Boat Bottom Blasting

Media Blasting Method For Bottom Paint Removal

Billings Media Blasting is a boat bottom blasting contractor offering mobile bottom paint stripping to CT and the Northeast.  Media Blasting is a fast, cost effective way to strip bottom paint for a boat owner or boat yard.  Billings Media Blasting takes care of the very labor intensive job of stripping bottom paint without damaging the gel coat or barrier coat that lies underneath and most importantly without leaving a mess.  Billings Media Blasting started removing bottom paint by using the familiar baking soda blasting process, but our current preferred method is to use crushed walnut shells.  You might be wondering what the difference is.  There is little difference between the baking soda and walnut shell blasting.  The biggest difference is the walnut shell can be even gentler to the gel coat and barrier coat.  Billings Media Blasting prefers to use the crushed walnut shells for its many benefits some of them being that they are less dusty when blasted; non corrosive and that they tend to open blisters while removing bottom paint.

Blisters that do not open can be opened at a per blister rate that can be discussed once a customer has arranged to have their boat blasted.  Please note that media blasting is just the first step. Our process just removes bottom paint from the bottom, and our process does not prepare the bottom for paint re-application.  Please carefully read surface preparation procedures listed on the products being used in order to achieve proper results!

Our Proven Process

Our bottom paint removal procedure starts with a tenting process. We use 4mil plastic to create a floor underneath the boat in order to contain the dust and bottom paint that will be removed during blasting.

Marine Paint Removal Before

Next, we put up the sides of the blasting tent. Again, using 4 mil plastic, we tape the plastic above the boot stripe with shrink patch tape. Shrink patch tape is used in the marine industry and is safe on most gel coats and most painted boats.  After the plastic has been taped to the boat, it is then clamped together with the bottom plastic or “floor.”   This technique provides an air tight space that keeps in the used blasting media and bottom paint removed during the blasting procedure.

Marine Paint Removal After

During blasting, the tent will blow up like a balloon. This is due to the air entering the tent through the blasting hose, making the tent appear like a bubble.  We use dust collection during the process to help evacuate air from the tent, better controlling how much it inflates.  Without dust collection the tent can become over inflated and cause leaks or even a blow out causing dust to exit the tent into the yard.  When the blasting process has been completed, the dust is allowed to settle. We then take down the tent and collect the used materials.  As you can see in the photo above there is no mess left.  We take great pride in being as clean as possible.

The boat bottom is next stripped of bottom paint.  All that remains on this particular bottom is the barrier coat and slight staining of bottom paint.  Results May Vary!  Our process is only one step in the preparation process of re-painting a bottom.  The boat owner or person painting the bottom must read and follow the instructions on the product they have selected to use to paint the boat bottom in order to get the results the product states.

Media Blasting Benefits  

Why should you get your bottom blasted?  The first and most common reason is a build up of bottom paint over the many years that the boat has been painted.  This paint adds unnecessary weight to the boat and at some point there is too much paint causing chunks to flake off making the bottom rough and uneven subsequently causing the boat to have more drag.  Secondly, is if you already have this flaking problem and paint doesn’t seem to stick to the boat, this may mean that something was done incorrectly when the paint was applied originally. Blasting allows you to have a fresh start and to make sure the products you and/or the yard use are applied correctly.  Also, we have seen it become more common to have the bottom blasted after a used boat is purchased.  A new boat owner can have their boat bottom blasted to see what they have purchased.  Underlying problems which could have been covered up with bottom paint can be addressed and proper coatings and procedures can be followed when reapplying bottom paint. This can give you the peace of mind that your bottom is going to perform as it should for many years to come.  What ever the reason for choosing to remove the bottom paint from your boat bottom; media blasting will ensure that the bottom paint is removed gently and efficiently.

Conventional Methods

The conventional process of cleaning and prepping boat bottoms manually includes first to scrape off the heavy marine growth with flat blades. Excessive scraping may very well gouge into the gel coat if not careful. The next step might be pressure-washing the bottom which does little except clean off surface scum. Then there is sanding the hull which is the most destructive process in hull cleaning simply because it is a very difficult manual task and virtually impossible to keep from sanding into the gel coat. Once the gel coat is damaged, water can get between it and the fiberglass. The hydraulic pressure from the water then begins to cause blisters, fractures, and de-lamination of the gel coat. The original gel coat is smooth in texture and serves as a protective barrier of the underlying fiberglass.

In most cases, a quick coat of bottom paint is applied annually, but, the owner is totally unaware of the condition of his hull because of the cosmetic effect the fresh paint has. Most boat bottoms have never been completely stripped simply because it is costly and very labor-intensive using conventional methods. This results in one coat of paint applied over another and another and so on.