Tricky, Tricky, Tricky - Power & Motoryacht
The painting hack that saves time—and money

Tricky, Tricky, Tricky

You don't need to be an artist to paint smooth curves.

I don’t know if you happen to be as crazy as I am about boats, but hey, I regularly lie awake at night fantasizing about my latest and greatest boat projects. And lately, what’s been occupying my wakeful, nocturnal moments is the nifty way I’ve found to handle a minor job that, if a fair amount of repetition is involved over a broad area, can turn itself into a time-consuming major-leaguer.

Here a tube of caulk makes an excellent curve.

Here a tube of caulk makes an excellent curve.

The minor job? Masking off a curve—or a bunch of curves—prior to applying a layer of paint atop another layer of a different color.

Most experts will suggest abjuring -masking tape for such a task and going with narrower, more pliable fine-line or auto-motive-style pin-striping tape, via a manual method that typically involves the thumb of one hand squeezing the tape down, the index finger of the other maintaining the curved directionality and tension of the tape that’s still on the roll, and a good deal of time and concentration.

Does this work? Absolutely, although both dexterity and practice are required to guarantee a good-looking, bleed-free job. But is there a better, speedier way?

Well ... let’s say somewhere on your boat you need to apply grit-laden tan paint to a rectangular section of nonslip atop a white deck. Of course, the sides of the rectangle are easy to mask off with plain ol’ masking tape. And the ends as well. But how about the corners, which need to be uniformly curved or radiused in order to create a salty, finished look?

I say skip the fine-line and, instead, stick with the masking tape, laying a piece diagonally across each corner of the rectangle as shown above. Then, using a curved object like a tube of caulk as a guide (or the curve of the underlying nonslip if it’s pre-existing and discernable through the tape), cut the necessary curve in the diagonally positioned tape with an X-Acto knife, making sure to maintain a light touch that’ll leave the gel coat underneath unscathed. Finish off in seconds by merely removing the piece of tape you’ve just excised.

Certainly, this cool little trick will not produce the crispness called for when pin-striping an automobile or a boat, but it’ll work well enough on all sorts of other onboard chores where masking or varnishing tape must be temporarily applied either inside or outside a curve or curves. And what’s more, it’s super-easy, reasonably accurate and, perhaps most importantly, fast.

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.