help.. Worst epoxy orange peeling.. ever?

So today was the day to put the third interior epoxy coating on my NE dory build. 


Here's the way I went about the third coat -

1.  I used a sponge and warm water to clean off the amine blush from the previous coat

2. I used a coarse steel wool to rough up the previous coat of epoxy

3. I then wiped down with a *tack cloth* I bought at the local hardware store.  

Thinking I was ready to go, I mixed up some epoxy, rolled it on and tipped it out with a foam brush.  The resin immediately orange peeled, worse than I had ever seen it before.  Luckily, I had only done between the transom and the rear thwart.  I immediately stopped, thought "doh! The tack cloth probably left a waxy residue behind that refused to bind with the epoxy".  I thought that was definitely the problem, so I ran to the hardware store and bought a jug of denatured alcohol and a jug of acetone.  I wiped the uncured epoxy off with denatured alcohol, gave the rest of the hull a wipedown with the DA, then to be sure, I wiped down the hole interior of the hull with acetone.  Thinking I was in the clear, I waited for the acetone to completely flash off, I mixed more epoxy and rolled and tipped some test parts on the hull (replacing the roller and brush)... it didn't help and almost immediately oranged peeled again.  

What could I be missing in this process, any recommendations on how to continue?



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RE: help.. Worst epoxy orange peeling.. ever?


RE: help.. Worst epoxy orange peeling.. ever?

   Ouch! That does look bad. I feel for you.

I remember reading somewhere that John Harris states that orange peeling is almost always the result of contamination. I think you are probably correct in thinking the tack cloth is the culprit.

I'm no expert, but my suggestion is to wait a few days for this coat to fully harden. Then you should sand the entire interior until everything is completely smooth again. (What a royal PITA!) Vacuum the interior to get rid of most of the dust, and then wipe it down with a cloth, dampened by nothing more than distilled water. Let it dry.

Now, apply that third coat of epoxy, and (hopefully) stand back in awe and amazement at how beautiful your boat is!

RE: help.. Worst epoxy orange peeling.. ever?

If it's still soft, get the mess off the boat now rather than wait to sand it. That will require a big sand, and will inevitably cause you to burn through a bunch of edges and set you back to square one.

I agree it looks like contamination. I've heard horror stories about modern acetone, so I don't use it in my epoxy prep routine. You are correct to suspect the tack rag- save it for your varnish steps, but never introduce an unknown set of chemicals to a surface that you plan to add epoxy to.

You can use acetone to aggressively clean various residues, but think of the surface as still contaminated after the acetone. Use paper rags (not cloth that has gone through the laundry with various unknown softeners and scents) and alcohol for a final wipe.

I'd also suggest a scotch-brite abrasive pad instead of steel wool- no use embedding thousands of steel particles in your finish. They WILL cause rust stains, later.

RE: help.. Worst epoxy orange peeling.. ever?

I have not yet had the pleasure of building a boat. Really want to but I still have a few bills in the way. But I use Acetone in my job every day. It leaves a visible white residue behind, I can see how this might affect your epoxy coating. I also am familiar with those “Tack Cloths” that most hardware stores sell. I stopped using them years ago because they leave a nasty sticky residue behind that will interfere with getting good even penetration of wood stain. On any furniture that I build, after final sanding I wipe everything down with mineral spirits. This cleans off any oils and residues that will interfere with stain penetration. I have never used an epoxy coating so you would have to do a test on a small area to be sure this would work for you.


RE: help.. Worst epoxy orange peeling.. ever?

   My opinion is that:

1.  You aren't using MAS epoxy because that doesn't blush. 

2.  You should never use steel wool around a boat because tiny particles will always   

      remain, will eventually rust and turn ugly. 

3.  You used WAY too much epoxy.  A thick layer is not required. If coating   

      fiberglass cloth, after the initial laying of the cloth subsequent coats are to fill the 

      weave and smooth the surface. If coating wood with resin, after the first coat has 

      cured, subsequent coats are for filling and smoothing. Use a squeegee.  Excess

      epoxy adds no inherent strength and adds unnecessary weight.

4.  If you use anything to wipe down the hull prior to recoating with paint, varnish or 

     epoxy, use denatured alcohol which leaves no residue. 

RE: help.. Worst epoxy orange peeling.. ever?

You've gotten good advice above so I don't think I can add any more.  On my boat, I didn't do anything between epoxy coats (MAS epoxy) other than some sanding to get rid of drips and to roughen the surface somewhat.  Any surface cleaning (after vacuuming) was with a wipe down with denatured alcohol and paper towels.

I did have some fun with varnishing after a tack cloth rub -- the varnish did some wrinkling -- so had to resand and recoat with epoxy before trying the varnish again.  That was on a thwart so not that much area to redo.  It's always good to start on a small section so that if something goes awry,  you can backtrack and try again.  Thwarts make good test surfaces since they are flat and easy to sand.

Good luck!

Dave M. 

RE: help.. Worst epoxy orange peeling.. ever?

 Thanks for the advice all.  You're correct, I'm not using MAS epoxy.  I was originally planning on building a Sam Devlin Dipper 19' so I bought a kit of Total Boat 3.5 gallons with a fast hardener (winter build).   

With the advice above, my next step will be to scotchbrite the interior, and prep the surface with paper rags and denatured alcohol.  

Luckily, after my (misguided) acetone wipedown last time, I started on the section between the transom and thwart for the rear seat.  When I noticed it was still orange peeling, I immediately called it a day and wiped all the epoxy off with denatured alcohol, so I'm basically in the same place I was after the second coat. 

This would all have been avoided if I did all three coats in the same day!

Anyways, just making sure I read wing15601's advice correctly, I should not be rolling and tipping the epoxy, and instead should just use a yellow spreader?

RE: help.. Worst epoxy orange peeling.. ever?

   Fiberglass cloth adds strength. Epoxy alone (or in addition) adds protection from water damage. Clearly, both are important. A slightly deeper layer of epoxy is a slightly deeper layer of protection against water penetration. You want this stuff to last a lifetime. Use your own judgement about the best application method.

RE: help.. Worst epoxy orange peeling.. ever?

   Giggin, I've just finished watching a series of 4 short videos on the application on epoxy on the Off Centre Harbour web ( this is the link to number 3 in the series and talks about the use of the plastic spreader, and why its used, but its also useful to watch all the short episodes. It looks basic stuff at first but Eric does some useful comparisons on test panels and gives a good explanation on why some 'things' happen. Gerry51

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