Boat Painting Challenges….

It’s a messy, time consuming job which can easily can go wrong if the paint products are applied incorrectly or if the wrong products are used. Some of the most common problems which come up are listed below:

Poor Quality Gel Coats Painted Badly

Owners of boats with gel coats will notice after a few years the surface may well begin to oxidise and chalk.  You can wax and polish your boat, but a few months later it will probably turn dull again. This is when people turn to painting. If the boat is painted well the results will be good and depending on the weather may last for many years.

If you’re tempted to do it yourself or use casual labour, think again. Use a yard where their reputation is sacrosanct and you will be able to see examples of their work.  A covered paint shed is essential for achieving a good result.

Dark colors have become popular, but be wary. Dark colors absorb much more heat than light colors so for dark painted areas it means the plastic will continue to cure.  This can result in shrinkage and serious damage to to the surface. 

Like all types of painting, preparation is key:

  • Remove as much of the boat hardware as possible – window frames, cleats etc. Paint between the boat and the hardware will eventually crack and peel away.Avoid painting window frames and any stainless steel screws as eventually the paint will simply flake off.
  • Remove all teak. Wood holds moisture so if you paint it eventually the paint will simply peel off.
  • Remove all historical waxes that may have been absorbed by a porous gel coat. This is normally done by dewaxing and sanding.
  • Fill all holes and scratches.
  • Apply special primer coats to make the surface easier to adhere to.

At Nanaimo Boatyard this is a common problem people seek for us to resolve.

Blistered Paint

This is the familiar bubbles you see on paintwork and is caused by:

  • The paint being put on too thickly or in hot or windy conditions where the paint has dryed too quickly.
  • Air being trapped in porous areas such as when painting on wood or old antifouling paint.
  • The surface being contaminated with salt.
  • Filler being applied with air bubbles remaining.
  • Paint being applied early in the morning or late at night when there is moisture in the air.
  • Possible indication of osmosis.

It’s worth getting some expert advice before you go ahead with any work. Normally the blisters will need to be sanded back and then all the paint layers will need to be replaced. To create the finish you desire sometimes the best thing to do is re-paint the whole area.

Finish Area is Showing Brushmarks

The most common cause of brushmarks is having too much paint on the brush. Other causes are :

  • Paint has been put on when the weather is too hot so the paint starts drying too quickly.
  • Paint has been applied and then the person has gone over the same area again. It results in the paint starting to dry whilst the brush is still going over the paint. 
  • The undercoat has not been properly sanded leaving brush marks which are even more visible when another layer of paint is applied.
  • The paint has gone past its’ use by date which means the paint will become denser and more likely to show brush marks.

Unfortunately, the only way to resolve brushmarks is to sand the area down and re-paint.

Paint Finish Appears Bumpy

This often occurs when people paint outside of a dedicated paint shed. Typical mistakes are:

  • Brushes and rollers are not washed properly which means dust etc. are left on the brush which then end up on the surface being painted.
  • Not properly cleaning the area after the boat has been sanded down.
  • Putting the paint into other containers which have not been properly cleaned.
  • Using dusty/dirty rags to wipe down paintwork.
  • Painting in an area where the floor is dusty and insects can easily come into the area.

Paint is Peeling Off

Paint may come off in large or small pieces. The most common reasons for peeling paint are:

  • The surface you are applying the paint to has oil or grease present which the paint cannot adhere to.
  • Rust or some other form of corrosion is present on the surface.
  • Additional coats of paint have been applied too quickly after the first not giving the first coat time to completely dry.
  • The paint has been applied too thickly.
  • Painting over too many old coats of paint which causes a thick layer of paint which peels away.
  • Paint applied over antifoul which has been left exposed to sunlight for too long.

Paint Appears Matt (rather than gloss).

It’s a good idea to check for this as you paint so you can correct it as you go. It is caused by:

  • Epoxy Resins – if they are cured in cool or humid conditions may have a reaction with the air which may cause film on the surface.
  • Top Coats – avoid painting when the air is damp. The moisture in the air sits on the paint and results in matt looking paint.

Bearing in mind how hard marine paint needs to perform against the weather, the sea and being frequently knocked it isn’t surprising that painting a boat takes a lot of preparation and for the best result should be done in a dedicated painting area.

Come and talk to us about your painting requirements.


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Contact Us
Stones Boatyard and The Marine Store
104-1840 Stewart Ave Nanaimo, BC, V9S4E6 Canada
Phone: 1-250-716-9065 Email:
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