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topic 10712

Painting an aluminum boat

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I am restoring a 70's era aluminum runabout, it has several coats of paint on the hull exterior and I would like to return it to its original aluminum finish . do aluminum boats come from the factory with a protective coating ? after repolishing the hull will I need to protect it from salt water?

Dan Mackinnon
hobbyist - Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

Primer for Aluminum


THE QUESTION TO BE ANSWERED IS........ WHERE THE HELL CAN YOU BUY ALUMINUM OXIDE PRIMER? everyone keeps saying that you need to use it but I have been online for hours and still can not find out where I can buy some. I see that others are struggling to find it too. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUESTION ONCE AND FOR ALL!

Nathan Theriault
bass angler - Dover, New Hampshire

Ed. note: See the entry of May 15, 2007, Nathan. You are looking for a primer designed for use on aluminum oxide surfaces, not a primer based on aluminum oxide chemistry In other words, a zinc phosphate primer for amateurs and (possibly) a zinc chromate primer for professionals. Sorry for the confusion!


I want to know the proper procedures for exterior and interior painting an aluminum boat that will be used for duck hunting. I would also like to know the type of paint/epoxy to use on the boat.


Tim Brown
Hobbyist - Greenbrier, Tennessee


From: ++++++
Nathan, I strongly agree with your posting! I just bought an aluminum boat earlier today and I too am looking for refinishing tips.
Check out this link I found for your primers and stuff... go to... and do a search for PRIMER. Look to the right side for Epifanes Epoxy Primer - White. I hope this helps. In the meantime I'll keep looking for more info.

M'Lisa Dalley
- Bastrop, Texas


You can get the self etching primer at Autozone, or at NAPA.

Hope that helps.

Jeff B. Steavens
- Lansing, Michigan


Hey all

type in "marine paint specialist" they will have any materials needed for the paint and preparation.paint on "any" surface can be treated using the right preparation method,therefore allowing you to paint over an existing finish.In regards to using an automotive paint after you have applied the correct primer"I WOULD STRONGLY ADVISE USING MARINE PAINT" as this is designed for that purpose,it may be more expensive,but it will be a lot more durable than a standard automotive paint.

Steven Thomson
(V.W., Audi specialist)

Steven Thomson
- Wellington, New Zealand


Hi I paint aluminum boats and a lot of other ships of marine, Zinc chromate works but and or some type of acid etch primer then a barrier coat (epoxy) hi build is very protective, watch for the window of overcoating as it will not stick if left to long, it is a very hard primer. Then some kind of sealer but not necessary, this will keep out bleeding or staining but also gives a better bond to the top coat, and most automotive, or marine paint,which marine is always more expensive. Endura also has a full package of marine setup, very durable. Awlgrip [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] is also compatible with aluminum, awesome finish but expensive. Make sure you sand the aluminum with at least 80 grit for good adhesion, washing first with some type of degreaser or lacquer thinner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] before you start anything or you just grind it into the metal.

Victor Gabrielson
- Ladysmith, B.C., Canada


Hi. I want to paint the inside of my 16 foot Aluminum boat. I know about the Aluminum Oxide Primer and the tack cloth. Now I can't find the Scuff coat gray paint (or non skid Paint) to paint over the primer.


Georgie L. Bednar
Retired - Pueblo, Colorado


Found some info on painting aluminium mast including advice on overcoating previously painted Aluminium.
Go to

Jason Hollister
- Tasmania, Australia

Ed. note: That link no longer works, but you could go to the site and see if the article still exists.


To Mario.
Stripping a riveted hall . When you stripped your boat with "Klean-Strip", did you have any problems with the rivets, or seams?

Steve Mulder
Boat painting and stripping - Hazel Park, Michigan


I have a neighbor that has an aluminum boat that has a Rhino bedliner spray on the hull. It won't leak at all and looks attractive. He claims he doesn't have any algae problems either. Something to consider. I thought it was creative idea myself. Hope this helps.

Todd Canty
- Fenton, Michigan


Someone mentioned they had a Rhino lining on their hull, I inquired as I am restoring a 16 foot Springbok cruiser and the price is reasonable. They quoted my $1000.00 Canadian and that includes the stripping and prep work. This is from a auto collision centre who is an authorized dealer for Rhino lining.

In my opinion, considering all the time and expenses with doing it yourself for stripping paint and painting and that this may be required every 5 - 10 years it certainly seems beneficial to go the Rhino lining way...heck I even decided to do the interior too (since it comes in 4 different colors) my appointment is next week and I can't wait to see the outcome.

W. Abbink
Hobbyist - Kingston, Ontario, Canada


W. Abbink
How did the rhino lining turn out? How is it holding up? I would like to see some pics.

Dustin Rogers
- Vista, California


I just painted my 14 ft jon boat about 6 months ago and it turned out great. I used a product called armourpoxy which is a one stage epoxy, all you need to do is lightly sand the hull and brush on. all of the brush marks will disappear and it will look great. although it comes out great the process sucks and the paint is really thick. overall the outcome is worth it I'll have the best lookin boat around. good luck

Tom keeney
parts manager - Westminster, Maryland


I would not have truck liner type coating on the exterior bottom of any hull. This will create drag and reduce performance. Installed on the inside of a boat however is beneficial in most cases as it can reduce noise in boat acting as an insulator, cool off the floor in summer months, deter corrosion, slip resistance, covers existing scratches etc, etc.

Hope this helps.

Dean P. Theriot
- Houma, Louisiana

Trolling Motor


I decided to do the rhino liner on the exterior of an aluminum boat, rhino does not make it without the abrasive, however I did find a company that does which eliminates the resistance while in the water because it leaves a smooth surface.

Leon Pence
- Waterford, California


Hi, read a number of postings re. painting alu boats. with ref to the costs being high to paint , just wondered if you have considered using bitumen on the outside under the waterline ? We use it on boats which are on drying moorings and /or get beached. Not the prettiest finish but self heals on scratches and deadens sound a little. Only needs 1 coat and sticks to anything so lessens prep time; doesn't need etched alu.
tip- choose a hot day to apply - spread is much more even.

jerry disley
- westby dorset England


Perhaps you should consider soda blasting your aluminium boats to clean,strip and prepare for painting. Works great. and is fast.

Alan MacDonald
- Halifax, NS, Canada


Hey Folks

I also have a V bottom aluminum boat that I have been working on. Having looked long and hard for a decent looking boat and trailer, I wanted to do the job right. So far I have only cleaned the outside of it and it works. My neighbor does a lot of hot-rod type work on vehicles. He gave me a bottle of Eagle 1 Mag Cleaner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and it worked. Just follow instructions, spray on, wait 30 seconds and rinse off with water. You will be amazed at how well it works on the aluminum. I did both the outside and inside of the boat, used 2 bottles of the stuff and cost me a total of about $15.00 (US dollars). Now I did run into some stubborn stains and I used some steel wool [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] and a scrub brush to take care of it. I am still looking for something to paint the inside of the bottom of the boat. Hope this helps out.

Semper Fi

Jack Landrum
- Arkansas City, Kansas


I have bought self etching primer at Napa. It is an auto parts store.

Nate Braun
- Eagan, Minnesota


I have just inherited a 1958 Arkansas traveler.
I understand it was originally red.
My uncle has painted (up the water line) disgusting blue.
He has also painted the inside with a broom (it appears),also blue.
I was going to scrub it clean,re-spray the interior gray, replace the wood and re-spray the hull original red.
Will it stick and help protect the bow?
Or fall off and look like crap?
Total novice of boat repair,fanatic of catching rainbow trout.

Jeffrey Wayne Bess
consumer - Estacada, Oregon


Where can I purchase aluminum oxide primer and how do you apply it?

- Albertville, Alabama


My 1968 Duracraft 19.5' aluminum boat has been painted by a previous owner using Ford automotive paint. Although the paint is not peeling, cracked, or chipping I would like to change the color. My question is, do I have to strip it down to bare metal or can I just sand, prime, and repaint over the existing paint?

Chris Sikorski
Consumer/Hobbyist - Warren, Michigan

May 15, 2007

Can't believe this thread started years ago and people are still asking about aluminum oxide primer, LOL. If you do an "Internet 101" google search or talk to any marine paint store you will quickly find that you should be using consumer formulated - ZINC Phosphate ZINC Phosphate not Aluminum Oxide to prime aluminum boats, and yes it is also for below waterline applications.

Michael Sepot
- Chicago, Illinois

sidebar May 18, 2007

I think Marshall was suggesting that you need to use a primer designed for use on aluminum oxide surfaces (whether that be zinc chromate, zinc phosphate, or otherwise). While some readers understood that, other readers misread this to mean a primer based upon aluminum oxide chemistry -- and unfortunately the error went uncorrected. Sorry.

>We thank you for the clarification and recommendation, Michael! But the reason the site and this thread have survived so long is that we don't print flames. Smug posts lead to flaming posts, so they're best avoided as well :-)

Thanks again for sorting it out!

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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