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How To Waterproof Wood For A Boat

What Paint To Use On Wood


Many traditional boats have wooden sections exposed to the elements. While unpainted or untreated wood can resist natural wear and tear for a few months, eventually it begins to degrade, leading to excessive depreciation. Paints for wood, therefore, are essential, not only for style but also for protection. 

If you’re new to the world of marine paints for wood, however, knowing which products to choose and how to apply it can be a challenge. Not all paints are suitable, and even some that claim to do the job can let you down. 

In this post, we’re going to take an in-depth look at what paint to use for wooden boats. By the end of it, you'll know the best paint to choose, the benefits, and how to apply it. 

How To Waterproof Wood For A Boat: Durabak Marine Liner Outdoor

Wooden boat sections require special protection because of their exposure to saltwater and the elements. Durabak, therefore, offers a range of marine liner paint by the quart and gallon formulated to protect wood. 

Naturally, they are water-resistant - helpful for maritime vessels. Furthermore, these paints offer weatherproofing technology, protecting wood from UV radiation from the sun. 

Waterproofing prevents seawater (or any water for that matter) from penetrating the wood and accelerating the spread of rot. To achieve water protection, Durabak uses a water-resistant polymer-based formulation that forms an impermeable barrier, keeping the underlying material dry. The same polymer also provides UV protection, preventing the most energetic sunlight from damaging the wood fibers.

Many wood paints have a nasty habit of peeling in the months and years following initial application - including those claiming to be suitable for marine applications. Here again, Durabak excels. Unlike many products on the market, it resists both peeling and flaking, even in high abrasion environments you’re likely to encounter on the water. Again, this valuable property comes from its polymer-based formulation, something that many seaworthy paints have in common. 

Of course, boat owners need paints that do more than protect the hulls of their vessels from weathering - they also want products that offer safety too. 

Deck paint inevitably gets wet in rough seas and rain, turning slippery and increasing the risk of slips and falls. Durabak, however, is different. The textured formulation retains a high coefficient of friction, even under adverse conditions, making it perfect for both working vessels and leisure craft. 

Wooden Boat Maintenance: Reasons To Use Quality Wood Paint

We’ve already discussed some reasons for using quality wood paint, like Durabak, in marine applications in the section above. With that said, it is worth reiterating some of the benefits that choosing a suitable wood product will bring. 

Increase The Life Of Your Boat

First, it will dramatically increase the longevity of your boat, helping to protect your investment. By spending a little bit of money on quality defensive paint now, you can reduce the long-run costs of servicing your vessel by a considerable margin. 

Don’t underestimate the power and performance of specialist marine paints. Durabak is nothing like the paint you use to protect your garden picket fence. It offers an advanced polymer-based formulation designed to protect any water from being able to penetrate the wood, even in the most intense use scenarios - such as on a fishing boat. 

Apply It Yourself (No Need To Hire A Professional)

Second, anyone can apply Durabak marine paint. You don’t need to be a professional or even have any specialist equipment to hand. (We will describe how to use the paint below). If you decide to go down the DIY route, all you need is patience, time, and the regular equipment, and that’s it. 

When using our paint, we recommend two coats, but the formulation allows you to layer as many times as you like without any loss of performance and only increased protection from additional coats. 

Get Long-Lasting Wood Protection, Trusted By The US Navy

Marine wood paints like Durabak are also extremely durable (as you might have guessed from the name). So durable, in fact, that the US navy uses them to protect deck surfaces and structural components on its ships. Plus, there’s no need to mix anything else in. You just open the tin, stir, dip your roller, and start applying.

By now, you’re probably thinking, what’s the catch? No doubt, you have to wait weeks for it to dry or pay thousands of dollars for the privilege. Right? On the contrary, my friend. You can apply Durabak on a Saturday morning, and the paint will be ready to hit the water on Sunday afternoon. What’s more, marine paint prices are highly competitive and well worth the initial investment when you consider the long-term savings. 

The polymer-based formulation offers another benefit: you can go a long time before you need to reapply. Ship maintenance, therefore, no longer necessitates annoying semi-annual repaints. 

Available In A Range Of Colors And Texture Options

Durabak Marine Liner for outdoor use comes in two texture options: smooth and textured, as well as a range of colors. Both texture options offer different levels of anti-slip protection and give your boat a very different appearance. 

Color options include: 

  • Black

  • White

  • Bright red

  • Clear (for when you still want the wood grain to be visible)

  • Tan 

  • Light blue

  • Dark blue

  • Dark grey

  • Military olive

  • Sand

  • Cream 

  • Forest Green

  • Yellow

Thanks to the full range of colors, you can ensure that your vessel continues to look the part, even when treated with professional marine wood paint. 

Easy To Maintain

Durabak doesn’t require any special maintenance to keep it functional. It is very much a “set and forget product.” Clean it as you would any other part of your boat with warm soapy water and a sponge. 

Resistant To Chemicals

Wood paint offers a final benefit: the fact that it is resistant to chemicals. Sea-going vessels often encounter a range of chemicals, both in the natural environment and artificially in the dock, port, or while carrying cargo. Durabak offers a high level of chemical resistance, meaning that you won’t necessarily need to repaint if you spill something on the deck, but you should still clean it up promptly.

How To Paint A Wooden Boat

So, now you have a better idea of the benefits of marine wood paint and why you should choose it, how do you apply it. 

Durabak does not require professional application. You can do it yourself, so long as you have the right equipment and understand the methods. 

Equipment You Will Need

The equipment you will need is as follows: 

  • Stipple roller sleeves (two per gallon of paint) or shortnap mohair for Smooth Durabak

  • Paintbrush (for those hard to reach nooks and crannies)

  • 60-grit sandpaper

  • Xylene or Solvide

  • Roller tray

  • Cloth or rag

  • Paint gloves

  • Paint mixer (drill extension is best)

  • 3M blue tape

  • Paint respirator

  • Household detergent

Once you’ve assembled the equipment you need, it is time to get painting. 

Before you get started, check you have enough paint for the wood you wish to protect. Each gallon of Durabak marine paint for wood (and fiberglass) will cover two coats of 75 square feet. Each quart will cover 18 square feet for two-coat use. However, wood that is dry and un-primed will absorb a full coat's worth of Durabak so figure in 50 square feet per gallon. If you want to save money you can use a latex primer and only 2 coats will be necessary above that.

Also, make sure that you abide by the following rules: 

  • Don’t apply Durabak Marine Liner paint to surfaces other than wood, concrete, plastic, rubber, metal, aluminum and fiberglass

  • Don’t reuse paint contents once opened

  • Don't paint below 35 F or above 95 F, ideal conditions are approximately 60 F and 40 percent humidity

  • Apply to a clean, dry, roughened surface

  • Use xylene or solvide ONLY to clean surfaces before applying Durabak

Step One: Clean The Wood

The first step is to clean the wood you intend to paint, removing all dirt and debris from the surface that could affect the final quality of the finish. Once the surface of the wood is clean, wipe it down with a standard, non-chlorinated household detergent to remove any residual dirt. Then rinse and dry. 

Step Two: Sand The Surface

Take your 60-grit sandpaper in hand and begin gently sanding the surface you intend to paint. Then wipe it down with xylene to prepare it for the marine liner coating and remove any additional debris. 

If you plan on using 3M blue tape, this is the point at which you’ll want to lay it down. Using tape is a good idea if there is a chance that the paint will overrun. If you want to achieve a nicely curved line and using tape that will form a barrier to the Durabak, you can try using electrical tape.

Step Three: Open Your Marine Wood Paint And Pour It Into The Roller Tray

Next, open the tin of Durabak and stir it with your paint mixer. You need to mix the paint to ensure that it is of a uniform consistency throughout before you start applying it.

The paint is solvent-based and the more thoroughly mixed the paint the more even the finish will be. Don't stir it for more than 5 minutes though, as you will introduce air and moisture into the paint and it will begin the curing process. 

Then, pour the paint into your roller tray until you cover the bottom. Don’t fill it too deep as this will make the paint less manageable. (If you are covering a small area, you do not need to worry about this part). 

Step Four: Use A Roller Brush Or Paint Brush To Spread The Paint

Take either your roller with attached stipple roller sleeves and dip it in your paint tray or use a paintbrush and start painting the wood you want to protect. Continue moving your brush over the wood until you cover it completely. Don't overlap too much, the first coat of Durabak will be semi-transparent - that's totally normal. By the second coat it will be opaque.

Step Five: Allow The Paint To Dry Before Adding A Second Coat

Durabak Marine Liner requires two coats. After applying the first coat, wait an hour or two for it to become touch dry before applying the second. In some circumstances, you may need to use more coats. Wood may absorb some of the first two layers. If it does, then just wait another hour or so until you can add a third. 

You can check if the Durabak is ready for the next coat by gently touching it with your finger, if nothing comes up it's good for the next coat. 

When painting a large area you can walk on the touch dry Durabak with socks - shoes will damage it.

Step Six: Use A Paintbrush To Do Touch Up Work

If you’re using a roller, don’t forget you can use a paintbrush to do touch up work. It is best to do this work alongside each layer so that you get even coverage. 

Step Seven: Wait 24 Hours

Once you’re happy with the coverage, you need to wait 24 hours before you do anything else. The drying process will reveal any areas that aren’t adequately covered and show you the parts of the wood that require further touching up. 

If the paint is dry and you notice that you do need to do more work, just begin from step four again and work your way through. 

Finally, step back and admire all your hard work. 

Summary For Protecting Wood On Boats

Wood on boats must endure an extremely challenging environment. Wooden decks and surfaces often have equipment thrown on them on a regular basis, leading to impacts, abrasion, and even damage to the underlying wood itself. 

People who own and run boats, therefore, need paint products that can stand the test of time. 

While there are a variety of wood paints out there, Durabak’s Marine Liner-branded versions are probably the best. They provide wooden ships with a truly ridiculous level of protection, even in the most adverse conditions. Many years after the first application, Durabak marine paint still stands up well. 

If we had one tip for getting the most out of your Durabak Marine Liner paint, it would be to follow the instructions carefully. Don’t apply it on a rainy day or in a big rush. Wait for a log weekend when you have time to prep everything perfectly without cutting and corners and the weather is good, and you'll really enjoy working with Durabak. 

Also, work hard to ensure that the wood that you want to paint is perfectly clean before you start. If there is any dirt or grime on the surface at all, it could inhibit adhesion and allow the Durabak to peel off. 

Don't paint too thick, not only will it not save time, but it could compromise the paint job. Durabak is moisture cured and reacts with water vapor in the air producing CO2 gas as it cures. If it's too thick that gas can get trapped to form curing bubbles, which will eventually pop leaving pinholes in the finish. 

Finally, we recommend that anyone using paint products wear a respirator, a special device that keeps the fumes at bay. If working inside, always ensure that you ventilate the space by opening windows and doors as much as possible. 

In summary, Durabak is trusted by boat owners all over the world. The product is so effective at protecting wood that the US military uses it on its vessels - now, that’s a reason to consider it for your very own boat. 

Want to learn more about DIY painting? Visit these pages:

How to Paint Boat Docks – Complete Guide

How to Paint an Aluminum Boat by Yourself

How to Paint a Fiberglass Boat Yourself

How to Paint Playground Equipment

How to Paint and Protect a Houseboat Roof

How to Paint a Boat Bottom

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