How To Paint A Fiberglass Boat

Learning how to paint a fiberglass boat may be just what you need when you realize that your fabulous fishing boat is starting to look a little shabby. There are specific steps involved in painting any fiberglass surface and with the rounded shape of a boat, you will need patience and time to do a superior job.

Supplies you will need:

  • De-waxer
  • Primer made for fiberglass
  • Brush
  • High density roller with 1/8” nap
  • Paint made for fiberglass
  1. Wash and remove the wax that may be on the surface. To get professional painting results you must prepare the boat properly. Wash the boat thoroughly to remove any dirt and debris. If you have used any type of wax on surface of the fiberglass boat finish, use a de-waxer or a silicone polish remover to expose the previous paint.
  2. Make a choice between primer or sandpaper. Fiberglass is not an easy surface to paint because it is so smooth. Paint will not adhere to the fiberglass unless the gel coating has been chemically softened. If you are against using a special fiberglass primer, you may sand the boat with an 80-grit sandpaper, but you must be able to remove all of the gloss on the fiberglass or the paint will not stick.
  3. Apply the first coat of the primer. The primer can be applied with a roller to speed up the process. How it looks is not important at this point. It is only vital that the entire fiberglass surface have an even film over it. 
  4. Sand the fiberglass surface. The next step is to sand the entire surface with a 220-grit sandpaper. You may want to use a power sander but be sure to place it flush to the surface or you will end up with swirls and dip marks. If you prefer to sand it by hand, use a sanding block to for even strokes. 
  5. Apply the second coat of the primer. Once again, you may use a roller brush to make the process move along quicker. Read the label on the primer to determine the appropriate drying time before applying the finish coat.
  6. Prepare for the finish coat. The most popular paints for fiberglass boats is a two-part urethane finish. These types of paints are no longer available to boat owners. The new federal regulation allows only professional painters with air respirators to use these paints. A single part paint of polyurethane is often the second choice.
  7. Apply the finish coat. Using a roll and tip process, apply the finish coat of paint.  After you roll the paint on a section no larger than three square feet, use a brush on the edges that were created by the roller. You must work in small sections otherwise the paint will start drying before you can clean up the edges with the brush. This is a tedious process but will provide you with a great look in the end. Apply a second finish coat after reading the label on the paint can to determine the proper drying time between applications.
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