Pantone Guides and Colour Matching...

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by B14speedfreak, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. B14speedfreak
    Joined: Jan 2014
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    Location: England

    B14speedfreak New Member

    Hi All,

    I have had a search but well, couldn't see anything potentially useful out there. So I figured I would ask. My apologies if this has already come up, and my thanks in advance for reading.

    So recently at work we have had to start colour matching a lot of Polyester Gelcoats. Mostly because the boat builders for whatever reason carn't supply us with a gel coat which matches (nothing to do with the boats ageing due to UV).

    I seem to spend an awful lot of time trying to get something thats close to the colour I am after (usually about an hour or two for something which then only need small tweaks). I read a great little site ( which talks about using a pantone guide. I would consider purchasing one if it made getting an inital match a bit easier, however I am not 100% sure that its worth the cost (as they are about £100 to buy). Also I am not sure which guide is the one that I require (I am guessing that a coated / uncoated one is the way to go). Also, they quote that you can make the colours using CMYK in specific quantities. But I assume that you need to use a specific CMYK pigment?! Has anyone tried using one of these? Any tips welcomed!

    Anyhow, my thanks in advance for reading and all replies are greatly appreciated.

  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum.

    The Pantone color guide was originally setup for the printing industry, so ink colors could be standardized. They have branched out into other industries, but I don't know of mixing guides for gel coat.

    Yes, you can nail most any color match (there are some limitations) with CMYK, but this takes some skill or a really good scanner. As to you coated/uncoated choices, well and again, these are for the results you can expect in print (coated paper presents different then uncoated) inks.

    Rather than deal with the printing industry for color matches, you might want to consider the paint industry, where working with resins, instead of ink may be beneficial. Mixing ink is pretty basic stuff, with percentages of this and that getting a dead nuts nailed down, repeatable color.

    Call Paul at Progress Epoxy ( and see what he might know or have available.
  3. SukiSolo
    Joined: Dec 2012
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    Location: Hampshire UK

    SukiSolo Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum.

    I mix a lot of gelcoat colours. Forget Pantone colours, they are simply a print 'standard' as PAR says. I have the book of swatches as sometimes I spec print and graphics. It is not worth your while buying it, these days it is not hard to find the approximate colour via the web or whatever. Real accurate paint swatches are the best for reference. A lot of Pantone colours cannot be replicated in paint or gelcoat because they rely on the translucency of the carrier ink to get the paper to shine through. Vibrant fuschia pink is a good example, you can print it and dye it for clothes but not paint it. The best colour system bar none is the Swedish Natural Colour System (NCS) which Dulux use.

    However with the real world of gelcoat a good base white pigment is your best friend. Get a 500gram pot of Scott Bader Super White 377 - it is the cleanest white available. All the others are warmer in some direction but can be useful for mixing a different white. Ther must be literally thousands of whites out there and I'm getting pretty good at mixing them now.
    If you are requiring enough to do a whole boat it is different to doing repairs but I have coated reasonable size areas say bath size with perfect colour match.

    To give yourself a fighting chance of mixing a very large range of colours you need a minimum of white(s), black, grey (light aircraft 689 pref), red (magenta-ish), blue (pure and pretty dark), and yellow (rich but clean). There are a few oddballs like glitter and stuff but I keep away from that. British Racing green - simple blue, yellow and black...

    The RAL (German) paint standard in gelcoat is widely available. Other paint standards are BS - 381C, 4800, 5252 and the French Afnor standard. However as there are variations in mixed batches yes, even when you mix 25,000 litres! often you end up hand tweaking stuff. One tip - keep things in daylight as artificial light will show up a repair 90% of the time.

    Two main polyester pigment suppliers are Scott Bader and Lewellyn Ryland whose stuff you should find widely available. The pigment has a long life, whereas the gelcoat is much more limited. One tip is to mix just the gel colour and keep some of it back in a sealed jar or pot. That way you don't have to remix the same colour for a second skim or a pinhole you missed. Don't forget the wax/monomer if putting on as a repair ie like paint.
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