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topic 10712, page 4

Painting an aluminum boat

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February 18, 2008

What Anti Fouling paint is available for Aluminum and how to apply? I have a Northwest 22' aluminum jet that I keep in the Columbia River water about 12 miles in from the Pacific. I am in a tidal estuary and I keep the boat in the water about 8 months of the year. In about 2 month I grow considerable grass and slime on the bottom. It cost me about 5 knots. I pressure wash twice a season but I would like to use an Anti Fouling paint like the fiberglass guy do. The hull was coated with clear when new in 1994.
Can the group suggest a prep, primer, and anti fouling paint for my application? Many thanks.

Roy Hackett
Retired process engineer - Astoria, Oregon

February 27, 2008

I have read your post, Mr. Osborne, and I have decided to use your method. The only thing I will need to know is in regards to something Mr. Mooney mentioned. I use my boat in both salt water and fresh water. However I always trailer my boat after each use. Do I still need anti-fouling paint? And, if so, is the polyurethane enamel anti-fouling? Would someone who does not trailer their boat be able to use the poly?

P.S. Your post makes perfect sense and sounds like the way to go. Thank you for being so thorough. I am working on making a checklist of materials needed, and I will post it as soon as I have it for everyone's use.

Jonathan Dowie
- Nashua, New Hampshire

Trolling Motor

February 27, 2008

If your boat does not stay in saltwater overnight you do not need anti-fouling paint, Jonathan. Many people on my salt water lagoon have boat lifts and do not apply "bottom paint". Only thing is, if you ever get lazy and leave the boat in salt water for even a few days you'll be very sorry :-)

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

March 13, 2008

I was wondering if anyone has had success in painting a boat with Tremclad.
I have an 18' aluminum boat that I am rebuilding, Will Tremclad work OK on the underside below the water line?

Peter Lunn
hobbyist - BC, Canada

March 29, 2008

I paint planes and helo's in Abbeville and everything is alum. We use alumabright to acid etch. Then Alodine, which is a chemical conversion for alum. It prevents corrosion. Then a chemical coating primer.

Mike Bertrand
- Erath, Louisiana.

April 7, 2008

I have not read this whole post so I will make my response as simple as possible.

I have revamped 3 aluminum boats for freshwater hunting and fishing.

1) get everything out of the boat and turn it over on saw horses.
2) strip old paint, mixture of non toxic stripper and wire brush on an angle grinder.
3) patch holes, I used the green sticks you get from Cabelas, I think called aluma patch. The melt into place, can be sanded and work like crazy for years.
4) fine sand with medium to fine Sandpaper [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] immediately prior to painting.
5) wipe completely clean with denatured alcohol.
6) buy H.S. Camo paint ( 3 drab colors ) from local store for about $20.00 a gallon. 1 Gallon will do an 18 foot boat in and out.
7) dilute paint with Denatured alcohol and spray with cheap Wal-mart spray gun attached to your, or a borrowed compressor.
8) Use boat and have fun, most people could care less what your fishing/hunting boat looks like

It will scratch and ding just like all old painted boats but the whole thing works like a champ with one good coat and will last for years. The first boat I did was 10 years ago and it still looks great for a hunting/fishing boat.

Tim Legere
- Murphysboro, Illinois

March 29, 2008

I have purchased a 20+ yr old 14' Starcraft Alum. boat. It appears that it was painted several years ago with a copper based anti fouling paint. The alum. hull is showing signs of corrosion ( white powdery substance). Is it too late to try to remove the old paint if the hull shows this corrosion? If I remove down to bare metal, do I have to repaint it or can the bare aluminum stand up to the salt water environment on its own? The boat remains in salt water for about 6 months, what do I do about preventing marine growth on the hull?

Bill Previdi
hobbyist - Gloucester, Massachusetts

April 27, 2008

Will salt affect an aluminum cladding material? I would like to aluminum clad my boat which finishing is better PE coating or PVDF coating?

Claire Maspinas
hobbyist - Philippines

May 4, 2008

Just a thank you to all the folks posting on aluminum repainting. I'm restoring a 1963 camper, haven't touched a paint gun in 20 yrs, no idea about the "modern stuff". Appreciate all the info.

Leigh Kittell
- Enosburg, Vermont

June 17, 2008

To all those still asking the question about what primer to use on your aluminum boat.

MCDONNELL AIRCRAFT CORP ST LOUIS MO did this study on zinc chromate primers vs. epoxy primers on aluminum such as aircraft, boats, etc. They found in their tests that both primers were found to be equal in corrosion resistance. The information came from the Defense Dept that tested them both. Read below. Basically, you can use a epoxy or zinc chromate primer for your aluminum boat and they will be equally resistant even in salt water. Salt water was what the test was done in.

Accession Number : AD0425105
Descriptive Note : Final rept.
Personal Author(s) : Swafford, Joseph S.
Handle / proxy Url : Check NTIS Availability...
Report Date : 10 DEC 1963
Pagination or Media Count : 13

Abstract : The need to apply epoxy finishing systems to stock primed with zinc chromate primer has made it necessary to determine if the corrosion resistance of this system is adequate. It is also desired to use only one coat of epoxy primer on stock not already primed with zinc chromate primer provided adequate corrosion resistance can be attained. Test assemblies were fabricated of 7178-T6 non-clad aluminum panels. Panels covered with one coat of epoxy primer and panels covered with one coat of epoxy primer over one coat of zinc chromate primer were riveted to control panels covered with two coats of zinc chromate primer. The eight assemblies were exposed to salt spray corrosion tests. Assemblies were removed from the test environment at intervals of 168 hours, until all specimens had been removed. Examination revealed no corrosion on any of the test specimens after exposure to the salt spray environment for periods up to 672 hours. The single epoxy primer coat and the single epoxy primer coat over one coat of zinc chromate primer are considered equal in salt spray corrosion resistance.


Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE

Search DTIC's Public STINET for similar documents.

Members of the public may purchase hardcopy documents from the National Technical Information Service.

Duane Osborne
- Glendale, Arizona
  ^-- this reader rates this thread: winner
June 18, 2008

Thanks, Duane. Non-professionals should not be using zinc chromate primers because of their environmental implications, so I'm glad you found this report that asserts epoxy primer to be the equal of zinc chromate primer.

But the report doesn't really mean anything close to what most readers might assume, because the panels received a pretreatment of Chromate Conversion Coating in accord with Mil-C-5541 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet] before priming. In other words, what McDonnell found out was only that they could leave the chromate out of the primer as long as they had already included it in the pretreatment. That's very different from saying chromate isn't necessary or that epoxy on bare aluminum is satisfactory.

For hobbyists painting an old beater, let's ignore that point. But engineers who are reading this and designing OEM boats and components must be warned that a prime coat of epoxy on bare aluminum is not satisfactory. Thanks again.


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

June 26, 2008

For painting you either need a self etching primer or a acid based cleaner. I buy an acid drain cleaner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], be careful there are two kinds, don't get the one that is a high ph. like Drano. you want the low pH. that is like phosphoric acid or sulphuric, or hydrochloric etc. they are dilute enough that they aren't too dangerous if you use your head. just pour on or wipe it on boat , wait about 3-4 minutes and scrub with a long handled brush then rinse real well. two bottles is enough for a 14' boat, only two bucks, when dry , paint with any paint. I used stuff at walmart, about a buck a can. the idea is to etch the aluminum enough to make paint stick, the self etching primer is a lot more costly, the acid drain cleaner should clean the water line also, just don't use it on paint. and make sure it's acid, not alkaline, if your not sure. remember what the old Drano used to be like,? those shiny metallic things in the can were aluminum, when hit with water the cleaner would eat up the aluminum and would create foam and heat, you don't want that on your boat. just be careful. P.S.. it may make your grass brown for a while too

Charles Roberts
- Easton Pennsylvania

September 10, 2008

Hi...I have a 16 ft Crestliner aluminum boat..the paint is fading these days and has quite a few marks and scratches on it...can I just paint over the existing paint..or do I have to go through the whole process of stripping ?.. Thanks

Keith Zulik
hobbyist - St Catharines, Ontario, Canada

September , 2008

Hi, Keith. Scrape and lightly sand because there is no point putting more paint onto non-adherent paint (they'll just come of together) -- but there is no need to remove adherent paint. Good luck.


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

September 18, 2008

I tested an area with Tremclad paint and it seemed to stick just fine. I did not use a aluminum oxide primer, will it peel later or will this work okay, has anyone tried it before thanks.

Stacy Jonh
- Canada

October 28, 2008

Hi I'm Dave from Sandwich, MA. I have a 16.5 Lund, it's only used in fresh water, but two years ago it was left for two days in a salt water marsh. Now all the aluminum finish looks to be have corrosion. (little white dots all over) It's from the painted surface end down to the keel. Is this going to take anything like an acid wash? I would appreciate any help you may provide.

Dave Tibbetts
hobbyist - Sandwich, Massachusetts

March 13, 2009

Hello to all

I have recently purchased an 18 foot Starcraft aluminum boat and I have stripped the entire thing to bare aluminum. I purchased Alumiprep 33 to clean and prep for a coat of Zinc Chromate primer prior to the top coat. I am wondering is it necessary to do both or is it going to be detrimental to one or the other if I do? I want this boat to last a long time before I have to worry about corrosion or adhesion so in my mind I am going the extra mile!

Ed Neeley
hobbyist - Houston, Texas

March 15, 2009

Hi, Ed. Your approach is technically correct, but consumers should not be using zinc chromate anymore because of its toxicity. Chromates are carcinogenic. You should be using zinc phosphate paints.


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

March 19, 2009

Point well taken Mr. Mooney thanks for the advise! I have several other issues to deal with such as solid aluminum rivets for one. Can you suggest a source for choosing the correct tooling. I am currently using myair chisel [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] with home made tooling and getting decent results but I am striving for perfection! I have many more finishing questions also.

Ed Neeley
- Houston, Texas

March 19, 2009

Sorry, Ed. Finishing is my area of experience and I have no expertise in tooling.


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

March 19, 2009

Somewhat redundant but ... I have a 14.5 ft. 1955 Feathercraft and would like to clean it and apply a protective coat over the bare aluminum. Have read many blogs advising using acid (phosphoric, muriatic, hydrofluoric) still other blogs say never use acid. Others suggest sanding. Have pressure washed and scrubbed with green scouring pads realizing less than desirable results. Suggestions anyone?
Thanks James

James Willson
Boat owner - Covington Louisiana

March 20, 2009

Hi, James. Hydrofluoric acid is too dangerous and muriatic is probably of little value. Phosphoric acid, or more precisely a phosphatizing treatment, is of some value on aluminum. And in these days when chromates really shouldn't be used by consumers, phosphatizing is pretty much the only available pretreatment. Then a zinc phosphate primer. Good luck.


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

March 21, 2009

Thank you Ted for the reply. I appreciate your taking the time. Will follow the advise and post the results.
Thank you - James

James Willson
Boat Owner - Covington, Louisiana

March 21, 2009

I just bought an 18 foot Starcraft aluminum boat.I would like to repaint.Can I paint over
old paint? Or do I have to re-primer?

Bill Miles
part time fisherman - Rome Ohio

March 23, 2009

Hi, Bill. This is a ludicrously long thread, and few would have time to read it all, but it's been mentioned that if the paint has great adhesion, just rough it a bit with Sandpaper [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] and leave it.


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

March 23, 2009

My husband and I have a 1962 17 ft aluminum hull boat that is in desperate need of refinishing. We would like to only paint the top 3 feet and leave the bottom part shiny aluminum. Is there a special process to leaving the aluminum with only a top coat?

Janet Gates
boater - Porter, Texas

April 14, 2009

This thread is amazing given its longevity. Thank you Duane Osborne (and others) for some very helpful information. I have just begun refinishing a 1974 Quachita Jon boat that belonged to my father. I can't bring myself to get rid of it, so I will use Mr. Osborne's technique and restore it.

Also, my hat is off to you, Mr. Mooney. I did take the time to read the entire thread and I admire the way you manage to keep this environment civil with intelligent responses and calm, well thought out correction when the need arises.
Johnny Little
- Memphis, Tennessee

Spray-on Zinc Phosphate?

April 15, 2009

Greetings. Ted... great job here!

I have an old pontoon boat, used on fresh water. I want to use some easily available spray cans to first prime and then paint a glossy black... like I said, using some easy to find spray cans. Are there any that you recommend? The pontoons are 20 years old and pretty weathered/oxidized, but smooth...


Svend Filby
- Sunup, New Hampshire

April 15, 2009

Thanks for you patience, Johnny & Svend, the thread is ridiculously long. Thanks for the kind words, too :-)

Svend, a spray-on zinc phosphate/etchant may allow you to use whatever spray paint you wish on your aluminum pontoons. I haven't actually used it, so I'm not actually recommending it, but it sounds easy and promising =>

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

TSP / Trisodium Phosphate 4.5 lbs

April 22, 2009

trisodium phosphate [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]is used to "etch" aluminum. Just wire brush of any loose paint the clean with T.S.P. (Following instructions. I.E. proper safety, etc...) then paint right away... after it's dry of course.

Paint with regular old "Tremclad Paint" last forever and really looks great. Complete proper aluminum boat paint job for less then $35.00

Adrian Riggs
- Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

April 25, 2009

Hi my name is Bob I have painted cars before 6 or 7 and are familiar with sanding scuffing up the surface before primer coverage. Starting with wire brush then drill with wire wheel,there is a lot of silicone on seams should I replace with special kind of silicone? I heard that using military paint called "camo' would be good to use,apparently
the army changes up colors quite frequently and is easily accessible,going for the camouflage look. My last fiberglass boler trailer I painted three years ago paint seemed to have a dull finish different type of paint Not sure. The boat is pretty old its a Sears SS type but I want to breathe some new life into it. should it be clear coated after wet sanding?

Thanks in Advance

Bob Breaden
Automotive Lab Technician of 35 years - Ontario Canada

Hammerite Rust Cap

June 14, 2009

This is not rocket science but it has worked very well for me.
I have painted several aluminum boats and all I did was sand the surface with 60 grit wash with TSP, and Paint with Hammerite Rust Cap ( Hammered finish) =>

I have brushed, sprayed with an airless, and with conventional spray rig. Brushing seems to be the quickest. The glass beads in the paint seem to be the factor. It is tough as nails will take a lick and not scratch. Best of all after being in the water (fresh) for 5 months it will wash with a soapy rag and look good a new. After 12 years the oldest paint job is beginning to loose some of its shine. I'm not in the business but I am a satisfied customer.

Richard K. Kesselus
- Bastrop, Texas

June 19, 2009

hi fellow boat owners . we use toilet bowl cleaner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] to remove scum from at water lines on fiberglass to wet area first.I use a Scotch Brite pad to rub down area.has worked great for us .spray is easier to control be careful around bottom paints. take care, grandpa. take a kid boating

Gary L Merryman
- Soldotna, Alaska

July 29, 2009

So I have a 16 ft aluminum boat I'm painting After I get it sanded and cleaned off then I put on rustoleum etching primer do I need to put a epoxy primer after the coat of etching primer or can I just paint it

heith provost
amateur - Burlington, Vermont

July 2009

Hi, Heith. I don't see a need for epoxy.


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

August 10, 2009

I am also in the process of stripping and painting an aluminium boat good info on this thread! But let me throw this at you guys. I ran across this paint called Duralux Marine Aluminium Boat Paint, on their web site they say it is vinyl based and you do not need a primer coat! Just wondering what you guys thought of this and does anybody have any experience with this paint?

Neil Roebuck
- Ida , Michigan

October 29, 2009

I began refinishing a Sears,12 ft. fifty year old, v-hull boat about a month ago. Working on the interior I have SLAVED over the perfection I desire. Today was the day. I started to apply paint I purchased at a local Flea Market. Guess I deserve the mucky look I am getting! I stopped after a very small area because it looked horrible. The paint would NOT flow well, and I know nothing about Polyurethane paints! Acrolon 218 HS. It is adhering too well! I want to purchase a REALLY easy paint to apply with a brush. I know nothing of air guns, so I will stick with a brush.
My question...what is the best paint to brush on primer? I asked the fellow at the hardware store, informed him it was for an aluminum boat, and he recommended Ace Primer Rust Stop. I have put a beautiful smooth finish in the interior, and don't want to ruin it.
Please, recommend the best solution with reasonable expense for painting my little project? Maybe just a thinner as the paint is very thick?! This thread has been great!

Dellea Bennett
- Beverly Hills, Florida

December 12, 2009

Epoxy primers are the way to longevity but due to epoxies chalking over time due to exposure to sunlight,top coat with polyurethane; we do this on site with electrostatic equipment designed just for this. no haps 2.8 vocs.

Wayne miller
- liberty Texas

January 7, 2010

Hi I'm trying to refurbish my 14 foot aluminum Jon boat it needs to be repainted and I need to know what steps to take to make sure it doesn't leak so if someone could help me out that would be great. the other thing is when I paint what primer should I use and what paint not asking the color just what kind. I'm trying to get this thing done before summer so I can go out and fish for that monster bass. hopefully someone can help

mik naylor
student - north Carolina

March 3, 2010

You don't need any fancy Marine, or Automotive paint or primer. You can get everything you need at Lowe's or Home Depot. Prep, Prep, Prep, that's the key. Scrape off any loose, peeling paint, sand thoroughly, wipe with tacky rag to remove dust, then prime with a good, exterior, oil base primer, I used Rustoleum on my last one, then paint with Rustoleum exterior enamel. Its tuff as nails. I've done 4 Jons this way, they get regular use, in fact two of my little boats never come out of the water...I paint mine with a Wagner power painter...Under the shade tree in the back yard.

Jeff Holley
- Montgomery, Alabama

March 3, 2010

Thanks, Jeff. Yes, that's probably fine as long as it's fresh water. I lived on a lake for many years before moving to a saltwater lagoon. Fresh water people just don't believe saltwater marine growth until they see it.

It takes well under a week for a boat in salt water to become completely covered with barnacles, with all their drag, and all their potential for painful cuts. So I'll continue to say that for freshwater boats, your regular paint may be fine; but you simply can't get away without marine "bottom paint" on a boat that stays in saltwater. And most bottom paint is copper-based and doesn't go with aluminum boats, so don't leave them in saltwater :-)


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

April 13, 2010

I want to paint my 14' aluminum boat. I've seen the rustoleum aluminum latex primer at Menards. I can't find any information about it. Is it any good?

Bob Gray
1 time boat painter - Maple Grove, Minnesota

April 13, 2010

i do have a question, but even if I didn't, I would post here just to be part of the internet sensation of this thread. haha.

question: I'm getting ready to sand my aluminum boat down (take the shine off) prior to priming it. however, I still have some adhesive left from the decal removal process. will this adhesive come off just fine during sanding or should I go the goo gone route to get rid of the adhesive PRIOR to sanding?


larry graf
- Chicago, Illinois

April 2010

Thanks, Larry. My own limited experience is that adhesive is no match for sandpaper. As you sand it, any stickiness you might think you are creating instantly gets coated with dust, sand, and old paint -- it sands off easy; it just isn't as issue.


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

sidebar May 21, 2010

Dear List;
Ted, you have the patience of Job. After reading four pages of posts, I know think I know how to strip, prime,and paint my alum. boat. What a great thread!
Dave F.

David Freeman
- Rock Springs Wyoming USA

May 25, 2010

Hi, David, thanks for the kind words. I'm not actually especially patient, but as the webmaster I have handy opportunity to reword my older replies if they seem to reflect impatience, which I am happy to do when I realise what a great job I have :-)

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

June 18, 2010

Well after reading this WHOLE thread I've sanded down the whole outside of my 12' v boat. I purchased some rustoleum self etching primer spray paint (zinc phosphate based), but I'm wondering what would be the most cost efficient YET durable paint to apply after I prime it. The boat is never in saltwater and is immediately trailered after use.

Thank you in advance!

Mike Mamouzellos
- Stevensville, Michigan

July 18, 2010

This is so you can better understand Polyurethane paint and its purpose. Note it says... frequently used for boats and marine applications. A couple of the desirable features to this paint on your aluminum boat is,
1. it dries very hard,
2. although it dries hard, it still maintains some flexibility which allows it to also resist scratching and chips ( like your car ), and
3. it is very water and chemical resistant. If you use a high gloss Polyurethane on your aluminum boat you don't have to put a clear coat on it. I still would, but I'm a perfection freak. This is why I stated it's use in my how to paint an aluminum boat post awhile back. Use Galva-lum primer. It has a very excellent adhesion and is compatible with the polyurethane paint.

What is Polyurethane Paint?

By Stevie Donald, eHow Contributing Writer

Polyurethane paint provides a hard, durable gloss for crafts, model making and can be applied to almost any surface. There are several types of polyurethane paints, and several ways to apply them. The size of the project and the expected use will determine the best type of finish and method of application. You can choose from simple spray can to an extremely durable and high gloss two-part polyurethane paint.


Polyurethane paints are the most commonly used for crafts. The finish will be very thick, hard and glossy, much like an automobile finish, They are also frequently used for boats and marine applications.


Polyurethane is a plastic based resin, and is used to manufacture anything from furniture to baby toys. Depending on the formula, it can be rigid to make patio furniture, or liquid for paints and varnishes. In paint, it's available in satin, semi gloss and high gloss finishes. It can be applied to most types of plastic, fiberglass, wood, metal and most fabrics. The most valuable feature of polyurethane paints, apart from a flawless, glossy finish, is resistance to water and chemicals, including gasoline. This makes it ideal for model making. It is high in solids, making it slow to dry, but creating a thick, durable film.


Polyurethane is available as a clear topcoat or in many solid colors. Most hobby shops sell polyurethane paints in spray cans, already mixed and ready to use. For larger projects, a two part finish can be mixed up. This requires some care, because if the finish and the drying catalyst are mixed incorrectly, the resultant finish could bubble and crack with use. For painting fabric, like model airplanes, a more flexible and slightly thinner polyurethane formulated specifically for its flexibility is a good choice. Polyurethane finishes are usually applied with a spray gun or spray can, although some formulas can be brushed. While polyurethane paints are not used for house painting, clear polyurethane finishes are commonly used for woodwork, floors and furniture.


As with most finishes, the best method of application is in several thin coats instead of one or two heavy coats. Since polyurethanes are hard and glossy, they will show every surface imperfection, so starting with a very clean, smooth surface is essential, as is sanding between each coat. Follow label directions for application methods and drying time.


Use adequate ventilation when working with polyurethane paints because the solvent fumes are very strong. If proper ventilation is impractical, use a canister style respirator. Don't rely on a paper or fabric mask because these will not filter the harmful fumes. Never use these paints near exposed flame or furnaces because they are extremely flammable. Wear proper eye protection, and avoid prolonged skin contact.

Read more: What is Polyurethane Paint? |

Duane Osborne
- Glendale, Arizona, U.S.A

August 4, 2010

I recently purchased an older aluminum 12' boat. The previous owner had put tar on the bottom to stop leaks. Not a good idea, but he did it. I worked for months getting the tar off, and then proceeded to sand down the paint and the bottom of the boat to get a smooth clean surface. I then used a power washer to make sure it was clean, with just plain water. I found that Rustoleum paint works very well on aluminum. Several coats of clear rustoleum on the bottom, concentrating on the joints and the boat is done. Paint cost only about $25 for all of it. Hours cleaning, countless. End result, priceless.

Les Kimbrell
- Tallmadge, Ohio, USA

October 31, 2010

Ok, I have read through this thread a many of times. I am still not totally sure on what I should do. I am thinking I will go the soda blasting route to clean and prep the hull, mind you this boat will be used in salt and fresh water and kept on the trailer. What are the next steps? I know I need to clean the hull with some time of cleaning agent like denatured alcohol or somthing. Next do I prime with a self etching primer? How many coats should I apply? Then do I have to lay down another type of primer that will be compatible with my paint? I am assuming then I will apply my topcoat, once again how many coats? Will I have to look into a special type of paint if I am going to be using this in saltwater? Such as a bottom paint? Thanks.

Zack Myers
- Langley AFB Virginia

October 31, 2010

You have the patience of a saint, Zack, if you've read the whole thread a couple of times :-)

After cleaning, it's a good idea to do something for adhesion. A self etching primer, or Alodine, or zinc chromate, or zinc phosphate, or epoxy. It remains confusing because there is more than one way to skin a cat but people will always tend to think that their way is the best way. Contrariwise, I don't think any of these suggestions is wrong. The Alodine or zinc chromate can be a toxic or environmental issue, so you might take one of the other suggestions. You do not need bottom paint if you take the boat out of the water everyday -- and bottom paint is problematic for aluminum boats anyway; it's almost all copper based, and the copper would cause galvanic corrosion of the aluminum hull.


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

November 6, 2010

we have a well loved, old aluminum fishing boat on our school playground. a kid favorite play place. we need to find a way to keep it cool to the touch during summer days so our licensing agency will approve it remaining on the playground. many future fishermen and ladies are getting ready for the real thing as they play. We would hate to have to get rid of it. We have glued stair treads to the seats and the bow of the boat but have no idea of how to handle the side rails as kids climb in and out. a canopy above it would be a safety hazard as it would invite climbing and hanging from the supports. Any over night cover would be stolen before the next day.

any ideas on how to solve this situation? any paint we could use?

Angela Cook
- Fairview, Pennsylvania, USA

November 6, 2010

Hi, Angela. The whiter the top coat of paint, the cooler it will be. Incorporating sand into the paint will help reduce slipping while also helping with heat dissipation. Alternately, heat reflecting white paints are more expensive but use tiny ceramic spheres in the white paint to increase the reflectivity further.


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

February 17, 2011

About 20 years ago I decided to paint my bare metal Alumacraft Boat in olive drab camo. I cleaned the boat dish detergent, scrubbed the surface with steel wool, rinsed with water and for the final step I rinsed the entire boat with a 50/50 white vinigar and water bath. After drying in the sun a couple of days I spay painted with an HVLP sprayer and it looks as good today as when I first did it. No flaking or chipping and this boat is in the water at least 30 days a year. Has anyone else tried this method?

Dean Calvert
Hobbyist - Faribault, Minnesota, USA

July 12, 2011

I have had above acceptable results on 3 aluminum boats which I repaired and put back into service. My objective was a solid, underlying primer base that the topcoats would adhere to (one's an enamel and the next two were a 2-part polyurethane) and I did it outside under less than ideal conditions (stuff in air and full to partial sun).

Like most everything, success is related to following procedure and in my opinion, the primer was critical.

1. sand to rough surface to help the primer have some "bite".

2. eliminate oxidization by etching surface. I looked at many products from aerospace to auto and what I used is a phosphoric acid sold in hardware department. I poured it in a bucket and used a long handled scrub brush.

I was doing this in the full sun which heated the aluminum up and I think it enhanced the results (also dried up the acid wash in some places and had to go over them). I rinsed it out and the result was a bright shiny clean aluminum surface.

3. remove all oils and grease films.
I used real trisodium phosphate [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] which beats a TSP substitute any day. I am eco friendly, but this is an important stage. scrub and rinse.

4 dry surface. The sun accomplished that for me while I mixed up a self-etching 2-part automotive primer (only the amount you need).

5. when it became more shady, I blew the primer. first I did the odd shape surfaces and then came back and blew the flat ones. By the time I finished, the beginning side had flashed so I blew on another coat (3 coats, none of which were "heavy")

6. let it cure for several days and then run your had over it and lightly sand the "foreign" material smooth (I had a few mosquitoes, bugs and other organic matter).

7. prep primer for whatever topcoat you want.

Actually, it sounds like more work than what it was. The light sanding with 80 grit took the longest and it was a quick sanding job.

hope it helps you.

Roger Davis
- Decatur, Georgia

September 2, 2011

Wow, such a long thread, but interesting. More interesting to me is the low number of respondents who have discovered the fastest and most effective way of stripping the old coatings (paint, boat stripes, bottom paint or tar) from their aluminium boat. In my view the only way to go is to SODA BLAST it. This process is eco-friendly, produces no heat, so there is no warping; is non-abrasive so there is no scratching or pitting of the surfaces. After blasting, a simple wash down with water (warm is best) and you are ready to apply whatever etching primer you believe you should use. I have just done a 7.7 meter vessel and it took just 4 hours to strip the outside of the hull and the outside and inside of the cabin. I attach a photo to show you.


Just Google "Soda Blasting" and see who is offering the service for your area. It is amazing - try it.

Grant Drummond
- Auckland, New Zealand

September 23, 2011

My nephew has a 10 ft aluminum john boat that he uses mostly in saltwater. It currently has a cheap looking camo finish. He wants to do a new camo finish. What's the best process?

Frank Oliverio
restorer - Vero Beach, Florida

February 18, 2012

Q. I'm buying a new Starcraft boat for Lake Erie. It will be in the water for a month at a time. Do I need to paint the bottom? Thanks, Dan.

Dan Letz
- Akron, Ohio

Interlux Interprotect Epoxy

Interlux Brightside Polyurethane

March 16, 2012

I am planning to renovate a 1962 Aluminum 14' V Hull Boat (for fresh water) and want to be cost conscious but also want the job to last.

I have read through many forums and product websites. To one of your earlier points "many ways to skin a cat",,, aka paint a boat...

For my Wildcat: (after degreasing, sanding away any loose particulates and washing with a phosphoric cleaner) I plan to apply (roll & dip) a two part epoxy primer "InterProtect 2000E White" =>

directly to the aluminum above & below the water line as well as on the interior aluminum surfaces. I also plan to use a one part polyurethane "Interlux Brightside" =>

for the exterior above the water line.

Questions: (Related to the Finish Quality & Durability)
1. Do you see any issues applying the 2000e directly to the aluminum as the primer vs. over the zinc chromates or phosphates as some suggest?
2. Do you see any issues leaving the 2000e as the exterior coat for the interior? I am thinking it would be durable and being white the gloss should be low enough to keep the glare down.
3. The boat is riveted and does not leak. Would applying a waterproof epoxy sealer Gluvit [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] be a waste of money considering it currently does not leak and will be applying the 2000E inside and out?


Bill Dean
- Lexington, Kentucky USA

March 20, 2012

Hi, Bill.

We try not to comment on individual brands like Interlux or Gluvit -- for one thing, it inspires shills to attempt to post with fictitious names and claim that "Brand X is superlative and Brand Y is worthless" :-)

The one-part polyurethane doesn't sound like it should be used on bare aluminum, but sounds fine on top of a two-part epoxy primer of any brand. I agree that two-part epoxy on both sides of non-leaking rivets sounds like plenty.


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

March 16, 2012

I am planning to renovate a 1962 Aluminum 14' V Hull Boat (for fresh water) and want to be cost conscious but also want the job to last.

I have read through many forums and product websites. To one of your earlier points "many ways to skin a cat",,, aka paint a boat...

For my Wildcat: (after degreasing, sanding away any loose particulates and washing with a phosphoric cleaner)I plan to apply (roll & tip) a two part epoxy primer "InterProtect 2000E White" directly to the aluminum above & below the water line as well as on the interior aluminum surfaces. I also plan to use a one part polyurethane "Interlux Brightside" for the exterior above the water line.

Questions: (Related to the Finish Quality & Durability)
1. Do you see any issues applying the 2000e directly to the aluminum as the primer vs. over the zinc chromates or phosphates as some suggest?
2. Do you see any issues leaving the 2000e as the exterior coat for the interior? I am thinking it would be durable and being white the gloss should be low enough to keep the glare down.
3. The boat is riveted and does not leak. Would applying a waterproof epoxy sealer "Gluvit" be a waste of money considering it currently does not leak and will be applying the 2000E inside and out?


Bill Dean
- Lexington, Kentucky, USA

April 25, 2012

Q. I'm in the process of wet sanding between each coat of polyurethane paint. After I wet sand I get a haze. Do I need to remove the haze before my next coat. If I do what should I use to get rid of it.

Matthew Dewyea
- Coeur d'alene Idaho

July 26, 2012

Q. Hi,

I am very new to tin boating and wanted to know what the process is for bedlining my aluminum 12' flat bottom jon boat. I recently just found out that I may need to primer the boat prior to applying the bedliner. So far I have almost completely sanded down the entire boat. I apparently have a bad case of OCD so sanding every square inch hasn't been a problem for me. :) I'm thinking about the Rustoleum product. I know the grittiness of the bedliner will create resistance on the boat while in motion but, like another poster said in another forum, "it's a jon boat, not a speed boat." I will be happy with it. Any suggestions, ideas, thoughts?

Nino Barone
- Kissimmee, Florida, Osceola

Ed. note: You're not alone, Nino. Anyone who makes it through 4 long pages of this and sees your question must also have some form of OCD as well. But we thank our readers anyway!

August 18, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

I wish to put anti-fouling paint on my 12 foot aluminum unpainted skiff used and kept in salt water. Please advise what primer to put on. I wish to be as cheap as practical. Thanks in advance.

- MIAMI, Florida USA

July 21, 2015

I just refinished a 12' aluminum Jon boat. I simply removed the paint with a grinder, washed the bare aluminum with water and repainted with Duralux Aluminum boat paint. I applied the boat paint with a small foam roller and the results were very good. I purchased the Duralux boat paint for $ 75 US dollars. I applied two coats to the inside and outside of the 12' boat and still have about a pint of the paint left over for any paint touch-ups. The Duralux paint is durable, looks good and does not require priming. The manufacturer claims that the paint can be applied over existing paint but I chose to remove the old paint first. It's a good product and requires no special tools to apply.

Jeff Jones
- Statesboro, Georgia USA

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