How to Paint a Fiberglass Kayak

Painting your fiberglass kayak can enhance its appearance and shield it from UV rays, which can transform the gelcoat on the outside of your kayak’s exterior into blotches of yellow or brown color.

If you enjoy kayaking, you are aware of the significance of maintaining your fiberglass kayak. But if you know what you’re doing, painting your kayak doesn’t have to be challenging!

Here’s how to paint a fiberglass kayak in 7 easy steps:

  1. Check the weather
  2. Prepare your kayak for painting
  3. Pick your paint
  4. Apply the first coat of epoxy
  5. Sand between coats
  6. Apply the final clear coat
  7. Re-rig the kayak

Read on. In this guide, I’ll expand the basic steps above, as well as answer the frequently asked questions on how to paint a fiberglass kayak.

Check The Weather

Keep in mind that you’ll be working outside, and you’ll need to let the kayak dry overnight a few times. The best temperatures to paint your kayak are at least 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure there are at least two more days without rain before you begin working on a clear, dry day.

If you like, you can place your kayak in a garage or other covered area for the night, but you’ll still need to give it time to cure after each layer of paint.

Prepare Your Kayak for Painting

Painting a kayak is easy, but you need proper prior preparation to gather all supplies and choose the best paint. This would prevent the kayak’s paint from looking unkempt or flaking and chip in an ugly manner.

Gather The Supplies

First things first, you will need to gather all the supplies you’ll need for the job. These include water, sandpaper, a clean cloth, acetone, painting mask, gelcoat/marine paint

Repair Any Gaps

Check the surface for any significant gouges or cracks. Use the mixing stick to apply the 2-part gelcoat repair kit into the cracks after mixing it up as directed by the manufacturer. Allow the gelcoat to cure for eight hours before beginning to sand.

Clean The Kayak

Clean all the parts of the kayak you plan on painting. Given that you’ll be using a lot of water, cleaning your kayak is best done outside. It would be best if you use a pressure washer to wash the surface of your kayak to remove dirt, debris, and loose paint chips. Allow it to dry.

Sand and Wipe Down

To quickly sand the hull of your kayak, it’s best to use a round piece of 120-grit sandpaper and an electric orbital sander. If you want to do things by hand, you can use a square 120-grit sandpaper, but it will take much longer.

You don’t necessarily have to get rid of every last bit of old paint throughout this procedure. Clean with acetone or wipe down any excess sanding dust with a cloth or leaf blower.

Tape Off Non-fiberglass Parts

The non-fiberglass parts shouldn’t be painted hence find a painter’s tape which is easier to pull off once the job is done and cover these parts. Make sure you remove any stickers on the kayak before painting.

Pick Your Paint

The best type of paint should be water-resistant and adhere easily to your kayak’s surface.

Most people advise using oil-based marine paint. It is simple to clean and durable enough to withstand lengthy exposure to marine settings for kayaks made of fiberglass materials. However, marine-grade paint comes at a price higher than standard paints.

It’s also advised to combine marine paint and paint thinner in a 9 to 1 ratio. Do not use a thinner less than 10% of the total paint thinner mixture because it would make the mixture too liquidy.

Oil Based or Water Based Paint

At first thought, oil-based paint could appear to be the ideal choice because of its tendency to dry more deeply and, consequently, to offer higher resistance to wear and strain. Oil-based paint is more likely to become brittle and crack because it dries more slowly.

However, it degrades when exposed to UV rays and doesn’t keep up well in outdoor circumstances.

Exterior applications are much preferable for water-based paints. It has enhanced UV protection and will often maintain its initial shine levels for longer periods of time. Additionally, water-based paint has a tendency to be more “flexible” while maintaining durability.

Spray Paints

Typical spray paint will work best for a quick, low-cost DIY kayak paint job, especially when combined with a clear finishing coat.

The disadvantages of spray painting, however, are that you will use up a lot more paint compared to brushing because overspray might cause a lot of the can’s contents to end up in the air.

Apply The First Coat of Epoxy

Apply the first epoxy coat, while in a mask with a paint roller in sections spanning about 2 ft (0.61 m) in diameter to the bulk of the kayak’s body. Paint should be applied close to the gunwales, end caps, and any other difficult-to-roll-on locations. A paint roller may cause bubbles to appear but you can smoothen them out using a brush.

Before you apply the second epoxy coat, it must have a full 24-hour drying period. It will be dry to the touch in one to two hours and handleable in four to six hours.

Sand between Coats

After the 24 hours, gently sandpaper the whole painted surface of your kayak once again using a brand-new piece of 120-grit sandpaper. Remember, throughout this process, to put on your full face mask, gloves, and eye protection.

Also, the goal is not to take off the brand-new coat of paint you just put on. Just roughen the surface a little to help the second layer adhere better. After that, wipe away any sanding-related dust with a fresh tack cloth.

Apply The Final Clear Coat

Applying a second even coat of paint over the whole surface of the hull is now possible using the same technique as for the first coat. After painting the hull’s more accessible portions, make sure to return and paint all the regions along the gunwales, bow, and stern.

After you’ve reached this final clear coat, (and allowed the paint to cure), you can use a brush to add your unique touches if you want to add a bespoke paint design. Stencils can also be used.

Quite often, people like to paint their kayaks in subtle hues as contrasted to vivid hues that can distract anyone trying to fish.

If you’re not entirely satisfied with the appearance you’ve achieved after two coats, you may always repeat the last few steps and add a third coat of paint.

Re-rig The Kayak

After you are done with the paint task, allow at least 48 hours for you to be sure the kayak is completely dry and ready for use again. Any precise information regarding drying time, however, should be double-checked in the manufacturer’s instructions for the paint you use.

Reinstall all the necessary hardware or accessories for your next kayak expedition and give your boat a final wash with soap water and wipe down to make sure it’s clean and dry.

Remember to apply a wax sealant to protect your paint against scratches, enhance its service and make your kayak shine. You shouldn’t be concerned about buying a polish that’ll break the bank – Turtle wax compound works just as well.

Finally, wipe off all excess wax and allow it to dry. This is a very crucial and necessary step to get right since any leftover wax or grease might contaminate your paint finish.

This YouTube video is a great watch if there’s any process you’d like to understand more:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some popular questions answered about painting fiberglass.

Will Spray Paint Stick to a Kayak?

Spray paint will stick to a kayak. It’s especially useful for longer kayaks. However, for best results, it’s best to use a paint roller and brush to paint your kayak. This will help prevent formation of any bubbles between the paint and boat.

What’s The Best Fiberglass Kayak Paint?

The best paint for your fiberglass kayak should adhere to the boat easily and also be water-resistant. Marine-grade paint is a great although a bit pricey option. However, price shouldn’t be a concern if you want the best results.

Do You Have to Sand Fiberglass while Painting?

You have to sand fiberglass with a 120-grit sandpaper before painting and in-between paint coats. It enhances a smooth finish once the final coat is applied. Avoid sainding upto to the fiberglass’ gelcoat as it might weaken the material.


Hopefully, our numerous tips on kayak painting have been helpful to you. How much of a difference a new coat of paint can make to an old kayak will amaze you. It makes the kayak stand out, turns it into a mean-looking fishing platform, covers up damage, and adds a personal touch to a plain-looking recreational kayak.

Additionally, it increases the excitement of the entire kayaking experience and gives you greater self-assurance. Are you up for a fun do-it-yourself project now that you know how to paint a kayak? Best of luck!

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