How to paint a wooden boat yourself

How to paint a wooden boat yourself

Whether used for fishing or just pleasure, a wooden boat brings back the nostalgia of the open sea. The first boats used to discover the world was wooden. Though many boats today are made of metal and fiberglass, wooden boats have stood the test of time.

One possible downside of owning a wooden boat is the upkeep. It requires more attention to keep it in top condition. For most, this is a labor of love. If your boat has never been painted or is in need of a new paint job, there are some things to keep in mind. Weather and general wear and tear are both tough on the paint finish. The average boat needs to refinish every 18 to 24 months.

When preparing to refinish your boat, be sure to cover your work area with a tarp or some kind of plastic covering. Take extra care to keep paint chips from falling on the bare ground. Take measures to protect yourself also. Wear safety goggles and a breathing mask at all times. For heavy sanding, a breathing respirator is best. Wear overalls or some sort of covering to protect your skin and gloves to protect your hands. If at all possible, use a vacuum sander for your project. This stops the dust from settling on the ground. This is better for the environment and makes clean up much easier.

The first step is to remove all hardware and decorative attachments. If your boat has bang irons, remove these as well. Be careful with tools; try not to cause extra damage to the wood.

For unpainted boats, your next step is sanding. Use 80 grit sandpaper and an electric palm sander. Sand the boat, smoothing out any rough areas. Change the paper often for best results. Not only does sanding smooth the surface, it readies the wood for a better bond with the primer.

When choosing the primer, choose a wood fill primer. This helps fill in the wood grain for a stronger finish. Apply one coat of primer and allow to air dry. After the primer dries, sand with 120 grit sandpaper and reapply the primer. After the second coat has dried, sand again until you have a smooth surface. Be sure there is no bare wood showing through the primer. For any divots in the surface that cannot be sanded out, use a good wood surfacing putty.

If your project requires the application of a seam sealer, do so after priming the boat, but before painting. There are several types of sealer available, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for application times and techniques.

For previously painted boats, the task differs some. Use 120 grit sandpaper and electric palm sander to sand the entire surface area that you wish to paint. Sand paint down until the surface is smooth. In some cases, you may run across an area where the paint has blistered. A blistered area can peel away down to the unfinished wood. If you find that you have a bare spot after sanding, you should use a filler primer on that spot. The sand area again after it dries.

If the paint job is in terrible condition, then you should sand down to the bare wood, entirely removing any traces of the previous paint job. Power sanding is your best bet for this task. It will save you money and time. After the paint has been removed, follow the instructions above for sanding and priming. Then you are ready to paint.

Before purchasing your paint, check with your local boating agency for restrictions and guidelines. Oil-based paint is your best option. Oil-based paints stretch and contract with the ever-changing condition of the wood. Wood expands while wet and shrinks as it dries. You’ll want a paint that can hold up under these conditions. Urethane type paints tend to peel from the wood rather easily.

For best results, pick a clear and dry day to paint. Temperature should range between 50 and 75 degrees with the relative humidity below 50 percent

It’s best to use two thin coats of paint rather than one thick one. A foam brush is your best bet for a thin and even coat. Bristle brushes can be used, but they require greater attention to detail. After you have applied the first coat, wait until the paint is dry and hard, and then apply the second thin coat. No sanding is necessary between coats if you paint both coats within the same day. Take some time to be sure that you left no bare spots on the boat, especially along areas where two colors of paint meet.

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