before application.

To start, be sure to have proper protection, like an apron, gloves, a face mask and safety glasses. Once you have the proper protection have two separate mix and measure cups and pour each mixture separately and exactly the same. Do not pour more than you need, as whatever you mix will get hard and won’t be reusable. From there, pour the two mixtures into a third cup, giving you the most accurate mixture. Be sure to pour as close together as you can, as air bubbles are your enemy here.

After scraping the cups and getting the mixture out comes the toughest part; stirring. Many people want to whip it like a custard or pudding. While those things are delicious, it does add air to your mixture, meaning cloudiness and air bubbles you may not be able to get out. So, stir the mixture slowly for a full 3 minutes. Set a timer, if you need to, but do not skimp on the timing. As you stir, you should see the mixture go from cloudy to crystal clear, with hopefully little to no air bubbles.

Once the two components have been thoroughly mixed, it’s time to apply the product. You need to remember you have a fairly small working time, depending on the temperature. At 70 degrees, you have roughly 20 minutes before it starts to really get hard, but at 90 degrees, your working times is a bit less than 10 minutes. When applying, you pour the syrup-like liquid on to your surface and spread the liquid evenly over the surface. I like to just put a glove on my hand and spread it that way, but you can use a brush if you choose.

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Once the product has been leveled, it will continue to self-level to a point, but it will need help. Be sure to allow it to drip down the sides, or if you build a dam, ensure it doesn’t leak.

Now, you want to get the air bubbles out. If you find most of your air bubbles are on the surface, you are in luck. Our Bust-a-Bubble spray is great for drawing them up and out. Simply give a light spray to the product and watch the bubble go away. Do not let the Bust-a-Bubble pool; you are only looking for one or two spritzes to do the trick. Bust-a-Bubble works best with the thicker pours. If your project is a thin film, using too much will slow or stop the curing.

If you have bigger, deeper bubbles, you will need to try something different. The best thing is generally a heat gun. Adding heat to the mixture thins the epoxy, allowing the bubble to float to the surface and pop. Some people will also use a toothpick to pop the bubbles. I’ve found, for deep bubbles, a combination of the two works great.

The thinner the mixture, the longer it will start to get tacky. If the pour is fairly thick, it will get hard in about an hour, with a complete cure coming in about 24 hours. If it’s a thin pour, since there is very little heat given off, you will see a complete cure taking closer to 48 hours.

Multiple pours are absolutely fine with Table Top Epoxy. You want to wait until the product is tacky and setup before applying your next coat. As with before, be sure to apply slowly to not get air bubbles and keep applying until you achieve the thickness you need. If you do let it completely cure, you will need to sand the product down to 220 grit, wash the product with soap and water and re-clean with Isopropyl Alcohol before applying a new coat, so it’s best to apply while still tacky.

Remember that while our Table Top has a better UV protection than the rest, it doesn’t mean it’s meant for something with direct sunlight. We recommend keeping it out of the direct sunlight to avoid yellowing.

Another benefit of using Table Top is how easy it is to repair. If you have scratches or dings on your table, you can always lightly sand the surface and add another layer to give it that new table finish. Just be sure to clean your surface again before applying that new coat.

Table Top can also be tinted or pigmented. We sell many colors you can add to the mix to change the color, from a see-through color, to a dense color. You will find very little pigment goes a long way. Adding too much pigment can slow or stop curing, so a little dab will do ya’.

After your table is done, I recommend adding a UV Polymer wax to your covering to add even more UV protection and also bring out the shine. We sell a Presta brand that works very well!

So, there you go! Everything you needed to know about Table Top. Easy, right? If you have questions, remember, we have technicians that are available to answer any other questions you have, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Tips on How to get Fiberglass out of You

hand washWe have all been there. At one point in our lives; we have touched or ground or moved fiberglass. Maybe it’s your job, maybe it’s a hobby, maybe you just accidentally brushed against it in our showroom. Whatever the case may be, we have all experienced the feeling. First the itching, then the splinter-like feeling and no matter how hard you scratch, it gets worse. That’s right, I’m talking about the dreaded fiberglass feeling. So, we went and asked some of our favorite experts how they get fiberglass out at the end of the day and we are posting some of the top tips. If you have one that’s not on here, please share it. Someone one day will thank you!

Tip #1 Baby Powder

Baby powder is good for many things. This product is great for rubbing on a fiberglassed area of your body and removing the agitation. The even better solution is to cover possibly exposed parts of your body with baby powder before you work. Our experts say it covers your pores and prevents glass from getting in. Given how often they work with raw fiberglass, they have to know what they are talking about.

Tip #2 Duct Tape

I know what you are thinking, and no, my name isn’t MacGyver. Duct Tape is useful for a lot of things. My dad always told me to take Duct Tape and fold it back on itself and gently pat the irritated area. The tape pulls out the fiberglass with each pat. While you may lose a bit of arm hair, you won’t have to deal with that irritation anymore, which is worth it.

Bonus Tip: Some people use a lint roller. In my experience, it doesn’t get the big stuff, but if you think it maybe hasn’t gotten in your skin yet, this may be a great way to get it off of you.

Tip #3 Cold Water

Closing the pores seems to be the key. Washing down with cold water is a popular option. Our experts say not to scrub, just simply wash down the infected area a few times, and the colder the water, the better. Several people have said they add a bit of dish soap, as well, to ensure the fibers slide out.

Tip # 4 Baby Oil 

This is another one where coating your skin with this stuff ahead of time can make all the difference, but even after it’s affected, baby oil can soothe the irritation.

Tip # 5 Epson Salt Hot Bath

I’ve heard good and bad from this one. This, to me, sounds like it would sting a bit from the infected area, but it could be a great way of letting the fiberglass fall out. Now, sitting in the tub with an adult beverage? Now we are talking!

Tip #6 Tweezers

This one is just plain no fun. It is very effective, especially if you have one or two big pieces. Using a flashlight and a magnifying glass will make it even easier, but in the end, you’re still tweezing your skin, which is annoying. I guess having fiberglass in your skin is more annoying.

Tip #7 Prevention is the key

We have mentioned on this blog several times the perks of wearing your PPE’s. Things like paper suits, and dust masks and eye protection can save a good amount of irritation and pain. So, the one step I know will work is covering up ahead of time.

 

So, if you have a solution that you didn’t see on here that you know works, or one of the solutions we listed you use, let us know in the comments!

FGCI Product Spotlight: EMC2 Genius Bucket Paint Kit w/ Video

 

At Fiberglass Coatings, we try to make projects as easy as we can, from our excellent technicians who can walk you through your job step by step, to our new website, filled with useful information, to the products themselves. One of our latest products is a perfect example of including everything you need to make your job easy, and the results outstanding. Today, we are looking at The Genius Bucket by EMC2 Paint.

The Genius Bucket is available in several different colors.

When you first open your Genius Bucket, you will notice it is PACKED with goodies; everything you need to do your project. With this bucket you get so much more than just the paint, you get:

  • 2 quarts of Quantum Base
  • 1 quart of Brushing Activator
  • 1 Quart of Brushing Reducergenius bucket
  • 1 quart of Surface prep cleaner
  • 1 Instructions
  • 4 6” Roller Covers
  • 1 Roller frame
  • 1 roller pan
  • 2 foam brushes
  • 4 large latex gloves
  • 2 paint strainers
  • 2 stir sticks
  • 2 scour pads
  • 2 mixing cups
  • 4 general purpose rags
  • 4 lint-free wiping rags
  • 1 pre-taped masking paper film

It’s great for rolling or brushing your paint onto your surface. As the video above states, you want to make sure you use proper safety equipment, including the gloves (included) and a dust or painting mask for the fumes (not included) and also some safety glasses.

You want to make sure you take your time and follow the surface prep instructions properly. Surface prep can make or break your project as the surface needs to be scoured and cleaned prior to applying the paint.

The next step is mixing your paint. You are looking at a 2:1:1 mixture of Base, Activator, and Reducer. Be sure to measure carefully and stir for a full 5 minutes before applying. After waiting until the paint is tacky, you can apply your second coat, for best results.

From that point, you are all set! Your project will look outstanding! And all from a Bucket! I guess that’s why they call it Genius.

If you want to see an example of this paint in action, check out our Project Boat.

 

FGCI.com got a Facelift!

As part of our continued effort to be the top Fiberglass Coatings distributor in the country, we have brought in a new website to FGCI.com that includes tons of new features, more options to help our customers, more resources to help answer our customer’s questions, and a new look.

fgci_preview_1

Our new site has an easy to use “Shop” button that organizes the thousands of products we offer into easy to find sections or use the Search Bar for instant access. Once you find the products you need, checkout is a breeze, and your order is quickly sent to customer service who can get the order out even faster.

new_fgci_attributesOne of the biggest new features of our site is the ability to narrow your search to what you want. For example, in gelcoat, you can narrow your search to quarts; you can narrow it further to a color and now, even whether you want wax or no wax. With this new system, it will be easier than ever to find what you want.

For current customers, the “Resources” button offers access and information on your account, including account balance, and even the ability to order items from your history with us.

For customers looking to get in contact with us, you can go to out Events page, which highlights the places we will be, along with a “Contact us” button at the bottom where you can e-mail us your questions.

We are very excited to release our new site and we look forward to working with you, our customer to make your online experience even better!

Comment below and tell us what you think of our site!