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Painting Your J/30

How’s Your Boat’s Finish?

by John Allington

Last updated 2000: (Copied from old J/30 website)


My boat is now 10 years old, hull #144 and it’s hull looks better than it did the day it was delivered from the factory. You ask,”what did you do to get a fresh high gloss finish?” It’s call LP (linear polyurethane). OK, it’s good stuff but I don’t want to spend four to seven thousand dollars for a professional application. Nor am I willing to attempt to do it myself. LP has the consistency of water and runs just as easy. I was not willing to risk a bad paint job on my valuable investment and neither should you.

So where does this leave us? Well, after three weekends and less than a thousand dollars I have professionally applied LP on my boat (no, my brother doesn’t own the boat yard).

I spoke with numerous boat yards and their LP specialists. I discovered that the person who applies the LP works for the boat yard and is paid by the hour – so he doesn’t get much of the money you pay for the job. Almost every painter I spoke with was willing to spray my boat on the weekend as long as it wasn’t at the yard he works for (conflict of interest) . Additionally, the painter can tell you what boat yards will allow LP to be applied by sprayingÑspraying is the only way to go.

If you ready want to save money, you have to prepare the boat for spraying yourself. This is a lot of work but it is the most important part of the finished product. LP will amplify any nicks or scratches on the hull. It took me two weekends, a lot of wet and dry sandpaper and some epoxy putty.

Fill all the scratches with a good epoxy putty and sand with wet and dry sandpaper. Once the hull looks perfect, sand the entire hull with a 300 to 400 grit sandpaper. I did the preparation while the boat was in the water. It was a long four days laying on the dock sanding.

Make the arrangements with your painter prior to hauling the boat. The deal I made with the painter was for $150 per coat. He was responsible for all equipment, supplies (except LP), final wipe downs and taping off the boat. Additionally, he was to apply two coats to the hull and one coat on the stripes. Any runs, imperfections or additional coats will be his responsibility.

The boat was hauled on a Friday and the two coats on the hull were applied on Saturday. The stripes were taped and sprayed on Sunday. I put on new bottom paint on Monday (why not – the boat was already in dry dock). The boat went into the water Tuesday and never looked so good.

So, what did all this cost?

  • Two weekends of sanding and filling.
  • Haulout and laydays $225.00
  • LP paint $210.00
  • Sandpaper and epoxy putty $45.00
  • Spraying (labor) $450.00

For $935.00 my boat now has a professionally applied LP finish. Oh by the way, the boat yard my painter works for quoted me a price of $6400 .00 for them to do all the work. Shop around for painters and look at the boats they’ve painted.

Now when people look at my boat, they think it is a new boat. Don’t be afraid of LP – it’s a good tough finish and can make your boat look fantastic .

John Allington is a J/30 owner who sails in southern California.

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