With all the painting we've done on Little Cruiser we feel a bit like experts though we obviously are not.  Our main objective is to do a nice job as easily as possible and with inexpensive materials.   To this end, we can recommend using RED DEVIL polyurethane enamel.  Sure we've tried the expensive marine stuff, but we still haven't used anything that we like better and that costs so little.  The RED DEVIL paint is available from K-Mart.  To get the paint to flow well, we dilute it by 12.5 percent or more which works out to 1 ounce of  mineral spirits to every 8 ounces of paint.  Of course as we paint along we add a few drops of thinner every 15 minutes to keep the mixture thinned out properly.  We've found that the perfect temperature for painting  RED DEVIL is around 60 - 70 degrees F, otherwise you will have to hustle along more quickly if it gets hotter.  Once applied with a yellow lint free foam roller (FOAM9 available from Jamestown Distributors ), RED DEVIL dries in about 3-5 hours.  The satin is the quickiest drying while the gloss takes a little longer.  Of course before you can start painting, you need to prepare the surface to be painted.

To prepare our plywood boat, we fill in any deep dings with epoxy mixed with lightweight filler, and we fill light scratches with white 3M glazing compound.  Next we wet sand the whole surface with 180 grit sandpaper.  We then wipe the surface clear of dust with blue paper shop towels (from Autozone), and we finally tack cloth the whole thing several times to remove any lint.  To prevent leaves, bugs and other things from settling on the boat, we usually erect a cheap greenhouse around it to ensure that each paint job dries correctly. 

We have found that the real secret to doing a nice paint job is to apply as thin and as even a coat as possible.  To do this we use a foam roller, and apply the paint first up and down and then side to side, spreading it as evenly as we can.  What's most interesting about using the foam roller is that you can add or remove paint in certain areas simply by adjusting the amount of pressure you apply on the roller.  If any area needs a little more paint just press harder there or if it's too thick in another spot, then roll it lightly over that spot to suck it up like a sponge.  With practice it should be possible to pick up excess paint from one area and apply it to another area that needs it.  Along with a full size 9" roller, we also use smaller 2 1/2" to 3" yellow foam rollers to tackle trouble spots around the bow and around hardware.  These we make ourselves by cutting larger ones down.  Of course some areas will need the attention of a brush, but if you can suck up any excess paint with the roller then you will avoid drips.  Finally, remember to clean all your brushes and rollers beforehand. Usually we rinse them the night before in mineral spirits or we just use a piece of balled up tape to tack up any loose lint. 

Note: We've been told recently that the Red Devil paint has been discontinued so we have been buying up the few remaining cans from our local K-mart.  If you like this paint then we recommend you stock up now on a few cans. (November 2002).

To do the skidless decks on Little Cruiser we use PETTIT's 9900 Skidless Compound, which is made of fine silicone oxide. You could also use a less expensive and heavier grit silicone oxide from Lowes or Home Depot, but we find that it is a little too coarse for our tastes. What we basically do is paint the deck (or parts of it) with a coat of paint, and then we sprinkle the grit all over it using a large salt shaker. We try to distribute the silicone oxide as evenly as possible though perfection is not needed for a nice job. Once the paint dries, we blow off the loose grit with our wet/dry vac, and we paint on another coat. We usually can get several seasons of use out this application, which includes a yearly repaint. We've been told by some people that you can use fine sand as a skidless compound. However, we've also been warned that it's extremely hard to get off, which you may want to do before you reapply a fresh layer of grit. On the other hand, silicon oxide is easier to sand, though it too can wear your sand paper down quickly.
Paint filter : To make sure that there is no gunk or grit in our paint before we use it, we filter all our paint with no-see-um netting.  We buy the material by the running yard, and we cut it into 5" x 5" squares.  Then, we place the filters in a small plastic funnel and pour our paint through it into a clean container.
Recycling Thinner :  After your done cleaning your brushes with mineral spirits don't throw the dirty thinner away.  Just pour it into a glass jar, and after a few days you will be able to use it again for cleaning.