Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to give your Frontier a Facelift by Paul Giese

When you look around the kayak and canoe world you see many makes and models.  You see them in many shapes, but typically in monotone colors.  There is nothing wrong with monotones, unless you want something a bit more personalized.  That was where I was at this past winter.  I wanted something different.  I wanted my Frontier to stand out in the crowd.  But how do I give it a facelift, and do it in a way that looked “cool”?  That was the question.  

The answer came by asking the question of how do they paint the camouflage on many of the larger boats?  Simple, they use professional paint stencils.  But how and where do you get the stencils?  If you do a little searching for camo stencils online, you will find a number of options and retailers.  Purchase the stencil you want and wait for the UPS driver to deliver it.  I chose Mossy Oak Shadowgrass.  There are a lot of options out there.  Check them all out and choose wisely.

When your stencils arrive, read the instructions CAREFULLY.  They will tell you how to prepare your boat for painting, typical paint colors, positioning of the stencils, drying time between coats, and much more valuable information.  This is where you can really screw up a cool project by getting too excited to start.  Follow the preparation instructions precisely, which typically includes the boring step of washing and lightly sanding the surface.  I used a ScotchBrite pad to scuff the ENTIRE surface of my Frontier.  (Yes it was tedious and made my fingers sore, but completely necessary if I wanted the paint to stand up to being walked on and scuffed.)  Then I wiped it down from bow to stern with rubbing alcohol to clean all of the sanding dust off.  Now I was ready for paint.

Paint is not universal in its application.  You need a specialty paint for painting plastics.  Rust-Oleum Direct-to-Plastic spray paint is what I used.  Finding the exact colors the stencil tells you to use can be difficult.  But if you can’t find the exact color, there is probably one that is close.

Other than reading the instructions, the next most important step I can tell you is to remember to take your time.  Think about how you want your boat to look when you are done.  Don’t rush it.  Keep your stencils clean, and give each coat of paint plenty of time to dry.  This is not an exact science.  The stencils come in flat sheets of laser cut plastic and do not wrap around the edges of your boat very well.  Take the time to lay out your pattern and understand that it may take you several passes to get every surface painted.  If you go too fast, you will streak your paint or leave drag marks from the wet paint coming off the stencil.  The faster you go, the less you will like the final result.  You really only get one shot at this…..think, look, think…..then paint!  You can do it, it just takes some patience to create a one-of-a-kind original that you can show off and be proud of!  Then when your buddies see your new look boat… can decide if you want to share your new found knowledge with them.  Just don’t let them talk you into painting their boat for them!

Have fun and send me some pictures of your new-look Frontiers!