HOW TO: Replicating "Splatter" Non-Skid

gw204

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#1
This post is intended to outline the process of repairing damage to the splatter non-skid pattern that many Gradys have on the gunwales, hardtop and cabin decks. Please note that I make no guarantees about the results you will achieve. I can only say this process worked very well for me. :)


Step 1: Prep the area.

After making all required glass repairs to the area, I sanded, faired and cleaned the area to be gelcoated. This was a large repair, so not all jobs will require as much prep work.




Step 2: Put down your base layer of gelcoat.

Thanks to much advice from Trident on www.classicmako.com, I figured out how to spray gelcoat with a Preval sprayer. The magic mix was 1 oz gelcoat, 6 ml acetone, a TINY dab of brown coloring agent and the appropriate amount of catalyst for the outside temperature. I mixed up larger batches, but using this ratio.

DO NOT add the catalyst until you have thoroughly mixed the other three components.




Step 3: Prep the base coat for non-skid.

This particular project required that I wet sand the hatch edges prior to spraying the nonskid. So, I hit them with 400 and then 600 to knock down the orange peel. Then I masked off for spraying of the non-skid, sanded the surface to receive the non-skid and cleaned everything w/ acetone.




Step 4: Spray the non-skid.

I used the same process as I did for the rest of the hatch, I just didn't thin the gelcoat nearly as much. I normally use 6 ml of acetone per 1 oz. of gelcoat. But in this instance I used 1 ml per 1 oz. After I had the pattern I wanted, I sprayed one final layer using my standard thinned mix. Then I coated it with PVA for curing.



Once cured, I removed the masking and the PVA actually peeled off in thin sheets. Never knew you could do that. Pretty cool... :)

As for the finished product, I couldn't be happier. The non-skid pattern is a bit more aggressive than what Grady has on the boat, but it's good enough for me. Color match is near perfect. It's a bit whiter than the surrounding areas, but someone who didn't know something had been done would never pick up on it.






LESSONS LEARNED:

1. For the non-skid mix, I probably should have used 2 or 3 mL of acetone for thinning rather than just 1 as my non-skid ended up being more aggressive (like I think it should be anyway) than what Grady did, so the texture match isn't perfect.
2. DO NOT RUSH! Take your time or you WILL screw it up. :D

Hope this help anyone looking to match the splatter pattern. :)
 

BobP

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#2
Brian, what did you add to the gelcoat to get that pimply sandpaper finish, while the perimeter has the smooth band ?

Look at your stern cap fish box covers, like that.
 

gw204

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#3
I just didn't thin the gelcoat as much before I sprayed it, nor did I do any sanding once it was cured like I did on the perimeter. The pattern is all gelcoat, no additives.
 
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Brian,
I love my 1995 Explorer but al the hatches are starting to chip gelcoat. I was thinking about trying to repair them one at a time. Did you just use a white gelcoat with a dab of brown coloring to try and match the off white color? What does "fairing" mean? What is PVA and how does it help the gelcoat cure?
 

gw204

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#7
reelpartners said:
Brian,
I love my 1995 Explorer but al the hatches are starting to chip gelcoat. I was thinking about trying to repair them one at a time. Did you just use a white gelcoat with a dab of brown coloring to try and match the off white color? What does "fairing" mean? What is PVA and how does it help the gelcoat cure?
Yes, straight white gelcoat tinted with a tiny bit of brown coloring agent. When I say tiny, I mean TINY. I would squeeze a bit out on to a piece of cardboard and just dab the very corner of my mixing stick in it. It might take a few times, but that way you don't over do it. Mix in the color and get the tint right BEFORE you add the catalyst.

Fairing is the process of smoothing out any rough spots or pinholes in the laminate. This is done with either a premixed putty or you can make your own. I have done both and so far don't have a preference. When I mix my own I use standard epoxy and add West System 410 Microlight filler and mix is to a consistency of thick peanut butter. The more filler you add, the less runny and easier to sand it is. When I get to the point of fairing the new transom on my Mako, I'll buy a premixed putty like System Three QuickFair.

PVA stands for Poly-Vinyl Alcohol I believe. It's a mold release agent. Gelcoat by itself will not completely cure when exposed to the atmosphere. To deal with this, you can either add a wax surfacing agent (rises to the surface of the gelcoat once applied and seals it for curing) or you can spray PVA over the gelcoat. Depending on where you purchase the gelcoat, it may already have wax in it so read the product description carefully. The Evercoat gelcoat I bought at Boater's World DID NOT have wax in it.

I have since been told that polyester gelcoat should be thinned w/ styrene and not acetone. Haven't done much research or tried that yet so I can't guarantee that the mixing ratios mentioned above are also good for use w/ styrene. If you are buying your gelcoat from a place like Minicraft or Spectrum Color, I would ask them what they recommend.

Good luck.
 

ROBERTH

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#9
gw204, a couple of questions I might have overlooked or misunderstood.

1. What did you use to make the texture? Was it an already available gel-coat that is built in? I haven't found that so far if it is.

2. I used a conventional spray gun to spray my gelcoat with wax to coat my older boat transom a while back. The spray gun I used had too small a tip. It sprayed, but was hard to get it out. Was using 100psi to get it out. Overall, it did the entire transom though pretty quickly. Sanded the orange peel and polished it out. Looks like factory and been over a year now an no issues. Can not tell it had been resprayed.
So, does the Preval handle any volume so to speak in regards to maybe recoating a bow pulpit? Seems I might be better off using a spray gun for a larger surface area. Your thoughts on that. I will be looking for a larger tip spray gun like a 2.5 to 3.0 tip from what I have been reading.

I just wonder why folks don't use the Gelcoat to resurface bad areas more often. I found it was not as intimidating as was originally thought. Spray, wipe down with acetone to remove the wax layer after curing, sand with 240, 400, 600, 1200, then polish with a dual action buffer and something like Magic Buff and it looks like new. The gelcoat sands really well.

I guess the real challenge is matching the original gel coat color. Now that is scary!
 

ROBERTH

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#10
gw204, are you still there? Anyone? The texture escapes me if there is no additive. Spraying straight gelcoat is smooth with a orange peel finish usually, not textured like the original on the Grady. Have not found a Gelcoat product yet that is textured, so assume something has to be added.
 

gw204

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#11
Robert, sorry about the delay in repsonding. I've gotten into the habit of just skipping over these top two stickys when I check-in...

ROBERTH said:
1. What did you use to make the texture? Was it an already available gel-coat that is built in? I haven't found that so far if it is.
It was all store-bought Evercoat gelcoat. I simply got the texture by not thinning it as much.

ROBERTH said:
2. I used a conventional spray gun to spray my gelcoat with wax to coat my older boat transom a while back. The spray gun I used had too small a tip. It sprayed, but was hard to get it out. Was using 100psi to get it out. Overall, it did the entire transom though pretty quickly. Sanded the orange peel and polished it out. Looks like factory and been over a year now an no issues. Can not tell it had been resprayed.
So, does the Preval handle any volume so to speak in regards to maybe recoating a bow pulpit? Seems I might be better off using a spray gun for a larger surface area. Your thoughts on that. I will be looking for a larger tip spray gun like a 2.5 to 3.0 tip from what I have been reading.
Sounds like your gelcoat needed to be thinned. In my experience, liquid gelcoat still has to be thinned out to be sprayed. I think I used 6 or 7 mL of acetone per ounce of gelcoat and the little Preval shot it out just fine...when it didnt' freeze up. For the texture area, I simply dropped down to like 2 mL of acetone per ounce and then didn't do any sanding.

I think the Preval held enough gelcoat to do the entire hatch, but I don't really remember. It's been a few years. You could do a pulpit with one, but I think you would have to refill and it would take a long time to spray. A real sprayer is definitely the better way to go. I didn't use one cause I didn't have a compressor at the time.
 

ROBERTH

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#12
No problem GW204.... I thought you might have left the country. :<><

Ok, so it appears to me that the factory Gel Coat texture areas is some kind of grit, but likely not sand as none of it has ever worn through. Possibly there is some type of poly grit or other type material that looks like the gelcoat or maybe it actually absorbs and becomes part of the gelcoat properties.

I think I might check with West Systems to see if they have any suggestions or maybe Grady can tell me what to use.

On my sprayer, I forgot about this, but I found out later when I was spraying the motor, it would spray good and smooth for a few moments, then would not hardly spray. After a bit, I figured out the vent hole in the cap was mostly clogged up.

I think the next time I spray the gelcoat, it will spray properly, but will use your forumula for reduction and see how she goes. I did reduce it, but not sure how much. Likely was not enough.

Thanks for catching up to me!
 

ROBERTH

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#13
gw204, I took a better look at the gelcoat today when I was trying out those Magic Erasers (Great product). It appears I am mistaken in that there is a grit. It is more like what you described as a texture. The texture to me seems to be more if you had a very dry of fast cure gelcoat spray so as to not allow it to flow out and lay down.
That will take some practice. I assume that a higher pressure with pulling back from the surface more than normal will allow it to snow on the surface and cure faster.

Will go back and reread these posts and get it more in my head. Likely will not get into this until much later this year as I am now starting to actually get her out and go fishing now that the electronics are installed and the motor is fixed.

Thanks for posting the great information! Later..... 8)
 

gw204

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#14
All I did to get the texture was thin it less. 1 ml of acetone per ounce of gelcoat for the textured areas, 6 ml of acetone per ounce of gelcoat for the smooth areas. No change in my spraying technique.

Oh, I've since learned that styrene is better for thinning poly/vinyl based resins/gelcoats.