How to Use a Paint Roller to Spread Gelcoat

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A paint roller produces decent gelcoat results.
A paint roller produces decent gelcoat results. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Gelcoat is a polyester resin that contains color pigments and additives that control flow. There are two basic types of gelcoat: general-purpose gelcoat and tooling gelcoat. General-purpose gelcoat usually goes on surfaces that constantly vibrate — for example, boats and cars. Tooling gelcoat resists scratches well and is suitable for bathtubs, countertops and molding. Although you will achieve better results with spray application, you can also use a paint roller to spread gelcoat.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • 3 rags
  • Acetone
  • Gelcoat
  • Bucket
  • Coloring agent
  • 2 paint trays
  • Hardener catalyst
  • 2 paint rollers
  • Hardening wax

Sand any areas with peeling paint, grease, oil, dirt and wax, using a coarse-grit abrasive. Smoothing the surface helps with even gelcoat application.

Dampen a rag with acetone and use it to wipe the areas you sanded. Let the acetone dry for a few minutes.

Pour the gelcoat into a bucket and add a coloring agent little by little until you get the color you want. You can add up to 1 oz. of coloring agent per quart of gelcoat.

Pour the amount of gelcoat you can work with in the space of 10 minutes into a paint tray. Add 12 drops of gelcoat hardener catalyst for every ounce of gel coat. Stir the mixture for one minute, scraping the sides and bottom of the bucket to ensure thorough mixing. Gelcoat hardens quickly, and mixing small batches prevents it from becoming hard before you can use it.

Dip the paint roller in the gelcoat and roll it back and forth on the ridges in the paint pan to remove any excess gelcoat. Apply a thin layer to the surface, because thick layers tend to run. Let the gelcoat cure for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer.

Sand the gelcoat with sandpaper to remove any bumps and get a smooth surface.

Wipe the surface with a piece of cloth to remove dust.

Mix gelcoat with hardening wax according to the manufacturer's instructions and pour it into a clean paint pan.

Use a clean paint roller to apply the gelcoat to the surface. The hardening wax will protect the gelcoat from damage. Let this top layer dry for the prescribed period of time.

Wipe the painted surface with a piece of clean cloth to clean it.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the gelcoat is too thick to easily work with, you can add up to 15 percent acetone to thin it.

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