8 Solvents for Cleaning Up your next Job

solventA major part of our business here at FGCI is dedicated to solvents. Solvents are used for many things, but especially for cleanup. When you finish a project, you want to be able to clean up your mess, right? Everything from cleaning spray guns and brushes to wiping down the project afterwards, solvents are an important part of your project process. When you start a project, you want to make sure you pick up something to clean up, but which one works best? Let’s look!

Acetone

Acetone is a necessity for cleaning up polyester resins and gelcoats. Acetone is also a very important step in treating your part before spraying gelcoat, as it helps get any and all oils off the part to avoid blemishes. This is probably the best overall cleaner.

Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer Thinner is a must for removing oils. You will see a lot of mechanics use this for parts cleaning and washing as it is great for removing a lot of the grease left by engines. You will also see this product offered in different degrees of purity, from the wash-grade to the medium to the high-grade.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Our Isopropyl Alcohol is 99% water free. This product is great for cleaning epoxy, especially for wiping down a new epoxy bar-top.

Mineral Spirits

Mineral Spirits are a tried and true paint cleaner you will see used by anyone painting a polyurethane or enamel paint as it breaks down the paint very quickly.

Styrene

Styrene is a common solution found in resins and gelcoats, sometimes called ‘wax.’ Styrene is commonly used to thin down resin to allow it to seep into wood easier. We don’t recommend using it to thin gelcoat, however.

Toluene

Toluene is a great multi-use product as it’s great for cleaning epoxy, but it also works for cleaning paint as well. Toluene is mainly used for cleaning up silicone and it does a great job on 5200.

T-12

T-12 is a very volatile solvent used mainly for cleaning epoxies. This solvent dries extremely quickly, but you will see it used frequently for cleaning brushes between uses.

Xylene

Xylene is used mainly as a thinner for enamels. It can also be used for cleanup for paints as well.

The most important thing to remember with all of these solvents is that they all require proper protection. Gloves and some sort of clothing protection would be the least you can do. You may also consider respirators and eye protection as well. You also want to remember that all of this material is flammable, so be cautious and store it properly.

Tech Blog – 5 tips on Thinning Gelcoat

maxresdefaultWhen it comes to applying gelcoat, you really only have two kinds of methods; you can brush our brushable gelcoat, or you can use our standard gelcoat and spray it. Most go with spraying the gelcoat to give you the best finish. When spraying gelcoat, you will need a spray gun with a 3.0 tip or larger. If you don’t have a tip that large, most people generally thin the gelcoat. Everyone asks what you use to thin gelcoat, and everyone has an answer. Let me start by saying we don’t recommend thinning gelcoat if you can avoid it. Our techs liken it to chicken soup; the more water you add to it, the less like chicken soup it will be.

  1. Do NOT use Acetone. I have heard people recommend this, but it can cause all kinds of problems for gelcoat from running to fish-eyes to a yellowing of the colors.
  2. We recommend Patch Booster. Patch booster is an additive that will thin out your gelcoat while preventing running. The product will not affect colors like styrene or acetone and is added up to 25 percent by volume to your gelcoat (one quart per gallon). You will want to catalyze the gelcoat at 2% when you add this additive.
  3. We also recommend Duratec High-Gloss additive. This product has the added benefit of giving you a glossy shine without having to sand and buff at the end. The product also thins the gelcoat and will not affect the colors like styrene and acetone will. It can be used up to 50 percent by volume. If there is one tip we could offer, it would be to wait 24 hours before buffing when using this product. Buffing will give you a new-car shine. You will want to make sure you catalyze this product at 2%.
  4. We do not recommend Styrene for one main reason; it can affect colors. Styrene, when added up to 20% will thin your gelcoat but does often cause the gelcoat to yellow and any more than 20 percent will cause fish-eye.
  5. Both the Patch Booster and the Duratec affect your catalyst rate, so make sure you catalize properly before spraying and be sure to clean your gun carefully after each use (for that, you CAN use Acetone).

5 Tips on Various Fiberglass Coatings Solvents

1. Acetone is good for cleaning polyesters, but not epoxies.

129132

2. Lacquer Thinner tends to be a good solvent for cleaning surfaces to remove wax and oils.

129173

3. Isopropyl Alcohol 99% (water free) is a mild solvent that is recommended when using Epoxy Table Top Resin and cleaning new epoxy surfaces.

129155

4. Mineral Spirits works well with paint and polyurethane enamel.

129187

5. Styrene reduces polyester, iso and vinyl ester resins for better wood penetration.

129208