A major fiberglass repair, such as patching a hole, can be a daunting task. Watching a professional do the job can help you get on the right track and be confident in doing the repair yourself. This step-by-step video tutorial produced by Sea Hawk Paints will show exactly what needs to be done when patching a hole in your fiberglass boat.
Note: Before attempting a repair by yourself, get a professional opinion. Always wears Personal Protective Equipment when sanding or working with chemical compounds! Respirator, safety glasses and gloves are always recommended.
Here is a list of products you will need for the repair:
Fairing is process of smoothing out and restoring the damaged surface of the hull. A fairing compound such as Epoxy resin can be used to fill in divots or gouges and then be sanded to a smooth finish. This restores the surface to its original shape and also prepares it for painting.
Note: Before attempting a repair by yourself, get a professional opinion. Always wears Personal Protective Equipment when sanding or working with chemical compounds!
Here are some guidelines to fairing out imperfections in your hull:
Any boat cruising off shore needs an emergency ditch bag for unplanned situations. Being prepared means never assuming that rescue will come before you would need things in a bag, one can never predict circumstances or weather. Having a life raft or kit that comes with your vessel may not have everything you want or need as minimal gear is all that is included so building your own insures your needs are met.
The bag should be water resistant to insure it doesn’t fill immediately with water and sink. Purchase one that is yellow or international orange and you can attach reflector strips for added visibility with a flashlight. A throw bag can be back up as needed.
Clearly label the bag so everyone on board knows what it is keep it in a handy place.
Rescue items can include:
Functioning EPIRB (emergency position indication rescue beacon)
R1 Epoxy Resin – a smooth, low-viscosity liquid epoxy resin. With a variety of Hawk Epoxy Catalysts, it can be cured under a wide range of temperatures and environmental conditions to form a high strength plastic with superior moisture barrier characteristics. Hawk Epoxy is available in four system sizes color coded on each label. Note: Mix ratios vary by catalyst. For optimal product utilization, be sure to choose the same Size for both the resin and catalyst. I.e Size 1 Resin with Size 1 Catalyst.
C1 ULTRA SLOW CURE CATALYST:Designed for use with HAWK EPOXY R1 Resin for construction and repairs with superior adhesion, strength, bonding, filling, and moisture barrier qualities at higher temperatures and for an ultra slow cure. Do not use under Sea Hawk marine wood varnish.
C2 SLOW CURE CATALYST: Designed for use with HAWK EPOXY R1 Resin for construction and repairs with superior adhesion, strength, bonding, filling, and moisture barrier qualities at higher temperatures and for a slow cure. Do not use under Sea Hawk marine wood varnish.
C3 FAST CURE CATALYST: Designed for use with HAWK EPOXY R1 Resin for construction and repairs with superior adhesion, strength, bonding, filling, and moisture barrier qualities at cooler temperatures and for a fast cure. Do not use under Sea Hawk marine wood varnish.
C5 CLEAR FINISH CATALYST: Designed for use with HAWK EPOXY R1 Resin for very clear fiberglass cloth and coating applications with exceptional moisture barrier characteristics. Perfect for natural wood and carbon fiber clear coats with no blush. Longer working times in very warm temperatures. May be used under Sea Hawk marine wood varnish.
TIP* For easy accurate measuring be sure to use the Hawk Epoxy Pumps that are calibrated to dispense the correct amount of resin and catalyst. This is much easier and leave little room for mistakes.
Next choose the best Hawk Epoxy Filler depending on the application:
F1 High Load Adhesive Fiber Filler– Thickens to a light grey color creating an easy to use adhesive designed for bonding hardware and other applications with dissimilar materials. This mixture will maximize bond strength for anticipated high loads.
F2 Structural Adhesive Filler– Thickens to an off white color, creating a general purpose thickening additive for bonding, gap filling and filleting. Mix to a workable consistency allowing sag-free and easy flow properties for vertical and overhead applications.
F-3 Light Density Adhesive Micro Fiber Filler – Thickens to an off white color. Great for bonding many substrates, especially wood. The mixture also creates a multipurpose adhesive for many other substrates in addition to providing excellent substrate wetting and penetrating characteristics. Increases impact and abrasion resistance.
F4 Bridging Adhesive Filler – Thickens to a brown color, creating an easy to use adhesive with excellent gap filling and filleting qualities. This mixture blends with many different types of wood to allow for a natural looking fillet or gap fill.
F5 Light Density Fairing Filler– Thickens to a reddish brown color, achieving an easy to sand and carve fairing compound while still remaining strong and light weight.
F6 MicroSphere Fairing Filler – Thickens to a white color, creating a lightweight fairing compound for small to large areas. This product holds a feathered edge very well and is suitable for nearly every substrate. This closed celled structure can also be used for increased acoustic and thermal insulation.
How to Fix a Leaking Seam or Rivet on Aluminum Boat
As aluminum boats age they show various signs of wear and tear. One of these signs may be a leaking seam or rivet. Over time, rivets can stretched and loosen, causing a gap in the hull integrity and this results in a leak. The solution to this problem is fairly simple and may be fixed at home using just a few tools and know-how. So, how should this problem be addressed?
Locate the Leaking Rivet or Seam
The first step is to find the exact seam or rivet that needs repair. To do this, put the boat in water and observe carefully. You could also put water inside the boat and see where it allows the water to escape from.
Assess the Damage
The second step is assessing the extent of damage to the rivet or seam. If the seam is too wide to be filled or caulked, it will need additional rivets in combination with a sealant product. If the damage is easily visible a sealant or caulk will be sufficient.
Choose a Sealant or Epoxy Product
There are hundreds of products out there that claim to fix leaks and seal cracks. How do you know which to choose? The Bottom Paint Store has done most of the hard work for you and can confidently recommend 3 products that really work.
Hawk Epoxy is an excellent product to repair aluminum hulls. We recommend getting one of the Hawk Epoxy Kitsthat will contain everything you need for filling in the aluminum. Hawk Epoxy is a versatile product that can be used for many other application too. Everyone should own this kit!
The second is BoatLife’s LifeCalk Sealant. This sealant may take a long time to cure (1 to 3 days), but it results in a waterproof, rubber seal that will adhere to almost anything. It can also be applied underwater for emergency repairs!
The third option is G/Flex 650 Epoxymade by West System. This liquid epoxy is more flexible and versatile than regular epoxies and will adhere to almost any surface. The bond that it creates can absorb shock, vibration, expansions and contractions. It will fully cure in 24 hours. Also, West System has created a detailed and comprehensive set of instructions for a wide variety of applications. They can be found atthis linkand below:
If your hull is bare aluminum you can cover the entire surface with a high build epoxy primer to help seal and protect it such as Tuff Stuff. For application details see our link for application of a marine epoxy.
Now that your leaky rivets and seams have been repaired, you are ready to paint! Check out this How To Articlefor more information on how to paint your aluminum vessel.
Make sure the blisters are thoroughly drained and grind them deep enough to remove any damaged material beneath the gelcoat. Increase size of ground area as needed until all the laminate around the blister is sound. Clean the entire area and allow it time to dry.
The filler recommended for blister repair is F6 MicroSphere Fairing Filler. F6 MicroSphere Fairing Filler thickens to a white lightweight fairing compound for small to large areas.This creates an easy to sand putty that will help fill in transitions and hull imperfections. Apply using a putty knife, spatula or trowel. Spread smoothly on the surface in a 1/8″ – 1/4″ layer using heavy hand pressure to displace air bubbles/voids. Try to force the material into holes or joints and smooth to the thickness needed.
Before applying the Hawk Epoxy, the hull must be very dry. Make sure the hull moisture is under 15% by using a moisture meter. Wipe down the entire area with clean rags and acetone. This will remove any remaining contaminants on the hull.
Hawk Epoxy is a low viscosity epoxy system that makes fiberglass repair easy for everyone! Equipped with a wide variety of Catalysts and fillers, you can mix up the exact epoxy batch needed for almost any job. For more information on how to mix Hawk Epoxy, click this link. Mix only enough Hawk Epoxy to use in 5-10 minutes. Apply the Hawk Epoxy to the hull using the Roll and Tip method. Use a roller to apply the epoxy and then use the tip of a high quality brush to smooth the epoxy evenly. The roller should be lint free and non-wicking. Any fibers that get in to the epoxy could compromise the integrity of the seal.
Apply the second coat when the first coat is tacky to the touch. Your finger should leave an imprint but not lift any of the epoxy coating. Allow the second coat to dry fully. Once it is completely cured, wash the repaired area with soap and water. The repair is now ready to be sanded and painted with Sea Hawk bottom paint. If redoing the hull apply Tuff Stuffprimer, followed by bottom paint.
If the blister has damaged the fiberglass, that will need to be repaired with fiberglass clothcut to match damaged area. There will be an upcoming How To Article that discusses that topic.
The video below is from Sea Hawk Paints and demonstrates how to seal a fiberglass hull using the Hawk Epoxy System.
A hole in your fiberglass looks bad and can lead to water damage but it can be repaired with patience. Fiberglass is a strong material that will bond to almost any surface if prepared. It is applied by cutting the mat into the size of the repair and layering. The resin, mixed with hardener, is applied to the mat. See our 1 Quart fiberglass repair kit.
Most professionals recommend exposing the sound fiberglass around the damaged area to have a firm base. Grind down the edges to firm fiberglass and then clean the damaged area with acetone, or solvent provided, to remove any dust or grease that may remain. If repairing from the inside, place tape over the outside of the hole or crack to prevent resin from running down the finished face.
Cut the fiberglass into layers for size of repair. Mix the resin and hardener as directed, in small amounts as it will harden quickly. Layer the fiberglass and resin until level with the surrounding area, completing with the cloth overlapping well onto the sound hull surface.
After cured remove irregularities in the patch surface with a disc sander or drill with sanding attachment…don’t over sand, just smooth. Move to finer paper until it matches the contour. If using gelcoat to finish off patch see our gelcoat application guideor gelcoat repair guide.
When looking at a scratch in the gelcoat, you need to determine whether it is a surface scratch or a deep scratch. The reason being is that surface scratches can easily be buffed with a rubbing compoundas opposed to deep scratches which take a couple more steps. As long as the gelcoat around the deep scratch is in good condition, you will be able to use gelcoatpaste or you can make one using gelcoatand an aerosil filler/thickener. Once the filler is applied, the service will be uneven so sanding and polishing will be necessary. Customers report wet sanding with 2000 grit worked well. Everything about the repair of the scratch is fairly easy to do.
For deeper gouges, you will need to purchase a gelcoat repair kit (see instructions here) or purchase gelcoat in various colors. Tints are available as well if custom matching larger quantities of gelcoat or paste. The kit will contain everything you need to do the job including some tints for matching. Some find the gouge needs to be scraped deeper with a screwdriver or Dremel tool to open it into a wide V to make sure the gelcoat has a place to settle and more permanent. If you simply cover the cracks they may continue to spread. The gelcoat that exists on the boat is already bonded with the laminates that are underneath. That being said, you will have to rough the surface up a bit with sand paper in order to give the paste something to stick to. Please note that you need to clean the surface with acetone after sanding to clean any contaminates off that may interfere with the filling process.
When the damage is a larger (like a screw hole) you made need3M’s Preminum Marine Filleror 3M Marine High Strength Repair Filler. These are for bonding and filling repairs above or below the waterline and can be sanded. Some customers perfer to mix some thickener (cabosil)and gelcoat to a thick consistancy. Both of these products can be applied with a spreader. If coating over with gelcoat be sure to leave space (about 1/8 inch) for the gelcoat.
Once you have the gelcoat mixed, saving the hardener for last, begin to spread over the gouge with a plastic spreader. Since the paste will shrink slightly as it dries, make sure you put a little extra paste on the “wound”. A slight bulge will be ideal after the paste is applied. As the paste will not cure completely in the air, you will need to put a plastic film over it. If your kit does not have one, shrink wrap or wax paper will work. Tape the plastic/wax paper on all sides over the paste and let dry for 24 hours.
After the 24 hours are up, remove the plastic/wax paper. Take a piece of 400 grit sandpaper accompanied with a 3M sanding block and begin to level any areas that are raised and uneven. It will help if you have a bucket of water or water hose handy to wash away the excess material as you sand. Once you have completed the sanding with the 400 grit, you will need to now use a 600 grit sandpaper to go over the repair. The reason this is being done is to eliminate any scratches the 400 grit may have put in the repair and smooth it even more. You will continue this process moving up to a 800 grit and then a 1200 grit. Occasionally you will want to dry the repair area just to get an idea of the work you have done so far. At this point you can wax and buff the repair.
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.
Apply a fiberglass stain remover, like 3M Fiberglass Restorer and Wax, Mothers Marine Black Streak Remover, or 3M Marine Cleaner and Waxto 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 Wax, Scotchgard Marine Wax, or Mothers Marine Synthetic Waxto help keep that shine.
Restoring your weathered teak wood is an easy 3 step process using the JustTeak™ Teak Restoration Kits. Learn how to clean, brighten, and seal your teak or other wood. This simple teak restoration process can be used on an teak wood including teak furniture and teak decking.
Step 1 (Part 1). Cleaning Teak Wood with the JustTeak™ Teak Cleaner Getting the teak clean is the first step in the process. You need a really effective cleaner that will not harm the wood. You should not use any bleach. All weathered teak should be first be cleaned with JustTeak™ Teak Cleaner.
1. Hose down entire areas thoroughly with fresh water. Ensure the teak does not dry during the cleaning process. 2. Applying the JustTeak™ Teak Cleaner with a soft polypropylene cleaning pad, gently scrub the product across the grain of the teak. The teak will tum dark brown and the cleaning pad will fill with dirt. 4. Apply to one area at a time then immediately rinse down entire area with water to remove the cleaner. Repeat if necessary.
Step 2. (Part 2) Using JustTeak™ Teak Brightener on Your Teak Deck
JustTeak™ Teak Brighteneris the answer to dull, gray teak. Specifically designed to restore light beautiful look of new teaks. – Brightens Teak Dulled by Weather and Wear – Won’t Raise the Grain – Contains No Bleach – Cleans Away Discoloration in the Deck
1. Following the application of Part 1: JustTeak™ Teak Cleaner. 2. Hose down entire area with water. 3. Ensure the teak does not dry during the cleaning process. 4. Apply JustTeak™ Teak Brightener with a soft polypropylene cleaning pad, gently scrubbing across the grain of the teak. The teak will immediate lighten. 5. Apply to one area at a time then immediately rinse down entire area with water to remove the Teak Brightener. Repeat if necessary.
Step 3. Application of JustTeak™ Teak Sealer
JustTeak™ Teak Oil Sealer is designed to seal and protect teak. Restores and protects teak and other woods. Easy to use and extra long lasting formula. – Easy to Use – Extra Long Lasting – Restores and Protects Teaks and Other Woods – Adds Luster and Beauty to Your Deck
1. For best results apply in temperatures above 10°C (50°F) on a sunny, low humidity day, ensuring the teak is dry. Shake vigorously prior to use. This product must be shaken periodically whilst using to ensure even colouring. Make sure the surface is completely dry prior to application. 2. Apply the JustTeak™ Teak Oil Sealer by either brush, pad applicator or rag. Take note to apply sealer along the length of the board to ensure even coating and avoid line marks. 3. Apply generously. Allow to dry, soak up any areas that may have not absorbed the sealer. When touch dry, apply 1-2 subsequent coats until the teak stops absorbing the sealer. LOOKING AFTER YOUR SEALED TEAK Over time the sealer will start to lose its lustre and water beading capability. A fresh coat of JustTeak: Teak Sealer should be applied to restore the finish. For best results remove the Teak Sealer with JustTeak Cleaner and Brightener and re-apply.
The the best value, choose from our Teak Restorations Kits that include the Teak Cleaner, Teak Brightener, and Teak Sealer for the best Savings!
There are two Evercoat gelcoat repair kits available: Large Gelcoat Repair Kit, which contains 4 oz. of polyester gelcoat paste with liquid hardener, coloring agents, cleaning solvents, mixing cup and stick and Mylar film for smoothing the repair surface. Small Gel Coat Repair Kit, which contains 1 oz. of polyester gelcoat paste and all the same components as the larger kit above, except for the cleaning solvent.
Gelcoat Repair Kit Instructions:
Make sure damaged areas are clean and free of dirt, grease and wax, etc.
Enough Gelcoat paste should be added to a plastic mixing cup to make all repairs. One of the six basic colors may match the gelcoat. If so, mix approximately 1 part pigment to 20 parts gel paste (in other words, fill the cup 1/4in and add approximately 1-2 inch bead of pigment from the tube). The pigments can be intermixed to achieve various shades. Please refer to the color match chart for mixing suggestions. NOTE: Exact color match will be difficult, but weathering will blend in slight color differences.
After the color has been matched, take enough of the pigmented gel paste to fix a damaged area. Place it on a clean piece of cardboard and mix with several drops of liquid hardener. NOTE: adding liquid hardener will darken the color slightly! Four drops of hardener in 1 teaspoon of gelcoat paste will give approximately 15 minutes of working time before the material begins to gel. Mix the liquid hardener thoroughly into the gelcoat paste.
Apply catalyzed gelcoat paste to the damaged area, working in into the area with a spatula or plastic spreader. Squeeze off the excess material.
For greater smoothness and higher gloss, this repair should be covered with a piece of the enclosed clear plastic release film, and left to cure.
After approximately one hour, remove the plastic film and clean the repaired area with the enclosed solvent and a clean cloth (applicable to 100668 large kit only )
Deep damaged areas may require several applications.
Gelcoat Restoration Guide
Keep your gelcoat in good condition by using these 4 steps:
As you haul your boat out of storage you may want to get the gelcoat shining once again. Use the steps below as needed:
A one step clean-and-wax products combine washing and waxing in one step, best used on new boats where the finish is in good condition with little or no oxidation, try 3M Marine Cleaner and Wax.
Light gel coat oxidation? Best to use the least aggressive method if possible to prolong the life of gelcoat Clean with 3M Marine Boat Soapand buff with the 3M Imperial Compound. Avoid direct sunlight and room temperature is best. Use a tape, like 3M 471available in different lengths.
Step 1: Boats that need more aggressive cleaning just wash surface and remove loose contaminants: Use a non-abrasive light detergent to remove all surface dirt and all previously applied coatings, 3M Marine Boat Soapor Marine Clean are ideal.
Sometimes you need something stronger to remove surface rust, oil, tar, algae discoloration, black streaks caused from water runoff, exhaust and waterline scum or other stains before waxing or you’ll seal in the stain. Usually you will need an acid-based stain remover like Hammerhead Hull Cleaneror Hull Cleaner, Extra Strong by Tip Top Teak (test in an inconspicuous area first) using gloves.
Step 2: If your boat is a bit more oxidized a rubbing compound (liquid abrasive which “sands” your hull) is needed but do so carefully as you can rub through the gelcoat. The more faded your hull the more compounding you’ll need. The 3M Imperial Compound, usually applied with a polisher if possible and compatible 3M pads,like the white 100% wool pad,is recommended by 3M. Keep product off bottom paint, if applicable, by taping off as it can spatter. If the compound isn’t strong enough for your level of oxidation and scratches then you may need to “pretreat” with a 1200 (or 800) grit as needed prior to the compound.