By Dale Wills
We’ve all seen it, you pull up to a stop light, look over and think- a primer paint job- why would someone want their vehicle to look like that? The Flat or Matte finish you see is actually the finished and intended look and a paint trend originating with prototype cars to stand out during car shows. Today these paint trends have evolved into mainstream. Look around while driving on the road and you would be hard pressed not to see a matte finish on your drive each day. Are you a football fan? Watch any college or pro NFL team and you will notice the Flat or Matte or low gloss paint finish integrating onto football helmets around the country. (On a side note, I think you have to thank the Oregon Ducks for the creativity in helmet paint schemes which they first used multiple designs during a single season several years ago.) Here are some great examples of the matte of flat paint finish on the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguar helmets. How much longer will it be before we see a multimillion dollar sportfisher exit a paint shed with a fresh Matte finish hullside paint job? Maybe someone has already done this- but I have yet to hear of one at the time of this writing. (If you do know any please send it in to us so we can update our gallery.)
What if I paint my boat Matte?
If you are thinking about painting any part of your boat in low gloss, flat, or matte finish you will be required to clean and use specific matte finish products to keep it sheen. Which in reality is no different than any other paint care for a boat. Also, contrary to my perception, a matte finish does have a clear coat which in part is what makes the paint produce the desired finish. Many of today’s luxury car makers offer the “Frozen, or matte finish option when purchasing a new car and guess what- it’s a premium. But you also need to think about the difference between a car and long flat panel such as a boat hull. If a car door was scratched, repainting a car door is a much smaller panel compared to 60′ boat hullside being scratched. Obviously it would be much more difficult and costly to repaint a large section on a boat. In a strange or ego driven way this could be another reason why someone with the means would be attracted to this type of finish. After attending the 2014 Ft Lauderdale Boat Show I discovered Suzuki is now offering the matte finish on some of its engines.
I have also seen a few matte finish paint jobs on yachts and after searching online I found a few examples albeit mostly in black or grey. Here is a good example of combining a matte and gloss paint scheme together on a sport cruiser. It definitely looks different and silky. But when I see the black or grey matte on a boat, I can’t help but think of a military application.
Here’s the Rub
Tripp Nelson, Sales Director with Alexseal, said he discourages painting a boat hullside with a matte or low gloss finish. “You can’t repair a low gloss finish once it is damaged because in order to do so you have to polish out the repair and once you buff or polish the area, it turns the paint into a gloss finish. You will be able to easily see the higher gloss finish surrounding the repair area and it will look different from the surrounding area,” says Nelson. Think about poly balls rubbing on your hull sides when docked or billfish scrapes from fishing. All of these are things to consider if you wanted to have a low gloss hull. You’ll also need to factor in repainting more often. Its often said a good paint job should last around 7-8 years depending on geography and normal climates and boat usage. A matte or low gloss finish will probably not last more than 4-5 years without being compromised and looking in need of a repaint. What Nelson does encourage is using the low gloss finish under hard tops due to its non reflective nature.
Without going into the chemical details, applications and maintenance of the different kinds of matte finishes, I do think its just a matter of time before we see the low gloss paint work its way into sportfishing. Is it a growing trend- sure it is. Will paint manufactures continue to research the different applications- absolutely. Would you consider painting your boat hullside in a matte finish? We’d love to hear your thoughts. For me, I must be a trendsetter -I’ve been painting my hunting boats in matte finishes for years!
Photo Gallery 2014