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How to Paint a Fiberglass Boat

Fiberglass is one of the sturdiest and most efficient materials in the world for boat building, and it has been used more and more frequently. Fiberglass boats, depending on the paint used, can last for a long time, as long as the painter in question is experienced and ready to incur the cost and labor needed to carry out the task. In this article, we will go over how to paint a fiberglass boat, first starting with the types of paint you can use and finishing with instructions on how to go about beginning the project.

What Paint to Use

Gelcoat is a common choice for the exterior finish of a boat. Gelcoat has a high pigmentation, and it is resinous. It also holds another purpose. Gelcoat prevents the fiberglass from molding, as the paint has a mold release agent that shields the boat from damage. However, gelcoat is not very resistant to the sun. Because of this, the boat will need to be repainted in order to maintain the lustrous finish that it had when it was first renovated. If you use a high-quality gelcoat, you will be able to wax your boat in order to make the paint last longer. If you wax the boat and find that it is still dull and less-shiny than when it was first painted, that is likely a sign that the gelcoat used is low-quality and the paint brand itself was not up-to-par.

Painting the Boat

A yard will do the work for you, if you decide that you don’t want to paint it yourself. Finding a painter who is reputable and will do the job well isn’t difficult, but it also is a process that you want to undergo very carefully. Yards usually do higher-quality work because they want to maintain their reputation and avoid bad reviews. Yards specialize in the boating field, and they also have access to high-quality materials that will last longer and avoid oxidization.

Don’t Go Dark

When selecting the paint color for your boat, you may be tempted to select a dark color. That is a common trend now, and, while certainly attractive, it is not advisable. Painting the space between the boat’s windows black, or using wide black stripes, will easily show damage because dark colors absorb heat faster. White is more reflective than black, and absorbs less sunlight. If you use a dark color, you might cause damage to the area that you’re painting. This distortion is caused by shrinkage. You don’t want your boat to become a magnet for the sun; that leads to problems with the outside and issues with the health of the boat in general. Light colors are best.

Preparing to Paint When painting a boat, the key is preparation. If you prepare the boat properly to be painted, you won’t have a problem with the rest of the process. If the preparation is poor, that is when you see damage that has an effect on the rest of the boat. Find which areas on the boat need special attention due to the potential for damage. Remove old gelcoat by waxing and sanding, removing the surface irregularities and flaws so that they do not show up under the new paint.

Finishing the Paint Job

Once you’ve gone through the preparation, the paint job itself is easy. You don’t want to paint any aluminum, or the deck, and the painting should take place when there is low humidity outside. After painting, don’t use abrasive cleaners to take care of the boat. If you prepare well and select your gelcoat and painter carefully, your boat will be kept in good condition. Fiberglass is one of the best materials out there, and you want the exterior to match the interior’s quality.


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