On: Painting the Decks (or: how to eat an elephant)**

The time is upon us.

Tomorrow, we take to the decks with angle grinders, cutting brushes and a trusty band of workers, loyal and true to go at 72m2 of steel with all the gusto we can muster. Our mission? To reduce the tatty, crumbling, peeling, mouldering paintwork to bare steel on the deck and topsides forward of the wheelhouse by Sunday night, really for paintwork to start on Monday.

If you can’t be bothered to read the rest of this, the key thing we’re aiming for is to go from this:

To this:

It’s going to be fun, fast, energetic and noisy. If that sounds appealing, we still have space for a couple more volunteers who will be rewarded with fine company, barbecue, beer and a dedicated place in the celestial firmament of our eternal gratitude.*

The last two weeks have seen several fascinating chats with the very helpful Chris Goodwin from Bird & Goodwin regarding best paints and primers.

Since we gave up on the slurry-blasting idea, phrases like “2 part epoxy Jotamastic”, “oxidised substrate” and “polyurethane hardtop flexi” have been bandied about with gay abandon. Oh my, how I do love words…

Anyway, you’ll be proud to know I held it together and we now have a plan, Chris having patiently and comprehensively answered all our questions (eg: ‘So you say it’s “impact resistant” but hard to fix once dinged – so how do you actually do that?!’)

For the boaters out there, this is the detail on what we’ve gone for:

– A layer of Jotun’s Jotamastic 87 primer on the bottom. It’s the best rust inhibitor and it puts its money where its mouth is, as apparently you have to let surface oxidation (“rust”) develop for a day or so after grinding to create a key for it to lock into, especially as cutting brushes can tend to polish steel which obviously reduces adhesion. So far so good. But it only comes in black.

– Two layers of Jotamastic 90 (which can be coloured one white, one green so we can see the layers).

So far these are all 2part epoxy paints, so we’ll have to mix them with a special paint-mixing drill bit and get painting. Once it starts to set, we have between 10 hours and 7 days to apply each next coat before it gets so hard that the next layer can’t adhere – you want the paint to have enough softness or flexibility that the chemicals can form a proper bond between each layer (which is why patching it is a total b*gger – you essentially have to sand down the edges and then build the layers carefully back up in the same manner you originally painted them).

2 part epoxies are about twice as good (i.e.: strong and protective) as 1 part paints and a bit more expensive, but they are not UV resistant so a topcoat is needed to stop colours from fading and to protect the epoxy from deteriorating (which all paint eventually does – you can’t stop rust. It’s a fact – like Putin apparently. All you can do is try to delay it.)

So after the epoxy has gone off, we’ll apply two layers of Jotun’s polyurethane Hardtop Flexi, and then we’ll be DONE!

Should only take us a week, if we’re lucky. Once we start, we can’t stop because we have to get it all done before it cures hard as glass. And I’ve only taken a week’s leave.

No pressure people, no pressure.

*Please supply brand logo, guidelines and boilerplate for inclusion.

** how you eat an elephant is: one bite at a time. And whatever you do, don’t stand back and look at the whole project in one. Just don’t.


2 thoughts on “On: Painting the Decks (or: how to eat an elephant)**

  1. Ooooh, this is v useful! We have just taken our Tjalk to dry dock and now considering repaint. We too thought about blasting, but can’t in the dock. Out of interest, how long did it take you to angle grind the paintwork? Sammy

    • Thanks for reading! Yes it’s been a steep learning curve, this one. Angle-grinding: we were managing under 1metre squared per hour – depends on who’s doing it and the condition of the paint (we had tar black in some areas and then 5 layer epoxy systems in others) – but it’s a pig of a job, really really filthy. Also most of our deck is diamond plate steel which meant we had to grind around each diamond – it’s be faster on flat. Get knee pads! And only grind where necessary – you don’t need to take everything up unless it’s in bad condition, the more layers the better. Just make sure you’ve got a decent key for the new paint to adhere to, and also the right paint – we went for the Jotamastic because it will famously cover pretty much anything. Good luck! Let me know how you get on! Anna

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