Category Archives: Boat Finish Restoration

How to Paint a Boot Stripe

What is a Boot Stripe?

The Boot Stripe is a narrow stripe that runs the length of the boat and is usually positioned a few inches above the waterline. The stripe provides an aesthetic touch and creates an optical illusion that makes the boat appear to be longer. It also gives the boat a nice “finished” appearance that many boaters take pride in. Boot stripes also define the separation between anti-fouling paint (below) and the topside paint (above). Vinyl boot stripe tape is available in different widths, colors, and designs, but unless the boat has a flat, slab side this will make the boat appear to sag or squat in the water. Painting the boot stripe on the hull allows the width to change with the geometry of the boat and give the finished stripe a uniform look. Repainting an existing Boot Stripe will be easier than starting from scratch since you won’t have to mark and score the stripe.

Find and mark the Boot Stripe. The boot stripes of many fiberglass hulls are cast into the hull from the mold by the manufacturer. They can only be removed if you sand down to the fiberglass.

If there is no stripe on your hull you will need to mark the waterline on your boat and transcribe it up to the desired height of your stripe. This can be done by applying successive layers of masking tape along the waterline curve. There are other numerous methods worth investigating online. Also, consult a professional and ask them questions about your specific boat.

Mask off the stripe with tape and get within 1/32nd in. to the edges of the old stripe. This will allow you to sand to the very edge of the old stripe, and avoid damaging the surrounding gel coat.

bootstripeinstallDe-wax the stripe area using a de-waxing solution and a rag.

Sand only the stripe area with 220 grit sandpaper. Once sanding is complete, remove the masking tape and wipe the area with acetone. This will remove any remaining adhesive and sanding remnants. Sacrificing the first mask will contribute to a sharper finish. It is possible that the first application of tape can transfer sanding residue to the paint and result in a poor finish. Mask twice and you will only have to paint once! Be sure to take your time with the second masking. Remember: If the stripe doesn’t look good in tape, it will look even worse once painted. Now you’re ready to paint!

What type of paint should I use?

There are many different varieties of topside paint suitable for painting a boot stripe, but we have narrowed it down to just a few options for you.

Good: Duralux Marine Enamel – Easy to use, economically viable, with a nice color selection. When applying this marine enamel to fiberglass, no primer is needed. Simply wipe the surface with acetone before and after sanding, then apply your paint. For aluminum, prime with one coat of Duralux Zinc Chromate and apply 2 coats of paint. This high gloss enamel will create a bright and colorful boot stripe on any vessel.

interlux-brightside-polyurethane-28238-500x539Better: Interlux Brightside – One part Polyurethane with a crisp, high gloss appearance. It is more durable than regular enamels, but just as easy to apply! If you are applying Brightside to fiberglass, make sure the surface is clean and in good condition. Remove wax and other contaminants using Fiberglass Solvent Wash 202 and then sand with 220-320 grit paper. Apply Pre-Kote. Brightside offers excellent flow and gloss retention especially for painting a boot stripe.

pettit-easypoxy-off-white-3108-quart-31128-500x539OR Pettit Easypoxy – Another single-stage Polyurethane that provides a nice sheen of gloss and durability for painting a boot stripe. However, the color selection is more limited than Interlux Brightside. Easypoxy is only available in black, white, and off-white. Both products produce a high quality finish and are easy to use.

 

Revolution Marine PaintBestRevolution SM-1000 – Exceptionally beautiful paint that can be applied above or below the waterline. Revolution produces a bright and smooth finish, self levels like a dream, and will last longer than other topside paints. Awlgrip is often renowned for being the best topside paint money can buy, but Revolution Marine Paint outperforms Awlgrip for a cheaper price! An Etching Primer is recommended for most surfaces. Revolution will keep your boot stripe (and your boat) looking like new.

Removing Stains from Gelcoat

A gelcoat surface is a very smooth, mirror-like finish when it is new. As gelcoat ages, it becomes porous which means the more easily it stains, the worse it looks and the harder it is to clean. Most all gelcoat can be restored, providing it is not completely worn through. Exhaust stains, like diesel, can develop on the surface of the Gel Coat. These stains can set in on the wax surface of the gel coat but the right cleaner can remove them. If the stain goes deeper, a bit of elbow grease will be needed.

Clean and inspect the surface with a wash with a mild cleaner like 3M’s boat soap or some alternative stronger cleaners if needed. After cleaning, dry and inspect surface for needs to be addressed: scratches, dings, cracking and crazing and to fix these flaws before rubbing out the gelcoat and restoring its shine. See the fiberglass/gelcoat repair section for options and the West System Video for “how to” instruction.

Apply a fiberglass stain remover, like 3M Fiberglass Restorer and Wax , Mothers Marine Black Streak Remover, or 3M Marine Cleaner and Wax to the stained gelcoat area with a clean rag. The black/gray stains are the result of soot being deposited on your hull. It can happen when wet exhaust systems mix the exhaust gases with seawater and discharge those gases or dry exhaust systems discharging the soot directly into the atmosphere and it lands on your boat.

These liquid one-step products that combine a polish or compound with a wax remove oxidation, and protect the gelcoat in one step.

Wait 10-15 minutes. If the stain is simply laying on the surface of the Gel Coat, the stain will begin to loosen; rinse and inspect the results.

If the stain is lifting, repeat. If not, then something stronger like a more abrasive compound with a polisher may be needed; in that case a wax will be needed to restore the shine. Each time compound products are used, some of the gelcoat is removed. Use caution to use the least aggressive product that will get the job done. Frequently all that may be needed is to apply a protective coating of wax, such as 3M Ultra Performance WaxScotchgard Marine Wax, or Mothers Marine Synthetic Wax to help keep that shine.

For more gelcoat restoration tips see our how to Maintain and Restore Gelcoat link.

Awlgrip Paint, the Best Topside Boat Paint

Awlgip Marine PaintsAwlgrip Topcoat is a polyester based high gloss polyurethane topcoat giving long lasting gloss and color retention. It is considered the among the best Topside Paints in the marine industry. AwlGrip Topcoat  may be applied by brush/roller or spray. For application above the waterline only. See Awlgrip Application Guidelines

awlgrip 545 primerThe most common practice for the do it yourselfer is priming the boat with Awlgrip 545 epoxy primer. This is a 2 part primer, so you will need the base (either white or grey) and the converter. Awlgrip also recommends a reducer. The links to the converter and reducer can be found on the base primer product page.

Mixing and Reduction:
This is a two part system. You must order the base primer in either gray or white along with the D3001 Converter in the appropriate size. The mix ratio is 1:1 so if you purchase 1 quart of primer you also need 1 quart of converter for a total of 2 quarts. Additionally you need to purchase the appropriate reducer (spray or brush) for spraying reduce up to 25% with T0006 and for brushing reduce up to 10% with T0031.

Theoretical Coverage: 497 Sq feet/gallon at one mil dry (25 microns) 165-248 Sq. Feet at recommended dry film thickness. Calculated based on a theoretical transfer efficiency of 100%.

Then you will choose your base color of Awlgrip Topside paint, the converter and reducer. The reducer and converter change depending if you are spraying or brush/rolling.

Mixing and Reduction

Spray: Mix by volume one part AWLGRIP Topcoat Base Component (Color) with one part AWL-CAT #2 G3010 spray converter to a a smooth homogenous mixture. Reduce up to 25% with the spray reducer(s) appropriate for conditions. Overall mixture is 1:1:1/2 volume. Example: 8oz Base, 8oz G3010, 4oz Reducer. 25% reduction is a standard mix. Clear coats. metallic colors, and painting in high temperature conditions may require additional reduction. 40% reduction is the maximum recommendation.

Brush/Roller: Mix by volume two parts AWLGRIP Topcoat Base Component with one part AWL-CAT #3/H3002 Brushing Converter until one smooth, homogenous mixture is obtained. Reduce 25% to 33% with T0031. Overall mix is 2:1:3/4-1 by volume. Example: 8 oz. color base component, 4 oz. H3002, 3-4 oz. T0031.

Theoretical Coverage:
Brush/Roller Application: 700-725 Sq. Feet at 1 mil (25 Microns) dry: 285 Sq. Feet at recommended dry film thickness.
Recommended Wet Film Thickness: 4.5-6 mils (112.5-150 Microns), Total of 2 Coats.
Recommended Dry Film Thickness: 2-3 mils (50-75 Microns), Total of 2 Coats.

Spray Application: 530 Sq. Feet at 1 mil (25 microns) dry film thickness; 210 SQ. Feet at recommended dry film thickness.
Recommended Wet Film Thickness: 6-9 mils (150-225 Microns), Total of 2-3 Coats.
Recommended Dry Film Thickness: 2-3 mils (50-75 Microns), Total of 2-3 Coats.

You can view the links provided above to see more information about the products, mix ratios, surface prep and auxiliary products.