Working with fiberglass and resin can be hazardous if you are not careful. It is important to wear proper safety clothing to protect you from fumes and from getting hazardous material on your skin. It is also imperative to work in a well ventilated area.
The styrene in polyester and vinyl ester resins evaporates into the air during lay-up. The styrene is where the strong fumes come from. It is highly flammable. That is why it is extremely important to work in an area that is well ventilated. The same rules apply when working with epoxy. While the fumes may not be as strong, it is still hazardous to work with.
The first step when looking at fiberglass projects is to decide what is important. Are you concerned about weight? Is strength the most important? Do you need it to be abrasion, corrosion or UV resistant? Do you want to build up thickness quickly? Answering questions like these first will help you choose the best reinforcement and resins for your project.
To make a durable composite laminate you need to have both a reinforcement and a resin. Reinforcements include fiberglass cloth, fiberglass mat, carbon fiber and aramid. Resin holds the reinforcement together and helps it conform to the wanted shape. The most popular resins are polyester, vinyl ester and epoxy.
Anthony from the Lemonade Factory in Farmingdale, Illinois needed to repair his lemonade stand. After years of use, it was starting to reflect its age. It had a few dings and cracks in the paint and underneath fiberglass. He wanted to repair it and make it look new. Here is a picture of the lemon before he went to work on it.
Removing the Paint and prepping the surface before fiberglass repair.
All the paint has been removed and the damaged spots are starting to be repaired. Anthony used our Orca 200 P-16 General Purpose Laminating
***Before you start, always remember to wear safety equipment. Working with fiberglass can be hazardous. Safety glasses, latex or vinyl gloves, and a respirator are all important to keeping you safe from the fiberglass and resin. To protect your skin and clothes, wear Tyvek coveralls. Also, you need to work in a well ventilated area.
The first and most important step in laminating (after exercising safety) is surface preparation. Do not skip this step. Use Acetone to wipe down the area that is to be laminated. This removes any dust and grease from the surface.
Polyester laminating resin, also known as fiberglass resin, is the most commonly used resin in the industry. It is used in a wide variety of projects including boats, car bodies, kayaks, surfboards, patio decks and aircraft. It is affordable and easy to use. It has a quick cure and adds dimensional stability. Polyester resin requires MEKP hardener. Needed Supplies (this will vary depending on your project):
- MEKP (methyl ethyl ketone peroxide) is required
Gel coat is strong and durable but like any other finish, it can be subject to damage. There are several reasons it might need to be repaired. In this post, we are going to focus on scratches and cracks that are strictly cosmetic. Not cracks that damage the fiberglass laminate below the gel coat.
We will be giving basic guidelines on how to do the repair work. You do not need to be an expert to make a gel coat repair but it may take a little bit of trial and error to really perfect the art.
Sharkthane 2lb Urethane Pour Foam Instructions
Sharkthane 2 lb. urethane pour foam is a two-part liquid that is great for flotation and insulation as well as filling voids and gaps. It is often used under boat decks. It creates a closed cell structure that resists water absorption.
Needed supplies and tools:
- Stir sticks or drill head (preferred)
If you have ever followed us on Facebook, you may remember that we used to occasionally share tech tips. We are now going to share some on our blog too. Here are a few we have shared in the past-
Chopped strand mat is not compatible with epoxy resin. The chopped strand mat is held together by a styrene binder.
If you own a boat you may be familiar with blisters. Blisters are typically a cosmetic problem but can be worse if it reaches the fiberglass laminate below. They occur on the boat hull. There may be just a few or there could be hundreds of them. A blister is a de-bond of paint or other coating from the part surface. It is an undesirable rounded elevation of the surface of a plastic with boundaries that are more or less sharply defined. It resembles a blister on the human skin.
How do blisters occur? Through osmosis. Polyester resin and gel coat are fairly water permeable. Water does pass through though and if there are small voids it can get into them. The water has a chemical reaction with the resin used for making the hull. It creates an acidic liquid that needs more water to reduce acidity. This causes it to expand and thus creating a blister.
Before you get started on your project, here is a list of supplies you will need. We will discuss some of them more in depth in the tutorial.
-Your plug (the part you want to replicate)
-Something to cast in whether it is a plastic cup, a box you make out of wood, a water bottle cut to size, etc.
-Glue- hot glue applied with a glue gun works well
-Clay (modeling clay)