The painting or repainting of a luxury motor yacht is a complex process, and one that should never be attempted by anyone other than skilled and experienced marine paint professionals.
Here is everything you need to know about the yacht painting process.
There are quite a few steps to painting a luxury motor yacht, but the most important one is preparation. Did you know that almost 80% of the cost of repainting a yacht is in preparation? Almost every time that I have seen a failed paint job, it was because of poor preparation.
Removal of old Gelcoat, layers of wax, and otherwise preparing the surfaces to be properly repainted is critical to getting a successful and long lasting paint job. Any skimping at this step, will result in a poor outcome.
Gelcoat is a standard coating for the exterior of most modern yachts. Gelcoat is not only used to protect and provide pigment to the outer surface, it serves another very important role in preventing mold from adhering to fiberglass surfaces. The problem is while necessary, Gelcoat is not very durable. Exposure to the sun and the elements cause it to become pitted and porous. Even if these holes are not visible to the naked eye, they serve as receptacles for years of waxy buildup. Even if the gelcoat does not appear chalky or faded, that buildup of wax and oils within it, makes a surface that paint has a very difficult time sticking to. So, before any paint job, regardless of its condition, old Gelcoat must be completely and thoroughly removed.
Once that is done through a procedure of sanding and de-waxing, a special primer will be applied that increases the paints ability to adhere.
Another important aspect of preparation is making sure any surface damage or imperfections are repaired, prior to your painters beginning their work. Of course, all hardware should also be completely removed. Simply “masking” hardware or window frames etc., is a sign of shoddy workmanship.
Some Special Painting Considerations
Depending on the size and model of your luxury motor yacht, there may be areas that require special treatment when it comes time for a new paint job. Hard to get to spaces, like on or around the flybridge or cockpit, may not be able to be properly spray painted. Using a sprayer in these areas can result in under-spray, or orange peeling. Make sure your painting facility or contractor has a skilled brush painter on hand if you know your yacht has some of these difficult to spray surfaces. Another area that may not be able to be repainted at all is non-skid decks. The abrasive surfaces of non-skid decks do not take well to paint, and they cannot be sanded smooth, or they would lose their non-skid properties.
Is There a Right Time to Paint?
Most marine paints cure best when the temperature is between 70 – 80oF and the humidity below 65%, and when there is no rain. Those could be conditions that can be tough to come by here in South Florida, so that is why it is best to select a painter that has an indoor painting booth, where the environment can be completely controlled, and time of year becomes less of an issue. More on selecting the right facility to do your yacht painting job in the next section.
Choosing The Right Marine Painter for the Job
Having your yacht painted is a major job that will be expensive and will take many weeks to complete. When choosing a yard or contractor to paint your boat, you do not want to pay more than you have to, but nor should you make price be your only determining factor.
Stick with a reliable yard that has a good reputation, and that is willing to give you references and show you examples of their work, preferably the actual yachts, and not just photos or videos. By law, any urethane painting work needs to be done in an enclosed spray booth. Even if it wasn’t required by the EPA, that is the only way to ensure that the environment is controlled for a perfect paint job. Any yard that does not have such a paint booth should be avoided!
One way to ensure that your yacht will be painted right, and at the right price, is to use our On Demand paint service. All of our technicians have been completely vetted. That means you will know that all of our painting professional are experts in the field, who have done dozens of yachts just like yours. And, since the yacht painting job will be part of our On Demand Yachting solution – you will be able to completely monitor the job from your own dashboard, from start to finish!
Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.