June 2014 Issue
Tefcite Coating Fails Static Panel Test at 1 Year
Our quest for new antifouling paints recently took us into the world of long-life spray-on coatings promoted in the commercial-shipping industry. While the spray-on, thermoplastic composite powder Tefcite may work well on a ship that’s moving at 13 knots for most of its working life, it failed surprisingly fast in our static panel tests.
Tefcite Antifouling Technology is applied by a handful of companies in the U.S. using a patented spray technology. When combined with state-of-the-art robotic technology, the painting process can dramatically slash the time it takes to paint a single ship. Compatible with steel, fiberglass, aluminum, and gel-coat, the process emits no VOCs, and the coating can be applied in hot or cold weather. It promises a tough, impact-resistant, and smooth surface that maintains its antifouling properties up to 10 years.
A few years ago, we received a test panel from a Southwest Florida company looking to market the product to the recreational boating market. We were hopeful. It was tough as nails, smooth, and fast. According to the maker, the finish meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s strict limits for copper leaching. We put it to the test.
PS immersed a 2-foot by 2-foot test panel coated with Tefcite next to our other eco-friendly test paints in the summer 2012. After six months, when nearly all of the eco-friendly paints in the same test batch were still clean, the first tiny barnacles had already appeared on the Tefcite panel. By the following summer, the panel was thick with tenacious barnacles and soft growth.
We were told that if the panel had been regularly maintained with a scrubbing, our results would have been much better. The product reminds us of similar commercial shipping-oriented products that we’ve tested in the past—coatings that rely greatly on a slick surface to prevent fouling. While these coatings might suit a long-term cruiser constantly on the move, or in a place where routine scrubbings are possible, they are a tough sell to the average sailboat owner.
We will continue to explore similar products, but based on the pitiful results from this panel, we cannot recommend Tefcite for recreational sailors at this time. We would be interested to hear from any sailors who have had success with similar “10-year” coatings.