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Painting the topside with Awlgrip

From JRAlbert

1999 Notes:

"...I have seen several messages about Awlgrip. Did you have to prepare the surface before painting, other than a thorough cleaning? Did it need to be sanded first? Others say all the hardware must be removed first, but some indicate there is a problem removing hardware that has backing plates. Did you remove yours and did you have a problem with the backing plates? Did you investigate Imron vs. Awlgrip? Thanks for responding. By the way, how much was repainted, and how much did you have to pay?..."

Sitting down? The job cost around $11k and I had everything painted except the flybridge dash area which I should have done -- could have negotiated that small area into the price. I got the price down -- there were several higher estimates -- because I removed all the hardware I possibly could. Rails, stanchions, handrails, misc trim, lights. Most removal was easy until I got to screws that had corroded tight into the aluminum. Some I drilled out (very slow drill speed, oil, patience, and good bits --NOT Black & Decker), others I just horsed out knowing a larger screw could be inserted, and some punched out.

The hardware I could not remove were, as you pointed out, those with inaccessible backing plates; the cleats. Only the sampson post in the bow behind the pulpit came out easily.

As you know, stainless against aluminum sets up electrolysis/corrosion so a neoprene pad goes between the pieces. I got neoprene twice as thick -- 1/8" -- as that supplied by the rail stanchion people and used that to keep the two metals farther apart. I also had a shop machine out deeper grooves in the bottom of the rail feet so that water coming down the stanchion has a place to drain. I found some corrosion down there which I attributed to constant trapped moisture in that area.

One hardware tip: when you disassemble the stanchions around the cockpit in the stern, mark each one for location! I didn't, thinking that since they were all the same size and type, it didn't matter where they go. It does matter if you have a canvas "skirt" around there. The retaining holes won't line up properly unless you put the rail pieces back where they came from!!! This tip will save you hours of hard work re-drilling and tapping the holes.

The bow rail can come out as a single unit -- get a couple of helpers to get it off and then back on (very carefully so you don't scratch your new paint job.

PAINT: my mechanic painted described the difference between Imron and Awlgrip this way: Imron is somewhat softer and easier to repair in case of painting mishaps or later damage. But Awlgrip came out with a new paint this year called Awgrip 2000 which is also easier to work than the regular formula. It's very glossy (unless you choose to dull it) and virtually maintenance free. As I noted before, no more waxing!! Mild detergent and water.

The Awgrip people (and the same probably goes for Imron , have this warning: don't shrinkwrap your boat without proper ventilation. Constant moisture against the painted surface will lift the paint. What constitutes proper ventilation, I don't know -- I will just stay away from shrink wrap.

Oh.. on prep work, the yard sanded, sprayed on a primer epoxy coat and sanded that. Prep is important to a smooth finish. If your boat is like mine, your current finish is gone and prep will be required. Don't skimp here.

Perhaps, you can mitigate the cost by doing work yourself as I did. Perhaps, the yard will agree to your doing more, like sanding and fairing (filling in bumps & chinks & holes). I won't belabor the selection process except to say you should check the yard's work and call a couple of customers. This isn't a job for an occasional worker.. it should be done professionally and you will be pleased with the results. I feel as if I got a new boat out of the work. You should have seen the parade of people coming from all parts of the marina to inspect the work -- it was the talk of the marina. I thought it was quite funny -- I should have taken a collection.

Keep me posted on your project. If there are other questions, I'll be glad to further share my experience with you.
Best wishes


Later that year ... 
I repainted my 32' FB sedan this spring. It was expensive but worth it. The yard used Awlgrip 2000. This boat shines.. never looked so good. You can also use Imron. Unless you have spray experience, have it done professionally. 
I was disappointed at how the factory applied finished "died" after 5 years.. it crazed and chalked horribly. The Awlgrip should last many years and DOES NOT need to be waxed, in fact Awlgrip recommends you don't wax... just used mild soap and water.. nothing harsh. 

2001 Notes

From JRAlbert 

As faithful readers of this forum may recall, my Marinette was re-painted with Awlgrip two years ago (at a fair expense). Sadly, the paint is lifting in certain places and I'd like to get a sense from others who may have repainted whether my current experience is common.

Marinettes seem traditionally to have paint problems under the rail stanchions where the stainless steel rail feet screws enter the hull. Electrolysis is the culprit here apparently.

I'm not having that problem, interestingly enough. The paint is lifting and cracking elsewhere; primarily where vertical & horizontal surfaces meet -- for example, where the side of the cabin meets the deck.

I'll be meeting soon with an Awlgrip rep to get his opinion on the cause. Meanwhile, if you've repainted with Awlgrip, I'd be curious to know whether you've had a similar experience. How long ago did you repaint? Was it done professionally? Applied with brush or spray? How was surface prepped?

The mechanic who painted mine believes that two things are afflicting the paint and that they are common with Marinettes: galvanic corrosion and the acid flux used in the original welding. I believe neither is happening (except with stainless fittings against the hull but that's not where my problem occurs). The capac meter tells me I'm properly zinced and I think flux should long ago be gone from this 12 year old boat. At least the flux should have been covered by the original prep and the more recent prep.


JOE3656 responds 

"Some quick questions/points about the paint lifting.

1) Is the paint lifting off the metal, or are coats of paint flaking off?
If the coats of paint are flaking off in layers, the proper timimg between coats (layers) could be suspect; but if the paint is lifting off the metal the problem could more likely be the preparation of the aluminum. I've been using the Interlux system on my boat, but haven't done much topside yet. BTW Interlux uses a acid prime wash for aluminum. Also note that paint adheres to Aluminum best with a rough finish. You must etch if you don't paint within about 24 hours of sandblasting. Dry times between coats is critical in painting aluminum.

2) Since your mechanic recently welded, I assume, these welds should be the only fix points for the paint.

3) Do you boat in saltwater? (Chesapeake?)
If you do, you need to use a salt (Chloride) remover on an old aluminum boat before painting, in the pressure wash. Chlor-rid is recommended. Clhoride ions left in the surface will cause corrision and possible paint failure.

Best of Luck"


From JRAlbert:

Joe..thank you for the info. I am getting both kinds of separation; between layers of paint and from the aluminum itself.

On the welding, I didn't mean to give the impression that welding was done recently. The fellow who applied the Awlgrip paint is telling me that the flux used in the original Marinette manufacturing (13 yrs ago) is still leaching and affecting the paint! I find that hard to believe because paint lifting would then be occurring at many, many other places and that isn't happening.

At this point, I don't plan to be sanding any surfaces myself -- that's why I paid the yard. We'll see. Meanwhile, your advice is appreciated. Hopefully, through this forum I can get a sense of what others who re-painted with Awlgrip (or Imron) have experienced in the way of durability.
joel albert/potomac, MD

2003 Notes

From CharterBoat

"Help! The horizontal topside paint on my 1988 Marinette is all cracked like a broken car window spider-webs. The cracks do not appear that deep and there is no flaking. I do not have thousands of dollars to repaint the entire topside but would like to tape, brush and roll on new white paint upon the horizontal surfaces. Can anyone give me any recommendations, on surface prep, primer if needed and topside paint? Thanks!"

From JRAlbert

When my boat was painted with Awlgrip several years ago, the yard sanded (not removed, only roughed up) the original top coat. Atop that went two coats of a primer, then the finish coat of the two-part Awlgrip. The painter said the primer would fill in the cracks and craze spots and dry level. He was correct -- except that under very, very careful inspection at the right angle in the right light, you can spot the craze tracks.

Overall, the job worked. It has lasted quite well. I say "overall". On this site I have posted a few notes on the paint job and the few defective spots that have cropped up. To those notes, I must add that I am beginning to note signs of crevice corrosion on that two-inch wide or so "hump" that goes around the boat where the hull sides meet the deck. That had occurred with the original paint. This season should tell whether I'm actually looking at new corrosion or whether the old paint wasn't fully sanded in this area.

Pay attention to my notes on the rail fittings. I think it was worth the effort. If you have the time and skill, do it yourself is quite inexpensive compared to turning over the job to the yard. A MUST: a damn good respirator -- the paint is nasty stuff inside your lungs!

 From JOE3656


I've heard a lot of good things about Awlgrip, and even better things about Imron.

I've generally been told to "remove" the old paint down to the metal if you are going to go to this level of trouble.

So far everyone that's used epoxy based or enamel paints has been "relatively happy", those of us that use "poly" urethanes seem to be rather underwhelmed with the results. I am switching to epoxy primer with the old style intelux 220 enamels.

I've posted this in a distilled version for posting as an article. I'd like to get a couple of annotated versions of paint experiences out there.

The "hump" on my boat has the same problem.

Thanks and see ya.

From JRAlbert

Joe, I forgot to mention that the yard used epoxy primer.

As to stripping, my experience has been that the deck and sides are holding up terrifically without having been stripped. The problem on the deck was the awful crazing but the primer seems to have taken care of that neatly. The hull sides have most of their new gloss going into the 4th season since painting.

Besides the corrosion on the "hump", here's the other area(s) not holding well: where vertical and horizontal surfaces meet such as the front deck seating place. Right where the seat sides meet the flat seat and the deck, the paint has lifted. An Awlgrip rep was kind enough to come down to the marina and look it over. He blamed the condition on the fairing matyerial used by Marinette. He thought it was automotive grade and absorbed the paint solvent. When the sun heated the surface, the solvent evaporated, breaking thru the paint.
Whatever the reaason, knowing what I know, I would invest in re-fairing those few areas.

In the final analysis, it's just a boat, for goodness sake, and the aluminum isn't going to dissolve (topsides). So, when the mood is right, I will patch those areas -- someday.


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Last Modified : 05/30/08 07:25 PM