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Bottom Painting Tips

Use these tips to paint neater and more effectively.

March 13, 2012
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I’ve been painting boat bottoms for almost 40 years, 15 of those as a boatyard pro. In that time, I’ve seen bottom paint evolve from simple (but very effective) slap it on glop to complete antifoulant coating systems. No matter. The following tips will help you work neater and more effectively regardless of the coating you apply.

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1. This is a cool tool: a dedicated paint can opener. Just right for popping lids and if you use one you wont damage your screwdriver tips. It’s made even more functional by the addition of a bottle opener on the other end. I got mine from a US Paint paint rep about twenty years ago. You can get yours from Grainger, two to a pack, for $3.11.

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2. Poke Holes in the rim of the can with a ten-penny nail. About eight works great. Doing so allows paint scraped off brush or stir stick to drain back into the can instead of squishing out all over the place when you replace the lid.

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3. Make a shield for your drill-mounted paint mixer. A simple cardboard square, larger than the paint can’s diameter, slid over the stem of your paint mixer keeps splatter contained.

4. Invert bottom paint the day before applying. The copper in bottom paint settles as a heavy sludge to the bottom of the can. Turn the can upside down the day before you paint to allow this sludge to fall back into solution. It will make mixing easier and quicker.

5. Pour over the front of the label. If you pour paint into the roller tray over the back of the label, you’re likely to obliterate the application instructions. For complex coating systems, I slice the label with a razor and remove it for the duration of the job. If I have material left over, I use tape to put the label back on the can.

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6. Roller Cover Care: Roller covers are disposable. But between coats you can store them in your freezer, wrapped in aluminum foil. That way you only need to throw away one.

Takeaway: Owning a boat proves Einstein’s Theory of Relativity: Paint the bottom and it seems so big; go out on a rough day and suddenly the boat can seem so small.

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