Fequently Asked Questions

How much KEELBLACK will I need? more...

    KEELBLACK is sold in 5 litre and 25 litre kegs. 15 litres will give at least three coats to a 60 - 72 foot narrowboat, 10 litres for a 40 - 50 footer. This is based on treating the sides of the hull, gunnel to chine, but not the bottom. Contact KEELBLACK for specific advice or consult the handy calculator on the Buy Product page of this website.

How many coats should I apply? more...

    On the first occasion you use KEELBLACK we suggest applying at least three coats on the sides of the hull and, if you habitually treat the base plating, two or three coats on the bottom.

How thickly should I apply it? more...

    KEELBLACK MUST be applied VERY THINLY unlike conventional bituminous blackings. Too thick applications WILL result in slower curing time. This is because KEELBLACK is a very tough grade of bitumen which is designed to dry completely to a rock-hard finish. Conventional solvent-based blackings are designed to skin over whilst remaining slightly soft and are therefore more vulnerable..

Will KEELBLACK go over existing coatings? more...

    We have yet to find any blacking that KEELBLACK will not stick to. It is really important to ensure that the previous coating is sound and completely adhered to the hull. KEELBLACK will NOT peel or flake but if it does come off a previously treated hull, it will be as a result of the previous coating peeling and taking the KEELBLACK with it. If you are not sure what is on your hull, try a small inconspicuous test patch to see if there is any reaction with KEELBLACK.

Can KEELBLACK be applied to bare steel? more...

    KEELBLACK applied to bare steel (either old steel, shot- or grit-blasted back to bare metal or a new steel hull) will give the best possible finish. The most effective protection against corrosion will be obtained by applying KEELBLACK over Fertan (an effective zinc-phosphate rust killer and preventer obtainable from KEELBLACK). It is important that on new steel, any mill scale is removed before coatings are applied. Residual mill scale may eventually slough off, removing any blacking.

Is KEELBLACK easy to apply? more...

    KEELBLACK is very liquid and behaves like water making it really easy to use. One person can apply a single coat of KEELBLACK to a 60ft narrowboat in around 40 minutes. And as the product dries very quickly, three coats can be applied in just one day making it easier, faster and cheaper for the yard or the DIY blacker.
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Does KEELBLACK have to dry between coats? more...

    KEELBLACK dries very quickly. If it is applied THINLY then subsequent coats can be applied as soon as the previous coat is touch-dry – in warm dry weather it can be as little as 30 minutes. After the final coat KEELBLACK MUST be allowed to cure for AT LEAST 24 hours in the summer and AT LEAST 48 hours in winter. Test with a fingernail for when fully cured.

How is KEELBLACK – different from other blacking products? more...

    KEELBLACK is the only water-based bitumen emulsion on the market, drying to a rock-hard finish and shrugging off minor contact damage. Almost all other blacking products are solvent based and made from softer bitumen.

What are the advantages of emulsions over solvent-based blackings? more...

    Being water based means that the surface being treated does not have to be dry before KEELBLACK is applied. All solvent based products require the surface to be completely dry as any dampness can affect their performance. This means that in winter or in periods of high humidity it is difficult to apply a non-water blacking without expensive heat or de-humidifying equipment.

Why can’t I use a cheap black bituminous paint on my vessel? more...

    You can, but first, soft bitumous blackings won't give you the mechanical damage resistanceof KEELBLACK. the second hardest grade of bitument available and the hardest that can be emulsified. Secondly virtually every bituminous paint is solvent based and therefore to optimise adhesion, has to be applied to completely dried steel whilst KEELBLACK goes happily onto damp steel. Finally KEELBLACK will lower docking costs by reducing application and subsequent preparation time.

How long will KEELBLACK last? more...

    Accelerated wear tests View Pdf suggest that KEELBLACK will significantly outlast even 2-pack epoxy. These tests were done in laboratory conditions and KEELBLACK has not yet been in use for long enough to corroborate this in practice. Results over the last four years show good longevity and no evidence of peeling or flaking. KEELBLACK will certainly outlast single pack bituminous blackings and should result in reduced docking frequency.

Will KEELBLACK protect my vessel against contact damage? more...

    No coating is proof against an attack by concrete or a stone lock structure but KEELBLACK will give you the best possible resistance and, if it is damaged, is easily re-coated even at the waterline with the repair blending into the original coating. KEELBLACK does not discolour significantly with age unlike 2-pack epoxies which tend to fade and go “chalky” over time.

Does KEELBLACK have a shelf life? more...

    Emulsions will always try to separate. KEELBLACK will last at least six months in the can and if regularly agitated it should last significantly longer. If the product separates and the residue is soft, the majority should recombine by stirring or shaking. If the residue is hard then it has reached the end of it's life and should not be used but disposed of responsibly. It must be kept warm in the winter (above 5° Celsius/ 40° Fahrenheit). Don’t buy too much!

Are there any health issues associated with using KEELBLACK? more...

    KEELBLACK is virtually odourless, gives off no fumes and does not require masks or specialists protective clothing althoughwe do recommend taking reasonable precautions when using the product. KEELBLACK can be washed off when wet and removed with white spirit when dry. It is particularly suitable for live-abroad blacking in dock and applicationin confined work spaces.

What is the effect of KEELBLACK on the environment? more...

    KEELBLACK Is inert when dry and easily removed with water when wet. It contains no biocides and satisfies EU legislation EN7375 for leaching into the soil and watercourses. A sister product is used in SSSI sites and by environmental organisations. Liquid KEELBLACK should not be poured into drains or watercourses but when dry and cured is completely harmless to ish and aquatic life. The smooth finish of KEELBLACK is unattractive to freshwater mussels and bi-valves and deters weed growth making cleaning at docking time fast and easy but the absence of waterline weed might upset a few ducks!