Subject: Epoxy Encapsulation
Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998

Bob C. wrote:

Have you any experience that contradicts the wisdom of epoxy encapsulation during construction...each piece is coated prior to assembly.
Your web page, especially the logo is killer. wow.
Bob C.


Thanks for the nice compliments. I'll certainly pass them on to the fine lady who created it all.

Well, of course as you know much of the West System is based on just what you suggest -- coating it all with epoxy and sealing it off forever. There are a few considerations you should bear in mind:

1) The structure must be designed for this sort of epoxy application, i.e., it must be fairly rigid. I would be a little concerned if I were epoxy-coating a traditional plank-on-frame hull that was designed to move and flex somewhat under way. Kind of depends on what kind of boat it is, too. A sailboat will flex more than a power hull, and a large hull will generally flex more than a small hull. I would take a careful look at what West has to say on the subject in their manuals.

2) If you do it, then you must be absolutely sure that EVERYTHING gets epoxy coated. This means going over all seams and joints and fastening holes AFTER they are in place and being sure that they are truly sealed. If water gets into the wood, there is potential trouble.

3) You must use very good, fully cured wood. Crappy wood contains moisture. It's true that if it is totally sealed then there is no oxygen for the bacteria and fungi to live on, but it's still a risk. Nothing is ever truly totally sealed, is it?

4) And if nothing is ever totally sealed, then everything you can do in advance to protect the wood is beneficial. I know this sounds self-serving, but if it were me I would first soak every piece of new wood (especially the end-grain) with our Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES). This will protect the wood in case of moisture entering and form a perfect prime base for the epoxy coatings. Take a look at our test section and you will see the penetrating differences between CPES and the other products. In terms of total costs, the money spent on the CPES will be a tiny percentage -- it spreads a long way on new wood.

If you go ahead, good luck! And do read what West has to say.