Painting Your Trawler - Roll and Tipping

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Senior Member
Oct 6, 2007
If you are like most, you probably have a vintage 1970s or 80s year trawler.* The sun probably has taken its toll of the gel coat finish.*

And if have spoken to a yard about the price of painting, it will cost you about $1000.00 a foot.....OUCH!

But you can do it yourself with a little work using a technique called roll and tipping.

You can watch a video I made of how its done at this webpage

The results are impressive.
Nice article and video.
But all the instructions I've seen about roll and tip state that you should roll horizontally and tip vertically. That's how I've done it in the past with great results.
THANKS! I never knew it was so easy. Our last owner did a crap job painting, but our "paint whisperer" said he would do all our topsides for $15k. I suppose that now, if I find the time, I could do it myself just a little at the time.
Roll and tip is a great way to paint a older trawler, and the comment about tipping vertically is spot on.* I painted Volunteer a couple times in 8 years, as in all paint job the prep is the key. I used the white round end foam* 6"* "weenie" rollers and tipped with a 4" good quality foam brush. The key is to roll out the bubbles , let is set a minute then tip vertically. The most used friendly paint I found was Brightside Poly.* If you get the timing just right the dry tipping brush will squeek as you lightly drag it on the paint.


-- Edited by hollywood8118 on Wednesday 5th of October 2011 08:18:59 AM
Well roll and tip vertically if you like. I prefer to do it my works.
While we have not yet painted any exterior surfaces on our GB we have done some painting on the interior bulkheads including the entire aft head/shower compartment. Before doing so I asked for advice on the GB owners forum and had the "proper" roll-tip method described to me by several people including a couple of retired shipwrights with a lot of experience painting boats. And the process they described--- which we followed---was to roll horizontally where possible but always tip vertically. Once we got the hang of it the bulkheads we painted came out like glass. So while other techniques might work well, too, this one seems to put all the cards in your favor if you follow it.
Should the surface be hit lightly with sandpaper first?
During my last haulout I had the pleasure of watching this Old Salt roll/tip. He never broke a sweat and what a finish.

He would start rolling about two feet to his left, rolling in vertical from left to right. He used the little 6"weenie rollers and used as little paint as possible. Starting at the top and rolling down and*never going over the fresh paint a second time with the roller.

Then he would take the brush and "tip-it" top to bottom starting at the far right and ending at the left where he started with the roller and never going over the fresh paint a second time with the brush.

Then the process would start over where he would start rolling about two feet to the left of the recent wet edge, rolling in vertical from left to right. Starting at the top and rolling down and*never going over the fresh paint a second time with the roller.

And again*he would take the brush and "tip-it" top to bottom starting at the right where he ended*with the previous "tipping"and ending at the left where he started with the roller and never going over the fresh paint a second time with the brush.

Very simple:

roll & tip vertical

roll left to right

tip right to left

I painted the flybridge last spring, first time - not bad.
You guys are an inspiration.*

Question though.* What do you do around some of the small areas and inside curves?*
When you have a second person, one can roll and one can tip.* And with two, you can probably use a larger roller depending on how flat the surface is, drying conditions, paint viscosity, etc.

Having said that, it's important for the two to be in tune with the amount of paint needed/applied, and the timeliness of tipping.
"Question though. What do you do around some of the small areas and inside curves?"

Guys, its not rocket science here. The only point of using the roller is to get a reasonable area covered with paint in as short a time as possible, as the drying (setting, if two pack) process is already starting and you don't want drag occurring, which will leave bristle marks. However, the roller does tend to leave bubbles and areas of variable thickness where the rolled edges overlap. The actual finish is still achieved by the brush and brush alone, (the so-called 'tipping'), which smooths out the troughs and peaks, and differing areas of thickness. The point of explaining the above is that in areas too tight for the roller just use the brush - the result will be the same, as long as the paint is thin enough and not overloaded. I suspect the direction of the brushing, vertical or horizontal, is largely irrelevant, and what will work best depends on the area being painted and the room you have for the brushstrokes. Perhaps I should add I did the whole topsides, ie, gunwales, decks, cabin, fly-bridge, myself, and not even using a roller at all, after a professional team did the hull, and the outcome is very acceptable, by comparison. But the professionally sprayed job is still the best, no question.

The real question therfore is do you want or need near perfection, versus really good, and are you prepared to pay for it, or save by doing it yourself?

-- Edited by Peter B on Thursday 6th of October 2011 05:27:24 AM
I have seen both sprayed and roll and tip, seem the roll and tip had more gloss
I have to finally chime in with my two cents. I have been using AwlGrip for over 10 years now and have painted our previous Mariner 40 sailboat from the boot strip to the mastheads and did it all with the boat in the water. There are lots of photos on our Sea Trek site. We use the small white foam rollers and NEVER tip the paint. I have had many comments from professional yards that they can't tell the boat was not sprayed. Preparation is all important and using a complete system like AwlGrip or Perfection or whatever you choose, and following the manufacturers instructions will bring success. It is not as difficult as it seems and with a little practice and developing the right technique for rolling, it can look like a pro did the job. We are in the beginning stages of painting Beach House and so far it looks great where we have done the stern and flybridge. Both projects are posted on our Beach House site. The first two coats do not have to be perfect and it will let you work on your technique. But you do have to have it down by the third and last coat. Weather and environment is also very important in how successful you are. In the end you will save thousands of dollars. Chuck
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