DIY disc smooths way for makeover

By Mike Rose

Ron Brown, sales manager, Altex Yacht and Boat Paints. Photo / Richard Robinson
Ron Brown, sales manager, Altex Yacht and Boat Paints. Photo / Richard Robinson

A free DVD aims to make it easy for owners to save money by painting their own boats. Here's a problem with which many boat owners will be familiar: their craft, a GRP or a timber boat which may have a protective GRP layer, is still structurally sound but the appearance leaves a lot to be desired.

Built sometime from the 1960s until the early 90s, the boat is now in desperate need of a comprehensive repaint above the waterline.

The gelcoat or original finish has probably been cut and polished several times but now there is little paint left to cut.

There is cracking or crazing and quite likely a yellow tinge around the bow.

Despite this outward shabby appearance, the boat is still well-loved and the owner wants to restore it to its former glory. But to get it professionally painted will cost as much, and quite likely more, than the boat is worth.

Although owners may want to do the work themselves, they may be unsure whether they have the knowledge or ability do so.

It is a frequent problem and no one is more aware of that than paint company representative Rob Brown. He has been in the marine paint industry for the best part of four decades and, in that time, has seen many of these boats launched and, in some cases, watched their paint systems slowly deteriorate.

From a time when basic handyman skills such as woodwork and painting were taught at school, he has also watched as this practice has waned, leaving many without the skill or confidence to tackle a project such as repainting a boat.

Recognising the scope of the problem, Brown, for the past 20 years sales manager at Tauranga-based Altex Yacht and Boat Paints, has been working with others in his company to find a workable solution. Historically, marine paint has been difficult for amateur painters to apply successfully.

Even experienced car or house painters, comfortable with professional paint-spraying equipment have struggled to get a good result.

However, during the past few years, AY&B - a division of New Zealand-owned marine and industrial paint specialists Altex Coatings - has been working hard to change this. Brown says the company has concentrated on producing systems that have what is known as "excellent flow control". This makes them easy to apply, even for the relatively inexperienced.

Just as important, these new systems can be applied with a combination of brushes and rollers and expensive, difficult-to-master spray equipment is not required.

The company has also produced a video, the Altex Yacht and Boat Paint Brush Painting Demonstration, which Brown describes as "a comprehensive, easy-to-understand, step-by-step guide" to using the systems.

Available as either a DVD from any Altex Coatings depot or as a download direct from their website (, the guide is completely free.

"It is an 11-minute video and shows just how easy it is for owners to paint their own boats," Brown says.

"It shows the owners exactly what to do, what equipment to use, and how to choose a small area to start with while they gain confidence."

Brown says he has already seen how successful watching the video can be.

"I know several owners who were quite concerned that they didn't have the skills necessary to properly paint their own boats," he says.

"However, after watching the video and starting with a relatively small area, like the transom, they quickly realised that this was something they could do.

"They then went on and painted their whole boat above the waterline, creating a great-looking, high-gloss finish and adding considerably to its value."

Brown says that, after viewing the guide, owners can use the AY&B brush and roller system to restore every part of their boat to its former glory: topsides, cabin tops, cockpits, masts and spars.

"By doing this, they will not only add considerably to the vessel's value and overall appearance, they will also enjoy considerable savings," he says.

To illustrate the difference in price between having a boat professionally painted and painting it yourself, Brown uses the example of an H28 yacht.

"This would probably cost between $13,000 and $18,000 for a professional paint job," he says. "However on a DIY basis, this will drop to just $4500 to $6500 plus any hardstand and lifting fees."

- NZ Herald

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