FIBREGLASS & GELCOAT REPAIR DETAILS
How does a cosmetic gelcoat repair work?
Gelcoat is a surface coating that is applied to a mould in order for a beautiful cosmetic finish to be obtained when manufacturing a fibreglass part. Without the gelcoat, the fibreglass part would be the colour of the resin used to bond the fibreglass strands and would not provide a nice look or long lasting protection to the elements. This process is completed in the opposite fashion to a painted surface, where the paint goes on last, instead the gelcoat goes on to the mould surface first, before the structural laminate is applied.
Gelcoat needs to be applied to the mould with a certain thickness, a lot more thickness than what a painted surface would provide, and by doing so, will give the owner of a fibreglass part the ability to deal with minor scratches in an easy fashion, as they will likely be able to be sanded out and the gelcoat brought back to a gloss finish out without the requirement of a gelcoat respray to occur.
However, if there is a deep gouge or the gelcoat has been worn away through wear and tear, then a gelcoat respray will need to take place in order to get a beautiful finish back to the fibreglass part.
At Rae Line, we go about completing all gelcoat repairs based on the customer requirements. Most of the time when a respray is needed, the repair will require either a fibreglass repair first, or some form of filling of a gouge if the fibreglass has not been damaged. This is done with our structural bonding compound, specifically designed for marine use where we can fill the gouge or area to be repaired to a point that will allow us to shape the filler compound back to the original shape of the part we are repairing.
Once we have filled appropriately and we have faired the filler back to the right shape, the repair is then ready for a respray to occur. At Rae Line we have a team of expert fibreglass & gelcoat repair staff that can appropriately colour match the original gelcoat to the colour needed for the respray so that once it is all completed, you will have what we call an "invisible finish" where by you could not tell where the repair was.
After the respray of the gelcoat has taken place and the gelcoat has cured, it will leave a slight orange peel finish on the resprayed part. We go about making sure to remove all orange peel from the respray and buffing it back to a high gloss finish so you can see the shine!
How does a structural fibreglass repair work?
Fibreglass is a wonderful product that can be moulded to basically any shape you can think of. A proper fibreglass laminate will have a better strength to weight ratio than steel and will generally outlast most other products out there for structural integrity. However there are a lot of technical details about fibreglass, and probably more significantly the resin used to bind the fibres, that can cause a structural laminate to lose strength and result in defects that can limit the life or durability of any fibreglass part.
One of the most important parts in completing a proper fibreglass repair is to consider the cause of the damage to be repaired. What can show up as crazing in the gelcoat (also known as spider cracking) can have hidden fibreglass delamination underneath that would need to be repaired prior to completing a cosmetic gelcoat repair, otherwise the same thing will re-occur when the laminate is stressed through use. More difficult to find can be internal structural issues that do not show themselves externally but are very important to maintaining the correct structure for the fibreglass part. In many cases, internal structural issues occur through delamination which happens as a bulkhead or some other component has separated away from the part of the laminate it is supposed to be supporting. This can be due to a number of issues, but most likely is that the bond between the two laminates was not good enough to hold up to continuous use.
When we are repairing a structural issue at Rae Line, we go through all the proper processes to make sure that we are eliminating the structural issue altogether and not simply repairing one spot for another problem to show up further down the track without any cause or reason. With our trained staff that have seen a heck of a lot of different types of structural issues and gone about diagnosing them properly, we ensure that your boat will be repaired to the highest standard and prevent any future issues from occurring or affecting the ability for your boat to do what it should - provide you with fun on the water!