Paint over varnish? Refurbishing an old racer/cruiser interior.

cbulger

Member
265
171
Newport
Thinking of refurbishing the interior of a 1980's racer/cruiser. Interior is old stained varnish - not peeling, but the plywood is tired under old varnish. Love to go modern, remove some extraneous doors and details and then paint gloss white. Do we need to strip off all the old varnish? Any advice?
 

andykane

Member
462
216
Victoria, BC
If it's well adhered then varnish is a great primer, just scuff it up and go for it. If you're using a 2 part paint maybe check first to make sure it doesn't lift the varnish.

Keep in mind that gloss white will show up every defect so might need a bunch of primer and sanding to get a nice finish. Varnish is, counterintuitively, very forgiving.
 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
68,713
12,363
Great Wet North
The varnish layer also permits going back from paint in the future. Paint on bare wood needs to be sanded heavily to get it all out of the grain - too much for most veneer.

Painting over external varnish used to be a standard recommendation to reduce maintenance before going offshore - it could easily be removed and converted back to varnish once back in coastal waters.
 

cbulger

Member
265
171
Newport
This a standard Carrol Marine interior - hard to believe there is enough varnish on the plywood for heat & scrape to be effective - seems that approach will require lots of scratch filling
 
When our Frers 33 came new, it had an oiled interior. Rough to the touch and tacky. A dirt magnate. No bueno. My dad decided to refinish the entire boat on the hard at Irish's in Harbor Springs in the spring of 1990 before commissioning. We scraped all the oil off first with razor blades, then sanded to finish. Every stinkin' inch of that interior. We brought what we could home to keep the project moving. Three coats of satin was applied. Dad hasn't touched anything but the floorboards and companionway since.

Good luck with your project. It is a time consuming job with all the prep required no matter what finish you decide on. Rewarding in the end.

Which model?
 
+ 1 for ordinary alkyd (oil) paint over varnish. Give the varnish a solvent wipe and sand briskly.
Agree that high gloss paint is hard to get looking good. Use semi-gloss or satin paint.
Consider leaving some bits varnished to define the space.
 

See Level

Working to overcome my inner peace
you could always seal the underlying finish with a shellac based primer.
Yup, who knows what's been rubbed around on the wood over the years, oils and crap will show up in a year or two as stains or cause flaking.

Color match it to the top coat.

ZIN_PR_BIN_L.png
 

Jono

Super Anarchist
1,169
191
Go for it. I did it on my mid 80s Farr and things came up great. I did the big flat areas and then left beadings / knees etc varnished as an accent.
I suggest wipe with thinners to clean, orbital and then paint. I agree semi-gloss. roller and tip will work to save on spray overspray
 

cbulger

Member
265
171
Newport
Go for it. I did it on my mid 80s Farr and things came up great. I did the big flat areas and then left beadings / knees etc varnished as an accent.
I suggest wipe with thinners to clean, orbital and then paint. I agree semi-gloss. roller and tip will work to save on spray overspray
Pics?
 

Jono

Super Anarchist
1,169
191
Yes, but in a box somewhere. It was a while back.
AFAIK I painted the varnished main bulkhead, the bunk fronts and ply in the head. Then removed front runner forward cabin and painted that and removed the vinyl liner on the cabin roof and painted that. Didn't bother fairing beyond a good sand.
Made a huge difference.
 

robtoujours

Anarchist
541
324
Somewhere
Yeah, I prefer the “Herreshoff” look to acres of dark tired veneer.

That means varnish on trim, white on the other surfaces (On my most recent boat, which had rather tired looking bulkheads, I used International Toplac Ivory to match the interior liner). Like so (not mine; example picture from Woodenboat.com):

wb200-interiors-anna3.jpg


I sanded the old plywood with 80, barrier coated with west (excellent high build primer), then applied pre-kote and toplac as if I were doing the hull.

Toplac is a good interior paint (alkyd enamel); I only use 2-part outside. You can use matting additive with the final coat to control the amount of gloss you want.

Be sure if using epoxy to be anal about edge coverage, screw holes, and removing amine blush.
 
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