Repair your gelcoat
When you need to repair your gelcoat, it's a good idea to do it properly the first time.
The last thing you want is for the repair to become unsightly, or to make the problem worse. This article will give you some tips for repairing your boat's gelcoat, and help you avoid the common mistakes that can wreak havoc on your boat's finish.
Mixing base and catalyst
One of the most important steps in gelcoat repair is mixing base and catalyst together properly. Too little of either or both can cause the gel to not cure properly or even fail altogether. The ratio of catalyst and resin also affects the amount of time the gel will take to harden.
Most manufacturers will list the quantity of catalyst required on their gelcoat can. A two part ratio is considered the standard. Typically, 1% or 2% catalyst will be sufficient to complete a coat of gel. However, you may need to add more or less depending on the manufacturer of the gelcoat.
During the process of mixing, a small amount of catalyst comes up from the bottom of the bottle. The small amount is then dispensed through a plastic jug. Once the catalyst is dispensed, the user squeezes it into a graduated cup. It will take a couple of minutes to disperse the catalyst evenly.
Avoiding direct sunlight during a hot day
When deciding what to do in the garage on a warm day, it pays to have a plan of attack in place. This includes a well-stocked tool box and an organized work area. Taking your time to choose the right items will pay dividends down the road. If you are attempting a gel coat repair, be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully. You don't want to sabotage your efforts with a dodgy application. Gelcoat materials should be catalyzed to ensure proper application. To avoid a mishap, keep your tools in their proper places and your hands clean and dry. After all, you don't want your hands soaking in epoxy or goop.
To get the best results, keep the tools and supplies in a separate area for easy access and easy cleaning. A clean work area will help you focus on the important jobs instead of trying to scrub off paint splatter with a sponge.
Masking around the edges of the repair area
Masking around the edges of the gelcoat repair area is a very important step in the repair process. This helps to prevent fine particles of gelcoat from sanding down to the masking tape. If you don't do this properly, you can end up with a waved finish.
First, you need to prepare the surface of the gel coat. This involves removing any gel coat that has chipped or peeled away, cleaning any areas that have broken, and sanding away any rough or loose surfaces. To do this, you'll need an abrasive bit and a motor tool.
After that, you'll need to remove any surfacing agent from the damaged area with solvent wipes. Once you've done this, you can sand the abrasive bits out with a coarser grit.
Allowing the gelcoat to cure too quickly
Gel coat is a process that can be very frustrating. It takes a lot of work to get the gelcoat to cure properly. But there are certain ways to minimize the risks of the gelcoat not curing properly.
The first thing you can do is to read the technical data sheets of your gelcoat. The technical data sheets can give you information on the amount of catalyst that you should add to your gelcoat. A little less catalyst may be necessary if the material is being cured in warmer conditions.
If you're not sure what amount to use, test it by spraying different levels of catalyst on a small test sample. You can also use a spray gun to improve atomization.
Another way to cure the gel coat properly is to use a surfacing wax. The surfacing wax creates a barrier to air and helps to move the gel coat to the surface.
Wet-sanding the repaired area
If you're considering wet-sanding the repaired area after gelcoat repair, you may be wondering how it works. While it may seem obvious, it can be quite the challenge to get good results. Here are some tips to help you along.
Start by cleaning the area you're going to work on. Apply some acetone to the affected area. This will remove surface dirt and contaminants. Once the area is clean, apply some gelcoat paste. Use a small putty knife to spread it out. You can also try the Dremel.
Next, you'll need a sanding block. Wet sanding is best used only in the immediate vicinity of the repair. It's best to use a coarser grit than you think you'll need. A good rule of thumb is to start with 240-grit.