XIV. Painting the Interior

Building the Core Sound 20

Finally, at the beginning of August, it was time to get back to boat-building. Since our boat had spent the last three weeks baking under a tarp in the hot Georgia sun, we were confident the epoxy was fully cured. To prep the surface for painting, we roughed up the cured epoxy with 120-grit sandpaper, then wiped everything down thoroughly with acetone to ensure the surfaces were free of contaminants that might prevent good paint adhesion.

Once the surfaces were clean and the surrounding areas were masked off, we mixed a batch of Systems Three SilverTip Yacht Primer. This is a two-part primer that is a joy to work with because it is water-reducible and has very little odor compared to most two-part boat paints. It also gives very little trouble with runs or sags and cleans up easily with soap and water.

We rolled the primer onto the interior using a standard 9" short-nap roller, a small 4" foam roller, and an assortment of disposable foam brushes. After applying one thick coat, we waited about two hours, then applied a second coat to achieve full coverage of the underlying surfaces.

Applying primer is always one of the most exciting parts of the boat-building process. The boat really begins to take shape while the paint goes on. In our case, all our hard prep work really paid off. Although not flawless, the primed interior came out extremely well, requiring very little sanding before applying the finish paint.

We let the primer cure for a day and a half, during which time we did some minor touch-up work to fill in a few fastener holes that telegraphed through the primer due to epoxy shrinkage. After filling these areas, we put a few dabs of primer over them and waited for everything to dry. Then, to prepare for the topcoat paint, we scuffed the primered surfaces lightly with 150-grit sandpaper, sanding just enough to knock off the semi-gloss surface texture without exposing any of the underlying surfaces.

For the interior topcoat paint, we're using Systems Three WR-LPU paint, which is designed to be used with our primer. Like the primer, this paint is water-reducible and gives off very little odor compared to other marine-grade paints. The color we selected is Whidbey White, which is a gray-tinted off-white color. Systems Three also offers a brighter white color called Orcas White, but we were afraid such a bright white would be too intense in the sunlight, resulting in a blindingly brilliant cockpit.

The WR-LPU paint is a little trickier to apply than the SilverTip Yacht Primer. The paint actually reminds us of a high-quality latex paint, but like latex paint, it has a tendency to "gather" along corners or edges. It rolls on smoothly, but sometimes gradually collects into a small run, so you have to be much more vigilant than with the primer to prevent drips. Even so, it was a delight to use compared with other, more noxious marine paints. We rolled on two thick coats and a third, thin coat. Thanks to the primer, the final coat yielded a nice, even color and appearance.

Although the finished interior is not flawless, it looks very good. We're extremely satisfied with the Systems Three paint system and would definitely recommend it to other builders who want a low-hassle, marine-grade paint.

Next we're onto the last few major steps in the boat building process. Finally, the end is almost in sight! Before we know it, we'll be sailing!

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© 2008, Wesley Kisting


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