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topic 10712

Painting an aluminum boat


Q. I'm currently building an aluminum boat and I would like to paint this boat once it is complete. I've talked to a few different people about the method used to paint aluminum but I don't quite know what the correct method would be for painting aluminum?

I would appreciate any help that you may provide.

Gregory P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Lafitte, Louisiana

similarly 2002

Q. Hi,

I saw your post on painting an aluminum boat. I could not find an answer. Could you share any responses you got. I have a Gregor aluminum v-hull and I want to paint it brown for freshwater duck hunting. Any info would be appreciated.


M Millen
- Los Gatos, California

Primer for Aluminum

Trolling Motor

A. If you want to paint an aluminum boat you first have to use a aluminum oxide primer. Make sure the boat is totally clean before priming (lightly sand the boat) then use a tack cloth [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and rub the boat down. Then prime it with the aluminum oxide primer.

After that dries, you can paint it with whatever you like.I have done 4 boats this way...they turned out great!

Hope this helps,


james marshall
James Marshall
- hot springs, Arkansas

sidebar May 16, 2007

We thank Marshall for this information -- but please note that he is suggesting a primer designed for aluminum oxide (oxidized aluminum) surfaces -- not a primer comprised of aluminum oxide. You will see the confusion running through this thread until the entry for May 15, 2007 which clarifies what James is speaking of. Sorry.

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

How to Paint Your Boat
from Abe Books



Q. Good advise. How did you apply the oxide primer? Wagner Sprayer [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]? I am a novice at this, so be real basic please. Thanks! I just bought an aluminum jon boat that needs a good paint job to bring some life to it...

Paul [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Gilbert, Arizona


Q. I am getting ready to paint my 12 ft aluminum boat and I understand that I need to use a Self-Etching Primer [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] but my question is do I need to get all of the old paint off or just get off what I can and use the primer over the bare metal as well as the sanded down old paint. Sanding all of the paint off is a hell of a job. Any suggestions.

Christopher L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
hobbyist - Tamarac, Florida

A. You want to remove any non-adherent paint (because it does no good for your fresh paint to stick to non-adherent paint), and you want to scuff the surface of the remaining paint, Christopher. But there is little benefit in sanding away adherent factory paint. (Readers please note that this advise is for the owner of a 12-foot aluminum boat, not for a boat manufacturer).

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



I recently also started work on my 1966 12' Aluminum Speed Master and had to strip down about 8-10 coats of paint. Try using Klean Strip KS-3 [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] . The BEST! about $15 or so for a large amount. I had to go through soooo many coats, both in and out, that I went through 1 and 1/4 cans. Which isn't bad, seeing that the one at some boat store I bought cost double, and was not as tough as this stuff is.. I guess I will ask around about this aluminum oxide primer, and see if I can get the low down, since it seems that we are all in the same place and are getting ready to paint soon. Try the Stripper. I guarantee it!

Mario G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Torrance, California


My recollection is that KS-3 is a methylene chloride based stripper. Check the contents and, if so, note that methylene chloride is highly toxic and you must be careful to wear goggles [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and Protective Gloves [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and only work outside with good ventilation.

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

2004 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Dear sirs ,

I am the proud owner of a 12 ft V-Hull aluminum boat. Great little boat but in dire need of being spruced up. My problem is that I would like to paint and I'm not sure what steps I need to follow nor which products I should use.

Kindly let me know what you would suggest in layman's terms .

Thank You, Very Much Appreciated,

Lourdes G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Hobbyist - Lake Worth, Florida


Q. I just got a 14 ft aluminum Jon boat and I want to paint it but I need to know where to find some aluminum oxide primer. got any suggestions?

Billy J [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
fishing guide - Celina, Texas

Ed. note: See the entry of May 15, 2007, Billy. You are looking for a primer designed for aluminum oxide surfaces, i.e., aluminum boats, not a primer based on aluminum oxide chemistry.


Q. Can anybody help with information re process and materials to be utilized in painting and protecting of new aluminium 5.6 m recreational vessel.

Many thanks,

Mike W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
retired surveyor - Perth, Western Australia, Australia

A. Hi, Mike. As we get towards bigger boats & newer boats, more professional approaches are required. These include cleaning with Alumiprep 33 and chromate conversion coating with Alodine 1201 [linked by editor to product info on Amazon] before painting. These are hazardous materials (expensive to ship), and care must be used to avoid environmental damage.


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

"Boatbuilding with Aluminum: A Complete Guide for the Amateur and Small Shop"
by Stephen F. Pollard

from Abe Books
info on Amazon

DVD: Brushing Awlgrip

Awlgrip products


Q. I have a old V hull aluminum boat that I want to refinish with my son, I have all the old paint off and am ready to do all the patching that will be needed to make the hull water tight. What is the best product to seal the hull? Glass.......or what.


Eric W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Father & Son - Jax, Florida


A. To paint Aluminum is labor intensive. The environmental effects of zinc chromate (aluminum primer) is deadly to the human body.

We use Aluma-wash then Alumiprep 33 before the primer is applied. Awl-Grip is the preferred color paint involving a two part process that is expensive. All Aluminum starts corroding (rusting) once it hits the air while some have anodizing applied but if scratched or welded the erosion continues. Our boats range from 40 to 200 feet and few paint jobs last more than ten years.

In Ft.Lauderdale, a private tug named Hero still operates for over 30 years without any paint. She is all aluminum with an air-cooled diesel and no thru-hulls. Her entire hull covering exists of a wax coating on the inside and outside. Zero problems and no maintenance after the initial coat.

steven m [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Ft .Laud. Florida


Can I use Awl-Grip to paint an aluminum jon boat? If so, does all of the old paint need to be removed or just sanded? Also, do I need to prime when using awl grip? Thank you for any help!

Greg E [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Hobby - Dania Beach, Florida


Q. I was fishing in Oregon last year near the Pacific Ocean where I met a mobile boat cleaning service. The owner sprayed a chemical compound on my aluminum boat, brushed it and washed it off leaving the boat looking like new. What type of compounds would he have used?

Blaine H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Fisherman - Windsor, California

A. Hi, Blaine. This acid wash probably contained hydrofluoric acid. You'll see the same stuff used in some commercial truck washes for aluminum tankers. Hydrofluoric acid is really dangerous stuff -- leave it to somebody else!


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


We live in Phoenix Az. and want to go boating during hot summer months.We cannot touch the interior so we want to paint the interior white. This boat has never been in the water and is brand new. what kind of paint and where I can purchase the paint? Thank You.
ps. The boat color is olive drab and not a smooth finish.

Richard P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
hobbyist - Phoenix, Arizona


Q. What is the fastest and easiest method to remove a water line from an aluminum boat hull? I have a new boat and recently put it into a lake for four days. When pulled it already had a "scum line" that I would like to remove as easily and quickly as possible. What are product choices that are effective for removal of the line? I would then like to coat the hull with some type of product/protectant that will keep scum lines from reoccurring.

I do not want to use an acid wash at this stage since the line is on a relatively new surface. My mission is to accomplish this feat as fast and easy as possible.

Dwayne R [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
fishing enthusiast - Oroville, California


A. In response to Dwayne with the "scum line". I recently owned a 14 ft. semi V aluminum boat and when I got it, it looked terrible. It had been used in a local river that is nasty. The scum ring on the boat was three layered and terrible. I tried many things even a power drill and attachment. I finally decided to try 0000 steel wool [linked by editor to product info at Rockler]. not the kind that is course but in the wood working business we call it angel hair. It took off all the rings with less effort and more quickly than all the other attempts combined. You could probably try Brillo pads also. NOTE: My boat did not have decals. Always use these with a bucket of water to keep the surface wet. You may have to rinse every foot and a half to prevent drying.

Jason W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Tupelo, Mississippi


I am still not sure if you absolutely have to remove the old paint on the boat before you paint again but I do know the process after that. You should use a self etching primer first. One coat is enough. It is available anywhere automotive paint is. It has a catalyst so be sure to purchase it too. Next 2 coats of epoxy primer are needed. This is also a 2 part primer. Finally you can use any automotive paint to paint your boat once you have went through those steps. Be sure once you sand your boat to prep for painting you use a lacquer thinner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] to remove any grease etc., wipe it on and then wipe it off wet. Also you should use a tack cloth after that to insure all dust removed. Then just follow the primer and paint steps above. A previously painted boat....dunno if you need to completely remove the old paint though.

Justin R [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Dyersburg, Tennessee

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