Sunday, April 5, 2009

Project from 2007: Repaint the deck nonskid

The non-skid areas on the deck were created in 1978 at the factory by putting down a layer of urethane enamel, and then covering it evenly with 80 grit white sand while the paint was still wet. I can't tell if the original coating was then overcoated. This is the common procedure today, and inspection with a powerful magnifying lens does seem to show it, but the sand is exposed everywhere. Over the last 29 years, the paint has oxidized and chalked away, leaving a very rough surface, and one that is extremely porous. Stains have been accumulating because they have soaked into the porous surface, and un-removable mildew has set up housekeeping. Even straight bleach is now ineffective in getting rid of it. The cockpit was the worst for stains.

Before this process could get started, I had to deal with some gelcoat bubbles on the aft deck. These are places where there was a small void between the gelcoat and the first layer of glass - sloppy wetting out of the first layer during construction. Over the years, these bubbles have been cracked open, and allowed water intrusion. Then, during the winter months, the freeze/thaw cycle has opened the bubbles up bigger.

After chipping back to sound gelcoat (creating, in one case, a 6" diameter crater 1/4" deep), I made up some straight epoxy and poured it into each of the exposed voids. Because of the tilt of the deck areas, it was not possible to completely fill the voids with runny epoxy, but I wanted it runny so that it would penetrate. Next I made up a batch of epoxy which was filled with an easy-sanding additive and topped off the voids. After sanding, it looks bad, but is pretty smooth. Unfortunately, I failed to take any pictures at this stage.

Next, I applied a coat of EasyPoxy and sprinkled white 80 grit sand (thanks to Jane and JoAnn Fabric!) over it while wet. The sprinkling was made more even by pouring the sand thru a screen pasta strainer (another thanks, Jane!), which spread out the stream and slowed it down. When the paint had cured, I vacuumed off the sand which had not been incorporated, and then finally applied an overcoat of slightly thinned Easypoxy, with enough flatting agent added to kill the gloss.

Well, after looking at the finished product, the repairs were completely invisible, but the color was not right. Although it matched the original pretty well, it was too light, and too pink. And the original color had been too pink to go well with the light grey deck/hull, teak and the green trim anyway. So an excursion into paint colors began. I tried Interlux Dusk Gray and compared it to the EasyPoxy Sandtone by painting over the badly stained cockpit seating, one color to each side. Nope. Neither color was right, but the cockpit seats, which were badly stained by all manner of foreign substances, sure looked better! Finally, I tried Interlux Grand Banks Beige. Perfect!

And by the way, having had cans of both paint brands open one right after the other, I can say that the Interlux is significantly the superior paint. The pigment stays mixed (is it ground finer?), and it goes on smoother. And in the configuration used, with a flatting agent, it is actually cheaper ($30/qt vs $41/qt). Here's a picture of the quarter deck showing some of the old color and some new sections completed: The two sections on either side of the hatch with the green weather cover are the ones that had the gelcoat bubble repair work done.

Now, it was just a case of masking sections and painting them. There was a lot of tricky masking, but painting cars has given me lots of practice with this.

It is done. Not only does it look sharp and clean, but the new overcoat of paint should stop the sand loss, and should stop the chalk deposition on the big side windows when it rains.


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