|The pleasures of paint|
Colorful Sailboat by Bill Jones
There are only two colors to paint a boat - black or white - and only a fool would paint a boat black.
- Nathanael G. Herreshoff on How to Express Oneself as an Opinionated Old Fart
One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do.
Two can be as bad as one.
It's the loneliest number since the number one.
- Three Dog Night on Color Schemes
A KISS of Paint
'Tis Spring, and this young man's heart turns to thoughts of... paint.
Paint and painting goes hand-in-hand with boats and boating. Wooden ones, at least. Even the brightest, glossiest yacht sports a fair amount. Paint seals and protects wood, cleans much more easily, brightens dark corners and dresses her up.
It's unbelievable to me how much ink has been spilled debating the proper scheme for a yacht (naturally, I'm spilling my own, here). Opinions (like ol' Nate's, there) run strong and deep.
Color schemes range a wide gamut.
So-called fisherman's finish (stark, raving white) anchors one end of the spectrum. It's cheap and easily applied. No trim or detail work. No edges to cut, anywhere. Get it on, get out there and make money. But One is the loneliest number...
To tell you the truth, I've only ever seen one case of full-blown fisherman's finish, and that guy was himself on the stark, raving side. Fisherfolk in our area use a range of color and detail structures which provide natural trim.
At the other end, are the gorgeous kaleidoscopic flourishes of color usually found in many southern climes, often among the least cash-ready folk. I've often wondered if this is in part due to having access to a cup or two of any given color at a time?
We stick to a more utilitarian (one could say boring) scheme.
The following considerations apply for the way we live:
- Thermal Dynamics - White reflects well, cooling and reducing thermal flux in wood joints. The more pigment is added, the more stress on wooden structures. This is the science behind NH's proclamation.
- Glare - White is easy on wood, but hard on the eyes. Sunglasses help, but aren't always handy. Other colors help ease eyestrain.
- Footprint - It's good to have paint on board when ready to slap some on... the fewer the cans, the better.
- Clean-Up - Solvent based paints generate (especially) nasty pots of Evil Incarnate. Water-based paints can be disposed of in-the-field with (relatively) little harm.
- Aesthetics - A little variation, a little trim, a little color are nice, when practical. A white hull, grey decks and whale, and eyes to keep watch decorate the box.
Our solution has been to use latex paints and primers. These have come a long way, due to development for the humongous housing market. Cheap, easy to apply, durable, water clean-up. Seem to get about two years between exterior coats. Interior depends on use, but seems on a par with oil paints.
Flat paint outside 'chalks off' over time. This means it doesn't build up and require stripping every so many years, and naturally provides good 'tooth' for the next coat. All we do is feather edges and spot prime any barespots.
Gloss paints inside - especially 'Porch and Floor Enamels' once cured are very durable and hold up even under heavy scrubbing. A little harder to touch up, but then, you're out of the weather and not limited to its vagaries. You can not sweat the small stuff.
Color scheme is based on black and white, mixing our own, light greys. Anything else is a 'guest-star' (something we might add when near town, then give the dregs away). Hull and interior get white, name and eyes get black, decks and cockpit vertical faces get grey (doesn't show dirt as much on decks, and verticals cut down glare). This keeps it down to two cans on board.
At the beginning of each season, we start with two new chip brushes each, and store them in two peanut-butter jars of water (tight lid)... one for white, one for not-white. To paint, shake it out on a dry log and go. Brush out at the end of the job, but don't bother to rinse.
And that's it.
Our paint jobs tend to be gritty affairs. Paint suffers from over-wintering, forming a few but ubiquitous lumps. Without fresh, running water, there's always a bit of 'texture tread' that evades the broom. We try to wash things down in the rain, shortly before painting, then let the chips fall as they may.
Let's say an afternoon of prep a year, and a morning to paint. We don't win blue ribbons, but do pass the 50 foot test.
Good enough for us!
TIPS from Work Boats:
Consider ways to ease free-hand painting. For instance, a trim piece or right angled edge dividing two color fields provides a physical stop. Overlap paint with by the thickness of your brush (or tip), and sweep it on.
Consider making more complex areas (the cockpit, say) monochrome. Sweep it on.
Consider git'r'done for traffic areas or out of sight zones. Pour paint and slather it around. Skip brushing out unidirectionally, from dry to wet, as you might where visible. Dust Bunnies won't be impressed, either way.
Consider oil primer + latex topcoat for best economy. Oil primers penetrate wood pores deeply, rather than 'float' on the surface. Solvents can be recycled in most towns, so its a relatively green option on the first round.
Consider solid pigment oil stains. These are inexpensive, very easy to touch up, and seal well. Take a look at how they hold up in waterfront housing in your area.
Consider resin + primer (apply while resin is 'green'... not completely cured) + topcoat. This has been the most durable paint coating I've seen. First noted it along our dory's tape n glue, then used it on SLACKTIDE's decks. Downside is resin cost, mess and toxicity.