How to Make Fiberglass Repairs on Boats

How to Make Fiberglass Repairs on Boats

When boat owners find that their precious fiberglass boat has been damaged, no doubt one of the first things they think is, “I need to find a fiberglass boat repair near me.“ However, going to a boat repair specialist comes with astronomical fees of up to $3,000.

But here’s the surprising truth most boat experts won’t tell you: most repairs really aren’t that expensive. Patching a fiberglass boat can cost as little as $500 or less if you’re not afraid of some elbow grease.

This article will discuss fiberglass boat repair: how to do it yourself, how much it will cost you, and the materials you’ll need.

Fiberglass Boat Repair Overview

Before we get into the specifics of doing a boat hull repair, let’s briefly discuss the material you’ll need.

In most boats, “fiberglass” is a combination of fiberglass strands and epoxy resin, finished with a thin layer of pigmented resin called the gel coat. That outer coating gives fiberglass its sheen.

The depth of the damage will dictate how you’ll approach the repair. Is just the outer layer damaged or does the inner fiberglass core need repairs too? If it’s just the gel coating, you should be able to sand it down and apply a fresh coat. However, if the core has been damaged, it will need to be filled. You’ll know that the fiberglass core has been breached if you see fiber strands.

Fortunately, fiberglass is straightforward to repair. You can fix even the gravest of damage with relative ease and minimal expense.

Preparing for a Fiberglass Gouge Repair

If you want to achieve the best results, you should prepare the affected area for repair.

First, remove any decals or stickers on your boat using a heat gun set at the lowest setting. Gently run the heat gun over the decal and peel carefully. Use an adhesive remover to clear off any residue as needed.

You should also check the surrounding areas for delamination. If you find any it’s best to remove these spots altogether. Use a screwdriver and tap the affected fiberglass – any dull sound is a sign of delamination. These areas can cause issues down the road, so you should cut them out. Repeat this process, checking the edges of the hole and enlarging each as needed.

Fiberglass Boat Repair Cost and Materials

One question that will pop up when you start any hull touch-up project is, “how much does fiberglass repair cost?”

Fortunately, it’s relatively inexpensive to do a fiberglass repair. Boat scratches, deep gouges, and even holes can cost less than $500 in materials. If you have the required tools, then the cost might be even lower.

It’s essential that you buy and prepare everything ahead of time so the repair session goes smoothly. Here’s the equipment you’ll need to perform the repair:

  • Heat gun
  • Rotary tool
  • Disposable spray gun
  • Variable speed buffer
  • Wool buffing pad
  • Burr nose grinder bit
  • Sanding block
  • Paper cups
  • Stir stick
  • Sandpaper

Then, you’ll need materials. Most of the materials are available at any hardware store. Or, you can contact Plastic Materials Incorporated to buy everything in one convenient place.

  • Acetone
  • Gel coat (try contacting the manufacturer to match the exact color to your boat model)
  • Gel coat reducer
  • Buffing compound
  • Powdered fiberglass filler
  • Wax

Lastly, don’t forget your safety gear:

  • Safety glasses
  • Respirator
  • Chemical resistant gloves

How to Fix a Fiberglass Boat: Step-by-Step Solutions

This guide will show you how to repair deep gouges that have penetrated the fiberglass core.

  1. Use a V-shaped grinder bit to cut grooves into the gouged area. Smooth the edges of the gel coating to eliminate any sharp areas.
  2. For lighter scratches, you can use sandpaper to sand it down. Start with 80-grit sandpaper, then move a 150-grit, before finally finishing with a 240-grit.
  3. Prepare a gel coat filler in small batches. Gradually mix gel coat and powdered fiberglass together until they form a paste resembling peanut butter. Add the hardener last and mix thoroughly for a full minute to remove any resin patches.
  4. Apply the gel coat filler on the gouged areas. It’s perfectly okay, and in fact recommended, to overfill, as you will sand these spots later on.
  5. Allow the filler to cure for 1 – 2 hours. You can touch it to tell if it’s ready.. The filler should be fully hardened without a sticky texture.
  6. Prepare a batch of gel coat mixture, which consists of a gel coat, gel coat reducer, and hardener. Place it in a disposable spray gun and use short bursts to apply it over the affected area.
  7. Wait for the gel coating to cure.
  8. Finish the repair areas with sandpaper. Start with 600-grit, then move on to 800-grit. Finally, end with 1,200-grit before buffing.
  9. Re-apply any decals you want, and then wax.

A Fiberglass Boat Repair Is Easy with the Right Materials

The quality of your repair work is only as good as the materials you use, so make sure you only get the best. For everything you need, give Plastic Materials Incorporated a call. We have everything you need, from fillers to gel coatings to epoxy and polyester resins


How To Harden Sticky Resin

How To Harden Sticky Resin

If you’re a resin enthusiast, you’ve probably had a few not-so-successful projects and experiments in your creation space. Maybe you’ve even had instances where resin doesn’t harden correctly. Sticky resin can ruin a project,  and we want to help you learn how to fix uncured epoxy resin. No one wants to have to ditch a project because their resin won’t properly set. Learning how to fix sticky resin is an essential skill that can save your project.

In this piece we will talk about uncured resin, how it occurs, and how to harden sticky resin so that your projects will be successful. 

Common Resin Sticky Situations

Resin that hasn’t cured properly is a hassle. You may be asking yourself, “why Is my resin flexible?” Here are three common situations that you may run into with sticky resin:

Sticky, Tacky Resin

If you inaccurately measure your ingredients, don’t mix the resin thoroughly enough, or cure your resin in cold temperatures, you may end up with sticky resin.

Soft and Sticky Spots

Soft and sticky spots sometimes appear on otherwise nicely-cured resin. This phenomenon occurs when you don’t properly mix your resin. If this happens, you should scrape off and then sand down the soft resin, and then carefully apply a new coat that has been mixed properly.

Liquid, Runny Resin

You can end up with runny resin if you don’t use the  correct 1:1 ratio of hardener and resin or if you use too much color additive. You’ll need to scrape away the runny resin and add a new layer.

These are all tough situations. But we’ve compiled several strategies that you can use to deal with your sticky resin situations. Hopefully you’ll never need to Google ”what to do if epoxy doesn’t harden” again.

How to Fix Tacky Resin

In this scenario, your resin has started to cure but is tacky. When your resin is tacky, it will stick to objects like the sticky side of tape or an envelope. 

Why Did It Happen?

Your Resin Room May Be Too Cold

You should always cure your resin in a room that has a temperature between 75 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you are working during a cold season or in a chilly locale, you can use  heating lamps in your work space to keep the resin at its appropriate temperature.

Inaccurate measuring

The 1:1 ratio is a hard rule. When you’re mixing up a batch of fresh resin, make sure to maintain this precise ratio between your hardening agent and your resin.

If you don’t have the right ratio, you will run into tacky or runny resin.  

Not enough mixing

If you didn’t thoroughly mix your concoction, the hardening agent may be streaked in with the resin, resulting in a bad cure.

How to Fix Tacky Resin

Taking preventative measures when mixing resin is key to ensuring you don’t have to fix tacky resin. If you’ve used inaccurate measurements or haven’t mixed it properly, you may have to make a fresh batch. However, before you throw it in the bin, you may be able to salvage your project. 

Try setting the piece in a warmer area for twenty-four hours. Your resin room should be around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Resin doesn’t cure well in cold surroundings.

How to Harden Runny Resin

If you have runny resin, it may be more like liquid, or it could have partially hardened but still be gooey, runny, and wet.

Why Did It Happen?

Too Much Colorant

Too much colorant can cause the resin to become runny, even if you used the correct proportion of hardener. 

Measuring by weight, not volume

Most commercial resins are designed to be mixed by volume, not weight. Be careful to follow mixing instructions on the product, including the measurement unit.

How to Fix Runny Resin

You’ll need to entirely remove the wet or runny material. Scrape away the runny resin, remix new resin, and apply a new layer. If necessary, sand the leftover depression, and make sure to cure your resin in a warm space as detailed above.

How to Harden Resin Soft Spots

In an otherwise finely-cured piece of resin, you may have soft spots.

Why Did It Happen?

Did you scrape the sides of your mixing container after pouring?

We recommend that you scrape the sides of your mixing bowl while mixing, but we don’t recommend scraping when you pour your resin. This is because you might pour in unmixed resin. To avoid this, scrape down the sides as you mix, and gather all your resin in the center of your mixing bowl before you pour it. 

How to Fix Soft Resin Spots

The best way to fix soft resin spots is to scrape and then sand these areas to remove all the soft material. After you have removed and sanded down the entire spot, use a new resin mix to carefully fill in your spot. Once it hardens, sand it again. Add layers as appropriate.

Resin Hardening Tips and Tricks

Knowing how to fix epoxy that won’t dry can save your project. Here are some tips and tricks to help harden sticky resin:

  • Try applying triple-thick polyurethane. After waiting twenty-four hours for your resin to cure, carefully spray on a layer of polyurethane and then wait 30 minutes. Be sure to apply thin, even layers—thick sprays may cloud your surface.
  • When you’re fixing a  sticky spot, you should apply a new layer of resin to your entire project, rather than just the problem area. This process will help you avoid a seam line between the old and new layers.
  • Always remove gooey or runny resin; you can’t fix them. You can leave tacky or sticky resin and use another method to deal with those issues.
  • Keep your colorant at or below 6% of your resin mix.
  • Create a practice project before tackling a large project. You will catch mistakes when you practice mixing and applying your resin.
  • Always follow the mixing directions on the product precisely! Too little hardener in resin mixtures can lead all of the above problems.

Hardening Sticky Resin: Plastic Materials Has You Covered

We at Plastic Materials have been producing products that have been helping resin crafters for years. If you have questions about tacky, sticky, or runny resin, we’d love to help! Contact us with your questions about epoxy resin, polyester resin, and more.