Stripping the paint?

I'd like to strip the antifowling paint off the bottom of my FS and get back to fiberglass. The plan is to paint it afterwards (using a body shop???) and then wet sand it from that point forward. Has anyone used the solvent/stripper sold by West Marine? I don't currently race but want to consider it soon. The current paint is in less than perfect shape. I'll sail it locally at the lake and take it to the coast once in a while but it won't be left in the water so I don't need the anti-fowling properties.


You don't really mean to get back to "fiberglass" but you want to get back to the Gel Coat (that thin colored (usually white)layer of polyester resin that protects the fiberglass from UV and makes it look good). There are a lot of strippers that will work, including WEST MARINE brand. Do not under any circumstance have auto paint applied below the baterline. From experience, I can tell you that if left in the water for even a short time it will develop tiny bubbles under the paint. If it's cosmetics your looking for and you have to paint then go to You should also look into what it would take to spray a Gel Coat on your hull. This is a thin layer of the same pigmented polyester resin as the original hull and is way more durable than paint. As far as below the waterline you might want to look into a "hard" bottom paint such as baltoplate or VC offshore. These are non-ablative (thin) hard wearing antifouling paints that look good, are easy to clean, and are durable. Good Luck.

Bob Klein

Yes, you are correct about the gelcoat. I appreciate the tip on the auto paint. In a perfect world, the bottom paint will come off leaving me with plenty of gelcoat and a nice finish. If not, a thin layer of something like what you suggested is ok as well. I painted the bottom of a Soling once and wasn't that happy with the flow problems that developed on the bottom. I've done a bit of gelcoat repair but it wasn't on my list of favorite things to do either!


You will be amazed at how much ablative (read soft) bottom paint comes off with a good pressure washer. Make sure you're not going to do this where the runoff affects anything.

I do all my boats (last count was 7) this way to get the majority off. Then I let it dry for a couple of days and go after it with my vacuuming D/A sander. Make sure to use the appropriate personal safety equipment.


Have used the West Marine stripper and it worked well but is by nature a messy job. The bottom paint I removed was not the ablative type. Maybe you will be lucky and find the gelcoat to be in good condition after stripping the paint. A little wet sanding and away you go!

You have to be very careful with using PeelAway to remove bottom paint. It does work very well but you MUST follow the instructions especially concerning temperature and application time. If left on overnight it will attach the gellcoat and actually eat it's way through the hull. As an ex marine surveyor I have seen this first hand... not pretty.

Flying Scot Inc. can re-surface your old bottom. They do the best job of anyone around, for fairly obvions reasons. They know exactly what to do. Contact them and see what the estimated cost would be. 800-864-7208. Then all you have to do is get your boat to the factory in Maryland. Seeing them in action is an experience worth having.

FSSA Forum editor

Great idea but a bit tough from down here in Texas! I'm going to decide which method to use shortly and will report back.

quote:[i]Originally posted by bmikiten fs2668[/i]
[br]. . . from down here in Texas!

bmikiten, I just moved to Texas (Houston). Where are you located? I had to sell my Scot before I moved and I am trying to decide what to do.

I'm in San Antonio. There is a large fleet in Dallas and one that is growing here. The Dallas group has a really nice little lake near the airport - I stopped by one day when I had a bit of time before a flight.

I took the paint off #3817. There was 5 coats of bottom paint.

I used the chemicals and it took 3 days of work. Since then I have never touched the bottom with sandpaper and the surface is great.

There was an article in Scots and Water with pictures but I don't remember the year or issue. sorry ---

Bruce Cattanach

I recently acquired 2222, which is in need of having many years of bottom paint removed. I see you guys had good luck with the West marine stripper. Anything better on the market since the last post in 2004? Thanks

I took my bottom paint off with acetone from the local hardware. I used the Rags in a Box, and it came right off.

Phil Scheetz
FS 4086

Thanks for the input! As soon as the weather turns, I'll get to work!

Fred and Mara Liesegang

I thought the use of Acetone might be a good idea, until I read the can. Acetone will eat the resins in fiberglass, according to the instructions. This is not a good method!

I have been postponing this job for over a year! My FS had rust color anti fouling paint on the bottom that I wanted off. This project was on the top of my list, of things to do, since the end of last season. Here is my account. The hardest and most challenging aspect of the job was getting the boat off the trailer and then on its side, and then back on the trailer. Believe it or not, I was able to get the FS off and back on the trailer safely, all by myself, with little difficulty. My lawn tractor came in handy for towing the boat/trailer around my back yard. The actual stripping of the paint was not easy, and I wouldn't want to do it again. It took me approximately 12 hours, over three days, for the complete job. I used Ready Strip, (one gal) and then cleaned up the residue with Acetone and rags. A point of caution here, the Acetone you get at the hardware store can damage the resins used in fiberglass, read the instruction on the side of the can. Evercoat, makes Acetone that is safe for use on marine products! After all the paint was removed, I wet sanded with 1000 paper and polished the bottom. It looks great, not new, but much better.
We just took our first sail without the bottom paint! It made a huge difference in speed and handling! On a scale of 1-10, its a 10! I can't believe it made such a big difference, it feels like a different boat.

I dry sailed and capsized my boat this weekend, too. [;)]

I used the method of tying up the the boat and pulling the trailer out with the car. The key is to have everything in a straight line. If the tie up rope is not straight behind the boat the boat will get pulled to one side and all hell might break loose.

Getting the boat back on the trailer isn't that difficult either. Just winch it on with the trailer winch. I left the trailer unhooked from the car so that the back roller is closer to the ground by tilting the trailer. We also lifted the bow up a little (by hand) to get it on the roller, while winching.

We parked the trailer over the mast to hold the mast down while working on the bottom side. I'd say two people are necessary to dry launch, retrieve and tip the boat to the side. Of course more hands are nice.

Our anti-fouling paint was powdery and it came off with water and scrubbing. I then briefly wet-sanded the bottom with a 600 and then with a 1500 grid sand paper. Looks pretty nice and smooth. Now we'll see what the anti-fouling paint does to the grass. Hopefully nothing to bad, as it's in our front yard.

Update: The grass is fine and doing well.

Kudos go to my crew (on board) and admiral (off board) for going along with this project. [;)]

Claus FS5074 Ames, IA

Nice to see some pics on this forum, but where's the beer?

I would recommend you take a look at 'soy strip', believe it or not made from soy and it really works great.
Water based, no VOC's and non-toxic.
Did a very reluctant bottom with wonderful results and didn't have to call a HazMat team.

[quote][i]Originally posted by Dinghy Capt[/i]
[br] I purchased the gallon container and had a little left over when I was done.

Just confirming that you didn't need more than a gallon to a FS as their estimate would lead me to believe that I would need more. Roughly how many coats of paint were you removing? Thanks.

FS367 Chin up

Check out Home Depot. Bypass al the Srip brand products in metal cans and find the paint remover in a quart size white plastic pail with green lettering. It is stated to be eco friendly and it says safe for fiberglass . It is a white paste of applebutter consistancy. I read the email string below and decided to apply it to my small catamaran boat and covered the stripper with plastic to keep it from drying out. I then used a pressure washer ( electric motor type , not very high pressure) after waiting a day and the pressure washer took a lot of the paint off. I had used the pressure washer earlier prior to applying the stripper but only a small amount of loose paint came off. In retrospect I should have applied a thicker coat of stripper and waited two days with the plastic cover of garbage bags and grocery bags. Best of all one can costs $14. Fot the Scot you would need two, possibly three pails. Gabor

i got thru two layers of anti-fouling paint with Back-to-nature's "Ready-Strip Marine", but now have run into what seems to be a rubberized coating that is very tenacious and does not responfd to the Ready-Strip.
Any ideas, please, the boat is sitting on its side in my lawn, I hope not permanently!
randy b. in downingtown, PA

UPDATE: thanks for all the advice; i ended up having to sand off the entire bottom coating - - got good results but had to be careful, because the coating was much harder than the underlying single coat of paint and the gelcoat, so once i got the the coating with a course grit pad, i could easily damage what was underneath.
BTW, i tried "Peel-Away" brand stripper, formulated for fiberglass, on a small test section and found : 1) it would NOT remove the rubberized coating; and 2) it WOULD take off a single layer of paint but left the gelcoat pocked underneath - not a good experiment!


I used Interlux Interstrip to remove some REALLY stubborn layers of copper off my centerboard. I used 1/2 quart, so you might need 1-2 gals for a whole bottom. Or you could try my other method for removing bottom paint.

I had a crack at using acetone on the bottom paint that seems to have been put on at the factory (black paint over the original gelcoat. It takes a bit of work, but does come off. This is just one layer of paint, so I can't imagine doing this on many layers of antifouling paint. Also, the fumes were pretty bad. I heard good things about aqua strip, so I bought a gallon of that. I'll let you know how it goes. quote:[i]Originally posted by sawyerspadre[/i]
[br]I took my bottom paint off with acetone from the local hardware. I used the Rags in a Box, and it came right off.

Phil Scheetz
FS 4086

Rob Volpe
FS 4347