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How to remove old antifouling

Do you want to remove your antifouling to make room for a new coat or to be able to carry out repairs on the underside of the boat? Antifouling removal can be a challenge, so in this guide we've put together an overview of the different steps involved in removing antifouling.

1. What preparations must be made when removing antifouling?

So that the environment does not get too dirty, you should equip yourself with the necessary protective clothing such as gloves and eye and mouth protection. The area around the boat can also be covered with tarpaulins or foil. This prevents chemically contaminated antifouling residues from getting into the environment. Thoroughly clean the boat before you begin sanding to remove oil and other debris. In addition, you should examine the underwater hull for chipped parts and remove them with fresh water and a high-pressure cleaner or spatula.

2. What methods are used to remove antifouling?

Antifouling sometimes needs to be removed before applying a new coat or making repairs to the hull of the boat. Antifouling can be removed using a variety of methods. We have listed these for you below. 

Our tip: It is important to choose the right antifouling removal process to avoid damaging the boat. Consider which method best suits your boat and seek professional help if necessary.

2.1 Sand antifouling

You can easily sand off your boat's old antifouling. Use a grinder or hand file appropriate for use on boat hulls. Use a fine grit to gently sand away the antifouling and change sanding sheets regularly for an even finish. After sanding, inspect the substrate for any damage or discoloration and repair before applying new antifouling.

2.2 Remove antifouling with sandblasting

Sandblasting is an effective method of removing antifouling, which is usually done by professionals. This involves spraying sand under pressure onto the surface of the boat to remove old antifouling. Make sure beforehand that the material of your boat is suitable for sandblasting to avoid damage. The antifouling is then removed with little pressure: Excessive pressure can cause scratches and dents in the lead. A certain distance from the boat must be maintained to ensure safe working. After sandblasting, the boat should be thoroughly cleaned to remove all remnants of the old antifouling and blasting compound.

2.3 Strip antifouling

There are chemical means of removing antifouling. They are applied to the surface of the boat and dissolve old antifouling. When stripping antifouling, it is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Ensure that the antifouling stripper does not come into contact with the environment. Follow the given exposure time of the remover. Do not leave it on the surface for too long to avoid damage to your boat. Then use a brush or scraper to scrape off the antifouling. Make sure you remove all antifouling residue before further processing your boat.

2.4 Scratch off Antifouling

When scraping off antifouling, use a wire brush and scraper blade. This method can be time consuming, but is especially useful for small areas or hard-to-reach areas. Avoid tools that can damage the hull and work in well-ventilated areas to protect your health. After scraping, the hull must be thoroughly sanded and cleaned to remove any residue and prepare it for new antifouling coats. Also check the condition of the hull to identify and repair any damage.

3. Remove antifouling: methods compared

Sand off antifouling: Fast and effective method for even sanding. Physically demanding.

Sandblast antifouling: Effective and easy. Without practice, damage is possible, so it should be carried out by specialists.

Strip antifouling: Requires little effort. Use of environmentally harmful chemicals.

Strip antifouling: Requires little effort. Use of environmentally harmful chemicals.

Scrape off the antifouling: the cheapest alternative, but it takes a lot of effort and time.

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