Paint Mix Fix
Ah, the Sharpie! Surprising what the little jewel can do. By Capt. Bill Pike
Many marine paints these days consist of two, three or even more parts. Two-part polyurethanes, for example, often require the addition of a reducer, meaning you have three components, not just two, that need combining, typically with considerable exactitude. Such touchy little tasks are often achieved via an all-purpose mixing container (like the one shown here) and there are several sizes and varieties available, although the most common ones can be purchased from establishments like West Marine, Home Depot or Lowe’s.
There are some problems with these containers, however. First off, they’re typically translucent, not transparent. And because the necessary ratios are printed on the outside, said ratios appear confusingly backwards when pouring base, catalyst or reducer while looking downwards into the interior of one that’s solidly ensconced on a deck or hatch—arguably the easiest and most accurate orientation for mixing.
Then, there’s the stability issue. Sure, you can hold a mixing container at eye-level while pouring components and read the ratios printed on the outside like a chemist with a graduated beaker. But if you inadvertently tip the container, even slightly, while doing so, whatever you’ve already poured in, if it’s pigmented and therefore opaque, will obfuscate the chosen ratio, thereby making it necessary to start all over again with a new container.
The fix is simple. Before you pour anything into one of these popular mixing containers, mark the necessary ratios on the outside with a black Sharpie. This way, you can place the container on a solid surface like a deck or hatch and pour directly down into it while eyeballing the Sharpie marks from inside to guarantee you’re getting the proper ratios. While the numbers and levels applied by the container’s manufacturer to the exterior are difficult if not impossible to see from inside the translucent plastic—and backwards to boot—the Sharpie marks come through loud and clear.
Top: Get your ratios right, then mark appropriately. Bottom: Topcoat, catalyst and reducer.