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What paint to use for T-Top

Old 05-31-2011, 06:29 AM
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Default What paint to use for T-Top

Hi All,

I'm looking to paint my t-top support structure. The aluminum has corroded to the point of no return. I've seen the new boats with the white t-tops, and they look pretty sharp. Does anyone have any idea what kind of paint is used on these? Or if they are powdercoated, what type of paint I can use?

Thanks,

Tom
Old 05-31-2011, 06:38 AM
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Find a powder coater in your area that has an oven big enough for a t-top. Or you can use Awlgrip paint (very labor intensive). I had my t-top powder coated a few months back. Cost me $500. I would have racked up that kind of cost easily in materials alone had I tried to do it myself with paint, and it would have been a 50 hour DIY project at the bare minimum.
Old 05-31-2011, 10:37 AM
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Wink Nice

I never thought about doing that
My aluminium frame is getting a bit pitted and weathered as well. A white frame is going on to my to-do list. I think most frames will fit in a standard oven.
Old 05-31-2011, 10:43 AM
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mine is awlgriped but man that stuff is expensive
Old 05-31-2011, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by striper 23 View Post
mine is awlgriped but man that stuff is expensive
Did you do the Awlgrip yourself - if so - how much did it costs? Thanks!!
Old 05-31-2011, 10:47 AM
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I am in the same position with my old radar tower. It is pited beyond being able to save the aluminum and I was thinking about painting it. My two thoughts on powder coating were that it would be prohibitively expensive (but I will have to check into that) and I was concerned that it would be a pain in the rear to repair or modify the arch in the future (if I added something how do I re-powder coat around the area?). Whereas with paint I could always touch it up to a certain degree.
Old 05-31-2011, 12:20 PM
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I just checked in with a couple powdercoaters in my area (Southeastern Mass) and they want over $1000 to do it. I think at this point I may be going the paint route. I saw that Rustoleum makes a marine based paint and has got good reviews. Any thoughts?
Old 05-31-2011, 12:54 PM
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Default Any thoughts?

Over $1000.00
It looks like I'll reconsider that professional powder coat option.
Maybe a wire wheel finish with an automotive clear coat spray job?
Old 05-31-2011, 02:03 PM
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I picked up a metal stripping wheel at Home Depot and it gives it a pretty good finish, in a much shorter time than a wire wheel too. They are like $6, and attach right to your drill.

I'm redoing my deck anyway, so I may try the awlgrip if i have any left over. If anyone has any better ideas, preferably spray can, let us know!
Old 05-31-2011, 04:20 PM
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You will be $500 in materials to do it with Awl Grip. I prefer it to pawdercoating, as it is more flexible (powdercoating is brittle, t-top flexes while the boat bangs in the chop). It will look great, but the material is pricy. Call a tower shop and see if they have a guy that can do it, painting tube is a skill as the paints are easy to run and sag.
Old 05-31-2011, 05:25 PM
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I prefer it to pawdercoating, as it is more flexible (powdercoating is brittle, t-top flexes while the boat bangs in the chop)
X2

You can take a hammer to a good powder coat but that is its weekness on a top. As said before aluminum is soft and will flex and the powder coat is hard and brittle. Just recently saw a powder coated top with pitting/chipping on a top tier center console with about 60 hours on it. It takes a fair amount of materials to paint pipe versus a flat surface but you will end up with a better product in the end. Also, a good primer is a must. I prefer zinc chromate with aluminum, but haven't used it in combination with Awlgrip.

I picked up a metal stripping wheel at Home Depot and it gives it a pretty good finish, in a much shorter time than a wire wheel too.
Make sure you didn't take off the anodized coating. If you did then the pitting will be accelerated much faster for there will be nothing protecting the aluminum.
Old 06-12-2011, 03:05 PM
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I was thinking of doing the same "paint" on my current T Top . I Primed with zinc chromate my aluminum window frames on our old Sea Ray followed by Pettit EASY EPOXY paint and looked good and lasted. Here's a pic

Last edited by qbanned; 06-13-2011 at 07:12 AM.
Old 06-13-2011, 12:41 AM
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Hey all, I painted the frame for the poling platform on my old tub. I used Rustoleum Gloss White. I think it looked pretty nice, the price was right. I will try it with my top for my Anacapri soon.
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Last edited by RippleFingers; 06-13-2011 at 03:06 PM.
Old 06-15-2011, 10:10 PM
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Dupont imron... Toughest paint out there!
Old 06-17-2011, 10:59 AM
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If your aluminum is pitted, you're already past the anodizing coat. cleaning the pitting properly will give you the longest life for the paint you choose. Fairing the pitting may be an epoxy job itself but several of the paint choices will give you a "faired" finish themselves....

DO NOT USE STEEL WIRE BRUSHES ON ALUMINUM....they leave steel particles on the surface and will encourage further pitting and corrosion as has been pointed out.

Cleaning can be done with a product like "Alumaprep", in a 50/50 solution sprayed on with a plastic spray bottle...it's phosphoric acid so mark the bottle and don't leave it by the ironing board or the indoor plants when you're done. It will etch the pitting to accept a good primer WASH the aluminum clean when the etching is complete....here is where epoxy filler may be necessary...make sure you use an epoxy with aluminum in it and not JB weld or any other with steel incorporated in the epoxy. Devcon aluminum or loctite with aluminum are both good.

Acid etching primers for aluminum are available through several brands and several epoxies are as well....they will not clean the surface...they will merely etch the surface which is there...so it's imperative that the surface be clean first.

"Ceram-Kote" is getting some good reviews as a hull finish for below waterline on Aluminum boats..deckside aluminum needs the same protection

some two part linear polyurethanes provide a good looking finish but aren't as flexible a finish and will crack with any flexing

Whichever product you choose make sure the primer and finish coat paints are compatible. There are alot of paints out there these days and not all of them work together..anybody can hack a paint job and get it to look good for awhile....if you want the best, powdercoating is the answer...but the price will take your breath away...most of the paints and epoxy coatings are reasonable.....proper cleaning is the key to a long lasting paint job.
Old 06-17-2011, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Rusty Hooks View Post
If your aluminum is pitted, you're already past the anodizing coat. cleaning the pitting properly will give you the longest life for the paint you choose. Fairing the pitting may be an epoxy job itself but several of the paint choices will give you a "faired" finish themselves....

DO NOT USE STEEL WIRE BRUSHES ON ALUMINUM....they leave steel particles on the surface and will encourage further pitting and corrosion as has been pointed out.

Cleaning can be done with a product like "Alumaprep", in a 50/50 solution sprayed on with a plastic spray bottle...it's phosphoric acid so mark the bottle and don't leave it by the ironing board or the indoor plants when you're done. It will etch the pitting to accept a good primer WASH the aluminum clean when the etching is complete....here is where epoxy filler may be necessary...make sure you use an epoxy with aluminum in it and not JB weld or any other with steel incorporated in the epoxy. Devcon aluminum or loctite with aluminum are both good.

Acid etching primers for aluminum are available through several brands and several epoxies are as well....they will not clean the surface...they will merely etch the surface which is there...so it's imperative that the surface be clean first.

"Ceram-Kote" is getting some good reviews as a hull finish for below waterline on Aluminum boats..deckside aluminum needs the same protection

some two part linear polyurethanes provide a good looking finish but aren't as flexible a finish and will crack with any flexing

Whichever product you choose make sure the primer and finish coat paints are compatible. There are alot of paints out there these days and not all of them work together..anybody can hack a paint job and get it to look good for awhile....if you want the best, powdercoating is the answer...but the price will take your breath away...most of the paints and epoxy coatings are reasonable.....proper cleaning is the key to a long lasting paint job.
You seem to be up on the paint prep deal. I read here that some use zinc containing primer. Does zinc interact with aluminium in a negitive way?
I have no problem with keeping up with chips and scratches with an inexpensive white paint finish on a t-top. I just wouldn't want it to yellow
from the sun etc...
Old 06-17-2011, 04:38 PM
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paints containing other metals will cause adverse reactions when used as primers on bare aluminum...just like the wire brush...minor particles will do major damage if applied left unattended and not removed.

There are specific primers designed for aircraft which work well in marine environments as well. top or finish coats are best done with epoxies....if not powder coated....if you're not going to make it bulletproof...do the next best.

all damage done to aluminum in the form of corrosion is basically electrical.....even salt damage....trace currents are everywhere...especially in wind driven air, add salt and aluminum and the aluminum eats it...

Thinking electrically with corrosion will assist you in minimizing it...water carries it, add salt, drive it at 50-60 mph...voilas

immerse in salt water...again electricity carried in water....the purpose of zincs...less noble metal, on aluminum engine housings....

The best coating I've found so far, for my climate and situation is Ceram-Kote...It's used on concrete for driving protection and on Aluminum for corrosion protection....over alodining the aluminum and creating a bonding skin on the aluminum of Aluminum chromate. Extreme...maybe....

I get that way....sometimes
Old 06-17-2011, 05:14 PM
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Bet a kiwi grip paint job would look cool!
Old 06-18-2011, 12:36 PM
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What about nyalic? That's what black lab puts on their boats. Can be brushed on.
Old 09-29-2011, 05:55 AM
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Lets resurrect this,

What paint would you use on large outriggers, due to the flexing ?

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