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Thread: Awl Grip 545

  1. #1
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    Question Awl Grip 545

    I have a 50-year old wooden boat that is professionally maintained. I had the yard wood the hull this winter, and told them to repaint it with oil-based enamel. I had told them I explicitly told them that I didn't want to use Awl Grip, and just found out that they've put a coat or two of Awl Grip 545 primer on the topsides. They did this because they'd heard some other yards had been using it on wooden boats with good results. They were planning on using Z Spar 100 - Gloss White for a topcoat after applying more coats of the 545 primer.

    I'm concerned that the epoxy primer will seal the grain and may prevent the planks from breathing, possibly leading to rot. Or, it may be brittle and not flex as the hull works, resulting in cracked paint. Could the epoxy paint in the plank seams restrict the planks from swelling when the hull is wet? Does anybody have experience/data regarding the use of Awl Grip 545 primer on old wooden boats?

    The yard has stated that they will remove the 545 primer if I don't want to use it. How difficult is it to remove? Can it be completely removed?

    What does the community at-large think about using an epoxy-based primer on a wooden hull?
    Last edited by Drake56; 04-17-2012 at 04:09 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Welcome aboard. I'd not worry, the paint will not restrict the planks movement. As far as breathing, standard, alkyd type paints do not "breath" either and in my experiance epoxy provides a wonderful base for whatever finishing system is used. Search the site for CPES for feedback on finishing over epoxy.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    I agree with Bob that as a primer this should work fine. You might do a test patch to be dead certain the paint will stick, but I'd be most surprised if it didn't.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Thank you, Bob. That's very reassuring.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Thank you, Ian. Good suggestion about the test patch. I'm starting to be less worried.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    +2
    Bob Adams,
    "Welcome aboard. I'd not worry, the paint will not restrict the planks movement. As far as breathing, standard, alkyd type paints do not "breath" either and in my experiance epoxy provides a wonderful base for whatever finishing system is used. Search the site for CPES for feedback on finishing over epoxy."

    Ian McColgin,
    "I agree with Bob that as a primer this should work fine. You might do a test patch to be dead certain the paint will stick, but I'd be most surprised if it didn't."

    545 is a great (although expensive) primer. If you want to be hard core, maybe feign outrage and negotiate the priming price down by the difference between the cost of the 545 and the Z-Spar 100. All other costs should be pretty much the same.
    545 is really an upgrade, but they should have notified you, I guess.

    Many wooden boats are even finished with Awl Grip!

    Also welcome!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    I agree ,It's an upgrade.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Thank you all. What are the pros and cons of 545 vs. an oil-based primer? I'm not familiar with epoxy-based paints for use on wood. Does 545 alter the wood it's applied to? Does it in effect put a "plastic" coating on the wood, akin to the resin in a fabric layup? After reading some postings on CPES, I'm confused.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    I think of epoxy under coaters as a superior primer, that's all. Superior to oil/alkyd, and superior to red lead.
    The epoxy is different animal than the LP topcoat, which is what will usually pop into ones head at the mention of awlgrip. I do not believe that epoxy undercoat can be" bad "for any wood boat, any more than I would think red lead would be "bad".
    Certain woodies may, and certain woodies may not, tolerate the LP topcoat, that depends on the construction .
    Some 50 year old boats may be molded or double planked or strip planked, which could be LP'ed.
    So, saying your boat is 50 years old does not give much of the story. For opinion about what to use as a topcoat, we need to know more.
    CPES is not exactly the same. CPES is VERY thin and does go IN to the wood further than a highbuild undercoat.That can be an advantage , or a waste of time and money.But I do not think a woody, any woody, can be "harmed" by CPES.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Drake56,
    Awl-grip is not an epoxy, but a two part Linear Polyurethane enamel paint.

    545 is designed to bond to, in this case, wood and allow the top coat to bond to it, like any primer.

    But 545 primer and Awl-Grip paint are designed to chemically bond, as I understand it to form an extra tough,very abrasion resistant coating. That is why it was developed.

    It forms a very water resistant, maybe even water proof, coating like any other paint/varnish.
    Water resistance is graded in perm ratings and all paints score above necessary levels to keep the water out, which means keeping the air in. Awl-Grip has a higher perm rating then oil-based.

    Planking, in the terms you are talking, does not need to "breath" and also keeps the water out without paint, or your boat would sink!

    Try as you, or anyone else, might, you can't keep water from entering the hull planks of a traditional carvel boat and gaining equilibrium with ambient humidity, with any paint or varnish. Planks will and are designed to move and the moister content will change with the change in humidity.
    Of course, it is a bit more moist on the underwater planks then on the topside planks and yet paint sticks in both places!

    Ain't wood boats magical!?

    Yea, CPES confuses me too. As much hype as function, IMHO. Some love it, I avoid it unless otherwise instructed.

    Also, what wizbang says.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    "Awl-grip is not an epoxy, but a two part Linear Polyurethane enamel paint" but AwlGrip 545 IS an epoxy, AwlGrip topcoats are LPU.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    She is carvel planked, mahogany over laminated oak frames. I'm not planning on using the Awl Grip "LP topcoat" but Z Spar 100 - Gloss White.

    Why do you think that epoxy undercoats are superior primers? Does it in effect put a "plastic" coating on the wood, akin to the resin in a fabric layup?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Awlgrip is the name of a line of coatings and allied products.

    Awlgrip 545 primer is epoxy based.
    http://www.awlgrip.com/MPYACMDatashe...5+A+eng+A4.pdf

    The Awlgrip top coats are not.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Jackster, I'm reading from the Awl Grip 545 Product Data Sheet, and it says that "545 is a two-component epoxy primer," based on an "epoxy polyamide." But, whether it's an epoxy or a polymer aside, have you used the 545 primer on a wooden hull? What was your experience? Why do you think it's suitable for use on wood?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Epoxy is made from polymide resin. On my boat I used a high build epoxy primer for final fairing. Topsides I finshed with a LPU, on the hull I used a conventional coating. Both have held up well. Look at it this way, no matter what the coating is made up of, it does the same thing. Some have better abraison resistance, others better color and gloss retention. Would you have such concerns about painting your house with oil rather than water borne paint? You really are worried about nothing, in my mind you have come out ahead, epoxy primer is tough.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    epoxy primer sticks better and sands easier than a one part alkyd (that is redundant, all alkyds are one part).
    epoxy fairing compounds (WEST 407 and WEST 410) "marry" to epoxy primers ,alkyd, not so much.
    The Z spar will work great with the epoxy UC/primer.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Bob, Jim, Drake 56.
    Yes, I stand humbly corrected, the 545 primer IS an epoxy. Thanks for the correction(s)!

    Yes, Drake, I have sprayed and helped brush 545 and Awl-Grip on wooden hulls, both new and re-paint and the results were excellent as far as the product is concerned.

    Their publication "Master The Perfect Finish... Marine Application Guide" has complete instructions on painting wood both bare and previously painted.
    It is a tedious process with precise mixing proportions of ingredients and designated wait times.
    I don't like to using the stuff myself, very toxic and over spray needs containment and skin, lungs, eyes and other exposed body parts need protecting.
    It really is a superior product, super durable, tough finish, but experienced applicators needed.
    It should, IMHO, do very well under your Z-Spar topcoat. and would be a shame to sand it off.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Thank you all for your replies; I appreciate your help very much. Please bear with me, as I'm trying to get educated on this topic, and I may ask dumb questions. Here's what I've learned so far: epoxy primer sticks better to the wood and is easier to sand; it's very durable; my Z-Spar topcoat will stick to it very well; and, it's very toxic and tedious to apply, requiring experts to apply it. Here comes the dumb question. It's made of a polyamide resin. To me, a resin is a glue. So, by using it, am I putting a layer of resin (glue) on the wood surface, and in effect making my wooden boat into a "plastic-sheathed" boat?

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    No. Conventional paint is made with alykd "resin".

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Resins are sticky goo. The can be used as coatings and as adhesives.
    545 is made from a particular epoxy resin called polyamide. The good things said above are true.

    The paint most commonly used over 545 is Awlgrip brand topcoat. It's a 2-part linear polyurethane (LPU) coating that performs very well in some applications. Most folks around here don't like it on a plank on frame boat. Applying this stuff is difficult and it is very dangerous to spray without some fancy respirators. Cyanides in the LPU paint get atomized in spraying and they're godawful toxic. Don't think about spraying this stuff. Roll&tip techniques work well.

    Most folk here would say that a conventional alkyd paint like ZSpar Z-100 is a very good choice for painting your boat. It's easy to apply and easy to repair and not particularly toxic.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    A light bulb is starting to illuminate over my head. Thanks.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Thanks, Jim. It's starting to make sense to me. So, Awl Grip 545 as the primer, followed by ZSpar Z-100 topcoat?

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    bam

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Thanks to everyone for your help.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    While I prefer oil-based alkyd topcoats on traditional boats for their authentic appearance (What brands of shiny LPU did Captain Nat and Skipper prefer?), I've had great results using epoxy primers beneath them.



    Especially on old plywood, which needs all the help it can get. Brushing on CPES to soak in deep followed by hotcoating on a coat of epoxy primer (shown is Navy surplus Mare Island Green) causes the two layers to bond to each other chemically, creating a "key" for the primer coat far more durable than any other I've done. Even in the most severe collisions that primer remains part of the wood. It's almost like adding another lam to the plywood.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Thanks for the input, Bob. She is carvel planked, mahogany over laminated oak frames, not plywood. We are planning on using Z-Spar 100 as a topcoat. The two unanswered questions about the primer are: is it flexible enough so as not to crack when the boat "works?"; and, is it so impervious that it will it trap moisture, causing rot from within?

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Quote Originally Posted by Drake56 View Post
    The two unanswered questions about the primer are: is it flexible enough so as not to crack when the boat "works?"; and, is it so impervious that it will it trap moisture, causing rot from within?
    Your fears are unfounded.

    Epoxy is well known for both its flexibility and it's ability to allow humidity to transit in and (more importantly) out of the wood seasonally , while slowing the process down significantly. That's what people mean when they talk about wood "breathing"...except wood "breathes" moisture and not air from season to season based on humidity.

    In contract, polyester coatings...especially those made for the automotive trades...are noted for some formulations being brittle, and for their ability to absorb and contain moisture, often causing the wood beneath to rot like the Bondo-filleted frames below. Sometimes epoxy and polyester get confused in the lore.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Thanks, Bob. I'm not only learning a lot about marine coatings, but I'm also embracing a "new" technology.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Epoxy is an okay base, but beware that the planks will move (swell) and the paint will crack. I have a 75' 50 year old wooden boat. I have tried it all.

    Capt. Steve

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    Cracking is one of the things I'm afraid will happen. Even the manufacturer's technical support department says that this will occur on carvel planked boats. But, my yard has already applied the epoxy primer, so I'm up the creek. Can the 545 primer be removed without harming the planks? How should it be done? Thank you.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    She may , or may not, crack .ON THE SEAMS. She will still crack on the seams if she is un stable with ANY paint!!
    Not crack and check on the plank itself. That might happen if the seams were actually glued with epoxy.
    And again, It may , or may not, have anything to do with the epoxy primer.
    It will NOT harm the planks. It is NOT like a plastic coating that will cause rot. It is a superior primer coating. It is married to the wood in a way other paints will not.
    LEAVE IT!!!

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Awl Grip 545

    I used 545 as primer under oil-based alkyd gloss topcoat (Kirbys) on my glued lap Coquina specifically because of its tenacity, build and ease of sanding. It worked great; I wouldn't change a thing

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