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Boat Painting

Very interesting to read Graham Booth's article in March WW, though I had always understood that paint should be backed off from bottom to top. My question concerns the use of lacquer instead of varnish: would it work to use a lacquer such as Incralac or an automotive one used over metallic paint?

Asked by: Peter McLaren  | 11.28am, Saturday 19 March

WW says:

I have heard the 'bottom to top' recommendation but a renowned boat painter told me to do it the other way. The reason is that, if the paint runs, it will go from the top to the bottom (gravity and all that). If you push it to the top, it may still run down and cause an unsightly 'curtain'. In an ideal world, you would put on just the right amount of paint so it doesn't run but that rarely happens.
Incralac is an excellent finish for metal items such as mushroom vents as it stops the moisture getting to them so you don't have to keep polishing them. The main problem I have found with it is that, if you try to put more than one coat on, the second and third coats tend to reactivate the underlying coats and make the surface rather uneven. It also dries very quickly which makes it difficult to cover a large area without it being obvious where one pass meets the next. There is also the possibility that, being cellulose-based, it might react with the enamel paint you are trying to protect.
It is much better to use a varnish which will sit happily on the enamel underneath and has a longer 'wet edge' time so that you can blend one pass into the next. As I said in the article, don't use a polyurethane varnish as it is too brittle and will darken with age. A natural varnish will give a much better result.

Graham Booth  | 11.57AM, Saturday 19 March

Readers say:

Thanks for the answer. I agree about lacquer being very quick to dry.

Peter McLaren  | 12.25PM, Saturday 19 March

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