Stewart Systems is not just fabric covering! We offer a full line of waterborne, non-hazardous products to strip, prep and paint both metal and composite aircraft. Not only are our products safe to work with, but the finished product is second to none! With a deep color and high-gloss combined with a durability and lasting beauty, Stewart Systems EkoCrylic is setting the standard in the aviation coatings industry.
Painting or repainting a metal or composite aircraft is a relatively simple process and is generally considered to be owner maintenance by the FAA. Many aircraft owners strip and paint their own aircraft and save a LOT of money over having it professionally done. Very few maintenance items will produce a return on investment in the value of the aircraft like a new paint job! Our video library contains a detailed video series that explains the process of stripping, prepping, priming and painting of an aluminum aircraft. We offer detailed materials estimates for many models of aircraft upon request. A detailed quote for a Cessna 150 is available in our document library for an example.
Remove the Old Coatings
On a repaint, the process starts with removing the old coatings. Stewart Systems offers a paint stripper that is completely unique in the industry. It is a non-hazardous, water-based product with very low odor and is not irritating to skin. It is not harmful to the environment and can be washed down the drain. But the best part about it is that it actually works! Ekostrip is available in quarts, gallons or 5 gallon pails. (It is not recommended to use any stripper on fiberglass, composite or plastic surfaces.)
Prepare the Surface
The next step to painting an aluminum surface is to prep it. It is critical that aluminum is acid etched prior to applying any coatings or poor adhesion will result. Stewart Systems EkoEtch will properly etch aluminum and leave it ready to accept the primer coat. EkoEtch is also non hazardous and environmentally safe with only a mild odor.
Priming the aluminum is the next step in the coating process. Stewart Systems offers two primers that can be used on aluminum, steel or composite surfaces. EkoPrime is a single-part primer that can be applied straight out of the can or slightly diluted with water. It’s an easy to use primer with excellent corrosion inhibiting properties and sandability. One of the wonderful features of EkoPrime is that you can use it right out of the can; what you don’t use can be put right back in the can eliminating waste, and everything is cleaned up with water. The most significant limitation of EkoPrime, however, is that it is not very solvent resistant.
EkoPoxy is a two-part waterborne epoxy primer. EkoPoxy is very solvent resistant, has excellent corrosion inhibiting properties and sands very easily. The trade-off is that EkoPoxy has a pot life of 3-5 hours at which point it can no longer be used. This makes applying it to small parts in stages rather inconvenient.
In general, we recommend using EkoPrime on interior surfaces for corrosion prevention and EkoPoxy on exterior surfaces under the topcoat.
Which primer should I use?
Although our fabric paint EkoPoly Premium can be used on metal and composite surfaces, EkoCrylic offers some significant advantages. Because metal and composite surfaces do not require the extreme flexibility that is necessary on fabric, EkoCrylic could be formulated to be a harder, more scratch-resistant coating for increased durability. The colors of EkoCrylic will match exactly to EkoPoly, and the application process is nearly identical. EkoCrylic has proven to be very popular among home builders as well as owners restoring older aircraft.