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paint restoration on a narrowboat

My boat is eight years old and unfortunately the paintwork was not looked after in the early days. I have tried various lotions and potions but nothing seems to bring back the shine for more than a day or so, however hard I work at it. Any fail safe answer or do I need to consider a re-paint?

Asked by: John Burt  | 1.46pm, Monday 30 January

WW says:

Eight years is very good going for a cabin finish- especially if you have blues or red colours.
If you have tried T-Cut, and other cutting compounds, with no avail, then it might be time to consider a repaint.
Using commercial cutting compounds with mechanical polishers might work, although they might also just grind away an already oxidised paint finish.
If the surface is in good condition, then a thorough cleaning (not with washing up liquid- but a proper product that does not contain silicons!) and sanding back, may just need then one (or possibly two) coats of paint- topcoat gloss.
Any minor areas of flaking can be treated and locally primed/undercoated. You should not need to take the paint back to bare metal, or re-undercoat. However, try, if possibly, to use the same type (or even better, make) of paint, as some are less compatable with each other. Two-part epozy paints do not like adhering to single pack paints, and so on.

Mark Langley  | 3.05PM, Monday 30 January

It sounds as though you might have tried this; the paint surface needs to be cut back with a mildly abrasive cutting compound or metal polish that will remove the top surface of the paint along with any old polish and muck. Then a good quality polish applied, the best is based on carnauba wax. Only attempt smallish areas at a time as it is quite hard work, and it is best done in warm (not hot and sunny) weather. Special polishing machines are available with a slowly rotating mop; (high speeds produce heat and damage the paint).
Another option which will restore the shine for a while is to varnish the paint. Clean it first, and then rub down the paintwork with fine wet and dry emery paper. Paint with a good quality clear lacquer, not polyurethane varnish which will quickly peel.
Best of luck.

Rupert Smedley  | 3.29PM, Monday 30 January

Lacquer will not bring back the original finish of the paint, it will restore the shine. You can probably check to see how it will look by wetting the paint.
The paintwork will need rubbing down, but only very lightly to ensure the lacquer will adhere properly.
Craft Master or HMG paints supply a clear enamel lacquer, that would be suitable.

Rupert Smedley  | 3.43PM, Tuesday 7 February

Readers say:

Thanks for the suggestions. I have tried cleaning the paintwork, applying polish and then carnauba wax. It looks good for a few days but come back in two weeks and there is not much to show for all the hard work, even with an electric polisher!
I like the idea of the varnish but am rather unconfident about rubbing down the paintwork and losing what shine there is. Do you have to apply anything to the paintwork before applying the varnish as it seems hard to believe that the lacquer will just bring out the colour from what by then is presumably a dull finish? Perhaps trying it on the hatch top first might be a good plan? Can you recommend a particular brand of clear lacquer?

John Burt  | 9.48AM, Sunday 5 February

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