Sunday, September 21, 2014

How to repaint your board

Painting your board can give it a new lease in life, it's fun and will guarantee it is unique out in the water. I planned this post about 2 years ago and am finally getting around to it! So many photos to sort through made me procrastinate. And, you know, having a baby, starting your own business, and a few other things!!

What you'll need:
Masking tape
Stanley blade
Old shopping bags
Spray paint or Posca pens
Safety fume filter mask

Here's my first longboard that I bought in Noosa on a trip to Queensland in 2009. Fitting three longboards and two people into a campervan was an adventure, I can tell you! It was second hand when I bought it and a few years on I didn't have any reservations about having a go at painting it.

Here's what ya do...

1. Prep work
First you need to remove the wax from where you'll be painting. All of it! See my post: Removing wax.

 2. Sanding
You need to rough up the surface of the board in order for the paint to stick. Finished boards are sealed and buffed to be glassy smooth. The paint needs a tooth to adhere to. Don't go grabbing your dad's 80 grit sandpaper. The fibreglass needs a fine paper, around 240 should do it. Sand every surface that will be painted until the glossy sheen is removed.

The surface should look like this image (above, left), drinking tea .... Clean up all the dust with some acetone and a clean rag. 

3. Design 
It's a good idea to map your design out on paper first. Do some google image searches for research and inspiration around your theme. You may be a little limited by the colours available in certain products, so think creatively.

You can paint block colours with spray paint, do intricate line work with paint pens, and add shapes and patterns with stencils. 

The sky really is the limit with stencils. You can repeat them, overlap them. You can get a really sharp outline on something like a fish or a shark, or you can cut out a wave or diamond pattern and repeat it for a geometric look. I used a whole pile of cheap stencils I made from cereal boxes and transparencies and overlapped them to get a grungy look on the skateboard, below.

4. Masking
Masking is covering any areas that will remain unpainted. It takes a long time but is ESSENTIAL for a good finish if you're going to be using spray paint. The worst thing is realising you got paint dust all over a white part of your board. 

If you are painting the entire deck of your board, figure out where the design will end, say, midpoint of the rails, and then run masking tape NEATLY along this line. If sections of the deck will be unpainted, cover those sections with newspaper and tape it down. Spray paint gets everywhere. Plastic bags can be used to tape weird shaped areas. Tape along the edge for an airtight seal.

You may want to consider using masking tape to mask off the stringer and the legrope plug, or fins/fin plugs - if you're painting the underside. Plus any shaper labels you want to remain.

You may need to temporarily mask off areas you've already painted while you work on new areas. Just wait 'til they're dry first!

5. Spraying
Work in a well ventilated area if possible. And take regular breaks. It is worth buying a ventilator mask - around $35 - with a filter for fumes.

Things I have learned...
* Read the instructions on the can.
* Use the same brand of paint for all colours.
* Shake cans well and for the amount of time listed on the can.
* Apply several thin coats rather than one thick one.

* Paint when it is raining or humid - it does weird things to the paint
* Paint when it is over 30C degrees - different paints stipulate acceptable temperatures.
* Put too much paint on at once. You can't fix runs. Wait a few minutes and apply another thin coat.

There are several great brands of paint around. Most of them aren't any more expensive than what you'd find in a hardware store, but they're better for this kind of job. Molotow are great. Rich pigment, acrylic based, and UV stabilised. In Australia, check out The Butcher Shop for all your supplies.

If you are going to get really fancy, you can buy different nozzles to allow for a wider or more focussed spray. If you're using a lot of stencils, the nozzle that comes with decent cans is fine.

Because my board already had bold blocks of colour, I covered this up with a couple of light coats of white first.

There is nothing like seeing a pro to help you learn. Check out this video of Dan Duggan at work. It will give you an idea of the distance for spraying and other details.

Molotow have a great website with tutorials about spraying and using paint pens, and extra info about their products. 

6. Adding detail
Once the spray paint is good and dry, you can add details with Posca pens.

7. Sealing
Belton make a great, non-yellowing, UV stabilised clear spray paint. Use this to seal your work. Work somewhere with good light, so you can see where you've sprayed and no dust/cat hair/dog/toddler or anything else that is going to foul up your hard work.

Again, don't do this when it is hot or raining. A cloudy clear coat is aggravating, to say the least.

Move quickly and apply several light coats. You only need to wait for 5 minutes between coats. Build up the paint slowly, rather than rushing and getting gluggy runs down your board.

This coat is the only thing standing between your masterpiece and the saltwater, sand and sun. If you're doing nice, light coats, then you might need 7 coats for it to be good and sealed. Use your judgement. It should look glossy and even when you are finished.

8. Finishing off
Once everything is dry, remove your masking tape and clear spray can nozzles by holding them upside-down. Give your paint a good couple of days to cure before waxing that baby up and getting it wet. Surfs better, doesn't it?

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