Let’s face it: no matter how big and spacious your boat is, if the paint isn’t nice and fresh, that boat isn’t going to look like much. That’s why today, we’ll learn how to properly paint a boat with an aluminum surface. First, we’ll prep the “sea vessel”. Next, we’ll get rid of the old paint and all the dirt along with it.
Once that’s out of the way, we’ll apply a coat of primer to get everything set up. Last, but not least, you’ll learn how to paint the aluminum boat to make it look brand-new. So, join me in this detailed, user-friendly guide, and let’s get to it! Follow me closely, and you’ll be done with the painting in no time!
How to Prep an Aluminum Boat for Paint
Before you grab your favorite can of paint and get to work, it’s very important to prep it. Otherwise, the end result will be average at best, and the new paint will come off in a year or two. The first step is “parking” the boat. Ideally, find a smooth, even spot outdoors and cover it with some paper to absorb all the stains. A couple of layers of that paper will do (or, use plastic instead).
TextNext, lift the boat a bit. In my experience, sawhorses will be great for this. Plus, make sure there’s enough space around the boat for you to paint it from all four sides. You will need some equipment and tools, of course, but it won’t cost you a pretty penny. When painting an aluminum boat, get the following stuff:
- Sandpaper (40-/80-grit)
- A brush with rough bristles
- A hose and regular soap
- Decent-quality primer
- Water- and UV rays-resistant paint
- A pair of protective gloves
How to Remove Paint from Aluminum
Alright, we’re done with the first stage. Moving on, it’s time to remove the factory paint. For that, use regular sandpaper or an electric sander (it will cost you more). I recommend using 40- or 80-grip sandpaper: it works nicely on aluminum. Start with the inside surfaces, and then get to the exterior. This is important: unless you’re super careful, sanding will, most likely, leave tiny scratches on the aluminum.
On top of that, if you’ve been driving the boat for at least a couple of years, I bet there’s a lot of dirt on it. Grab that brush with hard bristles to remove all that grime, along with any “leftovers” from the sanding. Dip the brush in soapy water. Some experts recommend using expensive formulas specifically designed for boats, but in my experience, they’re not worth the investment. Finish up by rinsing the boat with a hose.
How to Apply Primer to Long-Lasting Results
A quick note: the boat needs to be 100% dry for you to apply a primer coat. So, let it stay for the night, or use a dry towel to speed up the process. Now, you can’t just use any primer from the local store. It needs to be suitable for metallic (preferably aluminum) surfaces. The primer has two important jobs. First of all, it protects the boat’s surface. Secondly, it makes sure the paint sticks better and lasts longer. Self-etching oil primer is the best option for boats.
If you’ve got some extra bucks to spare, buy a can of paint thinner. When mixed with the primer, it will mask the small scratches I mentioned earlier. While this isn’t very important for the exterior, the interior aluminum boat paint will look significantly better with no cracks and scratches on the surface. Ok, go ahead and spray or paint the primer on the interior. The layer should be thin and even.
Before flipping the boat over to cover the exterior, give the primer at least a couple of hours to dry. Again, leave the boat alone for 12-24 hours to dry and only then add the new paint.
Painting the Boat: Step-by-Step Guide
The color doesn’t really matter here. You do, however, need to make sure the paint is water-resistant. Protection against the sun (UV rays) would also be great. Just like with the primer, apply the paint however you like it (use a roller, regular brush, or a sprayer), and start with the interior. I recommend leaving the boat alone for 10-12 hours before flipping it. But, you should check the can/container: the instructions will tell you exactly how long to wait.
When painting the aluminum boat’s hull, be very thorough. And remember: if you only apply one coat, it won’t look very good. An extra layer will make wonders happen, though! In some cases, a third coat will also be required (if the boat is really old). Oh, and I want you to give the seams the attention they deserve. The reason: most folks forget how important it is to paint the seams, even though they usually chip very quickly and make the boat look rather bad.
That’s pretty much it! To safeguard the paint from scratches and the effects of the weather, the experts add a nice layer of protective clear coat (also known as the topcoat). It’s available for $15-20 at home improvement stores.