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Tips for Painting a Boat Deck

In 2015, there were almost 12 million boats registered in the United States.  If you are one of these proud boat owners, you surely take great pleasure in maintaining your craft to its optimum condition.  Many people enjoy keeping up with the maintenance and care of their boat themselves instead of paying someone else to do the work.  Painting a boat deck is no different.  When the time has come to tackle any do-it-yourself boat project, finding the answers you need to get the job done right can be difficult.  That’s why I’ve put together 10 tips for painting a boat deck.

Top 10 Tips for Painting a Boat Deck

Remove all Hardware

Before you take on the painting project, the first step you want to accomplish is to remove as much hardware as possible.  You’ll also want to remove any aluminum window frames and sliding doors that are near the boat deck.  To avoid getting paint on any of the plastic parts of the boat, you could also remove them. 

This is going to give you a better paint job in many ways:

  1. You’ll achieve a smoother surface which will make for an easier task.
  2. When you paint under hardware, the finished look will appear cleaner.
  3. By re-bedding deck hardware, you can ensure that you have a seal that isn’t leaking.

Make any Repairs Necessary

If you spot any damage to the boat, now is the time to repair it.  You may not want to take on an additional project right now, but it is necessary if you care about getting the job done right.  Take your time to fix any chipped edges or rotting areas now and then your paint job will last longer.

Determine the Proper Environment for the Job

Where you paint your boat is going to have a great effect on the overall outcome.  Ideally, you want to have the boat under a shelter or shed until the job is complete.  If this isn’t going to be possible, be sure you take the time to map out the weather patterns and ensure that you’ve picked the best time to paint.  This would include watching for rain and the wind as well.

Try to paint on a sunny day when the temperature is between 70 and 80 degrees and the humidity is below 65%.  If you are using Durabak, you’ll want to the humidity to be at least 40%, but again not too high as in this case it could cure too fast.  Also be sure that you paint only when there are no insects flying around.  If you are working around other boaters, you will also need to be conscious of what they are doing around you and the dirt they might kick up. 

Determine the Proper Time for the Job

Just as picking the right weather is important, so is the time of day you choose.  If you paint in the mid or late morning, the dew should be evaporated.  You’ll want to avoid noon as the sun will be overhead and at its hottest.  Also be sure to avoid the late afternoon because the cooling temperatures and moisture in the air will have an effect on your finish and the amount of time it takes to dry.

Take the Time to Prep Properly

You’ll find that the majority of your painting job is going to be spent prepping.  While this may seem like a tedious task, taking your time and doing the job right is important if you want the best results.  Ensure that you’ve accurately taped off all areas that are not going to be painted. You’ll want to be sure that you are using the appropriate tape for the job.  Read this helpful article for guidance

Make Sure You’ve Removed ALL Dust

This may seem like an impossible task, but it is crucial.  After you’ve sanded and vacuumed in preparation, use something heavy such as a bath towel and swat the surface you are working on.  This will help to remove that lodged in dust that is attached to the boat.  It never hurts to sweep and vacuum again.  You will also want to give the surface one more wipe with a clean cloth.  When in doubt, just clean again!

Read Directions

This seems like a no-brainer, but many people don’t take this step very seriously.  All products that you choose to use, including solvents, compounds, and paints, come with directions.  The manufacturer knows the best way to use them, so it is in your best interest to follow their steps.  Yes, I agree, many of the directions are going to seem like common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to brush up on the application process.  If you are using Durabak materials, all of our products will also come complete with application manuals to help you achieve the best look possible.

Mix Your Paint in Small Amounts

When you begin mixing up the paint, don’t mix more than you think you’ll use during a 4-hour period.  It is also important that you continue mixing your paint throughout the process, so it doesn’t get clumpy. 

Start with a small roller and take care of the edges first.  You could even use a brush to get in the corners if necessary.  Once this is complete, you can move up to the large roller to paint the middle of the boat.  You will probably need to do more than one coat after the first is dry.

Remove Tape Quickly

It won’t matter if you are using an acrylic latex or polyurethane, it will set hard.  Obviously, you aren’t going to want the tape underneath it when this occurs.  If you wait, it will be nearly impossible to remove later.  Yes, you could use a razor blade, but you might damage the paint job you just worked so hard on.


It is going to take a full 24 to 48 hours for your paint to completely dry to the point that you can walk on it.  You should attempt to attach a tarp over the deck to avoid any bugs or debris landing on the paint.  Even if you are storing the boat in a shed, a tarp is always a good idea to avoid dust and dirt. 


Thoughts on Maintaining the Job You’ve Done

When you’ve invested your time and money into completing the paint job on your boat deck, you want it to last for many years in the future.  That’s why it is critical to take proper care of the deck following the paint job.  Here are just a few simple tips that you’ll want to adhere to.

  • Never use a harsh detergent or cleaners that are abrasive when you are cleaning.  Invest in a dedicated boat cleaner and stick to using products deemed safe for your craft.
  • Never choose a stiff or plastic brush to clean with because it has the potential to scratch your paint. 
  • Choose a soft, natural bristle brush or mop to complete your cleaning tasks. 
  • Chlorinated cleansers should be avoided on non-skid paints as they could damage it if they remain on the paint for more than a few minutes. 
  • Be sure to clean the boat often.  Allowing dirt to accumulate will damage the paint.  Many people find that a quick cleaning after each use is a critical step to protecting the paint.  Obviously, you’ll want to add in a deep cleaning every now and then.
  • Whenever you are cleaning the boat, it is essential that you rinse thoroughly.  Keep rinsing even after you think it is completely rinsed.  You don’t want to leave any residue behind.
  • Keep the boat covered during winter months or store in a shelter.

In Need of a Good Option for Your Boat?

In addition to following my 10 tips for painting a boat deck, picking the right paint is essential to a job well done.  Durabak offers a unique alternative for your boat deck. The Durabak Marine Paint is available in 18 colors and has many benefits that other companies don’t offer.   The liner is heat resistant, weather resistant, durable, offers a non-slip texture even when wet, is anti-corrosive and rust-proof.  Using the Durabak marine liner is going to allow the work you put into the boat now, to last for many more years in the future. 

Don’t trust your boat needs to just anyone.  Durabak has been in business since 1992 proudly serving customers just like yourself.  Any product that is used by the U.S. Navy is the choice you want for your boat.  Contact us today and our trained professionals will help you to find the products that are best for your needs.

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