How To Fix Crackling To Fiberglass Sailboats

Do you want to know how to fix crackling to fiberglass sailboats? High traffic areas of the deck often suffer slight damage from normal pressure, forming spiders or other forms of crackling. Fixing them on time can save you money and prevent bigger damage to your sailboat.

What you need to fix crackling to fiberglass sailboats:

  • Personal safety equipment: glasses, gloves, mask and long sleeve shirt.
  • Epoxy resin and hardener.
  • Fiberglass cloth.
  • Squeegee.
  • Painting roll.
  • A can with a mixing stick.
  • A flat tray.
  • Sanding machine or paper.
  • Drill.
  • Cutter.
  • Scissors.
  • Plywood.
  • Wire.
  • Masking tape.
  • Filling putty.
  • Wax paper.

How to fix crackling to fiberglass sailboats:

  1. Identify the area you will work on. You need to get to the other side of the wall from where the crackling is in your sailboat. If you´re working on the deck, make sure you can access the lower face of that section comfortably, as you´ll have to work down there too. Most areas on a sailboat have access from below, some easier than others.
  2. Use a drill to determine where the cracks end. Sometimes cracks go further than we expect. With the drill, get to the end of all the cracks that form the crackling you are working on.
  3. With the area to work on clearly marked, use a cutter to remove all loose material within the cracks. Don´t freak out as the hole gets bigger. It´s better to get the sailboat fixed all together than having to go back to it after a few days. For a better finishing, you can use a sanding machine to give the sides of the hole an angle towards the hidden face of the wall, providing better grip for the resin, thus a better look to your sailboat.
  4. Cut several layers of fiberglass cloth able to cover the surface of the hole plus two inches to the sides. Depending on the width of the wall being repaired, you´ll need to use more or less layers, but a starting number will be three.
  5. Using masking tape, fix a sheet of wax paper to the outside of the wall, this is the side that is exposed. This will be the slickest side after you are done.
  6. Prepare resin in the can, mix it and extend it in the tray. This way, heat will not build up thus the resin will not harden sooner than needed.
  7. Wet one of the fiberglass cloth patches and apply it to the inside of the hole using the roll. Make sure that air bubbles are not present between the fiberglass cloth and the wax paper. Also, check that resin covers the whole surface including the sides of the hole, that might be sanded at an angle for better finishing.
  8. Apply as many fiberglass cloth layers as needed to give the wall enough strength.
  9. Let the resin dry for an hour, and the remove the wax paper from the outside of the wall. Check for bubbles or holes, and sand thoroughly.
  10. Use filler putty if needed to get a slick surface finish. Apply gelcoat or paint similar to that around the hole. However, if many cracks are being fixed, it is recommended to paint the whole section, or even the whole boat once the work is done.

Always use protective gear. Epoxy and fiberglass are hazardous materials.

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