Since the recent introduction of our paddle boards there have been many questions about how we make them look the way they do with the patterns. The technique that we use is not new and is relatively simple when I worked building fibreglass boats we used a similar technique to finish the decks on a number of small sailboats.
The patterns on the deck are not the result of great artistry or a custom made decal as some have speculated but is simply the careful application of a layer of fabric to the sheathing that covers the forward deck of the paddle board.
Step one is a trip to your local fabric store to peruse the various fabrics that they have in stock, guy’s this is a great way to fell like a fish out of water and to get more than a few questioning looks as you will most likely be the only male in the store. My most recent trip coincided with a sale so the shop was full of bargain hunting women rather than the one or two that have been there on any other occasion when I was looking for material, for cockpit covers (rip stop nylon).
What you are looking for is a pattern you like that is available in cotton, quality is not really a problem as and fabrics with a lower thread cont will actually make wet out easier. Test a small section to be sure that the colour will no be a problem with the epoxy, this has yet to happen but I’ rather be safe then sorry. When you get the fabric home iron it to get rid of the crease that will be in the fabric from the roll.
Cut the fabric about an inch smaller that the deck as smoothly and cleanly as you can. With the fabric in place I use tape to outline its position on the deck then roll about half the fabric back exposing the deck and then wetting out the deck with epoxy and laying the rolled up section of fabric back into the resin. Roll up the other half of the fabric then wet out the rest of the deck and apply the fabric, remove the tape from the deck and cover it with the fibreglass sheathing.
Wet out the sheathing and use a squeegee to force the air out of the fabric and the glass sheathing, proceed as you would for any other epoxy sheathing job adding a couple more thin coats of epoxy to fill the glass cloth’s weave.
The deck is then varnished as with any other bright finished wood project and once the several coats of varnish which you have applied are cured then the edges of the fabric if not perfectly cut or if they have threads showing can be cleaned up. This is done by the simple application of pin stripes which are available from most automotive supply stores.
That in a nutshell as they say is pretty much all there is to it.