Features October 2011 Issue

Past Adventures with Chemical Strippers

Temperature, dwell time, and sharp scrapers are as important as picking the right concoction.

chemical strippers
In 2006, we tested nine different chemical strippers on a boat that had several years worth of accumulated bottom paint.

Our foray into sodablasting follows years of testing several different ways to remove bottom paint. Although you can simply attack the bottom paint with a power sander (an 8-inch sander-polisher is probably the most common tool for this purpose), this approach is messy, back breaking, and can expose the do-it-yourselfer to various health hazards. It can also lead to dings and divots in the gelcoat caused by overzealous sanding. Many yards prohibit do-it-yourselfers from sanding antifouling, or offer specific guidelines on how it can be carried out—often prescribing a chemical stripper to help contain the paint residue.

Chemical paint strippers break down the paint’s adhesive bond on the hull and make it easier to scrape down to clean substrate that can be repainted. You can choose different strengths of stripper depending on the job at hand, or you can vary the strength by leaving the chemical stripper on the hull longer.

Over the past 10 years, Practical Sailor has looked at a wide range of high-strength strippers developed specifically for removing marine paints—antifouling paints in particular. After experimenting with concentrations, dwell times (the amount of time you leave the stripper on the hull), and ambient temperatures, we found we could greatly reduce the scope of a paint removal project. However, we still came to the conclusion that there had to be a faster, easier way to remove bottom paint.

chemical paint removers
Three top products were selected for our 2009 test of chemical paint removers, from left: Soy-Strip, Peel Away, and Smart Strip.

The Tests

In November 2006, we looked at nine different marine strippers. Back to Nature Ready-strip was our Budget Buy, and Franmar Soy-Strip was our Best Choice. Two other products, Pettit Bio-Blast and Back To Nature Aqua Strip were Recommended. A past winner in PS testing, Peel Away Marine Safety Strip from Dumond Chemical, did not land among the top contenders. Dumond Peel Away Marine Strip II, Sea Hawk

Marine Paint Stripper, and Interlux Interstrip 299E were other products that did not make the final cut.

Not surprisingly, most of the strippers touted their eco-friendliness. Since the mid-80s, boatyards have been under pressure from both state and federal regulatory agencies to contain the toxins and heavy metals contained in bottom paints; chemical strippers helped meet that goal. The newer strippers also were water-soluble, simplifying cleaning and reducing volatile organic compounds leaking into the atmosphere.

In 2008, we updated our 2006 report with a test in slightly cooler temperatures—65 to 72 degrees versus 85-plus degrees in 2006—and on a more challenging overhead, horizontal surface. The test pitted the Franmar Soy Strip against a new, water-based product from Dumond, Peel Away Smart Strip. In that comparison, the Peel Away Smart Strip performed slightly better, although neither product did particularly well removing multiple layers of bottom paint. In this test, testers found that the dwell times could be sped up by covering the strippers with clear plastic to prevent evaporation.

In March 2009, we raised the stakes. Not only did we want to remove an antifouling paint, we also wanted to peel off a 25-year-old Interlux Interprotect epoxy barrier coat, that was beginning to fail. For that round, we selected “the best of the best” chemical paint removers from previous tests: Soy-Strip by Franmar (best in our 2006 test), Dumond Chemicals’ Peel Away Marine Safety Strip (best in our 2000 test), and Peel Away Smart Strip (best in our 2009 test). Because of the longer dwell times needed to soften the epoxy coating, testers tried them with and without a covering: Peel Away’s proprietary paper for the Dumond products and a 1-mil clear plastic for the Franmar stripper. Testers found that the Peel Away Marine Safety Strip—with its thick, creamy consistency—was the most effective for heavy-duty epoxy-paint removal. The Franmar Soy Strip also worked, but not quite as quickly. The testers concluded that using either stripper alone, without covering the product to extend the dwell time, would not be effective against epoxy.

Comments (1)

TRUTH BE TOLD THIS IS MY REGISTRATION ENTRY AND BEYOND THAT I REALLY HAVE NO EXPERIENCE. THAT BEING SAID I SHOULD STATE THAT I AM A SOON TO BE 70 YR YOUNG RETIREE WHOSE LOOKING TO PURCHASE A 35 FOOT OR LARGER SLOOP OR KETCH , FIBERGLASS HULL, WITH AS MANY OF THE CRUISING AMENITIES ALREADY ON HER AS I CAN GET FOR THE PURPOSE OF LIVING ON HER AND SAILING HER AROUND THE WORLD(AT LEAST TO THOSE AREAS THAT ARE SAFEST). I HAVE FOUND THIS SITE TO BE EXCEPTIONALLY BENEFICIAL AS A NEOPHYTE, ALTHOUGH I HAVE SAILED OUR FAMILY'S 12' SAILING PRAM WITH A 17 FOOT MAST AND 100+/- SQ.FT OF SAIL FROM AGE 6 UNTIL MY EARLY 20s. I HAVE ALSO CREWED, AND I USE THAT TERM VERY LOOSELY, ON A FEW LARGER THAN 35 FOOT BOATS FOR THE 10+ YRS. I LIVED IN THE PALM BEACHES. NOT BEING A RICH MAN I AM SOMEWHAT LIMITED IN MY FINANCIAL OPTIONS BUT OVER THE LAST 8 OR 9 YRS. I HAVE SEARCHED SEVERAL WEBSITES AND FOUND MANY MANY BOATS THAT FIT AT LEAST SOME OF MY PARAMETERS AND ARE UNDER $20,000. THROUGH THESE YEARS OF LOOKING ONLINE I CAME UP WITH A LIST OF OVER 200 BOATS THAT FIT MY MAIN PARAMETERS AND THAT I HAVE WHITTLED DOWN TO LESS THAN A DOZEN BOATS FILLING NEARLY IF NOT ALL OF MY PARAMETERS. THROUGH MY RESEARCH I HAVE SETTLED ON LOA - 32' MINIMUM AND 43' MAXIMUM, FIBERGLASS HULLED, PROPERLY OUTFITTED WITH PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES, GOOD NAVIGATIONAL COMPASS AND G P S SYSTEM(S), APPROPRIATE RADIOS AND EPIRBS, RADAR AND HOPEFULLY DEPTH INSTRUMENTATION IF NOT SONAR, A GOOD GALLEY, SELF STEERING CAPABILITY AND OR WIND STEERING GEAR, APPROPRIATE WINCHES AND ALL IN WORKING OR BETTER ORDER. A FLUSH DECK MODEL IS ALSO PREFERRED. A SHORE BOAT(PREFERABLY A HARD BOAT AND NOT AN INFLATABLE), PREFERABLY A DIESEL INBOARD BUT GASOLINE WILL SUFFICE.

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

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR ADVICE AND KNOWLEDGE.

YOURS IN APPRECIATION
DFG

Posted by: donfg2007 | April 20, 2017 10:52 AM    Report this comment

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