How to Paint a Fiberglass Boat Yourself

Last week we discussed how to paint your aluminium boat, but what about when you own a fiberglass boat or a Fiberglass HouseBoat ?  There are some tips & tricks you can follow to paint a fiberglass boat yourself.

Painting your boat will bring new life to the appearance as well as increase the value.  Doing it yourself can take a good chunk of time, but will save you money over hiring a professional.  Here are some things you will want to know before you get started.


This is going to be the most crucial part of your painting job.  Taking the time to prepare will save you time and money in the future. 

  1. Clean the boat thoroughly.  You should be doing this every time you’ve taken the boat out.  Make sure you use a high-pressure hose, some rags and maybe even a scrapper.  Anytime you clean the boat, it is important you rinse thoroughly.  Never leave soap lay on the boat.  In addition, if you are planning to use Durabak, you’ll need to wash down the surface with a non-chlorinated household detergent, such as Spic N Span.
  2. Remove all hardware.  To ensure a smooth and clean paint job, you’ll want to remove as much as you can.  If you are unable to remove something, be sure to cover it with painter’s tape in order to protect it.
  3. Use a solvent to remove the wax coating.  If you feel the waxy finish on your boat, it must be removed prior to painting.  Paint is unable to stick to a waxy surface.
  4. Repair the boat’s surface.  This includes cracks, nicks or any corrosion.  Fill any holes with a marine-grade epoxy, which can be found at most hardware stores
  5. Sand the boat.  Use an 80-grit sandpaper to sand the boat’s surface.  Make sure that all the old paint is removed.  If you are using Durabak, stick to roughing up the fiberglass surface with a 40-grit sandpaper instead.  On the areas with epoxy, use a 36-grit and be a little more aggressive.

Painting the Boat

Now you are ready for the exciting part!  You can start by using a primer, although it is not necessary with a fiberglass boat.  Be sure that the primer you are using is compatible with the paint you’ve chosen.  After you’ve applied one layer of primer, you can use a 300-grit sandpaper and lightly sand the boat before applying the next coat.  You will want to begin painting within 2 hours of completing the primer for best results. 

For those of you that have made the choice to use Durabak, when you go to use a primer, choose a two-part water based epoxy.  Apply it to a dry surface after the wash and rinse.  Then, do not wipe with xylene as indicated above.  Simply scuff up the epoxy with a 36-grit sandpaper before painting.  If you would rather not use a primer, you can wipe down the surface with Xylene (aka Xylol).

When you are ready to paint, be sure to mix your paint according to directions.  Then you can apply the first layer with a paint roller.  With Durabak, you will simply open the can and stir (be sure to stir occasionally throughout the painting process as well).  In addition, you’ll receive two 4” foam stipple roller sleeves with your order. 

Wait for one to two hours after the first coat of Durabak (or follow your paint’s instructions) and remove any 3M blue tape that you’ve applied.  Then proceed, with your second coat.  Feel free to use a paint brush to get in those hard to reach corners.

Final Steps

To ensure the best job possible, it will be essential that you protect the drying paint from any bugs or debris.  Ensure that your paint has completely dried according to manufacturer guidelines.  If you are using Durabak, you will want to wait 24 hours to walk on the paint and about 5 days before any heavy use or exposure to any cleaning agents. 

To keep your paint looking good for many years to come, be sure you always clean your boat completely after use.  Also, ensure that the boat is well protected during the winter months and kept safe from ice. 


No matter how you plan to tackle your boat’s paint job, you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself.  In addition, taking the time to care for your boat will give you an immense sense of pride.  Make sure you use top-notch equipment and paint to achieve the best job possible.  The trained professionals at Durabak are available to help you find the products that will work best for your needs.  Contact us today.