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Author Topic: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?  (Read 10465 times)

bnlfan

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Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« on: June 22, 2010, 07:28:29 PM »
I have a 1996 Rexhall Aerbus that I am restoring for my move to full timing in 3 1/2  years.  I am removing the decals right now and plan to paint the bottom half when everything is done.  The question I have is, how can I tell if I need to get gel coat or if regular automotive paint will work.  If it helps, there are fibers in a spot that was damaged by the previous owner.  Other than that, the skin is just dirty.

Disclaimer: I know nothing about paint.  I understand Gel coat is basically a clear substance with color added to it and is used to "mold" whatever it is being made into.  So, I would like to know how I can tell how to go as far as putting the graphics back on.

Thanks ahead folks,
bnlfan

Tom

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2010, 07:32:10 PM »
Quote from: bnlfan
....how can I tell if I need to get gel coat or if regular automotive paint will work.  If it helps, there are fibers in a spot that was damaged by the previous owner.  Other than that, the skin is just dirty.

Gel coat is in the mold release, and is a permanent color. Clear coat is something added to a painted surface to protect it. You need to figure which you have, and the easiest way is to scrape the surface.
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boatbuilder

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2010, 08:10:12 PM »
Gelcoat is basically pigmented resin that is normally sprayed into the mold before the fiberglass is laid up.  Prep it like any sound painted surface.  Wipe it down first with Prep-Sol or similar cleaner and then scuff the surface, prime and paint.  If you have bare glass fibers you should brush on resin to encapsulate the fibers before proceding.
Charlie

bnlfan

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2010, 08:23:46 PM »
You need to figure which you have, and the easiest way is to scrape the surface.

After the surface scrape, how will I know which I have?

boatbuilder

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2010, 08:26:47 PM »
You really don't need to know what it is if the surface is sound.  Gelcoat is usually thicker than paint.
Charlie

bnlfan

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2010, 08:30:52 PM »
You really don't need to know what it is if the surface is sound.  Gelcoat is usually thicker than paint.

So, let me see if I have this right.

I have a fiberglass shell that has a covering that is "painted on" and is called Gelcoat.  Gelcoat actually is a thick clear substance that has a pigment added to give it a "color".

So, once I remove the decals, fix the fiberglass damaged area and prep it I can paint over the desired area.  Then as long as the surface is in good shape on the area not to be painted, I can just clean it up and polish or buff it to a shine.

Or, am I reading into it the wrong way?

boatbuilder

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2010, 08:37:32 PM »
You got it. 
Charlie

bnlfan

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2010, 08:44:57 PM »
You got it.

Is there a specific type of paint I need to get?  And, do I have to put a clear coat over it?

Tom

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2010, 08:48:13 PM »
Quote from: bnlfan
I have a fiberglass shell that has a covering that is "painted on" and is called Gelcoat.  Gelcoat actually is a thick clear substance that has a pigment added to give it a "color".

Gel coat is neither a paint, nor is it painted on. Gel coat is a mold release agent that has the base color in it.
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bnlfan

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2010, 08:52:10 PM »
Gel coat is a mold release agent
Scratching my head.

Does this factor into what I need to know in order to paint it?
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 08:53:42 PM by bnlfan »

boatbuilder

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2010, 08:57:32 PM »
Any good auto paint supplier can help you.  Take your motorhome to them and they can give you good advice.  Paint can run the whole spectrum on price.  Clear coat over the paint will help protect the color.  Some of the new linear polyurethanes do not need it but they are pricey.  If you are doing this yourself NAPA makes some good products that are easy to apply.  Cleaning and prep are the whole key to a good job. 
Charlie

bnlfan

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2010, 09:03:38 PM »
Thanks for the help folks.


Tom

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2010, 09:29:41 PM »
Quote from: bnlfan
Does this factor into what I need to know in order to paint it?

There's no reason to paint gelcoated fiberglass. It already has the color in the gel coat.
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shastalake

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bnlfan

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2010, 05:10:04 AM »
There's no reason to paint gelcoated fiberglass. It already has the color in the gel coat.

I don't have a choice.  The decals on my home are weathered and cracking.  Rexhall told me that they no longer use decals.  All graphics are painted on.  So, I have to paint the bottom half of the coach or live with an all white body.

Tom

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2010, 06:11:10 AM »
Ah, OK. Understood.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2010, 08:14:23 AM »
For practical purposes, the gel coat is part of the fiberglass. It is not "painted" on afterward - it is an integral part of the fiberglass that comes out of the mold in which the fiberglass is made. It is smooth and shiny and can be any desired color, but it is a part of the fiberglass, i.e. the surface layer. You don't need to know if you have gel coat in order to paint it. It is sufficient to know that it is fiberglass. Any decent paint shop that knows fiberglass will know how to prep and paint it.

Gary
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Gary Brinck
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cvrvr

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2010, 06:42:46 PM »
bnlfan
I am curious, what procedure did you use to remove the decals? I have a bunch to remove from my coach.

Thanks
George

bnlfan

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Re: Gel-coat or painted? How can I tell?
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2010, 08:27:22 PM »
I picked up a heat gun from Harbor Freight and used it along with a putty knife to remove them.  When I am done, I will likely use Goo-Gone to remove any residue from the glue.