Primer and paint

patrick corry

solo canoeist
I have typically painted two primer coats and two finish (color) coats on canoes I have refinished. I currently have a Chestnut Bobs Special with two coats of primer over filler. Is there any good reason to apply additional coats of primer, or just go ahead and apply two coats of color? For a pretty old canoe with lots of repairs, I'm not going for a showroom quality finish; just durable for regular use and reasonably good appearance.

2nd coat of primer complete:

Oh, and an aesthetic question. This canoe will be green, my first one (don't include the dusty green plastic canoe on the rack... it belongs to a friend who keeps it in my barn). I have Kirby's Bottle Green and Blind Green. Any opinions on these two colors?
My process is to use three primer coats. I do this to help fill the voids and irregularities in the filler. So I guess I’m not using it so much for a base for paint as I’m using it to fill the low spots. I sand the primer as if I’m fairing the hull, so a large percentage of the primer is removed. I like Pettit Hi Build Primer.
As for paint, I think two coats is kinda light, but I think that’s all that Old Town did as a normal course of the build. If the outcome is satisfactory to you, why not, however I can’t even think of a time that two coats covered well enough. My normal is 4-5 coats. Are you sanding between coats, as if to continue to fair out the high spots or just scuffing?
The Kirby greens are good paints. It’s not as glossy as other paints and doesn’t seem to flow as well, but if that’s what looks good to you, go for it.
We all have our own ideas of what looks good for a finished product. I see a lot of restorations that (to me) look like more sanding and paint are in order. Since it is usually the last process in the restoration, I often wonder if folks just want to be done with it and accept what they have done as good enough.
On top of 3 coats of filler, after sanding, I usually do 1 coat of high build primer sand that.
That stuff is horrible to sand, so much dust. Then 3 coats of topside paint. I sand between coats of paint lightly.
That usually works for me on most canoes...but not always :)
Thanks for your comments.

I think I managed to do a pretty good filling on this canoe, and have only noticed a few proud tack heads- they show up as lighter spots when sanding the primer. There are two planking butt joints which show up as apparently the planking thicknesses there weren’t precisely the same. More attention to fairing before canvas would have been advised but not disappointed there. I am not really trying to build filler to even out the surface as I am content with the surface, rather just attempting to build protective layers and provide ’tooth’ for the color coats. This has been a somewhat long-term project anyway so I won’t rush things just to hit the finish line! A third primer coat will be next, followed by three color coats, so that will be two more coats overall than I have done on other boats.

With respect to color, I had been thinking that the Kirby’s Bottle Green looked too dark and that I would choose the Blind Green, but maybe I will start with color coat #1 of Bottle Green to get a real view and if I don’t like it… simply consider it a base coat.
You can always add some of the coloured paint to the last coat of primer to tint/darken it ie. lessen the contrast between primer and paint, so you may not need as many coats of paint.
You can always add some of the coloured paint to the last coat of primer to tint/darken it ie. lessen the contrast between primer and paint, so you may not need as many coats of paint.
I am doing this for the third coat of primer. I added about 5% Bottle Green (by eye) to my remaining gray primer and ended up with a gray-green color that isn't too far from images I have seen of Chestnut Gray canoes! It's primer, so no gloss whatsoever, but could be an interesting intermediate step...
First full coat of Kirby's 12 Bottle Green semi-gloss. I have read some comments from posters who have had difficulties with the flow of Kirby's paints, but with addition of thinner (George does sell a brushing liquid/thinner). I have had great success with his paints. A little generic paint thinner helps.

One more coat without outwales installed (coat #6), then a last coat with outwales on to lap the paint onto the junction of outwale/canvas.

And last, a vanity shot to see how my latest paddle in curly maple will look against the green!
I just knocked that first color coat down with a green Scotchbrite pad (apparently equal to 600 grit). Vacuumed and wiped, now waiting for lower humidity to put on the final coats.

Here, I sanded pretty forcefully over the bottom where paint overlapped from the sides. I will need to be careful not to overlap so much on final coats.

The 'white' seen on the stem is a reflection from the overhead lighting.... not sanded through to primer! Outwales got another coat of varnish.
Todd, I looked at my local weather on The Weather Channel, where the relative humidity is listed. Today was 83%, and its been rainy, damp. My last coat took a couple of days to dry enough to tolerate scuff sanding. Also, the hull felt a little cool to the touch which suggests less than optimal conditions for painting. I’m itching to get to the finish line, but unwilling to hurry the final coats until a little warmer & dryer.

David, I have used all Kirby‘s products on this canoe; filler, primer, finish paint. I like their filler very much. It‘s surprisingly ‘thin’, or liquid, but fills and builds well and rubs to a nice, smooth finish.