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Aluminum Boat Painting


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Hey Guys,

I am thinking about giving my girl a fresh coat of paint and a new look. My questions are as follows:

1. What tools are an absolute necessity when resurfacing and repainting aluminum?

2. Would it be very difficult for a person who has never painted a boat?

3. Is it too expensive to justify painting an older boat?

4. How expensive is it? (boat is 18 ft)

5. Is the boat actually painted sitting on the trailer bunks? (I assume yes)

6 How long would the project take? (I would be motivated to move quickly)


Here she is (she is little more beat than the pic indicates)

Thanks in advance guys!

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Years ago I had my 16' aluminum boat repainted (mid 90's).

I stripped off all old paint first and then had a cousin (who does car painting on the side) do the painting for me. I did all floor replacement and flotation foam work myself before the painting.

Bare aluminum has to be etched first, using a chemical etcher. If your boat paint is in fair shape, you might bypass stripping/etching and just paint over the old paint. He spray painted my boat with Emron Automotive paint which is very hard and held up exceptionally well. Traded that boat in in 2006. About 15 years ago the paint ran around $200 gal (needed 2). Don't remember the cost for etcher.

From your photo, assume the boat could be painted on the trailer, but what about the bottom (hull)? I'd paint the whole thing or nothing. I don't think this is a DIY project unless you have spray painting equipment and experience with it. You'll need to repair any scratches or dents first, and fix any leaking rivets before painting. Could you do this properly?

Good luck

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Well after some research it does not seem like the prep is overly terrible and with a power sander I feel prep would not be that bad. Throw in the roll tip method and I think this is pretty doable for not too much time and money. Am I wrong? I keep reading conflicting reports all over the internet. It seems like 50% think that this comes out great at the DIY level and 50% feel this should be done by a professional. Maybe I am being to positive and naive.

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used to work at Xpress Boat Co. in Hot Springs AR. all repainting was done leaving the original paint on the boat. after removing decals, boat numbers, ect or protecting them in some way, DA the boat with some fine sandpaper first. be sure to clean with solvent, tack rags, or what ever you have. i say go for it. as for the bottom, if you want to refinish it, the boat should be derigged so it can be turned over and put on "horses". big job, but can be done at home. good luck.

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If you intend to strip and repaint the bottom. You may want your first layer to be "gluvit" which is a sealant that will penetrate into the seams and around the rivets. It will stop any small leakage.

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I bought an old 14' aluminium row boat 2 summers ago and it was in terrible shape. I needed a bass boat pretty bad and was only 20k short of buying a new one! Lmao anyway, the previous owner/owners had a leaky seam in the bottom. Marine epoxy and some tlc would have fixed Tue problem, but laziness made it even worse. They covered the bottom of it in aluminum roofing tar, and then put rhino liner on top of that. BAD MOVE. The tar doesn't harden, only when it gets cold, so it turned into a sludge on the bottom, so I had to put a ton of work into it...... It took 2 weeks of running a heat gun on it, dumping laquor thinner on it, then scraping off the tar and rhino liner. Once I got it all off I sand blasted the outside, then marine epoxied the leaky seams, primer, 3 coats of car paint and the boat looked new! I ended up putting floors into it, put a 75lb trust trolling motor on the front, BTW its overkill, but deff makes up for lacking not having a "real boat"!

By all means it wasn't easy. I put a lot of time into that. The stripping part was the hardest.... But if your boat is just paint, piece of cake! cost me about $150 for the paint and the tools to remove the old nasty stuff.







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I was in a similar situation last fall. I re-painted an older 18' aluminum Starcraft. I started by stripping down the entire boat and removing all components so that the boat could be flipped over for painting. Stripped off all of the original paint with paint stripper and then finished cleaning it up with 120 grit sandpaper on a RA palm sander down to the raw aluminum. Just before (within a couple hours) the first coat of primer the entire surface was sanded lightly with 60 grit on the palm sander.The new primers and paint were an Interlux brand system consisting of an etching primer (1 coat), a high build sandable primer (2-3 coats) and their Perfection top coat (2-3 coats) with sanding to 320 grit in between coats. This was all applied using the roll and tip method with small foam rollers and a good badger hair brush. Considering this was all new to me before starting the results are outstanding. Amazing actually. Very high gloss, smooth finish. you would not believe that it was rolled and brushed on! None of the work was technically hard, just a lot of man hours.....anyone can do it. I probably have close to $1000 invested in materials between primers, paint, thinners, brushes, rollers, etc. Hope this helps....I will try to get some pics posted so you can see.

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