Wednesday 25 March 2009

Painting Narrowboats - Application

Painting Narrowboats
Confessions of a DIY'er - Application
25th March 2009

Part four of seven

After all the effort and anguish of the preparation, its great to finally get the brushes out and start to apply some paint. You finally feel that you are making progress and your vision starts to emerge before your eyes.

Different paints come with different instructions, or on the case of Rapidpaint, no instructions at all! You see, Rapidpaint exist to supply the trade market and you are expected to have a good idea of what you are doing. That said, they are extremely knowledgeable and only too happy to share their insights on the application of their products. Just ask.

I was blinded with technical info regarding the quality of resins used (very good and wear resistant) and the proportion of pigment (very high - 70%?) which means that scratches can be polished out. They also showed me all the mixing machines and the non slip polymers and generally won my heart as well as my wallet.

Quality paint isn't cheap so don't expect any change out of £20 for a 1 litre tin, but if you are doing the job there is no point scrimping on the paint itself. Go for quality every time.

We were told to build up two coats of undercoat first and then apply two coats of top coat, lightly sanding each coat before applying the next to ensure a smooth finish and to get good adhesion. As the undercoat is made to the same specifications as the top coat this would mean that we end up with four layers of very durable paint, which should keep the rust at bay for many years to come.

The paint was rather thick, and as it was applied on hot sunny days, it tended to cure very fast. In fact became touch dry in about 15 minutes, so it paid to do small sections at a time and to keep progressing along before an edge formed. Working on Rapidpaint's recommendation, the paint was applied using a small foam roller and covering about a square metre at a time. As soon and the paint had been applied I used a high quality long bristled 2" brush to "lay it off". Basically this involved drawing the brush over the wet surface very, very lightly in both directions, smoothing off any little bubbles or unevenness. You finish with the lightest touch possible, just like drawing a feather over the surface, which leaves it completely smooth just before it dries and becomes unworkable.

Don't try to save money by using a cheap brush. It's a false economy and a good brush will improve the finish immensely. But having invested in a good brush make sure you rinse it out thoroughly in white spirit / turps and then wash it in warm soapy water before drying it with the bristles all smoothed together. I wouldn't say that a good brush will last a lifetime, but with care it will serve you well for many years.

Give the paint time to dry between coats, and taking good care not to apply it just before it rains or you are inundated with flies. If you look closely, Wand'ring Bark carries the scars of both!

A good quality paint, such at the product we used, is quite forgiving and not prone to running. The chances of a run on the cabin sides is much reduced if you use a roller to apply the paint and leave the brush for feathering off. What is more, a nice thick paint with good opacity covers well and the thickness of the resin settles into and fills any small blemishes you may have missed in the filling / preparation phase.

The golden rules:
  1. Use good quality paint. (Craftmaster is great stuff too).
  2. Apply it with a roller and feather off in both directions before it dries.
  3. Do small bits at a time but move on before the edges dry.
  4. Use the most expensive long bristled brush you can find.
  5. Give the paint time to dry between coats.
  6. Always, always, always apply two top coats.
With care you can achieve a very satisfactory finish using a roller and brush at a fraction of the price you have to pay for a professional repaint. What is more, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you have done it yourself.

1 comment:

D Baynham said...

Oh oh oh something I learnt off the genius signwriter Jim McCormack about looking after your brushes. Once clean and dryish, rub Vaseline into the bristles. It will keep them soft and in shape.