Home Forums Technical Support Fabric Finishing Pietenpol-List: Latex fabric finishing method


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  • davefollmersdavefollmers
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    A little late, but as requested here is my experience using latex paint on my aircamper.Sadly, before you can paint, you must cover that beautiful wooden creation with fabric.I found that the most helpful resource is the Poly-Fiber covering manual. It cost me $5 at the time, but even at the current price of $10 it is still the greatest covering deal around. I poured throught that manual several times to get my questions answered. I even called Norm at Poly Fiber about a question regarding reinforcement tapes and he was very helpfull and unhurried. I followed the Poly-Fiber manual with care up to the point where you are instructed to poly-brush the entire weave of the fabric to seal the weave. I also choose to use the generic fabric from Aircraft spruce rather than the more expensive STC-PMA Poly-Fiber brand. At this point in covering you have finished heat shrinking, rib stitching and applying all the tapes. I heat smothed all the seams again as the last step before beginning to paint. One thing that I might regret omitting may be washing the whole surface of the fabric before applying tapes or rib stitching with MEK. At this point however I’m not sure that it is really nessesary. Time will tell.About the paint. I used Sherwin Williams best grade exterior laytex. I choose this brand because of other builders experience with its ease of use and good durability. I spend a long time researching and talking with some experienced painters and they all agreed on the sturdiness of the product. They garentee the paint against fading shrinking, cracking and peeling. It is 100% UV formulated and has a 20 year warantee. The first coat over the bare fabric is unthinned flat black applied by brush. I used a good quality 4″ brush. It helps to have a 2″ brush to get around the small corners as well. This first coat is meant to fill the weave of the fabric. I took care to work it in, yet still leave it as thin as I could. It seems that even, thin coats prevent cracking and keep the weight down. After the whole plane is painted black I went back and gave the parts that would recieve a dark color (green) a second coat of black. The second coat I applied with an airless sprayer. Poly-Fiber says that this is a mistake, but I has good luck spraying the second primer coat and was pleased with the reduction in time it took. It also made for a smoother surface. Some argue that back in the 30″s and 40’s that brush strokes were the norm. For those that would get a light finish color (white), I mixed flat white together with the black (50-50 ratio) for the second coat. At this point then the whole plane has been primed with two coats of flat paint. At this point you have the choice of going with straight laytex, or using an automotive enamal. I have seen both examples and the automotive finish will cost about $500-$800 more for two colors, or about $150 more for the latex. The auto enamal will naturally look glossy and lusterous. I didn’t have the $$$’s or the equipment, or the desire for a glossy finish on my plane, so I choose to continue with the latex. For the color coats I used Sherwin Williams High Gloss products.

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