Repair fiberglass so where to begin?

Repair fiberglass damage on the bow/keel section of a Pride 16' half cabin which is a good do it yourself fiberglass repair

Well, I will start from scratch, assuming that you are not real sure of what comes first, that way if this is your first repair or you are planning to do a lot of this work or just want know how to repair fiberglass, then you will know the basics on how to do a good repair and much else associated with fiberglass and its components.

If the job requires a lot of sanding / grinding of fiberglass (or any other material for that matter) make sure that you are wearing appropriate clothing eg. long sleeve work shirt and trouser, mask and goggles. Don’t grind or sand facing the wind as you have more chance of getting dust over you.

Fiberglass is an easy product to work with but like many other manufacturing products it does have side affects if being repaired or used.

These side effects can be either dust or smell just like some paints have a smell or odor and just like sanding down a house prior to painting, grinding or sanding painted rusted steel etc., so use a bit of common sense (although it has been said that common sense sometimes is not that common !).

So, with this in mind have a read of what I say below on how to repair fiberglass; if it sounds a bit scary about dust, it is not. It is only giving you the proper guide lines so you do not get irritated along with too many itches !

So, if the repair is small like a cracked / broken spoiler on a car, wheel fairing on a 4WD or a small crack in a boat or something else made of fiberglass, then you can usually do these things at your home.

The thing to remember is that when repairing or customizing something out of fiberglass and depending on how much work there is to be done there can be a little to a lot of dust (fiberglass dust?) created, so if you are living in town or city then usually you will have neighbours living close to you.

Of course if you live out of town or on acreage then this should not be a problem especially with a large job; plus you will have lots of space to decide where you can do it! So how to repair fiberglass becomes so much better!!

Fiberglass can be hazardous and irritating when sanding/grinding if the proper precautions are not followed, as the dust particles are both fine and coarse and the fine particles travel well in the breeze, so make sure if you are going to use the garage, and if it is connected to the house that any house windows are closed to stop dust entry, and cover over any tools, paint tins etc. with an old sheet depending on the size of your job.

Fiberglass dust will find a spot somewhere to settle, especially if you do not have dust collection hooked up to your sander/grinder.

Of course, if you are going to do this at your home the ideal place to do any grinding is in the back yard away from everything, and if you are going to use the backyard make sure (apart from your own) that the neighbours don’t have any washing on the line.

If the wind is blowing in that direction fine dust particles can easily lodge themselves in the fabrics and when coming into contact can/will cause mild to severe irritation or itching to the area on the skin depending on the person and how much dust is involved.

If you are planning to do a lot of sanding/grinding of fiberglass make sure that you are wearing appropriate clothing – eg. long sleeve work shirt, trouser or overalls, mask and goggles.

Try not to grind or sand facing the wind as you have more chance of getting dust over you and wha…..” what was that….you just want me to get on with it! and stop talking about all this sanding/grinding, dust and stuff” ? “well be well advised, the reason why I tell you these these things it is very clear we want you to succeed and your repair to not fail !

A lot of backyard fiberglass and some businesses that are starting out, do not do a good job when it comes to preparation of the surface to be repaired and that why most repairs fail (we will talk more about repair/product failure later and with regards to fiberglass dust ” do not be like the guy who ground/sanded out his boat with just shorts on (and it was not me !) ended up learning a valuable lesson in covering up !

So lets try to make your repair/s etc. as pleasant and enjoyable as possible.

Fiberglass dust is not usually dangerous to the skin, but is more of a nuisance as it can be quite itchy with a prickly sensation.

It is something that all fibreglassers in the trade will experience at some point, sometimes it just comes with the job but a small price to pay when the finished article is seen.

To see something that was fit to throw away or would cost the earth to get professionally fixed, gives one a great sense of achiement and fulfilment, let alone the money saved on doing your own fiberglass repair and the sense of pride that goes along with it!

Here is a safety section that I have included to help cover dust problems, or you can now go here for a list of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) under Getting started/Safety.

NOTE:

If in the event that you or someone else gets fiberglass dust over a part of their body DO NOT TRY TO RUB IT OFF as this will only make the situation more uncomfortable as more fibers will irritate the skin.

Instead hose off the dust with cool/cold running water without rubbing, as this will get rid of the excess dust and stop the pores of the skin from opening up and help stop further penetration. 

Next using shampoo or dish washing liquid with warm water, lather up the area well and using fingers now rub over while washing off in warm water (shower) to re-open the skin pores to help exit the embedded dust, towel press to dry off and use a moisturizing lotion to relax the skin and make to you more comfortable.

If there is still some irritation, keep the affected area moist with a moisture lotion as it will usually clear itself after a day or so as these fibers will slowly work out. 

QUICK TIP

If you put talcum powder around your wrists (inner) etc. this will help stop the fiber dust from entering into your skin pores as it helps clog up the pores and it also makes a barrier between the two and makes it more easy to hose / wash off the dust when finished, BUT IT IS ADVISABLE to buy/purchase some Industrial Talc Powder as this talcum powder is made without perfumes and oils which can/will cause problems with glass work laminating, it is similar but without the feminine touch!

Comes in 500 grams up to 20 kg bags and is cheap to buy and there are many other uses for it given in “how to repair fiberglass” as we discuss under Product Information and Where to buy Fiberglass and Assoiciated Materials. (these links will show blue when I get to activate them.)

So this is your first step and it is an important step on your road to how to repair fiberglass and be guided page by page to your finished article!
We will continue next with what you will need to do a fiberglass repair with Tools and much more under these following pages.

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