Re-Gelcoating entire deck

Thread starter #1
Has anyone successfully done this? Obviously I understand what materials to use and all about ensuring the deck texture is still there. I am looking for tips or techniques anyone who has done this might have used to make things work out a little easier. Basically, I want to learn from any mistakes or experience you have. ;)

We recently repaired a spongy cockpit floor as well as some soft spots on the deck just each side of the cockpit (where Laser sailors are known to sit). She's sounds as can be now! But we want to clean it up and then re-Gelcoat the entire deck to make it look nice as well.

We offered a different (newer) Laser to our son but he's a sentimental type and chose to keep this one as it's his first Laser. So we did our research and got to work with the repairs.

So, throw in any input you might have on gelcoating the deck.

Thanks!
 

LaLi

Active Member
#2
We recently repaired a spongy cockpit floor
How did that work out? I'm sorry that I couldn't help you more with that since I don't know/remember the details of the process. Did you remove any of the foam between the skins? What material(s) did you use to fill the cracks/voids?
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#3
I'd probably paint using two-part linear polyurethane primer and topcoat (two coats each, minimum). Prep work is important, ya wanna mask or remove all fittings and sand the entire deck, cockpit area, etc., with a good power sander, a small handheld sander is fine as long as ya swap out sheets often enough. Sand just enough for the primer coats to take good hold, then lay on the topcoats. Same goes if ya choose to gelcoat, sanding & prep work are important. Once you're done, replace any fittings you've removed, and "VOILA!!!" The boat will look like a million bucks. If you're dead set upon gelcoat, know that you'll be dealing with catalyzed resin and pigment, same as in surfboard repair, and there'll be more of each because the boat is larger. Meh, some may recommend gelcoating, but fresh linear poly paint topside doesn't look bad, even if ya BRUSH it on, LOL. As with all glasswork, a steady temp of 70 degrees Fahrenheit is great for curing linear polyurethane primer & paint, and the stuff will flex a bit as the hull works hard in a seaway... just my $.02, FWIW. Sure, it'll eventually get scratched up just like gelcoat, but it's not a bad way to go, topside or bottom, not for these small craft which tend to flex a bit while thrashing under way... plus you can choose a topcoat color which reduces glare on deck (cream, light blue, light tan, etc), though you can also do that with pigments if you're dead set upon gelcoating, LOL. Maybe you'll find a better deal on resin & pigment, who knows? And that "textured" deck? Meh, a smooth linear poly topcoat leads to easier sliding inboard & out while hiking, and there's less... er... posterior rash in board shorts over a long day, LOL. IMHO, the solid placement and security of the hiking strap is far more important than "texture" on a Laser deck. Again, just my $.02, and perhaps your son isn't quite tall enough to use a poly-painted rail as a stop or momentary perch... GOOD LUCK!!! :cool:

P.S. One can create "texture" by adding builder's sand to paint, stirring or shaking well and rolling out masked-off deck sections... one can also roll out prepared non-skid applications, same as our crew did for a steel sportfisher decades ago, but these seem a bit extreme for the Laser. Granted, my smooth poly-painted decks were slippery at times, one had to be careful when docking, but for overall conditions while sailing hard, a smooth deck wasn't that bad, it made subtle shifts in live ballast trim really easy while under way, which was more important to me overall... and I was more likely to make "Polynesian-style landings" anyway, loosening the rudder line & lifting the daggerboard while sailing right up onto a sandy beach, LOL. That or I'd be standing on some island reef in my footgear, waiting for an opportune moment to drag the boat to safety. Again, just my $.02, some might think gelcoating is easier, and it can be if you know what you're doing, I always preferred linear poly since I hailed from a poor nautical family [sob]... I'll be on Jerry Springer manana, squawking about how I was "traumatized" by an unsuccessful effort to gelcoat my Laser, LOL. I should add that my best friend's family ran the first and oldest surf shop in my home town for over three decades... board work ain't quite the same as boat work, but by God it ain't that much different either, AYE??? :rolleyes:
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#5
A good buffing pad on a grinder and a bit of polishing compound might also save you the trouble and expense of gelcoating or painting... clean up the deck and cockpit enough to make it look decent. I'm dating myself with that "polishing compound" number---I'm sure there are plenty of products available nowadays for cleaning up existing gelcoat. :rolleyes:

Moi, I'm addicted to huffing paint, LOL... and I'm not racing either, just cruising along at my own pace. You can buy buffing pads for drills too, but a Milwaukee grinder with a good buffing pad is the way to go, more power and less time involved. Just a thought, since it would be much cheaper and easier than going the gelcoating or painting route. :confused:
 
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#6
What method did you use to repair the soft areas?

Is your intention to cover the signs of the repairs you just completed? Or do you just want to remove scratches or small dings? If the later, I'd do something like Ghost Rider suggests. Even if the former, I'd be reluctant to re-coat.

If you really want to apply gelcoat or paint I'd try to match the existing color as closely as possible, since with a contrasting color when the inevitable scratches occur, it will probably look worse than what you have now.

I've wrestled with the same decision on two older Lasers on which I've done repairs (one had a soft deck), but decided to leave them as is for fear of having something that looked a bit better initially, but much worse over time.
 
Thread starter #7
What method did you use to repair the soft areas?

Is your intention to cover the signs of the repairs you just completed? Or do you just want to remove scratches or small dings? If the later, I'd do something like Ghost Rider suggests. Even if the former, I'd be reluctant to re-coat.

If you really want to apply gelcoat or paint I'd try to match the existing color as closely as possible, since with a contrasting color when the inevitable scratches occur, it will probably look worse than what you have now.

I've wrestled with the same decision on two older Lasers on which I've done repairs (one had a soft deck), but decided to leave them as is for fear of having something that looked a bit better initially, but much worse over time.
What we did was drill holes, about an inch apart in both the textured part of the cockpit and the sides of the deck adjacent to the cockpit. In the cockpit we used West Marine epoxy/resin/fiberglass to fill each hole until oozing out. On the deck we also drilled holes and used a water proof spray foam (can't remember the brand). Then we filled all holes with epoxy and sanded until flush and smooth with the rest of the cockpit and deck. The boat is incredibly sounds now. There are no hollow or spongy areas. It feels really good.

Now we have a deck and cockpit with visibly repaired polkadots. ;)

We want to gelcoat such that the repairs are not glaring and ugly. We're always up for a challenge and, thus far, the repair has not been too daunting and has turned out very well. And, since our son will keep this Laser for a long time we figured we might as well go all the way and make her look good. After this season he won't be sailing anything other than club or other local club races.

As for the person who talked about added weight of gelcoat. One, my son will be 18 this month and only weighs 140 pounds. In all honesty, some added weight is welcomed. In higher end winds he gets whipped around pretty good out there. He's sailing a radial rig but, still, he's small compared to most of the kids he's racing with. And, like I said, after this summer it's all about just having fun. Besides, the team my son races with isn't going to be the next set of Olympians. They all train together and love to sail and, sure, they compete in area regattas but they're all aware they aren't going to see their faces on a box of Shreddies anytime in the near future. So, two or three pound....meh!

ETA: we took pics of the entire process. When all is done I will share them.
 

LaLi

Active Member
#8
Now we have a deck and cockpit with visibly repaired polkadots. ;)
Why wouldn't you cover just the "polkadots" with gelcoat? That's how my cockpit was done, and you don't see those spots unless you look very closely. I think any other way would be overkill, redoing the whole damned deck massively so.
we took pics of the entire process. When all is done I will share them.
I'd like to see what you have done so far!
 
Thread starter #9
Why wouldn't you cover just the "polkadots" with gelcoat? That's how my cockpit was done, and you don't see those spots unless you look very closely. I think any other way would be overkill, redoing the whole damned deck massively so.
I'd like to see what you have done so far!
Well, we have thought about this. But what do you think the chances are of us matching the gelcoat of a worn, 30 year old Laser? Is this realistic? Obviously if it could be done I would MUCH rather do this.

Further thoughts..... I don't want the boat to look like total crap. But, I also understand it's a 30 year old boat and it's not going to look new. And I'm also not trying to "cover up" the repairs but, like I said, I also don't want it to look like the "Thrift Shop" Laser. LOL!

So, what ARE the chances of matching 30 year old gelcoat?
 

LaLi

Active Member
#11
what do you think the chances are of us matching the gelcoat of a worn, 30 year old Laser? Is this realistic?
I think this is much less of a problem than you think it is. It doesn't matter how old the surface is, but that you get the colour close enough. And "close enough" doesn't mean "identical"... the deck and cockpit of my Lightning are clearly light beige- or ivory-coloured, but I've always used plain white gelcoat filler for it, as the contrast really isn't noticeable enough to warrant the trouble of trying to find the "perfect" shade.
 
#12
Mom, gelcoat patch kits come with pigment tubes that are to be mixed until the right shade is achieved. I did the same as LaLi with one of my Lasers. You may have to redrill the spots to get a depression for the gelcoat.

If you are worried about the boat looking like crap, the last thing I'd do is paint it. Soon it will become very obvious that it was painted.
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#13
Not if it's done right, it won't... unless you're prone to ramming the dock as you execute landings, LOL. Meh, at least Just A Mom is getting some feedback, and there's still SOME free choice in this country. JAM, you can weigh all the factors & alternatives, then choose a process that fits your budget. Kudos to your son for his loyalty to the older boat, most kids probably would've gone with a newer hull... shows character at an early age. Next up, mast step tube repair, LOL... :eek:

Edit: Got to thinking about that previous poster's statement, and I should add that how you store your Laser is a big factor when it comes to keeping a linear-poly-painted boat looking good. Moi, I built a simple curved wooden cradle to store my Laser upright on either rail, leaning against the north wall of the beach cottage in Coronado with a folded blanket to pad the rail and a tarp to cover the boat... no sense in letting that harsh solar abuse mess with your paint. If you store your Laser on a rack at a nearby club or marina, or on a trailer in your yard, get a good cover for it... something I would do no matter which route I took. If you store your Laser in a garage, no worries, disregard this advice. Ain't nothin' nice about solar abuse, with luck you're teaching your kid about the merits of sunscreen, a billed cap and polarized shades on the water... a brimmed hat is okay as long as there's some sort of retention. :cool:
 
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Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#14
Damn, I got cut off by the time limit... story of my life. Anyway, one of my seven older brothers (only one sister, go figure) is a fine craftsman when it comes to building things with his hands, including commercial signs for a good portion of his life, and he always had a classic line: "SUNLIGHT IS THE MORTAL ENEMY OF PLASTIC!!!" And one look at an old beer cooler which has seen too much solar abuse will tell ya that he's right, LOL. When ya gets right down to it, fiberglass is merely another form of plastic, no two ways about it, so harsh solar abuse can and will have a negative or deleterious effect on that glass over time. Moi, I always liked my baby (Laser #2069) to look good, and she did too... my sweet little girl must have been filmed and photographed a million times as I tore past crowded cattleboats and bayside restaurants, not to mention patrolling the Embarcadero at the height of summer. Incognito, of course, but pulling the full-on circus act routine while juggling beers, lit torches and friggin' operational chainsaws, steering with my feet and guzzling beer at opportune moments... I'll tell y'all straight up, the bear riding the unicycle on the high wire had NOTHIN' on me, AYE??? I used to love practically scraping my spars across those crowded bayside joints, I could see all the folks inside grabbing cell phones & cameras, LOL. After raking the landlubbers with shot worthy of Horatio Hornblower in a novel by C. S. Forester, I'd whip a sharp tack or simply round up and sail off into the distance, often grabbing the boom with one hand, tiller extension in the other, and standing with one foot in the cockpit and one foot on deck, HAULIN' @$$ AND MAKIN' A STATEMENT as I departed, BWAHAHAHAHA!!! Damn, those were the glory days of Laser sailing, at least for this kid... the island voyages didn't suck either, nor did the Salton Expeditions, though I sailed the Salton aboard a 12' Minifish. Meh, the Minifish has a deck plan similar to a Laser, so we'll cut her some slack... :confused:

Edit: Wait, I have a confession to make, a la the English Beat... every now and then, if I was in a sour mood, I would sail past those crowded restaurants at maximum boat speed, casually dumping a bailer full o' p!$$ down to leeward (off the quarter) while steering with my feet, LOL. Meh, I used to make a point of doing this off the Embarcadero, directly in front of the County Administration Building on Pacific Highway, raising the p!$$ jug (or bailer) on high in a salute to the crooked scrub p.o.s. D.A., that EPIC STRAP-ON DARWIN FAILURE, LOL. Crowds of tourists, nay, HORDES, would routinely witness this display of localism... WTF, I would've simply stood and urinated in the direction of the gubmint building as I sailed past, but that probably would've rated another charge, this one actually REAL for a change, PFFFFFFFT. ;)
 
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#15
Perhaps I was a bit harsh because I'm sure someone sufficiently skilled or careful can put a beautiful paint job on a Laser. My problem with doing this is the inevitable scratches that will penetrate to the old gelcoat, especially in places like the cockpit floor and other high wear spots. If we stood on our cars with wet, sandy boots or dragged our car bodies over sand and rocks, in a short time our cars wouldn't look very nice.

Maybe it's just my personal preference, but I think a damaged paint job looks worse than most damage to the original gelcoat. This is particularly bad when the paint and gelcoat differ in color.

So, my recommendation, for what it's worth, is to not paint.
 
Thread starter #16
Perhaps I was a bit harsh because I'm sure someone sufficiently skilled or careful can put a beautiful paint job on a Laser. My problem with doing this is the inevitable scratches that will penetrate to the old gelcoat, especially in places like the cockpit floor and other high wear spots. If we stood on our cars with wet, sandy boots or dragged our car bodies over sand and rocks, in a short time our cars wouldn't look very nice.

Maybe it's just my personal preference, but I think a damaged paint job looks worse than most damage to the original gelcoat. This is particularly bad when the paint and gelcoat differ in color.

So, my recommendation, for what it's worth, is to not paint.
Not harsh. I welcome the advice from all fronts. And, YES, we are inexperienced boat repairers. Hubby is incredibly handy (having put in our kitchen, all hardwood and finishing our basement when we built our house) but painting gelcoat is a whole different beast, I am sure.

Anyway, after getting the epoxy/resin sanded down it's looking better. We are thinking of just gelcoating the repaired parts. But that would be most of the cockpit floor. We've ordered some gelcoat and some colour agent. Just waiting on it to arrive.

Yet another question.....

Does anyone know of a database that shows what the original colour of the deck would have been? It's a 1988, made in Canada, with a sail number of 134XXX. I only ask because when mixing the gelcoat I want to have the correct colour agents on hand to get to as close a match as possible. You see, hubby and I differ in our opinion of what the current/original deck colour looks like. I say it's a creamy colour but he swears it's grey-ish. Personally, I think his old eyes are failing him. ;)
 
Thread starter #17
UPDATE....

The repair is done! Painting is done! It's turned out very, very well. I will post pictures of the whole process in the next few days - the drilling the holes, the filling, the sanding, the painting, etc.

We're pretty proud of how well it went considering that 100% of our Laser repair knowledge base came in some sort of online form. Heck, even the gelcoating went well. I'm now convinced that any idiot could do it. :p
 

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
#18
I'VE done it, so there's your proof, LOL... glad to hear it all went well, now your son can get back out on the water and put that boat to good use. One thing cool about the Interwebs, there are many video tutorials and a whole heap of other info to help folks who need to do things, particularly on a budget. I'm not implying in any way that YOU are on a budget, I'm freely admitting that I MYSELF have been on a budget all my life, LOL. Meh, plenty of food & beer in the fridge as I ponder the mysteries of the universe, including my imminent relocation, LOL. CHEERS!!! :cool:

P.S. Tell that kid to put the repairs to the test in true nautical fashion, LOL... :confused:
 
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