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How to Paint and Protect a Houseboat Roof

Your houseboat endures many years of UV exposure and variable weather conditions. Over time, the roof becomes brittle, dangerous and unsightly. To repair this, you need to protect your roof with some simple do-it-yourself procedures. Add years to its life when you learn how to paint and protect a houseboat roof.   There are a lot of aspects to cover when it comes to protecting a houseboat roof. This is simply the tip of the iceberg, but the key is preventative maintenance. The better you maintain and care for the roof now, the longer it will last. John, from All About Houseboats, suggests that fiberglass roofs can begin leaking in as little as ten years without proper protection. That only leads to disaster and hefty repair bills. It doesn’t matter if you own a Gibson Houseboats model, Adventure Craft, Catamaran Cruisers or Fantasy, the same rules apply. You can ward off heavy repairs later, with some simple maintenance and precautionary work now. Once you realize how simple it is to protect a houseboat roof, you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

Steps #1 – Decide on a Coating

You aren’t going to paint your fiberglass roof with just any coating. You have several options available to you. The first is a gel coat. This is easy to do but doesn’t last as long as other materials. The second option is acrylic paint. You’ll find that this process is a little more labor intensive, but it does last longer. There’s a third option that many people don’t know about. It’s Durabak. Surely any product that’s trusted by the U.S. Navy is good enough for your Harbor Master or Sharpe Houseboat as well! Not only is it easy to apply, UV-resistant, waterproof and have non-slip properties, but it resists saltwater. Furthermore, it won’t chip or peel and works great in any climate or weather condition. All around, it’s the ideal choice for the roof of your Houseboats.

Step #2 – Prep the Houseboat Roof

If you have a new fiberglass roof, then all you’ll have to do is sand the surface. It needs to be rough so the material will adhere to it properly. Roughing up and scoring the surface allows the applied coating to take a good hold on the underlying roof substrate. We recommend using 40-grit sandpaper until you see a dull appearance to it. If you have an older fiberglass roof, you must clean it first. All grime and dirt need to be removed and you must disinfect against algae or mold. You’ll also want to repair or patch any holes and cracks before you move forward with sanding.

Step #3 – Paint the Houseboat Roof

Now you are prepared for the part you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to paint. You could use a primer, but that’s not necessary with fiberglass. If you do decide it’s the path you want to take, make sure the primer is compatible with your paint and then use 300-grit sandpaper to sand it before painting. Make sure you follow the guidelines of the primer, regarding ideal wait periods for over-coating, if you desire the best results. If you plan to use Durabak and prefer to prime the surface, use two-part water-based epoxy instead. Then, scuff up the surface with 36-grit sandpaper before you proceed to paint. Mix your materials according to the directions. You can apply your first layer with a roller, sprayer or brush. When you use Durabak, you only have to open the can and stir; everything is ready to go. Wait for one to two hours until the first coat of Durabak is dry. Then, move on with the second coat. Feel free to get your paintbrush out and get into any tight corners. Remember, to allow the roof to dry completely before using the boat. This could take a couple of days depending on your weather conditions.

Protect a Houseboat Roof with Durabak

The best way to protect a houseboat roof is with the use of Durabak Marine Paint. Your houseboat deserves the very best and that’s what we strive to offer. Our material is compatible with all marine roofs. All that’s left to do is give us a call at 303-690-7190 so we can discuss your project further.

Want to learn more? Check out our guide on the best paint for wood!

1 comment

  • Just bought a used houseboat. It has a rubberized non slip roof coating and I’m looking for the proper paint material to use to redo roof. Also need to apply a nonslip coating to main front and back decks to prevent slipping while deck is wet without having to put down rugs. Thanks in advance.


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