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.

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.

 

Product Spotlight: SeaHawk

 

seahawk
With different products and colors, we have everything you may need.

For our latest product spotlight, we are talking about Sea Hawk. We carry several items from the Florida manufacturer including antifoulant bottom paint and epoxy. So, let’s take a look at another way we have you covered.

 

Bottom Paint Primer – A necessity before painting the bottom of your boat.

Tuff Stuff – Provides a superior protection against water penetration. Low VOC, high-build means less coatings, and reduced labor.

shawkacon 137385Bottom Paint Primer 1277 – Used for coating over previously painted copper-based antifoulants. If you don’t want to take off your previous bottom paint, this is a great primer for you.

Shawkocon – A great general purpose primer, this is recommended for when you aren’t sure what is on the bottom of your boat. It will adhere to just about anything and make applying a new coat very easy.

Antifouling bottom paints – These paints come in several colors, from black to blue, red, and green, we have a product that will work for your boat.

Af-33 It’s a “multi-season formula” that is good for commercial vessels or daysailers that’s meant to last several seasons before new coats are applied.

Cukote – A high-performance, self-polishing bottom paint that will keep the bottom of your boat smooth and clean, this product is great for boats that can’t sacrifice speed and durability.

biocop 137409BioCop TF – The maximum protection bottom paint is a harder, self-polishing ablative antifoulant that will give you the most time for your coating. It’s great for saltwater and freshwater and is Lloyd’s Registry approved. This is the latest in bottom paint technology.

Tropikote – For an antifoulant with a high copper content (75.8%), this is what you are looking for. It’s a more conventional multi-season bottom paint. It’s great for fiberglass, wood and steel hulls, so you can use it anywhere.

Talon – A great, inexpensive bottom paint that is copper based and great for single-season coatings.

Smart Solution – Metal-free and extremely environmentally friendly, this coating reacts to water and creates a slick film that encapsulates the hull, making for a fast coat with great longevity.

Cleaners –

Wax N Grease Killer Great for removing the wax from a new hull before applying any antifoulant, this will do a great job of getting your new boat ready for some paint.

So, now you know where to go for bottom paints and everything from the bottom up to maintain your boat.

trucks stp