5 Tips for Using Brushable Gelcoat in the Summer

jorge-vasconez-642329-unsplashImagine sitting on a secluded beach with an ice cold beverage, listening to the waves crash on shore, and the birds chirping in the palm trees. Sounds relaxing? The summer months can be a perfect time for a vacation, but when working on a project, the heat can be a big problem. Here are some helpful tips on how to work with brushable gelcoat during the hot summer season.

  1. Cooling the gelcoat, by refrigerating the product to around 65 degrees, will give you up to 15 minutes of working time.
  2. Humidity can be another factor, so, make sure the mold and surrounding area is dry before applying your brushable gelcoa134054t.
  3. Make small batches of gelcoat at a time and catalyze at 1 ½ % to avoid the material from getting hotter. When spraying the gelcoat, make sure you catalyze at 2 %. If you choose to use Duratec, please note, the product must be cool as well.
  4. If you seek to roll on the gelcoat, the product should be applied evenly at 14 mil thick.
  5. Do not apply gelcoat in direct sunlight.

The Basic Guide to Sandpaper Grit

When a project calls for sanding, one must confirm the correct materials are being used. Reason being is due to the different sizing, backing and grit of the sandpaper. But, how can we identify what type of sandpaper is best? Subjected to the work needed for your project, grit size will come into play. Thus, we must make note that sandpaper is measured by its grit size while others are measured by both the grit and grade of the backing. When buying your sandpaper, check the item to confirm it states the pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) or the grit and size number. This will help when deciding which one is best for the project at hand.

 

123493-smlSandpaper Grit Sizing: If you are looking to remove a previous material such as gelcoat; begin sanding your surface with a 150 grit or lower. A low grit number determines the coarseness of the sandpaper which will give you the ability to remove materials and coatings. Sandpaper with a grit number in the 200’s and higher would be great for finishes such as buffing, polishing or the  removal of small scratches. A high grit number is equivalent to how small the grains are which will allow you to smooth the surface.

 

 

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Sandpaper Weight Grade: One may see grade letters ranging from A-E which represents the durability of the sandpaper, where E is the strongest. For example, (based on the figure above) the red Mirka Royal 40 grit disc would be ranked as the most durable, next the Mirka Bulldog 120 grit Gold, followed by the gray Mirka Bulldog 400 grit Gold .

 

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Here is a great tip!

If you are looking to conduct a wet or dry sanding, the  sandpaper coating must be waterproof. An abrasive that is waterproof will last you longer with end results you’re aiming for in a wet/dry process.

Need a special Gelcoat color?

fgci color chart copyWhen talking gelcoat, the most important aspect is the color. Everyone has their preference, and Fiberglass Coatings has a wide range of stock colors you can find on a daily basis. Did you know that we can match gelcoat for you, though? That’s right, we can take a sample you provide and make a gelcoat that will perfectly match your needs.

We have many customers who need to fix a blemish in the side of a boat, or even a pool. They need the gelcoat to match exactly. With gelcoat, it can fade in the sun and fun of Florida, so getting a factory color is not always an option. It may not match exactly and make a blemish stand out even worse. This is why we use a photospectrometer to match the gelcoat to a perfect match for you.

One of the more amazing products we carry is a brushable Gelcoat. This gelcoat is designed to be an easy way to re-apply gelcoat for fixing blemishes. When you order your colormatch, we can make a standard exterior gelcoat, or a brushable gelcoat. Be sure to check with your rep about what you need!

There are a few different ways to get us the color you need. The easiest way is to send us a sample, like a hatch or chip of gelcoat to match. You can mail it to

Fiberglass Coatings

4301 34th St. N.

St. Petersburg, FL 33714

You can also bring the sample in to one of our two showrooms in Florida. Now, if you don’t have the ability to send us a sample, I generally recommend going to a store that has color samples and picking out the closest one to send to us and have us match that.

If you just can’t find what you want, we also sell the neutral gelcoat and pigment jars to tint your own gelcoat! Let us know how we can help!

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If you haven’t read our end-all guide on how to apply the gelcoat, be sure to check it out HERE.

Product Spotlight: Duratec High Gloss Additive

123754-lrgAt Fiberglass Coatings, we have all the tools, materials and knowledge to help you with your job, whether it being a large commercial job, or just doing a project around the house. With that in mind, we are spotlighting a product we have had around for a long time, but not everyone knows about; Duratec High Gloss Additive.

This gelcoat additive is useful for several different reasons. The first, when adding this as a 50/50 mixture will not only produce a high-gloss, paint-like finish, but it will also thin the gelcoat without adding a yellow tint, like Styrene can do. This is why we recommend this product for thinning while spraying. In the process of adding this additive, you will not need to add Sanding Aid, as this would be the final coat. The only difference is that you will want to wait a full 24 hours before buffing to ensure the gelcoat has fully cured. In order to get a hi-gloss finish, 600 grit paper or higher, will be needed to sand, then buff with Aqua Buff 2000 Compound.

Another benefit of this product is eliminating porosity in tooling gelcoat. When you add this product as a 25% mixture, not only will it add an extra gloss to your tooling gelcoat, it will eliminate the porous surface by over 20 percent, allowing the surface to be waxed easier, and your part to pulled with less effort.

Check out the Tech Data Sheet HERE.

If you have any questions, be sure to contact us and we will be happy to help!

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.