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Application Guide - Above Waterline Application Systems

Fairing and Surfacing

Fairing and surfacing are similar activities with subtle but specific differences. Often both procedures will be used on the same project or surface.

In general, fairing involves the use of trowel applied filler putties such as Awlfair LW, which can be applied to significant film thickness. Fairing often involves creating a new line or shape to the surface, not just filling low areas or dents and dings.

Surfacing is usually accomplished through the use of liquid coatings which are relatively thick (viscous) products which will fill and cover scratches, dings, pinholes, light crazing, mold defects and other relatively minor physical defects on a surface or part which otherwise has a true or fair line. Awlgrip products which fit this description include High Build, Ultra Build, Epoxy Sprayable Fairing Compound and Awlquik.

Above the waterline fairing and surfacing has four basic requirements:

  • Properly prepare and prime the surface with the recommended primer before starting any filling or fairing.*

  • Start work with heavy fillers and proceed to lighter products. Make large depressions or low spots into smaller or shallower areas as your work progresses

  • Always sand between applications of Awlfair LW.

  • Always seal the completed faired and surfaced system with High Build or Ultra Build followed by at least two full wet coats of 545 Epoxy Primer before topcoating.

    545 Epoxy Primer seals the relatively porous, heavily filled surfacing materials. This sealing also provides uniform color holdout for the Awlgrip/Awlcraft 2000 Topcoats, thus a better looking job with uniform gloss, color, and appearance

*Hullgard Extra is the recommended epoxy primer suitable for all substrates. High Build is an alternative primer that has proven popular with many users. When this is to be applied over a metal substrate such as steel or aluminum, a pre-primer such as Max Cor CF should be used for maximum anticorrosion protection.


Do not use automotive body fillers, spot putties, lacquer glazing putties or similar water sensitive products in fairing projects. These products are not designed for marine applications and will not adhere to Awlfair LW or Epoxy Sprayable Fairing Compound.

Fairing Procedures

  1. Properly prepare and prime the surface. See surface preparation sections for each substrate for this information.
  2. Maintain the correct primer thickness between filler and substrate, multiple coats may be needed. High Build and Ultra Build primers cure to particularly hard films over time and are therefore suited to protecting underlying primer coats from sand­-through.
  3. Examine the surface for highs and lows. Mark low areas with a pencil. Do not use felt tip markers or ink pens.

    Sanding Primers: If the overcoating interval for Hullgard Extra has been exceeded, sand areas where Awlfair LW is to be applied with 80 grit paper. For heavy fairing projects where the Awlfair LW will be applied to High Build or Ultra Build primers; sand with 60–80 grit paper.

  4. Blow off the surface with clean, dry compressed air while dry wiping with clean rags to remove sanding dust and residue.
  5. Fill all areas deeper than 20 mils (500 microns) with Awlfair LW. Thoroughly mix the material to a uniform pink color with no streaks or lumps.


    Do not add reducers, solvents or thinners of any kind to Awlfair LW.

  6. Apply Awlfair LW by trowel to an area you can work in 15–20 minutes. Start with thin coats of up to 6mm in low areas and build out to high areas. Allow to cure. Several applications may be necessary to fill large areas.
  7. Block and machine sand with 36-80 grit paper. Remove air pockets and chafer the edges prior to refilling as appropriate.
  8. Blow off sanding dust and residue before applying more Awlfair LW. Stop when the faired surface meets the fairing quality specified for the project.

Awlfair Surfacing Filler (EU only) can be screeded directly onto the surface of Awlfair LW to fill pinholes and sanding scratches to provide a smoother surface prior to the application of surfacing primers.

Surfacing Procedures

Surfacing products in the Awlgrip line include High Build, Awlquik Epoxy Primer, Ultra Build and Epoxy Sprayable Fairing Compound. Each product has unique characteristics which can help to make the surfacing process easier.

  • It is necessary to seal epoxy fillers with a surfacing primer. Some areas may need extra applications and additional block sanding to achieve specified quality (i.e. under dark hulls).

  • It is required that all surfaces be properly prepared and sanded before applying the next product and no product be used beyond its recommended maximum dry film thickness.

  • It is necessary to apply a finish primer or undercoat by spray or brush application to seal the surfacing products.

  • Epoxy Sprayable Fairing Compound must be overcoated with either Ultra Build or High Build before 545 Epoxy Primer or Awlquik can be applied as a final primer.