Star Distributing Company Logo

Bristol Finish Company Logo Bristol Finish Company taglinr

Bristol Home Classic Clear Preparation Application Features Maintenance Order Here

  Frequently Asked Questions

Nowhere else in the marine industry is there as much superstition, witchcraft and nonsense as you will find pertaining to brightwork and wood coatings.  The docks are covered with salty old experts dispensing advice in every direction.  Books have been written and magazine articles have been printed that would give the impression that the writer is both highly qualified and experienced with all of the different coating products that are available.  This in most cases is simply not true- the author is merely stating a personal preference- not an absolute dictum.

We have written this page to help dispel some of the myths surrounding brightwork, and to assist boatowners in making the most intelligent choice for a coating product.  The format is actually the same as some of the questions that we've been asked.

The local experts tell me these new coatings don't work.
It seems that every boatyard and marina has their "experts" who are always ready to share opinions and advice in loud and forceful voices.  In order to best assign a value to this type of advice, it is necessary to qualify these experts.  First, does the person have a background in polymer science?  Second, does the person have a background in wood fiber technology?  Finally, does the person have actual experience with the product being discussed?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you are receiving an unqualified opinion that could be wrong.

Does Bristol Finish allow the wood to breathe?
No, it does not.  But let's make one thing perfectly clear- wood does not have lungs.  It does not need to be able to breathe.

Bristol Finish is a waterproof coating, and is purposely designed this way.  Research has proven that if wood is allowed to continually absorb moisture, it loses a tremendous amount of it's structural integrity.  It will also be prone to rot.  If rot spores are deprived of moisture they cannot survive, and therefore will not destroy the wood on your boat.

Aren't two part products difficult to mix?
Well, let's look at it this way.  A cake is a a multiple part product, but your mother doesn't have a problem mixing one.  A simple measuring cup, a recipe and an eyeball are all that is required.  Bristol Finish is much easier to make than a cake, or a good martini.

Why is Bristol Finish a two part product and not just one can?
The simple answer is performance.  Not just good performance, but great performance.

The specific reason is molecular chain length, and therefore the strength and durability of the dried film.  Comparing a cross-linked (two part) urethane to a one part product is like comparing a bowl of spaghetti to a bowl of rice.  The longer pieces of spaghetti tend to intertwine, whereas the rice just lies side by side.  The greater the length of the molecular chains, the more ability the coating molecules have to interlock, and this gives the coating much greater strength. This characteristic also greatly increases the ability of the coating to dissipate ultraviolet energy, and therefore resist degradation.

Over fifty bucks a quart?  That's way too expensive.
Hold on there.  It's really only $40 a quart.  Let's look at all of the facts-

First, price a quart of "popular orange- looking stain finish" at your local discount marine chain store.  You will pay $30.99 for 32 ounces.  Then price a can of Dutch varnish at the same place.  You will pay $23.99 for 34 ounces.  The Bristol Finish Quart kit is $59.95 for 44 ounces.  What's the cost per ounce?

The "orange stain finish" is 97 cents per ounce, and Dutch varnish is 71 cents per ounce.  Bristol Finish is $1.25 per ounce.  Bristol Finish is then 22% more than "orange stain finish", and 43% more than Dutch varnish.

Now think about this- Bristol Finish will go 4 times longer than "orange stain finish" between maintenance coats, and 10 times longer than the varnish.

So, compared to "popular orange- looking stain finish", you spend 22% more in order to receive an increase in performance of 400%.  Compared to the varnish, you spend 43% more to receive an increase in performance of 1000%.  If you calculate the ROI (return on investment) for this expenditure, it would indicate that Bristol Finish will pay for itself more than once.

If this is not justification enough, we can take this even farther.  Compared to a typical initial varnish application, there is a tremendous saving for required labor.  Since Bristol Finish does not require sanding between each coat, we have estimated that 75% of the labor required for an initial application will be eliminated.  Based on a typical varnish job that would require 80 hours of labor at a cost of $25.00 per hour, the application of Bristol Finish will save 60 hours, for a cost savings of $1,500.00.

Just to make sure that we are analyzing all of the true cost factors, assuming that you are in a 35.9% tax bracket (28% Federal tax, 6.5% Social Security, and 1.45% Medicare) the $1,500.00 savings is really worth $2,038.50.

Even if you're retired and do your own work, the above scenario will save you the 60 hours.  Would these 60 hours be more pleasant on a nice cruise, or on your knees with sandpaper in your hand and sweat in your eyes?  Also, even your time has a value factor- just adjust the numbers to suit your situation.

Of course, we're not even considering the lesser number of maintenance sessions per year that Bristol Finish requires.  Add that up, and there is a tremendous overall cost savings!

If this stuff is so great, why isn't everybody using it?
Maybe some people are listening to all of that "expert" advice that we discussed above.  It can be confusing.

There is just no easy answer for this question.  Why doesn't everyone drive safely?  Why do people take dangerous illegal drugs?

Hopefully some of this discussion will help you in determining if Bristol Finish makes sense for you.  You may be thinking that this was all prefaced with some thoughts on "expert" opinions, and the ideas above are certainly based on our opinions.  What are our qualifications?

First, academic and practical use backgrounds with both organic and inorganic chemistry.  Second, extensive research in both polymer science and wood fiber technology.  And finally, lots of blood, sweat and grief.

We have (as sort of a hobby) rescued several old antique wood boats from the graveyard, and performed complete structural and cosmetic restorations.  In almost every case, we have chainsawed away and replaced toe rails, cabin sides, transoms and other parts that have been allowed to "breathe" (read "absorb moisture and rot") with a porous coating applied.  This is not easy work, nor is it cheap.  It is difficult to replace a toe rail on a 35' boat for less than $5,000 and even small pieces can set you back a few hundred each.  Do we want to take the chance of this deterioration happening again?  Do we want the wood to "breathe"?

Absolutely not.  The only way to make these boats last and provide enjoyment for future generations is to completely seal them up.

Also, who has time to put on a coat of varnish every 3 months?

Email this page to a friend.