1. Buy The Best Paints. You’d be amazed at the number of people who shop for the best price, then spend hours correcting problems caused by a paint that was a few bucks cheaper.
2. Read Labels. I painted the boot top on my boat with two-part linear polyurethane. I then painted the nonskid areas using another color from the same manufacturer. I mixed it just like I had before, and when it hadn’t dried in several hours I belatedly read the label to find that the mixture ratio was different for the new color. A weekend spent using solvent to remove the sticky paint will make you remember to read the label.
3. Measure Paint Power. When choosing a bottom paint, you can tell how powerful the paint is by, you guessed it, reading the fine print on the label. Antifouling is measured as a percentage of weight, so a paint that has 50 percent antifouling is going to provide better protection than a paint that has 45 percent antifouling properties.
4. Stir Paint Well. To get the best possible antifouling coating on your hull, be sure to stir the paint constantly during the application process. Since the antifouling properties consist of solid particles, they drift to the bottom of the paint can fairly quickly.
5. Work In Open Air. Be extremely cautious when using paint removers or strippers, because most use methylene chloride as the active chemical, which metabolizes very quickly to carbon monoxide in the human body. This reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood and can cause serious heart strain. So do your stripping in open air, and stay upwind of the vapors. If you must work inside, provide plenty of ventilation and a fan to blow fumes away from your nose.
6. Be Aware Of Toxins. The same cautions apply to bottom paint - it is literally poison. You probably wear a dust mask while sanding antifouling paint on your boat’s bottom, but do you carefully wash your hands before eating? It probably won’t kill you, but you can feel rotten for a few days afterwards.
7. Eliminate Excess Air. Need to save your paint for a few weeks or months? For most paints, the biggest enemy is air, which can produce an ugly skim on the surface of the paint. Simply add a few clean rocks to bring the level of the paint up close to the lid. Tap the lid down firmly, and the paint will be fresh for your next touch-up. An alternative method is to cut a piece of wax paper to the inside dimensions of the paint can. Drop the paper lightly into the paint (this takes a bit of practice) so that it floats on the surface and keeps the air from reacting with the paint. When you’re ready to use the paint again, you can fish the paper out with a coat hanger.
8. Don’t Use Cheap Brushes. They’re worse than using cheap paint. Look for a quality natural bristle, well bonded to a solid ferrule, and you’ll have a brush that will give good service for years. Try the new foam brushes - they’re wonderful for leaving a finish free of brush marks. Just be sure that the foam is compatible with your paint, or you’ll be picking out dissolved brush!
9. Don’t Shake Varnish. It picks up bubbles that are then transferred onto the surface, producing a non-skid finish when you wanted a smooth one. If you must, simply turn the varnish can over several weeks before you plan to varnish. A week before you varnish, turn it back right side up.
10. Stir, Don’t Shake. Don’t ever let the paint dealer stick any paint can on one of the high-speed shakers, or you’ll be using a froth rather than paint. Stir your paint gently, using a clean stir stick, and make sure you get all the pigments out of the bottom seam and corners of the can.
11. Don’t Use Large Brushes Edgewise. It rounds off the corners, causing them to load up with paint and produce uneven paint jobs. All brushes are made to be used with the widest side perpendicular to the direction of flow. If you need to cut in an edge, use a smaller brush.
12. Use Edged Brushes. When you’re choosing a brush for most varnish or enamel work, pick a "chisel-edged" brush. These have tapering fibers that will give a smoother finish than a brush with equal-length fibers.
13. Start Early. Never paint after the dew point, which is often as early as noon in some climates and usually around mid-afternoon. Otherwise, you can count on a dulled gloss if the dew forms on your new paint before it dries.
14. Avoid Drips. On a windy day it’s hard to keep newspapers under your paint cans to catch drips, so take a paper plate and attach it to the bottom of the can. It won’t blow, it catches the drips, and it moves easily when you move the can.
15. Buy Disposable Buckets. To create your own "dripless" paint bucket, buy a disposable cardboard bucket, punch a hole near the top on opposite sides, then put a section of coat hanger wire through the holes. You can remove excess paint from your brush on the wire, and it will fall straight into the middle of the bucket with no drips on the sides at all.
16. Use Separate Brushes. Never use a brush for varnish if it has been used for any other type of paint. You’ll always wind up with tiny particles of the old paint in your varnish.
17. Grease Fittings. If you need to mask off fittings or windows while painting, try smearing the protected area with Vaseline or similar grease. When the paint is dry, you can simply hose or wipe off any spatters easily.
18. Clean And Suspend Brushes. Don’t stand your brushes on their bristles in a can of solvent, or they’ll be suitable for painting around corners. Drill the brush handle and put wire through the hole to suspend the brush in the cleaner.
19. Look Before You Leap. Want to see what a different color scheme would look like on your boat? Take a Polaroid of your boat, then use water-soluble felt tip pens to draw the new color directly on the image. If you want to try other combinations, simply wipe the ink off the waterproof surface.
20. Check Your Elbows. Last, but not least, always make sure you remember to look in a mirror as you clean up after painting your boat. Otherwise, you might end up with people commenting on your painted elbows at cocktail parties.
Submitted by www.boatingworldonline.com