Amel Deck Painting

Stephen Davis

I'm un-hijacking a previous thread, and will talk a little about how and why we painted the decks on our 1992 SM. I agree with Bill Kinney that the SM nonskid (faux teak) is very good, and should not be changed unless you have a compelling reason to do so. I our case, we did.

The SM decks consist of 2 layers of gel coat. The 1st layer is white, and then you have the tan layer which is our non skid. At the time we painted our decks, Aloha was 24 years old, and had spent much of her life in the heat of the tropics. In some areas we had some fine cracks in the tan layer, and even worse, we had a few areas where about 1" chunks of the tan gel coat had completely separated from the white below. According to Joel Potter, this is fairly common on the older boats that have been exposed to a lot of heat and sun, and may have been due to Amel having applied the top layer of gel coat a little thicker than than recommended on the older boats. After 2 years in the Eastern Caribbean, I saw numerous older Sms with varying degrees of this same problem.

We knew the only long term fix would be painting the decks, but we wanted to retain the Amel look. I've seen a couple of other Amels with painted decks, but they had lost the faux teak look, and I didn't think it looked good. We had the work done in Trinidad, had a experienced painting contractor who was willing to work with me, and we have been extremely pleased with the end result. I have not had a single Amel owner not say the decks look better than original. The other advantage is they are a slightly lighter in color, have white stripes, and are much cooler to walk on.

What we did was very labor intensive, and the only way we could afford it was by choosing Trinidad which has a low labor cost with some very skilled workers. First, they spent days making a huge mess by sanding the entire layer of tan gel coat off. You have a lot of detail on our decks, and some had to be done by hand. Next they did the fine sanding, and eventually taped off everything outside the decks to prep for paint. Then the decks were sprayed with a white primer, followed by more fine detail work after the primer was dry. When that was done, the decks were sprayed with egg shell white awlgrip. Then they applied fine line masking tape to all of the stripes. Now the decks were sprayed with Castle Tan awlgrip mixed with a fine grit for non skid. After the tape was pulled, we had beautiful light tan decks with white stripes. I forgot to mention, prior to starting the painting, we removed the lid from the liferaft locker, and experimented with that to get the technique right.

We have been happy with the outcome, and a year and a half later, it still looks as good as the day it was finished. Also, the non skid properties are better than the original decks. If anyone would like pictures, just send me your email, and I'll take some for you.

Steve and Liz Davis
Aloha SM 72
Santa Marta, Columbia for a few more days

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