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Kayak painting

Submitted by Randy on Mon, 05/06/2019 - 17:00

Because of my glass/epoxy problem in a different thread I decided to paint the lower part of the hull of the Pygmy Tern 14 I just completed. My first paint job, no idea how it will hold up or even if I use an acceptable paint. So, I said to myself, maybe we could have a thread where we discuss the pro's and con's and do's and don'ts of painting. I personally like the looks of hull painted kayaks with varnished decks.

This is the, "what and how," of my first paint job. I hand sanded the hull with 220 grit paper. Probably a little fine but I could not use the ROS on it because there was to much flex in the plywood and I wanted to eliminate sanding marks. Using a foam brush, I applied a thin coat of paint then a regular coat an hour later. I used Total Boat JD Select paint from Jamestown Distributors. I have to say it is probably the best paint I have ever used. Zero runs or sags, dries quickly, no brush marks or pin holes. It is a water base paint formulated for salt water use. For me it was almost a true, "lay-it-on" paint as I needed very little brushing to get coverage and flow out. I think a foam brush was the right choice at least for this particular paint. I cannot see where I would have gotten a better finish spraying and a roller would have probably induced bubbles / pin holes.

I varnished to just below my paint line then taped it off and painted over a sliver of varnish just to get a good transition line. 

I am very interested in how everyone else paints their boats, what paint, what tools, what techniques.

Thank you


Mon, 05/06/2019 - 19:29


It sounds like your paint choice worked really well.


I started painting boats 7 or 8 years ago - Interlux 2-part LPU paint (expensive) and then switched to Valspar Industrial Automotive paint.

I've used both colour only gloss paint (LIC-40) and also base-coat and clear systems. For clearcoat I'm using House of Kolor clear.

The Valspar LIC can be rolled/brushed with the appropriate reducer (like the Interlux), but I've never done that.

I use a borrowed spray booth and the 'full kit' of safety equipment, including a HobbyAire fresh-air supply hood.

So for most home builders, my recommendation would be to use a brushable product or hire an auto body painter to paint the boat.

Other thoughts:

I would be very careful - do tests- before putting any of the 2-part LPU paints over varnish. I always paint over appropriate primer/surfacer, which makes a good finish a lot easier, besides ensuring a good bond between the paint layers.