Picking a Color for the Boat

Making a Stain Test Strip

It’s not too early to start thinking about the finishing program for this boat.  I know, it seems ridiculous to be thinking about this at such an early stage, but I want to test several different options for varnishes and urethane clear coats for durability.  Considering the effort that goes into finishing, it’s worth gathering a little empirical data to help make the decision.

The coatings and stains have to be compatible with each other, and with epoxy. Some coatings won’t work with some stains because the solvents in the coating will lift the stain, creating a muddy look and compromising the finish.  Some coatings won’t work well over epoxy.  So, I’ll make up a test strip with each of the stains/dyes I am considering, coated with clear epoxy and then all the different clear coatings I’m considering using. Then I’ll park this test strip out in back of the shop in the weather for several months–long enough to let the sun, rain and wind do their magic.  That should give me a good idea as to which finish performs the best.

I know I want to stain the wood, then coat it with epoxy for waterproofing and to fill the grain, and then overcoat that with a 2 part urethane clear coat that will provide the necessary UV protection for the epoxy.  I decided I wanted to test Interlux Perfection Plus, Awlgrip AwlBrite, and Epifanes 2 part urethane gloss.  All three of these finishes last much longer than traditional tung oil varnish and provide superior UV protection.

So I called Interlux, Awlgrip, and Epifanes to talk to them about the approach I’m taking and get their feedback.  To my surprise, Interlux and Awlgrip told me they didn’t have a product that would work.  That’s not at all what I expected.  Epifanes said theirs would work fine.  Next I called WEST System epoxy technical support, and was assured that the products I wanted to use from each supplier should work fine.  Probably just some ill-informed technician who wasn’t sure, and didn’t want to be on the hook for bad advice.

Well, now I’m really determined to do my test strip!  I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.

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