Painting Top Coat

This post is the last in our series of posts about boat painting. We’ll discuss painting top coat for inland waterway vessels, such as narrowboats and other steel canal boats. We’ll take a look at what paints we use at the Floating Boatyard, how we apply them and what to look out for.

For quotes and bookings please ring 07886 388689, use the contact form here, or email us directly at

Painting Top Coats on Boats

Environmental Concerns

We all love our waterways and our countryside. This is why most of us own boats, we like to be near nature. It is our responsibility to take care of the landscape we live in and we must act accordingly. Polluting the waterways and surrounding lands is under no circumstances acceptable and most of us are doing their best to protect the environment we live in.

Always get permission from your local waterways authority before carrying out works while in the water. Paint dust and paint are extremely toxic to aquatic life and proper precautions must be taken. Alternatively you can have the boat lifted out at a local boatyard and follow their environment policy.

Never tip or drop paint dust or fresh paint in the water or on the surrounding land. Use proper and adequate dust extraction, on-tool filters or built-in filters are insufficient. A dust extractor should be attached to the tool and any dust collected must be disposed of correctly through a licensed waste carrier.

The Floating Boatyard are fully licensed, risk assessed and insured to carry out canal boat maintenance and painting on CRT’s inland waterways. We use professional tools and our staff are trained to carry out works with environmental protection in mind.

Preparing Your Boat For Painting Top Coat

Before we begin planning for painting that nice fresh top coat on your boat, we need to make sure the surface is adequately prepared. Have a look through the posts in our painting category. You will find advice on stripping paint, rust treatment, primers and more.

The Right Temperature And Humidity

It is important that the paint is applied in the right weather conditions. If we are painting top coat in too high or too low temperatures, or high humidity, we will get problems down the line. A correctly applied paint job on a narrowboat will last up to a decade or more, so it is worth waiting for the right weather conditions.

Always check the paint manufacturers data sheet for specific instructions. Generally speaking, paint should not be applied if it is too humid. Surfaces should be clean and dry. Never apply paint below the dew point, unless it is specifically designed for it.

Painting top coat in low temperatures is generally no problem as long as we stay above the dew point. It is worth noting that the paint will take a lot longer to dry and harden out in colder weather. Judging this requires some experience and practice.

Hot weather can cause problems too and there are things we need to look out for when painting top coats in high temperatures. The main issue is that the paint will dry very fast. This will leave us with not enough time to brush out the top coat. Owatrol Oil or other paint conditioners can be used to help prolong the edging time. Never paint a hot boat panel in direct sunlight. On hot days in the summer, we start work at 5am. This gives us some 4 to 5 hours before it gets too hot.

Recommended Marine Top Coat Paints

Choosing the right paints can be tricky. There are many different brands, types and systems of top coat paints on the market. We almost exclusively work with single pack paints. These are mostly better for the environment and less hassle to work with. A quality single pack marine gloss or coach enamel will be strong enough for our purposes on canal boats and narrowboats, and should last a long time.

For very strict budgets, we find that Coo-Var, Teamac or Jotun are OK to work with and sufficiently durable. However, we strongly recommend spending a little bit extra to buy Craftmaster Paints. Craftmaster Coach Enamel is easier to work with and is less prone to problems like drips and pigment issues. It covers very well and gives an excellent flat finish. Craftmaster top coats also come in gloss and raddle finishes.

Painting Top Coats

How To Apply Top Coat

We use short pile gloss rollers and quality brushes when we are painting top coats on boats. It is OK to use cheaper brushes and rollers on primer and undercoat, provided these are sanded flat before we paint the top coat. Hamilton Prestige short pile gloss rollers work well and Purdy Monarch Elite brushes can achieve excellent results when brushing out top coat.

We apply an even coat of paint with the roller, to a manageable size section of the boat panel we are painting. We then brush out immediately before moving on. This requires a considerable amount of practice and skill to get perfectly right, but amateur painters can still achieve okay results with Craftmaster Paints. Cheaper paints may be more difficult to work with and get right.

If the undercoat used was matched to the colour of the top coat, it should be sufficient to apply two coats to achieve coverage. However, we do normally recommend that a 3rd top coat is applied. This will ensure that the paint lasts longer and will give a fuller finish to the colour.

Two Or More Colours And Coach Stripes

A few things need to be considered when painting top coat in more than one colour. Make sure that paints and undercoats are fully hardened out before painting the adjacent area. Use ultra low tack masking tape, with a work time rating of several days. We highly recommend Craftmaster masking tape. Masking up paint which is not hardened out enough, or using cheap and tacky masking tape with lead to peeling paint when the tape is removed. In some cases, the masking tape will pull the primer and undercoat off with it, making it extremely difficult to touch up the affected area.

For quotes and bookings please ring 07886 388689, use the contact form here, or email us directly at

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Annual Profit Donation 2018

Our annual profit donation has now been made. The Floating Boatyard is run as a worker owned co op. We follow the co operative values, as first set out by the Rochdale Pioneers. Part of this is a commitment to our wider community. We carry out this commitment in a few ways, including:

  • we keep our prices affordable to most boaters
  • we offer a 10% discount on labour rates to people on income-based benefits and to union members as a gesture of solidarity
  • we share our knowledge on this website and on our Facebook page so people can carry our their own boat repairs
  • we help out boaters in need throughout the year
  • we pay all our workers the London living wage as set out by the Living Wage Foundation
  • we donate at least 51% of any cash profit left at the end of the year to a charitable project.

This year, as our members have been so busy getting the co op off the ground, we have decided to donate the small profit we have made to a charity. We asked the boating community to first nominate charities of their choice, on our Facebook page. Then, we created a poll to find out which charity was the most popular.

The results were:

Profit donation - Boat Repairs - Floating Boatyard.

The Dot Collective and Waterways Chaplaincy had been neck and neck throughout the polling period, so we have decided to split the donation between the two charities with The Dot Collective receiving £353.33 and Waterways Chaplaincy receiving £176.66. We asked the two charities to tell us a little about their work, which you can find below.

The Dot Collective:

‘Registered charity The Dot Collective was set up by Artistic Director of the former company First Draft Theatre and actress, Laura Harling. Laura ran First Draft Theatre for 6 years and worked as a professional actress in film, TV and theatre. When her grandmother, who loved the theatre, needed full time care, Laura discovered the desperate need for professional theatre and stimulation in care communities. Laura set up The Dot Collective in memory of her grandmother, Dorothy, as a registered charity in 2016.
The Dot Collective tour, professional theatre which encompasses themes of the elderly and dementia including: providing professional pop-up theatre in care centres, theatrical workshops that celebrate the abilities of elderly participants often with dementia and raising awareness of the disease through professional, public performance.
More information can be found at

Since 2015 The Dot Collective have been touring and creating theatre with care groups across the South East at little to no cost to the care centre as limited activity budgets can not afford theatre productions of this nature. The Dot Collective’s touring productions transform care centre spaces with all the aesthetics of a theatre alongside providing professional productions for those unable to get to a theatre. In the past their performances have brought together four generations of family, sat together enjoying shared entertainment in the comfort of care surroundings. The Dot Collective work closely with care service providers and leading charities including: Dementia Action Alliance, AgeUK, The Alzheimer’s Society and Care UK. They have worked with over 30 care
centres since 2015.’

Waterways Chaplaincy:

‘That Britain’s rapidly growing Waterways Chaplaincy network is now making an impact in both rural and urban communities is reflected in a generous gift from London’s Floating Boatyard. Floating Boatyard is a worker-owned cooperative with a charitable focus and the chaplaincy is very grateful for their recent recognition and donation. The gift will be well used.

Waterways Chaplains, walking stretches of towpath around the country are there to support all who live, work or take their leisure on, or immediately around, Britain’s rivers and canals where social conditions for some are often not as relaxed and delightful as many imagine. ‘We are there for people of any faith or none at all,’ says Senior Chaplain Mark Chester, ‘and the vision for our Waterways Chaplains is to be ‘catalysts’ in the waterways communities, to bring about short and long term personal transformation – emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

‘Starting from an initial trial in the St Albans area we have a growing team of volunteer chaplains, currently over 70 of them. Many are focused on one area but a number also live aboard their own boats and cruise the system. This enables us to cover many of the main arteries of the UK, including the Grand Union Canal, the Kennet & Avon Canal, the Basingstoke Canal and the Wey and Lee & Stort Navigations.

‘Last year we engaged with over 5,000 people in connection with issues relating to boats,
finance, family problems, health issues and often things relating to faith and spirituality. This year sees us starting to expand our work further into the London area. With the increasing number of volunteers coming forward we expect to build on 2017 and make even more of an impact.’

Chaplains are volunteers from local churches who regularly visit to walk the towpaths. They are people with a love for the waterways and their communities. Easily identifiable by the clearly marked gilets they wear, they have gained the respect of the Canal & Rivers Trust (CRT) and other river authorities for the support can they offer’

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Boat Undercoat Paints

Boat undercoat paints are a misunderstood and often ignored part of painting boats. The undercoating stage of boat painting is a vital step to ensure a professional finish which will last for many years.

Contact us here for boat painting and other boat repairs, or call 07886 388 689

Boat Undercoat Paint – what is it?

When painting a boat, it is important to pick a paint manufacturer and stick to their paint system. There is the risk that two different manufacturers systems are not compatible. If this is the case, you will find peeling topcoats, sagging primers and a generally poor finish. If you have spent days or weeks preparing the boat for painting, it would be a shame to have wasted your time. We generally recommend Teamac or Craftmaster boat paints.

When choosing your paints and picking colours, you will notice a category called ‘undercoats’. We find many people we talk to understand what primer is for, and topcoats are more apparent, but are uncertain about boat undercoat paint.

Applying Boat Undercoat Paints - The Floating Boatyard

The role of primers

To understand the role of undercoats, we should look at a standard paint system overall:

Primers are applied to untreated surfaces, such as bare wood or steel. Their role is to stick to the material being painted and to provide a surface for the undercoat to hold to. Primers generally do not cover many flaws such as pitting and scratches in the steel. Primer is porous: This gives good adhesion for the following boat undercoat paint. This does also mean that primer does not protect the steel or wood from water.  We cover primer coats in more detail here.

Boat undercoat paints – the undercoat itself

After priming, we apply undercoats to all of our boat painting projects. Boat undercoat paint is typically high build. This means that it deposits a thicker layer, which helps cover up minor pitting and scratches that are too small to be filled by other methods. Once the boat undercoat paint has been applied, we sand using very fine grade paper to get a flat finish.

The undercoat also provides a better surface for the topcoat to adhere to, it is less coarse than the primer. Topcoat which has been painted straight onto primer will generally fail faster than a project where undercoat has been used.

Boat undercoat paints are also used to correct the colour before the topcoat. Primers are generally dark grey (zinc oxide primer) or red-brown (iron oxide primer). Both of these colours will show through gloss topcoats, affecting the look of the final finish. Brighter and deeper colours of topcoat are counter intuitively more transparent than they would appear. In our experience, deep blues and bright reds especially suffer from this. It is important that you get the right colour of undercoat before applying topcoat to get the colour to look as expected. Undercoats come in a range of colours and your paint manufacturer will recommend the correct colour to use.

Boat undercoat paints – taping up

Boat undercoat paints are applied after the primer coat and before the topcoat. Once the boat has been primed and filled, you can begin undercoating. If the topcoat colours you have chosen require more than one colour of undercoat, for example for panels or coach stripes , you will need to mask these areas off at this stage.

Generally, you want to paint the lightest colours first, in case of any accidents or bleed under the masking tape. Use the best quality masking tape you can find. Use ultra low-tack tape, if you are painting outdoors then tape with UV-resistance is necessary as sunlight can affect its glue. Take off the tape very carefully as soon as the paint is touch dry. The longer the tape is sat on your freshly painted and undercoated surfaces, the more likely it is to pull off the paint underneath it.

Sanding the undercoat

We apply the required number of coats and sand carefully. At this stage, it is important to us a very fine sandpaper possible. The purpose of sanding at this point is to remove imperfections and foreign bodies, as well as flatten the brush marks in the undercoat. If the sandpaper is too coarse, you will remove the boat undercoat paint entirely. In extreme cases and on uneven surfaces it is possible for coarse paper to remove all paint applied, meaning that the boat will have to be primed again and then undercoated.

It is vital to use a professional random orbit sander with dust extraction to do this. Any scuffs or sanding marks left will be very visible in the topcoat. Pay particular attention to weld lines, often small drips appear at these. When left unsanded, these encourage larger drips to form in the topcoats where remedial work is much more difficult.

Ultimately, undercoats are no less important than primers or topcoats when painting narrowboats. Our team of professional boat painters approach every step of painting with the same care and attention.

Always get permission form you local waterways authority before working on your boat while it is in the water.

Contact us here for boat painting and other boat repairs, or call 07886 388 689



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Diesel Polishing

The vast majority of boats we see on the inland waterways rely on diesel for propulsion. Like the rest of your boat, it is important to look after your fuel and fuel system. Neglecting this will eventually lead to diesel bug developing. This article talks about preventing diesel bug, diesel polishing and chemical fuel treatments.

Call Floating Boatyard on 07886 388 689 or contact us here if you think you may need diesel polishing.

What is diesel bug?

Diesel bug is a colloquial name for a host of different microbes (mainly bacteria but also yeasts and moulds) which live inside diesel tanks. These microbes live in water and feed off the biological components of your diesel.

Modern diesel is a biofuel mix. While this is better for the planet it is more prone to bug.  These microbes are most commonly found at the interface between diesel and water in your fuel tank. As they grow, reproduce and die, they form polysaccharide polymers (long, gross, slimy strands to you and I) which clog up the fuel system and cannot be burned by the engine. These microbes often produce acidic by-products, this can cause pitting and corrosion in steel fuel tanks – similar to how bacterial plaque build up on your teeth causes cavities.

Diesel Bug - Tanks Needs Diesel Polishing

Diesel bug residue in the bottom of a canal boat tank.

Diesel Polishing – Preventative Maintenance

With care, you can probably avoid the need for diesel polishing for some time. As diesel bug forms in water, preventing water ingress into your tank is key. Make sure your filler cap fits tightly, as rainwater could run down the screw thread and into your tank. Keep your fuel tank as full as possible. This prevents condensation on the walls, which drips into the fuel. Diesel which is allowed to sit for a long period of time (such as over winter) without being disturbed by running the engine is more prone to diesel bug. We recommend that you use a diesel additive such as Marine 16 as per manufacturers instructions. Especially if you are not using your engine on regular basis.

Diesel fuel – especially fuel with a higher biodiesel content – does have limited shelf life. We recommend that you buy your fuel from suppliers with a good turnover of stock. Most marinas and coal boats on the London waterways are always busy, but if you are venturing to lower traffic waterways this is worth bearing in mind.

The microbes which cause diesel bug do not come from one particular source, they are airborne and live on almost every surface of this planet. Ultimately, while you will never be able to maintain a totally sterile fuel system these tips should give you some respite from diesel bug problems.

Diesel Polishing – How Do I Know I Need It?

Usually, the first symptom of diesel bug is an engine which starts but cuts out. This also suggests issues with the fuel supply system in general. When fault finding, our mechanics will remove and examine the fuel filter. If diesel bug is present, it will show up in the filter as clumps of black slime. By this stage, the diesel big problem is usually very bad. For prior warning, keep up to date with your engine service intervals and pay attention to how your engine sounds. You might hear it struggle and cut out when in higher revs if the fuel system is getting blocked up.

We recommend checking for diesel bug once a year. This can be done by us as part of your annual engine service. You can also test the fuel yourself with a fuel testing kit.  If you find that the bug is present, then we recommend you also check the inside of the tank for corrosion.

Diesel bug seems to get worse when the weather warms up after winter. During winter, water collects inside the diesel tank. Microbes love temperatures around 30°C. When the diesel tank gets to a higher temperature, the population of microbes explodes. We get many calls in early June for bug problems. That said, it can be a problem that strikes at any time of year.

Diesel Polishing – How It Works.

If you find you have a diesel bug problem, the first stage is to use some Marine 16 as per manufacturers instructions. In less serious cases this is usually enough to clear it. The product kills the bug and breaks it down into materials which can be burned by your engine. If once you have tried this, you are still having problems with diesel bug, you will need diesel polishing.

A Diesel Polishing Machine Cleaning Diesel Bug

Our diesel polishing machine in action, filtering diesel bug from the fuel.

Attacking nasty diesel bug infestations needs a multi-pronged approach. The first step is to remove the diesel from the tank and polish it as we go. We have specialist equipment for this. Basically, the diesel fuel is pushed through filters which are fine enough to remove microbes and water but not the fuel itself. At this stage, we also recommend inspecting and cleaning inside the tank.

If your diesel tank does not have an inspection hatch, one will need to be made by us. At this point, it is usually a good idea to visually check for any signs of corrosion of steel tanks. At Floating Boatyard, we are not surveyors so do not offer full thickness tests. We will inform you if we see any signs of pitting or corrosion which looks concerning. After this, we clean out the tanks, removing any residual biofilms or other matter.

Finally, we put the diesel back and seal up the fuel tank. We then bleed your engine and start it up with some diesel treatment in the fuel. This ensures that the system is cleared from the inside. Any contaminants which find their way back into the diesel tank at this point will be at such low concentrations as to have no effect on the system, and the diesel treatment will take care of microbes.

For free quotes and consultations ring 07886388689 or message our here.

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Boat Carpentry

Boat Carpentry at the Floating Boatyard

This article talks about some of the projects where boat carpentry comes into play, such as interior fit-outs, fitting new doors and stern decks. We offer a boat carpentry service from our floating workshop boat. Our skilled team can help you with those boat carpentry jobs which are just plain awkward to carry out without workshop space. We are fully licensed by the C anal and River Trust, carry full public liability insurance and have all necessary environmental risk assessments in place.

Contact us on 07886 388 689 to speak to us about your projects and book a free consultation.

Fitting new doors

Many older narrowboats built for leisure purposes and later converted to liveaboards have wooden doors fore and aft on the cabin. These are relatively straightforward to fabricate and are an attractive feature, if they are in a good condition. Their useful lifespan is dependent heavily on how well you maintain them. As with everything on your boat, it is important that you keep them protected with paint or varnish. We recommend sanding and varnishing or painting every couple of years. Do this as soon as the existing coating looks dull or tired.

As the doors are exposed to the elements, we fabricate them from strong hardwood or marine plywood. Marine ply will weather rain, wind, snow and bright sun much better than any other kind of composite board. We recommend that marine ply is the only composite wood you or your boat carpenter use on your boat. Any other kind is simply not up to the job in a marine environment.

Every boat builder has built their boats to slightly different specifications, with hatches and doorways varying in size. There is, therefore, no off the shelf solution to new doors for your boat.

Boat Carpentry - Navayana new doors - Floating Boatyard

New doors fitted on a narrowboat.

Interior Fit Out

With sailaways fast becoming a common way to get a brand new narrowboat or widebeam, many people are taking on the job of interior fit out themselves. While there are some arguments to be made regarding the cost efficiency of self fit- out, if you are not personally already very experienced in working on boats it will save you time, expense and hassle if you speak to experienced boat fitters such the Floating Boatyard. We have worked on a great number of boats and have seen what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to interiors. We also see which designs stand the test of time and are easy to maintain, and what falls apart after a couple of years of use.

Wood is used extensively in narrowboat interior fit out for a few reasons. It is lighter than steel and unlike steel, it flexes with the boat when temperatures fluctuate and engines send vibrations through the cabin. Wood also minimises condensation, as it is porous it breathes and it also insulates the steel to keep the boat warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Boat carpentry allows you to take advantage of these properties in your build.

Boat Carpentry – Suitable Materials

Marine ply and hardwood should be used for all structural elements of your fit out such as cabin walls and floorboards. It is very strong and resists moisture. Avoid the temptation to use cheaper composite boards. You will only have to rip it out again shortly after, when the moisture has destroyed it.

Traditionally narrowboats were lined with tongue and groove. This can be varnished or painted, depending on the finish you require. This is relatively easy to fit to the contours and curves of your boat. We say relatively: boat carpentry is never straightforward and requires lots of patience. More modern narrowboats often have hardwood veneers held in place with battens. This again allows for the contours of your boat but gives a more understated finish.

Boat Carpentry – Stern Deck Covers

The vast majority of cruiser stern or semi-cruiser stern narrowboats we see have wooden stern deck covers. These covers lift to allow access to the engine bilge. It is important to keep these in good condition for two reasons. The covers stop rainwater from falling into your engine bilge and the covers stop you and your crew from falling into the engine bilge.

Covers tend to get frayed and chipped on the corners, where they are lifted to examine the engine. These gaps grow larger over time and allow water to leak below. Rainwater in the engine bilge damages your bilge paint and causes rust. If your engine bilge is anything less than immaculately clean, you will be adding water to oil and diesel, creating a contaminated mix which cannot be pumped out. We go into more detail on the problems this causes on our bilge cleaning post.

Boat Carpentry - Edith deck painted - Floating Boatyard

Newly fitted stern deck covers.

Your stern deck covers should easily take the weight of at least one adult. They are often located exactly directly in front of a hatch or where you stand to cruise. We recently went to asses a customer boat, who had badly maintained bilge covers. The customer stepped on the bilge cover and put his foot straight through. In this case, he got away with heavy bruising and grazes, he was lucky not to break his leg.

Fitting the deck board is more of an art than a science. Very few boats are the same shape, and over the years they tend to spread and deform slightly, meaning that previously straight parts of the boat now curve slightly. The pieces of deck board should fit together exactly and should line up with the deck drainage below. This is much easier if just a single rectangular piece is needed, but more difficult of the whole deck is made from wood.

To book our boat carpentry services or to arrange a free assessment, call 07886388689 or message us.




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Sanding Between Coats

Sanding Between Coats Of Boat Paint

Sanding between coats often gets neglected by unprofessional Boat Painters. But is rubbing down between coats of paint really necessary? In this post we will talk about why and when we sand between coats, as well as what materials we use. If the paint job is to look nice and last a long time, then it is essential that we rub down the paint at the right stages. Always get permission from the Canal and River Trust before carrying out work on your boat while in the water. The Floating Boatyard is fully insured and licensed with CRT. We have strict risk assessments in place to avoid damaging the environment.

To book our boat painters or arrange a free assessment, please call 07886388689 or message us through the contact form.

Why Paint Needs Rubbing Down Between Coats.

There are several reasons why paint needs rubbing down between coats. We normally do this after the undercoat has been applied to the boat. Primers and high build undercoats can be quite thick paints. This can lead to brush marks and other imperfections in the surface. There is also the possibility of dust settling in the paint as it is drying. This is especially a concern when we are painting the boat outside in the open. Sanding down all the surfaces after the undercoating stage will flatten out the surface and remove any marks left by settling dust. Sometimes we do this after the first top coat as the colour difference can help to better see the imperfections in the surface.

Example Photo of Sanding Between Coats or Rubbing Down Paint

This surface has been sanded after the first top coat. All imperfection were easily visible, making it easier to achieve a good finish.

Sanding between coats can also be done during painting of the subsequent coats of marine gloss or coach enamel. This will help to further flatten out the paint for a mirror finish. It also provides better adhesion for the following coats. When painting canal boats in the open, we often get the sun shining on the finished coat. We normally start very early in the morning and work in the shade to avoid the heat, but the sun sometimes shines on the paint all the rest of the day. This can lead to the paint hardening out completely and setting too far for the next coat to properly hold on it. It is therefore vital for the longevity of the finished product that we rub down the surface before continuing work.

How Sanding Between Coats Is Done

The first thing we do before sanding between coats is choosing the right sandpaper. We only use quality abrasives from professional brands such as Festool Granat and Mirka Abranet. These either come as traditional type sandpaper or as netting. Either is fine, though the traditional sandpaper tends to be a bit more abrasive. This can be counteracted by using a finer grade. We always err on the side of caution when choosing a sandpaper for sanding between coats. It is better to take of too little than too much. We can always go over the surface a second time.

It is best to use a quality sander for rubbing down paint. We use professional Festool sanders with eccentric motion. These will create a truly smooth surface and random pattern. Cheaper random orbital sanders can leave a rotating pattern in the surface of the paint, which can then be seen through the top coat when the job is finished. Not only will this look ugly, it also creates areas where small amounts of rainwater and dirt can collect, leading to problems down the line. Small corners need to be sanded by hand. We always make sure to rub down the surface until it is dulled all over. The next coat of paint will not stick properly to any shiny areas.

Suitable Grades Of Sandpaper For Rubbing Down Between Coats

The right grit of sandpaper for rubbing down between coats varies between brands. We always test the paper or abrasive netting on a small and inconspicuous area. This could be under the gunwales or seat of the boat. We find P400 or P500 is best suited for rubbing down between coats of undercoat. This is can also be used for sanding the last undercoat before applying marine gloss or coach enamel. For sanding between top coats, we usually use P800 or finer grade wet sandpaper. We always make sure all the surface has gone dull before applying any more paint. This can take a while, especially with the finer grits of sandpaper.

After Sanding Between Coats

Once we have finished sanding between coats, the surface must be cleaned. The next coat of paint will not stick to a dusty surface. After using wet sandpaper on top coats, this can be done by rinsing the whole boat with plenty of water and then waiting for it to dry. This method is very effective in making sure that all of the dust is removed. We must ensure the boat is fully dried out before continuing to paint. The next coat of paint will not hold on a damp surface.

Alternatively, we can use a damp cloth. This needs to be rinsed often. We need to wipe the surface more then once to ensure all the dust is removed. Special attention needs to be paid in corners and hard to reach areas. Tack clothes can be used to remove dust after sanding undercoats and where introducing moisture is not an option. Once the surface is clean, the next coat of paint can be applied.

For more advise on this and other boat related subjects, or to book the Floating Boatyard’s boat painting services, call 07886388689 or or message us through the contact form.

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CRT Continuous Cruising Rules

CRT Continuous Cruising Rules – Interrupting Your Journey For Maintenance and Repairs

This post is intended to clarify CRT continuous cruising rules from our viewpoint and is aimed at clients planning on meeting up with us for canal boat and narrowboat repairs. Many people are unclear about the regulations concerning CRT continuous cruising rules. We often hear from clients who do not want to interrupt their cruising pattern to come to our location for routine maintenance or even for more urgent repairs. It is not problem to interrupt your cruising pattern to come to us for repairs!

If you have any questions on bringing your boat to us for repairs, then please ring 07886388689 or message us through the contact page.

Floating Boatyard - CRT Continuous Cruising RulesThe Floating Boatyard is a worker owned cooperative with charitable focus. Fully licensed by CRT, fully insured and HMRC registered.

Interrupting Your Cruising Pattern – Common Sense

First things first: it is not in the interest of CRT to stop you from having your boat repaired. They also do not want to stop you having routine maintenance carried out by licensed contractors or a licensed local boatyard. Well maintained boats keep moving. They create less interruption and less need for CRT to get involved. All this is saving CRT time and money. Well maintained boats are also better for the environment. They cause less pollution and pose less of a risk for the waterway and surrounding wildlife. CRT continuous cruising rules and the Waterways Act are not meant to prevent licensed maintenance of any boat.

Further to these common sense arguments, there are two important documents published by the Canal and River Trust. These are meant to explain what CRT considers to be a genuine constant navigation. CRT does not require boats to continuously move in one direction for the duration of their license period. This is a common misunderstanding, mostly based on rumours.

CRT Continuous Cruising Rules – CRT’s Take On The Law

The first document on CRT continuous cruising rules we are referring to is the “Guidance For Boaters Without A Home Mooring”. This is simply an explanation of the Canal and River Trust’s interpretation of the British Waterways Act. It states that “the boat must genuinely be used for navigation throughout the period of the licence”. The document goes on to say that “unless a shorter time is specified by notice the boat must not stay in the same place for more than 14 days (or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances)”. It also explains how CRT interprets the terms used in the wording of the law. CRT’s understanding of terms such as “place” and “navigation” is explained in detail.

CRT’s interpretation of the law is of course debatable. Many a discussion has been had and there have been numerous court cases. For the purpose of this blog post, it is sufficient that we have established that CRT would like you to move your boat to a new area every two weeks or less.

CRT Continuous Cruising Rules – Monitoring

The second document on CRT continuous cruising rules we are referring to is entitled “Continuous Cruising Monitoring”. It explains that when monitoring boat movements CRT “look at the furthest points a boat has visited over the year”.  Canal and River Trust say “that it is very unlikely that anyone travelling a range of less than 20 miles (32km) would be able to satisfy us that they are bona fide navigating and that normally we would expect a greater range”.

Most importantly, this documents states that CRT “don’t want to set a rigid pattern and we know that sometimes boats will turn round every so often if they reach the end of a canal, revisit a favourite spot once in a while or go back to refuel etc.”. This makes clear that you and your boat are free to interrupt you cruising pattern and return to places you have already been at. CRT also says that “many boaters will occasionally need to stay somewhere for longer due to breakdown, illness or other emergencies” and that “every year we grant hundreds of approved overstays, but we need to hear from you to be able to do so”.

The Bottom Line

We are aware that CRT continuous cruising rules have been, and continue to be, the subject of much heated debate. We understand and respect that everyone will have their own interpretations and opinions on the subject.

This post is intended to help our clients better understand why it is perfectly fine to come to us any time they wish. Boaters are not in breach of their licence if they temporarily match our cruising pattern for boat repairs and routine maintenance.

If in doubt, you should ring or email CRT and let them know that you are planning to come to the Floating Boatyard for boat repairs. Feel free to get in touch anytime if you need assistance.

You can reach us by calling 07886388689 or by messaging us through the contact form.

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Rust Treatment For Boats

A Guide To Rust Treatment For Boats By The Floating Boatyard

We often get asked about the best rust treatment for boats. Many canal boats and narrowboats we come across have recurring corrosion problems. This is especially so for older vessels where the rust has not been treated correctly for many years. Too often boat owners and tradesmen just paint over rust with primers or top coats. Boat owners often simply don’t know any better and are just trying to do the best they can. Some tradesmen are trying to increase their profit margin by saving the time it takes to do the work right.

At the Floating Boatyard, we never cut corners. We know that your boat is your pride and joy. With the cost and effort involved in maintaining canal boats and narrowboats, owners want the work to last as long as possible. Rust treatment for boats is something we have extensive experience in. All works are carried out to the highest standards and in accordance with local waterway regulations and environmental laws.

For quotes and bookings please call 07886388689 or message us through the contact form here.

Rust Treatment On Boats – How Not To Do It

Often people attempt to carry out rust treatment on boats by painting with red oxide or other marine primers. This does not solve the issue. It only hides the problem and traps the rust under the paint. In time, the corrosion will simply get worse. The next time the paint flakes off the boat, the rusted area will only have gotten larger.

Anti corrosion primers are preventative measures. They are designed to prime rust free steel steel. Their anti corrosive additives make it harder for rust to set while the paint is intact. What they are not designed for is treating rust which has already developed. Having said that, it is always good practice to treat steel against rust before painting a boat. Not all rust is visible and treating the steel will make the paint last longer.

Rust Treatment For Boats - Painted Over Rust Recurring

Rust which had been painted over less than a year ago by another trader.

Before Treating The Rust On Your Boat –  The Prep Work

Depending on which rust treatment is being used, different amounts of preparation are needed. We always remove all flaking paint before beginning any rust treatment on boats. We will also need to remove any lose rust. Scrapers and wire brushes can be used for this. For larger areas, an angle grinder with wire brush disc or a Tercoo blaster may be better suited. We advice against the use of flap discs as these and scar and damage the steel.

Always use power tools with dust extraction and sheets to catch any rust. Make sure not to pollute the waterway if you are carrying out rust treatment on boats while in the water. Contact your local waterways authority before beginning work. You will need their permission and they can advise you on best practises.

Fertan And Vactan Rust Treatment For Boats

Fertan and Vactan are very effective rust treatments. These are also known as rust converters. Put in simple terms, these contain tannic acid which reacts with iron oxide (rust) and converts it iron tannate, thus stopping the corrosion. Rust converters work best if some of the immediate surface rust is left in place. Remove only large pieces of loose rust and paint.

We prefer using Vactan over Fertan as a rust treatment for boats. Vactan is self sealing and also acts as a primer for any subsequent paint coats. Vactan works very well when we are refurbishing cabin bilges after water ingress from leaking showers or fresh water systems.

Rust Treatment For Boats - Freshly Painted Vactan

Freshly painted Vactan is white, then turns purple and eventually black.

Rust Treatment For Boats - Vactan Dried

Dried Vactan, ready for a second coat.

Owatrol Oil Rust Prevention And Treatment

We use Owatrol Oil as rust prevention and rust treatment for boat before painting the exterior. This oil will seep deep into any scale rust or penetrating rust, where rust converters wouldn’t reach. Owatrol Oil then drives out any remaining moisture and seals the steel off against new water ingress. This also provides as solid base for primers when coach painting. Owatrol Oil can also be mixed into primers, undercoats and coach enamel. It will act as a conditioner and increase the anti corrosive properties of these materials. This is also very effective when painting engine bilges. When using Owatrol Oil, we remove as much of the rust as possible.

Feel free to message us for more info on this and any other canal boat or narrowboat related problems. For bookings and quotes please call 07886388689

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Marine Filler and Marine Sealant

In this article, we will be talking about the use of marine filler and marine sealant. The aim is to give you an easy to understand step by step guide on using these products correctly. Nothing is more disappointing then going through the time and effort of a boat repair job, just to have things come apart again soon after.

If you have any questions or would like to book the Floating Boatyard team for a job, then don’t hesitate to call us on 07886 388 689. You can also message us through the contact section of this website, or via our Facebook page.

Using Marine Filler and Marine Sealant

There are many applications of marine fillers and marine sealants for canal boat owners. We will talking about these from a boat painting point of view. The principle should be the same for any other repairs you want to carry out. Make sure that the products you use to work on your boat are marine grade. Standard building materials will not last in a marine environment.

Marine filler and marine sealant are very useful products, but they must be used in the right way. We always take special care not to drop any of the filler or sealant in the water. These products are toxic to aquatic life. Always get permission from your local waterway authority, before carrying out any works on your boat while it is in the water.

Where To Use Sealant Or Filler

We often use fillers and sealant in our daily business of fixing boats on canal and rivers in the London, Essex and Hertfordshire area. Marine sealant can be used to reseal windows and other overlapping edges of materials where rain water ingress is to be stopped. We also use sealants as adhesives and in places where a flexible or vibration resistant filler is needed.

Marine Filler and Marine Sealant - Before - Rust Pitting Needs Filling

Pitted steel in need of Marine Filler on one of our Narrowboat painting projects.

Our boat painters mostly use marine filler to skim over rust pitting and minor holes in the steel work. Marine filler can be used to flatten any dents in the steel work. It is also an excellent material for seamlessly filling over welds. We use liquid metal filler when carrying out long term repairs to the steel work of the boat. This is suitable in areas above the waterline where welding isn’t possible to or too complex. Marine filler should only be used for this purpose where the structural strength of the boat isn’t affected.

Before Use

All surfaces and areas where marine fillers and marine sealants are used must be prepared correctly. Surfaces must be dry and clean. If we were to apply the filler or sealant to dirty or wet surfaces, it would not hold and bring problems down the line. It takes less time to prepare the surface correctly, than carrying out repairs later. We do not want to have just finished a paint job and discover that the filler or sealant isn’t holding.

Some marine sealants and marine fillers are designed for extreme circumstances. These products may be applied to dirty or wet areas. Some are even suitable for under water use and hull repairs. Always read the manufacturers data sheet before using the product.

How To Apply Marine Sealants

Marine sealant are usually sold in cartridges. We always use a good quality cartridge gun. Cheap cartridge guns tend to break and malfunction. This could potentially leave a mess with marine sealant getting into places where we don’t want it. We always have plenty of disposable rags or paper towels at hand and wear gloves.

We squeeze a small amount of sealant in to the gap or area we are working on. It is important not to apply to much at this stage. We can always add more later and cleaning up surplus marine sealant is tricky and often creates a mess. We can then wrap a rag or paper towel over our index finger and smooth the sealant. The sealant will be pushed into the gap while we are taking off excess material as we move along.

How To Apply Marine Filler

Most marine fillers come as a two component pack. It is better to use a little less hardener hot temperatures. This will extend the time to work the marine filler before it gets too hard and starts to set. The opposite effect can be achieved by using a little more hardener in very cold temperatures.

Marine Filler and Marine Sealant - Filler Applied Ready For Sanding

The damage to the steel has been filled in. This will now need sanding.

We always wear gloves and a fume filter mask when working with marine filler. A flexible scraper or putty knife is used to apply the filler. We make sure not to apply too much and remove any surplus as we go along. Marine filler sets very hard and applying too much of it means more work down the line.

After Aplication

It is important to be patient when waiting for marine filler or marine sealant to set. The material may seem dry and hardened out on the surface, but could still be soft on the inside. All the work will be undone if the sealant or filler is worked on before it is properly dried out. We always wait longer than the recommended drying time. The ambient temperature, relative humidity and temperature of the steel all play a role.

Marine Filler and Marine Sealant - After - Ready for Painting The Boat

This filler has been sanded and is now ready for painting.

Marine filler can be sanded smooth once it is dry. We use quality sandpaper with cloth back or latex paper back. Two component fillers dry very hard and cheap sandpapers will tear and become blunt very fast. Always apply marine primer and undercoat before painting over fillers and sealants.

For bookings, call us on 07886 388 689 or message us through the contact section  or via our Facebook page.

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Painting Marine Primer

This post is a guide on painting marine primer on your boat. We have recently published several articles on boat painting. These are aimed to give you an overview of what’s involved in painting a boat and how we go about it. There is lots of information on the prep work, such as boat paint stripping and how to use marine filler. If you are attempting to paint your boat partially or completely by yourself, please read the previous articles before painting marine primer.

For quotes and bookings on all boat painting and boat repair works, please call 07886388689 or use the contact form to message us.

Painting Marine Primer – Before You Begin Painting

When we are painting marine primer, we make sure to get the prep work right.  All of the old paint will be removed beforehand. We follow best practices and usually strip the whole boat back to steel. The new paint will only be as strong as the material we paint it on to. Painting over old paint coats is never a good idea. This might at first seem like it will help protect the boat from the weather and corrosion, but you will soon see the rust coming back. The paint will crack and peel within months and you will have to start all over again. Doing it the right way means your boat paint will last for up to 10 years. The Floating Boatyard team never cut corners when it comes to preparing the boat for painting.

Cleaning The Surface

Once all the prep work is complete, you need to clean the surface before painting marine primer. Cleaning the boat will allow the primer to properly stick. You should catch all of the old paint with a dust extractor and dust sheets during the prep work. Any residual paint dust can be brushed and hoovered up. Make sure none of it goes in the water. Paint is very toxic to aquatic life. It is also illegal to pollute the waterways with paint.

When all the boat is free of dirt and dust, it can be wiped down. We use disposable paper towels for this. We apply white spirit and wipe the entire boat clean. Special care is taken in corners and hard to reach areas. Most of the surplus white spirit left on the boat will evaporate and any residual traces will not affect the next stage of preparing the boat for painting marine primer.

Rust Protection

Before painting marine primer, it helps to kill and seal of any residual corrosion. Fertan is often used for this and is an adequate rust converter. Some Boat Painters prefer using Vactan. This is self sealing and acts as a primer. At the Floating Boatyard, we prefer to use Owatrol. Seeping into the steel and any left over corrosion, Owatrol Oil is a perfect pre-coat before painting marine primer. It is also a very good as an additive for conditioning the paint. It further increases the anti corrosive properties of the primer. We always apply a need coat of Owatrol Oil before painting marine primer. This allows the oil to seep into all the nooks and crannies your boat.

Painting Marine Primer - Narrowboat All Paint Stripped - The Floating Boatyard

This boat has been fully stripped of old paint and treated with Owatrol Oil. It is ready for painting with marine primer.

Painting Marine Primer – How To Apply It

Marine primer can be applied like any other paint. It is however important to think ahead. The boat painters at the Floating Boatyard always brush out any paint coats. Brushing out the paint is mostly done in direction of the rain water flow. Painting marine primer with a roller only, or not brushing out in the right direction will lead to problems later on. Brushing out in the correct way will encourage and rainwater to run off the boat. Brushing out the primer coat in the same direction will add to this effect and will make for an even and streak free finish in the following paint coats.

We also consider other factors such as the temperature and dew point. This will tell us if it is the right time to paint the primer and how much paint conditioner we want to use. The amount of paint conditioner used is a to a large extent a personal preference of the boat painter. Dew point are important to make sure to paint holds and lasts. We always check the manufacturer’s data sheets and never paint below the dew point.

Painting Marine Prime - Bilge Painted with Primer

One of our bilge painting projects after painting marine primer.

After The Painting

It is important to get the steps after painting the primer on your boat right. We allow the primer to dry for 16 hours and always apply at least two coats. It is important to check the manufacturer’s data sheet before work begins. These will detail the exact drying times needed.  We also make sure that the marine primer coat stays dry before painting undercoat. Primer is not designed to repeal rain water and absorbs moisture. This is often not visible in the primer. Applying undercoat over damp will cause problems and the paint job will likely be ruined or not last as long as it could have. We always keep the primer dry and aim to carry on with the subsequent coats is soon as the last coat is dry.

If you have any questions about painting marine primer or would like to get in touch for a quote, please ring 07886 388 689, or email us.

Posted in All Boat Works Undertaken, Painting | 1 Comment