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Applying Primer like a Pro

Today we’re going to be looking at priming for marine uses.  We’ll show you how to do the very best job of it and give your boat a finish professionals will envy.

If you are planning on painting your boat, you will definitely need to prime it first.  Why? Primer creates a smooth layer for the paint to spread over in a nice, consistent way. The paint quite literally bonds with the primer.  Without primer, when the paint dries you will not get an professional, even finish.

Spraying marine primer, as opposed to using a brush or roller, will give the smoothest most accurate finish possible, which is why all professional marine repair shops prefer to use sprayers.

We recommend using the Preval Sprayer, but don’t just take it from us.  Eric Orchard, the crew chief of DEO Motor Sports, lays out his preferences here.

Prepare prepare prepare - Get it out of the way or seal it up

We have said this before but we can’t stress it enough: the key to quality work on your boat is all about getting fully prepared before you start.  In cooking, you’d call this step mise en place, French for “putting in place.”  But don’t limit yourself to gathering things you’ll need, because this step includes getting absolutely everything out of the way.  From there on, it's going to be plain sailing.

Preparation makes the difference in any painting project and the key to applying primer to a boat is preparation.


Clean it up - Make the hull as clean as you possibly can

You wouldn’t cook in a dirty kitchen, and the same is true for priming. Get everything spotlessly clean before you start priming.

First of all, the hull must be thoroughly cleaned. You should use soap water and scrub down your boat using a brush with stiff bristles. Put a little elbow grease into it, scrubbing as hard as you can, to remove all debris that has accumulated.

Now you need to rinse the boat using a water hose equipped with a power spray nozzle. Once you have finished cleaning your boat, you should allow a few hours for boat to dry out completely.

So, your boat should be spotlessly clean and you should have removed anything that could possibly get in the way of your job, and we do mean everything.  A rail or snap left behind will not only get in the way of spraying your primer, and eventually paint, but runs the risk of getting caught in the line of fire.

Of course, there are some things which just can’t be removed.  For those, you should make sure they are carefully sealed with duct tape.  Duct tape is superior to masking tape because it provides more and better protection.  

Priming - Getting the job done

So now you are ready to begin priming. For marine purposes, two of the more popular primers are Primocon and Awlgrip.  Primocon Boat Primer is an anti-corrosive primer for underwater metal surfaces.  Awlgrip Wash Primer allows for extended re-coat time and removes the need to sand before applying the next coat. Keep in mind that Awlgrip requires a converter to go with it.

Mixing your primer - Stir it up

As cooking requires getting the ingredients just right, so you will also need to be very careful how you mix the primer to ensure that you get a really good application. Use a calibrated mixing cup to mix the primer with the appropriate thinner. Always be sure to read the mixing instructions to verify the correct ratio.

Here’s a handy video on getting your primer ready and how to mix it.

After thoroughly mixing by stirring, place a paint strainer over the Preval Product Container and pour in the primer.  Never pour any kind of paint product into the Product Container without a strainer.

Make sure that you always hold the Sprayer perpendicular to the surface area being sprayed at all times.

When spraying the lower edges of your boat, it is essential to bend over or kneel down so you can see what you are actually spraying. This practice will ensure complete, ample coverage is achieved.

Spray two to three coats of primer, leaving sufficient time in between coats for the primer to dry.

Here’s another helpful video which shows how to do a really professional job step by step

We can help you with much more than just preparing your boat for primer and paint, our team will be on hand at the Kellogg Marine Supply trade show this week. We’ll be able to answer any of your questions in person, if you want to learn more. Keep an eye out for us there. Until then, happy priming.

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