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Thread: painting a canvas deck

  1. #1
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    Default painting a canvas deck

    I have a ply deck I need to seal up and make slip proof. To keep it traditional looking, I was thinking of applying canvas (the ply is epoxied over) and painting it buff. Do you think I need to add non-slip or will the texture of the canvas be enough?
    "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito"

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    The texture of the canvas will be enough for a while.

    are you thinking about bedding the canvas in something?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    If you paint the canvas with very thin semi-gloss oil based house paint, it will remain non skid as, house paint is designed to sluff off. Put on enough piss thin paint to give uniform color only. Scrub with a fine brush, Dawn and water when it gets dirty. When color starts to wear off, apply more piss thin paint. No sanding will be needed. Since the paint stuffs off with scrubbing, it will not build up and the canvas will last for many many years. There is another post on this subject running at this time that goes more in depth.
    Jay

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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    I have a sailing canoe with a fir ply deck that has light canvas glued to it and painted. I used the titebond method I saw in the magazine to try it out.

    The deck is the only part of the boat that isn’t checked! It is still as smooth and tight and nice as it was years ago, years of exposure, abuse, and zero touch ups.

    I will second the thin thin paint, especially for the first coat, as it helps the paint seep into the fabric better. Like a SOF boat.

    Peace,
    Robert

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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    I have a canvas deck on my 19' sloop. You don't need non-skid; the texture is fantastic, and far more pleasant than a nonskid-paint-treated deck if you go barefoot.

    What Jay and Robert say about using only very, very thin paint (cut it at least 50% with thinner) is imperative, as the canvas will quickly load up if you use full-thickness paint. At that point it becomes slick as glass. You *can* then strip a canvas deck --I've done it-- but it's a tricky, nasty job and success is at best imperfect and by no means in any way certain.

    I disagree about using house paint --I use and love Kirby's marine paint-- but that's entirely a matter of personal preference.

    If you intend to bed the canvas over the plywood deck (mine is bedded over cold-molded sapele) there are several methods, each with their ardent proponants. I used Kirby's unleaded canvas bedding compound, that George Kirby makes up upon request.

    Alex

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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    I only glued my fabric down in an attempt to stem checking. The matrix of thin glue and fabric seem to be working Tom hold down check. None in the deck, at all, where other bits have some, erm, noticeable fir grain patterns. Ahem.

    I always use porch and floor paint for any surface that may be walked on.

    Peace,
    Robert

  7. #7
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    Quote Originally Posted by Pitsligo View Post
    I have a canvas deck on my 19' sloop. You don't need non-skid; the texture is fantastic, and far more pleasant than a nonskid-paint-treated deck if you go barefoot.

    What Jay and Robert say about using only very, very thin paint (cut it at least 50% with thinner) is imperative, as the canvas will quickly load up if you use full-thickness paint. At that point it becomes slick as glass. You *can* then strip a canvas deck --I've done it-- but it's a tricky, nasty job and success is at best imperfect and by no means in any way certain.

    I disagree about using house paint --I use and love Kirby's marine paint-- but that's entirely a matter of personal preference.

    If you intend to bed the canvas over the plywood deck (mine is bedded over cold-molded sapele) there are several methods, each with their ardent proponants. I used Kirby's unleaded canvas bedding compound, that George Kirby makes up upon request.

    Alex
    Well Alex it was L.Francis Herreshoff that clued me in on using piss thin semi gloss house paint when we were working on "Tioga". House paint is designed to sluff off and present a new color surface as time passes. Kirby's is designed to maintain the best gloss on a non sluffing surface. It is good paint but not intended for painting canvas. I was over fifty years ago when I started to follow LFH's advise. I have yet to see it fail! However,
    I am sure that Kirby can mix you up a batch of the correct paint for your job. That may be a smatter way to go as house paint is going through significant and strict EPA compliance requirements.
    Jay

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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    I put canvas on the deck of my new Lightning this Summer. I used the George Kirby unleaded bedding compound under the canvas and then applied one coat of 50/50 Epifanes Monourethane and thinner. I could not believe how quickly the thinned paint soaked into the canvas. It was not like any painting job I had ever done. I think I used 2 quarts of paint and thinner to cover the deck.

    Anyway, at this point, the texture of the canvas is basically the way it was before the paint. Looks fine and is naturally non-skid.

    The canvas has gotten very dirty as I have been working on the rigging. It now has dirt, dust, blood, and caulk on it. So I plan to do another coat of very thin paint before I launch.

    I put canvas on my antique Lightning in 2011. It has held up fine but I put on too many coats of unthinned paint and it is now pretty slippery. Don't do what I did on that one.

    Mike

  9. #9
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    When your canvas deck becomes dirty, the cure is to wash the surface with Dawn dish soap and water using a soft nylon brush. Rinse and let dry, if it is showing loss of color and is blotchy using very thin paint add more coats till the color is uniform. The thin paint will soak into the canvas and preserve the non skid surface.
    Jay

  10. #10
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    Well Alex it was L.Francis Herreshoff that clued me in on using piss thin semi gloss house paint when we were working on "Tioga". House paint is designed to sluff off and present a new color surface as time passes. Kirby's is designed to maintain the best gloss on a non sluffing surface. It is good paint but not intended for painting canvas. I was over fifty years ago when I started to follow LFH's advise. I have yet to see it fail! However,
    I am sure that Kirby can mix you up a batch of the correct paint for your job. That may be a smatter way to go as house paint is going through significant and strict EPA compliance requirements.
    I don't contest that LFH was as good an original source as you're likely to find for boat advice, and no one could ever say Tioga isn't a first class yacht. However, I have had bad experiences with house paint on canvas decks, so just figured I'd offer the OP a variety of opinions to choose from. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I'd do it differently.

    FWIW, on Bucephalus's canvas deck I apply a very thin (>50% thinner) wash of Kirby's paint as needed, which is usually every spring. Using that protocol, it took 30 years to fill up the canvas. I may start using the Dawn dish soap approach, though, and see how well that goes. Always better to spread less paint than more, on a canvas deck.

    And yes, George Kirby is one of the most enthusiastic inventors of new products I've ever met, and I'm sure he could and would formulate a sloughing canvas deck paint. All anyone would need to do is to call him up and ask. I was stunned and delighted when he invented that unleaded bedding compound for me.

    I put canvas on the deck of my new Lightning this Summer. I used the George Kirby unleaded bedding compound under the canvas and then applied one coat of 50/50 Epifanes Monourethane and thinner. I could not believe how quickly the thinned paint soaked into the canvas. It was not like any painting job I had ever done. I think I used 2 quarts of paint and thinner to cover the deck.
    It's pretty shocking how much paint the new canvas soaks up, isn't it? I couldn't believe how much paint it took!

    How did you like the Kirby's unleaded bedding compound, Mike? I had a really good experience with it, but I've only used it the once.

    Alex

  11. #11
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    I have enjoyed my long association with George Kirby as well. Over the years that I have dealt with him, he has supplied me with all manner of products that are difficult to obtain in today's modern market. I also like his varnish!

    Normally bedding compound contains little or no lead as bedding compound works best if it retains its flexibility. Lead is a drier.
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 09-10-2018 at 08:21 PM.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    George Kirby is not only as fair-minded and upstanding a businessman as you're ever going to find, he's also a really generous and all around nice guy. I'm glad his paint is so good; I'd be really conflicted if I lost any quality from supporting his business. Fortunately, he also happens to make some of the best paint around.

    Normally bedding compound contains little or no lead as bedding compound works best if it retains its flexibility. Lead is a drier.
    Lead, as a basis for *paint*, also enhances the flexiblity of dried paint --this is why lead-based paint worked so well: it could expand and contract with the wood substrate without cracking, thus it lasted longer. Fortunately, modern paint chemistry has found alternatives to lead that give modern paint comparable longevity without the catastrophic toxicity.

    That aside, the stuff I used under B's canvas deck is different from the sort of bedding compound you'd use to bed fittings, or bed wood to wood, which, as you say, generally doesn't have (or need) lead. After contacting Steve Smith, of S.N.Smith & Son boatworks --who has probably laid more canvas decks (bedded and unbedded) than the rest of us on the Forum combined-- and brainstorming with him for a while, I contacted George Kirby in hopes of finding an alternative to white lead paste, the traditional bedding for canvas decks.

    George Kirby mixed up what amounts to ultra-thick paint (I think; I'm still not 100% certain), just as white lead paste was (as he agreed) mostly just ultra-thick lead-based paint. The stuff is the consistancy of mayonnaise, and you trowel it on with a serrated spreader before rolling out the canvas over it. So far, it seems to work brilliantly for Bucephalus. I'm hoping to get a second person's opinion from Mike Seibert.

    Alex

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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    Quote Originally Posted by Pitsligo View Post
    George Kirby is not only as fair-minded and upstanding a businessman as you're ever going to find, he's also a really generous and all around nice guy. I'm glad his paint is so good; I'd be really conflicted if I lost any quality from supporting his business. Fortunately, he also happens to make some of the best paint around.



    Lead, as a basis for *paint*, also enhances the flexiblity of dried paint --this is why lead-based paint worked so well: it could expand and contract with the wood substrate without cracking, thus it lasted longer. Fortunately, modern paint chemistry has found alternatives to lead that give modern paint comparable longevity without the catastrophic toxicity.

    That aside, the stuff I used under B's canvas deck is different from the sort of bedding compound you'd use to bed fittings, or bed wood to wood, which, as you say, generally doesn't have (or need) lead. After contacting Steve Smith, of S.N.Smith & Son boatworks --who has probably laid more canvas decks (bedded and unbedded) than the rest of us on the Forum combined-- and brainstorming with him for a while, I contacted George Kirby in hopes of finding an alternative to white lead paste, the traditional bedding for canvas decks.

    George Kirby mixed up what amounts to ultra-thick paint (I think; I'm still not 100% certain), just as white lead paste was (as he agreed) mostly just ultra-thick lead-based paint. The stuff is the consistancy of mayonnaise, and you trowel it on with a serrated spreader before rolling out the canvas over it. So far, it seems to work brilliantly for Bucephalus. I'm hoping to get a second person's opinion from Mike Seibert.

    Alex
    Thanks for posting that info.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    My canvas on the new Lightning seems fine with the Kirby unleaded bedding compound under it, but so far it has just been sitting in my garage, so I don't yet know how it is going to hold up in the elements.

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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    Good info. Thanks. Filing this for future reference.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    Lightnings are boats that can experience longitudinal twisting of the hull, if sailed hard. This can result in wrinkling or tearing of a canvas deck that is joined to the plywood deck by an undercoating such as bedding compound. In such cases it is better to use a layer of Irish felt under the canvas to allow it to move independant of the plywood thereby allowing it to return to its natural form once the twisting is relaxed.
    Jay

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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    I wrote earlier about gluing the cloth down to the ply on my canoe. It has stopped all checking in the deck, though some areas of the interior show signs of check.

    The Magazine had an article some time ago, and I followed the process outlined therein.

    Peace,
    Robert

  18. #18
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    My canvas on the new Lightning seems fine with the Kirby unleaded bedding compound under it, but so far it has just been sitting in my garage, so I don't yet know how it is going to hold up in the elements.
    Thanks Mike. I look forward to a report once you've had a chance to see how it all works out, if it's convenient for you to make that report.

    Lightnings are boats that can experience longitudinal twisting of the hull, if sailed hard.
    I remember sailing my father's Beetle Cat in heavy weather, and watching the creases come and go in the canvas foredeck as the boat flexed. She had unbedded canvas, of course, and it always came back, but boy, had that canvas been bedded the stresses would have shredded it. That's a completely different animal from a Lightning, though: Beetle Cats have a planked, uncaulked foredeck, which makes all the difference. I haven't heard of bedded canvas lifting off a monocoque deck due to flexion-induced failure --it always seems to function as just another layer of fiber-- but then I haven't seen as many boats as Jay has, either.

    I wrote earlier about gluing the cloth down to the ply on my canoe. It has stopped all checking in the deck, though some areas of the interior show signs of check.
    Can you elaborate, Emperor? Is checking visible on the underside of the deck? Or by "interior" do you mean that-which-is-not-deck?

    I was seriously tempted by the TB3 approach, but elected not to for the inevitable point in time where I need to re-canvas. I suspect TB3 is a lot more tenacious than bedding. Good while the canvas is sound, but I'd hate to tear up the substrate when it comes time to refurb. And I intend to have Bucephalus around for at least one more 30-year recanvassing.

    Alex

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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    DA350963-6000-449A-9F09-0494BA7CB52A.jpg
    Here’s a shot of an edge. I pinked the cloth and glued it down, then painted it. The inside is just paint. Doug fir ply.

    39D19EE5-5CD8-4410-A50D-B06E3B8BFEDC.jpg
    The foredeck, showing how much neglect it can stand. She’s been under the pecan tree. Mostly she’s a paddle boat or toy for the kids, now.

    I used TBII, per the article. Longer open time. First coat is thinned, then the cloth, then it’s all ironed and what not. Pretty simple.

    Peace,
    Robert

  20. #20
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    I remember sailing my father's Beetle Cat in heavy weather, and watching the creases come and go in the canvas foredeck as the boat flexed. She had unbedded canvas, of course, and it always came back, but boy, had that canvas been bedded the stresses would have shredded it. That's a completely different animal from a Lightning, though: Beetle Cats have a planked, uncaulked foredeck, which makes all the difference. I haven't heard of bedded canvas lifting off a monocoque deck due to flexion-induced failure --it always seems to function as just another layer of fiber-- but then I haven't seen as many boats as Jay has, either.
    Alex

    Indeed Alex, I was thinking of a planked deck on that lightning. Nice boat to sail!
    Jay

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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    now the next question. What canvas and where to get it in a good width?
    "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito"

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  22. #22
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    Default Re: painting a canvas deck

    What's your boat's beam? Ideally you want canvas to go the full width of the deck so that you don't need to worry about seams. I was able to find some 84" wide stuff, which just worked with Bucephalus's 78" beam.

    I think I used #10 canvas, but I may have gone heavier. I'll need to check my notes, but the bottom line is that I went with what the fellow I dealt with recommended.

    It'll take me a little while, but I think I can find the place I bought Bucephalus's canvas. IIRC, it's back east, near you.

    ETA: Found it in an '09 copy of our favorite magazine, WB #209, page 135: Fabric Works, in Waltham MA. No web presence, but they list (781) 642-8558.

    Alex
    Last edited by Pitsligo; 09-15-2018 at 01:44 PM. Reason: Added product info

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