How To Paint Wood Boats
Need to know how to paint wood boats? A good paint job is important because wood boats continuously face attack from the environment. Boats bump and scrape against anything in the water, causing dents and gouges to the hull surface. That allows moisture, molds, fungus and various sea creatures to enter the wood fiber itself and take hold—and eventually causes the wood to rot. The steps involved in painting a wood boat are the same as when painting any wood. Do your research before choosing what kind of paint to use on your boat. The selection is wide and varies from regular house paint to special high-tech marine polyurethane paint. Your choice of paint should take into account your painting skill, your work area and your pocketbook. You can apply the paint with a brush, a roller or by spraying, so get the tools appropriate for the method you choose.
To paint wood boats, you will need:
- Wood scrapers
- Tack cloth
- A vacuum cleaner
- Glazing compound or wood filler
- Wood preservative
- Wood primer
- Wood paint
- Prepare the wood. Using a scraper, remove any dirt, grease or flaking paint from the wood surface to get it as clean and dust-free as you can. You don’t have to remove every bit of paint from the hull, just make sure that what you leave is well attached. The most important thing about painting a wood boat is to make sure the wood is totally dry before painting. Work in a covered area if you think it might rain. If you try to paint a wet or damp boat, the paint—and maybe the filler—will not stick.
- Repair holes and dents by using good wood filler, such as glazing compound, to fill any cracks or dents in the hull surface. Let the filler dry thoroughly before you continue.
- Sand the entire hull—including the filler—until the wood is as smooth and perfect as you can get it. Don’t leave any bumps sticking up from the surface of the hull because they will show through the paint. Though this part of the job can seem to take forever, it will make a huge difference in the finished look of the paint job. Preparation is what makes the difference between a poor job and a great job. When you are done sanding, remove all dust with a tack cloth or vacuum. Let the boat sit for a day or two if needed to ensure that it is perfectly dry. Apply wood preservative to the hull according to the instructions on the container, and again let the boat sit until totally dry.
- Apply the primer. Metallic grey primers work best for boats because they actually contain small particles of metal that create a protective coating. Put two coats of primer on the hull above the water line and at least three coats below the water line, letting the primer dry thoroughly between coats.
- Apply the color, or “topcoat,” paint following the directions on the package. Choose a calm, sunny day for painting and be sure to wear the proper safety gear if you are spraying. Once the paint is on and dry, you are finished painting your wood boat.
All boats that are actually in use will eventually need repainting because they are exposed to weather, dings, scratches and things that live in the water. Most owners plan to apply fresh paint at least every couple of years.