Boats are always in need of care and maintenance, especially the hull. Your hull serves as the very barrier between you and the deep, and this watertight enclosure that ensures the safety of the cargo, machinery, even the accommodation spaces from weather, flooding, and structural damage.
Your hull treats you well, and it’s your job to return the favor. Every few years, the time comes around to touch it up and either give it a fresh coat of paint, or gelcoat your hull. So, which one to choose?
Their first concern is the length time between required maintenance, cost, and its advantage on-and-off the water. An additional factor that may well affect your decision is the availability of color options for your vessel.
So let’s talk about it. Re-gelcoat or Paint?
What is a gelcoat finish?
A gelcoat is a resin-based material that coats and protects your hull. It is applied as an adhesive-like material that hardens to a shell-hard casing over several hours. It then protects your boat from UV and other harmful chemical reactions due to frequent water exposure. It is mostly used on new yachts and is known for its durability.
A high-quality gelcoat can be rather expensive and only comes in a few colors, but its longevity can actually save you money over repainting with cheap paint over and over again. If you take care of it properly, you won’t need to re-gelcoat your hull for well over a decade at least. You can just apply the epoxy primer, sand it and apply the topcoat to give a brand new look.
If you have enough to spend and are not too particular with colors, gelcoat is a great choice.
Is traditional paint still practical?
A less expensive option (up-front, anyway) is Urethane paint. Marine paint on the other hand is more expensive and more durable. Both types of paint provide you with far more diversity in terms of color options than a plain gelcoat.
Painting the hull protects it from damage and gives it a unique look.. Compared to gelcoat, it is more vulnerable to chipping however, because of the interaction with chemicals in the paint and the salt and acidity of seawater (along with marine life).. Paint is easier to work with but the hull preparation requires a lot of labor.
Though this choice is cheaper at first look, it may cost you more in the long run, since re-painting needs to be done every year or two.
Which option is best for my vessel?
If your boat stays in the water for extended periods of time, a good gelcoat is highly recommended.. It is more expensive up-front and requires a lot of work, but the longevity you get with a fresh gelcoat is second-to-none. If you are on a tighter budget or your boat spends most of its time on land, you can always opt for a nice antifouling marine paint. Just keep in mind that you will need to schedule your repainting every 12 to 24 months.
Can you repaint your boat yourself?
It has been a trend to D.I.Y most of our repairs at home, but boat maintenance is a different beast, altogether. If you are patient, active, and skilled enough, you can achieve a nice paint job or coat on your hull. This requires quite a bit of space, safe drainage, and a capable hoist or lift to ensure you are able to access all areas of your vessel.
The easier and more common choice is to paint, as you only need a few materials. The only thing that needs attention is the preparation. If you decide to use Gelcoat, prepare for a strenuous process. You need to thoroughly prepare the boat, get rid of wax and dirt, nspect for any cracks and dents and repair them. Then, you can apply the coat, sand, and polish. Repeat this 2-3 or more times to achieve the best results.
This can be quite hard for newbies, so it is always recommended to have your boat gelcoated by professionals to ensure you protect your investment and your sanity.
Let Us Help With Your Antifouling Needs
Corleone Marina at the Balmain Marina has one of the last remaining slipways in Sydney Harbour. Our marina services include the best antifouling and hull and boat repairs. We also offer Do-It-Yourself slip way usage on the weekends. We know you just want to get out and enjoy your boat, so let us help with those routine sailing maintenance issues so you can focus on enjoying your vessel.
Contact us today to find out more about our excellent marina services in four stunning Sydney locations. We’ll take good care of you and your boat so you can relax and enjoy sailing worry-free.