Repairing the Starboard Door – Another Project Done

This is going to be a long post about an exciting subject. Fortunately, I included lots of photos so it shouldn’t be too painful.

The starboard door developed a crack in the wood right on the edge by the lock. It’s been this way for about a year. This was the first chance I’ve had to tackle the problem and fix it for good. At least I hope I fixed it for good. You can see in this photo near the lock that the paint was failing. I knew that I would have to take it all off and repaint the door. And of course, then I would have to strip and varnish the trim around the window. That’s why I had to wait until I had a few weekends available. It was not a hard project, but waiting between coats of CPES, primer, paint, and varnish meant it would take some time to complete.

Disclaimer: I try to do the best job I can when it comes to boat projects. I don’t always know what I am doing, though. Since that doesn’t stop me, consider my efforts suspect until validated by a competent authority.

The first step was to whip up a temporary plywood door so I could take the door home to the shop for the repair.  A couple pieces of wood and a few screws took care of it. It’s not fancy, but it kept the outside out until I got the work done.

Here is the damaged area. My plan was to cut out the broken piece with a coping saw, glue it back in place with epoxy, and then sand off all the old paint and refinish the door.

The first step was to remove all the door hardware. I pulled the hinges, handles, and lock out of the door. Next, I cut the broken piece out. In preparation for gluing, I taped up the entire area in an attempt to control the squeeze out when I clamped it all up. The epoxy would still squeeze out, just onto the tape instead of the door. Cleanup would be much easier.

I mixed up a small batch of West Systems epoxy and added a liberal amount of West Systems 403 filler to thicken it up.

I used a couple of scrap pieces of plywood to apply even pressure and keep the excess epoxy off the clamps. I clamped it all up and left it for a few days to set up.

Here is the finished repair after I pulled the clamps and tape off. I sanded it all flush with a random orbit sander and 80 grit paper. It looks pretty good so far.

Using a random orbit sander and a Fein multitool, I sanded all the paint off of the outside door surface using more 80 grit paper. I always wear a respirator when I am sanding. This door produced an incredible quantity of very fine white dust. My poor old dust collector was not really up to the task. It got most of it, though. The rest coats everything within about ten feet of where I was working.

Here is the door with all the old paint removed. After thirty-nine years, there was quite a bit of it.

Next, I set about removing all of the varnish from around the window trim. Despite my careful efforts with the heat gun, I managed to crack the glass. Or maybe there was a small crack there already. Anyway, I removed the glass and ordered up a replacement from One Day Glass. The glass is 1/4″ thick laminate. The cost to replace it was around $35.

Before I started refinishing the outside of the door, I taped the edges of the inside to insure a nice crisp paint edge.

The door now had the broken pieced epoxied in place, all the paint and varnish removed, and the window glass out. Time to move forward on the finish. I mixed up some CPES and applied two coats to the door surface. CPES is a two-part epoxy the consistency of water. It soaks into the wood and seals it all nicely. I use this as the base coat for most all the paint work. I’ve also used it on some varnishing projects with good results.

With two coats of CPES applied, the door is ready for primer.

For primer, I used Interlux Pre-Kote. Pre-Kote is the primer designed to be used with the Interlux Brightside paint we’ve used on the window frames and other outside surfaces. Here is the door after the first coat. I applied two coats of primer, sanding between coats with 180 grit paper.

Time for paint. We are using Interlux Brightside Polyurethane Paint. White 4359. This is the paint that was used on our window frames. It is also the paint that I used on the flybridge doors. It doesn’t exactly match the gelcoat, but I am fine with that.

The first coat of paint is on the door.

I had a bit of a problem with the paint. The result was that I put six coats on before I changed my approach and sprayed it. I used the same process, the same primer, and the same paint on the flybridge doors with no problem. When I put a coat of paint on this door, it would immediately look like there was a very fine dust in the paint. I tried it with a foam brush and a good quality brush with the same result. I know it is hard to see. This is the best photo I could get of the problem. It is not dust. It looks like very small bubbles that have ruptured. Possibly from contamination from lower layers. Try as I might, I was unable get a coat of paint on without this problem.

So I sanded each coat smooth and applied a new coat. Same result. That’s why I ended up with six coats of paint on the door. It should be sealed well after all of that.

To resolve the problem, I decided to use a fresh can of paint and spray the seventh and, hopefully, final coat. I taped up the inside of the door and the window frame to protect everything from overspray.

After hanging plastic to create a controlled area for painting, I hung the door and sprayed it with an spray gun attached to my air compressor. This final finish worked well. No problem with this coat.

Now that I had the paint done, it was time to move on to the varnish and window glass. I put two coats of Z-Spar Flagship 2015 varnish for a base coat on the frame along with the strips of trim  that hold the glass in. I thought it would be better to have the caulking adhere to the varnish instead of the wood. That would make it easier to remove should the glass need to be removed at a future date.

I used Boatlife Life-Caulk Sealant. I used the teak brown color. That’s the only reason I chose this caulk. It comes in brown. I very carefully taped all the trim up before I started with the caulking. I knew there would be a fair amount of squeeze out and wanted to minimize the clean up.

The glass is in. The caulking is done. And it is all clamped up waiting for the caulk to cure.

I had not put the screws back in. I needed to put a few more coats of varnish on the window frame now that it is all back together.

The outside of the door is finally done. Now it time to freshen up the inside. More blue tape. I lightly sanded the surface with 220 grit paper. For the finish, I used Minwax satin wipe on polyurethane. No particular reason. I had it available and I like the satin finish.

The door is finally done inside and out.

After re-installing all the hardware, it was time to take it back to the boat and finally finish this project. I think the result looks pretty good. There is no visible sign of the damage.

I am glad to get this finally finished. That split had been bothering me for quite a while. It took me seven weekends. There was lots of time waiting for paint and varnish to dry between coats. And I only have weekends to work on it.

Now I am on to the port door. There is no damage there … yet. But the paint is failing on that side too. This time I will just do a bit of sanding (without power tools) and re-paint the outside surface. I will use the wipe on poly inside as well. I like the satin finish. That should do it. Unless I make a mistake or break the glass or something else.

If you have stuck with us to this point, I commend your diligence.

If you skipped to the end just to see the final outcome, I apologize that it isn’t more exciting. Just a door with new paint.

(most of the links here point to Fisheries Supply. I don’t get anything from them for all the links. It is just where I bought everything I needed to complete the project.)

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