Mostly retired spend all my time working on or thinking about boats and outboard motors :)
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Follow our project from start to finish



Paint and Varnish

Once again, these two items could and have resulted in volumes of literature. I will go over what our choices were and how we arrived at them.

When I first priced out marine paint my heart did stop, for a second or two at least. The stuff is just plain expensive. At least in comparison to house paint to which I was infinitely more familiar.

Every time the price of something sets me back a bit, I suck back and put it into perspective again. Do I want to cheap out on a 20 thousand dollar project that has probably taken about 1000 hours of work by the time it’s ready for paint? Simply, NO. I would definitely be tempted to put good exterior house paint on a rowboat, but this is going to be “our baby”.

Ok, so marine paint it is. Again, there are a number of great manufactures out there, some of the better known include Interlux, Epifanes and Pettit (the first three that come to mind).

They produce bottom paints, with or without fungicide in one or two part formulas; top side paints for above the water line in alkyd, one and two component polyurethane formulas, special paints for painting on the water line itself, bilge paints, anti-skid paints on and on.

You could spend a year or more just trying to sort it all out, or you can take my approach on this one and ask the guys that refinish boats in your area. Most are more than willing to pass on their experience and if you take what they have to say, combined with utilizing a product from one of the major mfg’s, it’s difficult to go wrong.

We decided to paint the bottom – there is mixed opinions on whether it is required in a trailered boat that will run in fresh water, but were painting anyhow – just because…

Not needing a fungicide etc we have opted to use Interlux VC Performance Epoxy, a Teflon bottom coat just to keep it covered and smooth. Although there were a number of options in the bottom paint category, this was suitable for trailered boats and is available in white, which we had wanted for a bottom colour.

Under decks will all be painted with Interlux Bilgekote to keep the “cooties” in the bilge from possibly damaging the epoxy coating on the wood.

A good chunk of the boat (above the chine) will be clear finished, but anything that isn't will be covered with (white) Interlux "Bright Side", a one part polyurethane.

All the exterior “bright” work will be covered in Varnish. No, not “traditional” alkyd varnish. I personally prefer to use the synthetic varnishes. It has been my experience that they are more durable, but I’m not looking to start an argument on this one either.

I had read a lot about a product called “Bristol”. The literature sounded great. It is advertised as a super product that would last up to four years in my particular climate. Despite the claims, the reviews from those have used it have been less than impressive. While it does appear to be quite tough, it has a peeling problem. Now this may have been corrected, but at about 70 bucks a quart I will let someone else test it out before I use it.

My point here - just beware of any new product that hits the market making claims to significantly outperform the competition. Maybe it will, but maybe let someone else determine that first. Hey, if it's as good as the claims, you can always use it for your next application.

I plan on laying down 5 or 6 decent coats to “build up” the varnish on the epoxy coated wood with West Marine’s own “Wood Pro Plus”. It’s made by Epifanes, does not require sanding between coats and is relatively inexpensive (for a synthetic varnish). This will provide a decent base for the ultimate finish coats.

Then finish up with 3 coats of Interlux “Goldspar Clear”, a one part polyurethane just to give everything that super high gloss finish that we are looking for and good UV protection for the epoxy (which is an absolute must so it doesn’t break down).

Although the two part polyurethanes are super tough, we are staying away from them. All varnish requires maintenance and this stuff is really difficult to remove and once used, can only be recovered with another two part product unless removed completely. That combined with the cost (almost double 1 part products) tips the balance away from the products in my opinion.

Many like to use a traditional spar varnish, but as stated earlier, I just find the polyurethanes a little tougher, so in my opinion, worth the 20 to 30% cost premium over traditional products, even though our boat will live most of it’s life on a trailer parked under cover. We are hoping that this will assist in keeping the touch-up/recoating down to a minimum, ultimately saving time and money over the long run – but only time will tell if our decision is sound.

At present we have still not decided what product or method we will use for “non-slip” surfaces. Part of that is because we have not firmed up our plans for the sole and foredeck on the walk-around. We are leaning towards planks (probably cherry) over plywood done in a design similar to typical teak decking with those cool looking white (seams). So a little more research is required as to how to effectively apply a non-slip to this and still maintain a clear finish.

Have read that you can add sand, commercial anti-slip compound and even sugar (which then dissolves and leaves a somewhat “pitted” surface), but as stated, more research to do once we have ultimately decided how the (floors) will be constructed and from what material.

Why did we choose Interlux for the majority of the products we will use?

Simply because it’s locally available at a price better than the competitors and I have used their products previously and like the results. It’s no more complicated than that. However, I would have zero issue using Epifanes, Pettit, Schooner or any of the other major mfgs products had the Interlux not been available.
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