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Painting marine vehicles

From the Resene Paint Experts Q&A

Do you have a question about how to paint marine vehicles? Browse through this painting Q&A for help with your own projects.

Always make sure you read the product label and data sheet prior to application. If in doubt about any aspect of your project, please ask our Paint Expert for help or come in and see our staff at your local Resene ColorShop or Reseller.



Q. I have a wood epoxy boat that I am painting. I like using waterborne paints for their ease of application, clean up and exceptional UV resistance. I know that some people have used these successfully on a boat. What are the pros or cons over using these compared to a marine enamel, for an application that will be above the waterline, and the boat will not be in the water longer than a day, ever?

A. You could use Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss or Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel or opt for a marine paint such as the Altex range.

For a moored boat with the exterior exposed to the UV and the salt spray, a marine paint from Altex is recommended.

May 2023

Q. I am building a new boat shed with plywood floor. I don't want to paint it but can you recommend a sealer that would be hard-wearing?

A. Our most suitable product is Resene Qristal ClearFloor 1K. It is a waterborne satin finish varnish for flooring. However, it is not guaranteed against hot car/trailer tires driving over it, so if you are using a trailer best to let the tyres cool down before moving into the shed.

Please note that this product can be coloured with Resene Colorwood Enhance as well as a clear finish if this is something you'd be interested in.

Otherwise, we do have water-based stain called Resene Colorwood that is fully penetrating and can be used before the clear coats.

March 2023

Q. What paint should I use on a fibreglass kayak?

A. Based on the assumption that the kayak shell is the original factory finish, scrub down using Resene Paint Prep and Housewash diluted and used to label instructions. Do not allow the wash solution to dry out on the surface (this includes window glass and joinery). Rinse clean or hose down with copious amounts of fresh water ensuring all wash solution and surface chalk residues are removed.

Using 200 grit wet and dry sandpaper, wet sand to profile and wipe clean (avoid scratching). Then apply a full coat of Resene Armourcote 221 and finish with two coats of Resene Uracryl 403 and a coat of Resene Uracryl 403 UVS Clear over the Resene Uracryl basecoat colour. Resene Uracryl 403 can be substituted with Resene Uracryl 402 or Resene Uracryl 404 if a reduced gloss level finish is required.

January 2023

Q. We are building a boat shed and want to seal/varnish the plywood floor to protect it while the shed is built, it will get wet from rain and dew. I was planning on using a water cured varnish which I see you have but also wondered about sealing the ply first.

A. We recommend applying Resene Polythane direct to the plywood as a ‘sealer’.

July 2021

Q. What would be the best interior coating system that you have for a live aboard boat? I was looking at the Resene Uracryl range due to a recommendation due to its moisture resistant properties. It is a wooden boat so would need some element of flexibility. Would there need to be any sort of primer used?

A. Resene Uracryl cannot be applied to a substrate without priming first. In the case of timber we use Resene Quick Dry as the primer and leave the Resene Quick Dry to cure for at least 48 hours with good ventilation before topcoating with Resene Uracryl 400 Series topcoat (two coats). You must ensure good ventilation for application and curing of the Resene Uracryl topcoats, particularly when using in a poorly ventilated space.

July 2021

Q. I have a marine hatch on my boat that has a 10mm thick acrylic top. This is held into the aluminium frame with polyurethane sealant. I require a paint barrier to prevent UV rays penetrating the acrylic and breaking down the sealant. I wish to paint a 25mm border with black paint onto the acrylic sheet. What would you suggest for good adhesion to the acrylic sheet and good UV and weathering properties.

A. Our exterior waterborne top coats have excellent adhesion to acrylic sheeting. You could use two coats of Resene Sonyx 101. There is a cool black version of the topcoat colour. Apply a basecoat of Resene Sonyx 101 White then the two coats of CoolColour Black topcoat. Application of a Resene CoolColour system will reflect more heat than the same colour made using non-cool pigmentation and reduce heat related stress on the substrate; it will not make the painted surface cool to touch.

June 2021

Q. I have a new boatshed clad in Shadowclad plywood. Can you please advise the best stain to use that is suitable for marine environment?

A. Compared to a solid paint finish, stains are considered to be a high maintenance option.

If you are considering applying a dark stain colour, then Resene Waterborne Woodsman CoolColour is the best recommendation. Pre-staining, scrub down using Resene Paint Prep and Housewash diluted and used to label directions. Clean or hose down with fresh water ensuring all salts are also removed.

April 2021

Q. I believe you have developed a product for painting vinyl inflatable dinghies.

A. Yes, it is HyperShield available from Resene Automotive and Light Industrial.

March 2021

Q. I have a boat that has a number of brass skin fittings that the black gloss paint has chipped off. I have cleaned them up to a clean brass finish. What do I need to do to them now before I repaint them and what products do I require? These are all 200mm above the waterline.

A. Apply a prime coat of Resene Vinyl Etch before topcoating with a two pack polyurethane such as Resene Uracryl 403.

February 2021

Q. I am one of the few that still make canoes covered with canvas (now made from synthetic fibres). Paints these days seem to be made porous so that what is covered can breathe. Water seeps into my canoes because of this to an unwelcome extent.

Would you please let me know if you make a paint that would provide a watertight covering to a fabric canoe covering?

A. Resene Automotive and Light Industrial have two products that you could possibly investigate. RALI Hypershield would be a good place to start (but also Marineshield for yacht sails which has added plasticiser).

November 2020

Q. My boat trailer has superficial rust spots coming through. It was painted over 20 years ago but I don't know what with. I was thinking of painting it with Resene Alumastic by brush but am concerned that the data sheet says application should be by airless spray. Is this the best product to use for a boat trailer?

A. Prep is the key to achieving a successful paint system.

Scrub down using Resene Paint Prep and Housewash diluted and used to label instructions. Thoroughly scrub the surface with a stiff nylon broom to ensure complete removal of all grease, moss and mould residue, and any other contaminants, then rinse with copious amounts of fresh water or high pressure water blast ensuring all loose paint and salts are also removed.

Remove all areas of white corrosion material and as much red rust as is practicable and all paint that is flaking or unsound must be removed by using mechanical methods, (3M Rust and Paint Removal Disc) to leave only tightly adherent corrosion products taking care not to damage either the substrate or the surrounding areas.

Resene Alumastic can be brushed but the product is high solids so not as easy to brush as a low build product. Airless spray is recommended to achieve the dry film thickness, when brushing the applied wet film thickness is reduced. Suggest that at least three coats of Resene Alumastic will be required for brush application. Resene Alumastic is a barrier coating so DFT is essential for application, we have found that the anti-corrosive properties of the Resene Alumastic system can be improved by application of a coat of Resene Armourcote 221 after prepping.

September 2020

Q. I have new marine ply in the galley on my yacht. Do Resene have paint suitable for this indoor application? Preferably a single pack. Ideally it would be a gloss or semi-gloss finish.

A. Sand the ply surface if it has been sealed with an epoxy sealer. Apply two coats of Resene Quick Dry and then finish with two coats of Resene Lustacryl Kitchen & Bathroom or a solventborne topcoat, Resene Lusta-Glo or Super Gloss Enamel.

We do have a waterborne enamel gloss, Resene Enamacryl but the gloss level is not as high as Super Gloss and it is not available in a kitchen and bathroom version.

June 2020

Q. I am building a 12m catamaran and considering using Resene Uracryl 402 urethane acrylic for the interior finish. What do you recommend?

A. Apply a prime coat of Resene Armourcote 221 to the sanded epoxy base system then apply the two coats of Resene Uracryl.

April 2020

Q. Can you please recommend a primer and paint system for painting a plywood dinghy?

A. Apply two coats of Resene Armourcote 221 and finish with two coats of Resene Uracryl 403.

April 2020

Q. I am looking at painting my boat trailer with Resene Alumastic. Would it be okay to use water based rust converter first? That is unless you have a better product to paint the trailer with. 

A. If any areas of moss or mould infestation exist, then treat them with Resene Moss & Mould Killer diluted and used to label directions. For heavy infestations more applications may be needed.

Scrub down using  Resene Paint Prep and Housewash diluted and used to label directions. Rinse clean or hose down with fresh water, ensuring all salts are also removed.     

All paint that is flaking or unsound must be removed by using mechanical methods, (3M Rust and Paint Removal Disc), chemical stripper or high pressure waterblasting, taking care not to damage either the substrate or the surrounding areas. 

Remove all areas of white corrosion material and as much red rust as is practicable and all paint that is flaking or unsound must be removed by using mechanical methods e.g. 3M Rust and Paint Removal Disc, taking care not to damage either the substrate or the surrounding areas.

Where under-film corrosion is taking place, the existing paint must first be removed as above and remove under film corrosion products taking care not to damage sound zinc coated areas. All paint edges must be feathered to a smooth finish. 

Note: The performance of the subsequent paint systems will be largely dependent on the thoroughness of this surface preparation stage.

Ensure all edges of damaged paint are sound and immediately spot prime all areas of corrosion and any other bare metal with a full coat of the specified primer.

We do not recommend using rust converters, but you should prime areas of prepared corrosion using a coat of Resene Armourcote 221 before applying the Resene Alumastic. Resene Alumastic is a barrier coating and must be applied to achieve the dry film thickness on the data sheet. I would suggest that you apply a full coat of Resene Armourcote 221 as a priming system.

October 2019

Q. Is one of your anti-graffiti paints suitable for a sheen coat on a small fibreglass boat?  The boat is coated in two pack brushing polyurethane and it seems to lose its gloss a little too much (above waterline). I thought a clear gloss of your anti-graffiti might be good?

A. Degrease using Resene Heavy Duty Paint Prep and Oil Remover diluted and used to label instructions. Thoroughly sand to profile for recoating then apply two coats of pigmented Resene Uracryl 403 and finish with a full coat of Resene Uracryl 403 UVS Clear.

June 2019

Q. Which two pot aqua system is best for an old fibreglass trailer boat which is sanded, plus which undercoat please?

A. We recommend Resene Armourcote 821 and Resene Waterborne Uracryl 803.

November 2018

Q. I want to oil a bare cedar boat mast. If I apply Resene Woodsman acrylic oil stain will it give any protection or does it just make it look good? What would be your recommendation? I would rather not varnish it if it can be avoided.

A. I would suggest you use Resene Woodsman Wood Oil for this application, as it gives a more stained look than the waterborne version. Both versions are high maintenance requiring regular coating to maintain the system. The stain also gives protection against bio growth and UV degradation of the substrate.

November 2018

Q. I need to repaint my boat and was told by the previous owner he used a Resene two component product. I have sanded the surface and tested with thinners and the paint does not come off onto the cloth.

The paint system can only be applied with a roller and tipping off with a brush. It must have excellent flow properties to produce a smooth high gloss finish.

Which of your paint systems would be suitable?

A. The only possible Resene paint that would fit this use would be Resene Uracryl 403.

November 2018

Q. Would Resene Armourcote 512 be suitable for refinishing a polyester epoxy, kayak hull and deck?

A. The answer is a definite no - our suggestion is after thoroughly degreasing and a sand of the surface, apply a full coat of Resene Armourcote 221 and finish with two coats of Resene Uracryl 403.

November 2017

Q. I'm restoring a 7m DMW boat trailer, it was fully galvanised, most of it is still in good condition and I can't justify the full blast and re-galvanise job. There are some areas in the centre lowest points that have rust etc. I've cleaned it all back (just mechanically) at this stage. Can you recommend a paint system of yours that I could recoat with?

I was thinking of a two-pot base primer, even epoxy based. I want it to last as long as possible and be durable.

A. Wash down with Resene Roof and Metal Wash to remove salt, then spot prime bare prepared areas of corrosion with a good wet coat of Resene ArmourZinc 120. Then apply two coats of Resene Armourcote 221 and finish with two coats of Resene Alumastic. This system will give the best chance of reducing the rate of corrosion, but we can’t say for how long.

July 2017

Q. I would like some help to specify the paint finish for a dark colour to a boat shed over the water in the Marlborough Sounds. The paint finish is over H3.1, pine weatherboard at this stage. It is in a fairly tough environment, plus the Council requires dark colours preferably.

A. We recommend a primer coat of Resene Wood Primer. Then undercoat using Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat. Finish with two topcoats of Resene Sonyx 101 CoolColour™. Note CoolColours will not render the surface cool to touch, but the CoolColour version will reflect more heat than the same colour made as a non-CoolColour.

June 2017

Q. If I use a Resene water-based primer under a Resene two pack epoxy topcoat on a small boat, which I have been told by Resene is compatible; would this significantly reduce the durability of the 2 pack epoxy top coat?

A. As a general rule we recommend 2K primer, 2K topcoat. As long as the 1K primer is compatible with the 2K overcoat there should be no impact upon the durability of the topcoat.

May 2017

Q. We need to coat a new boat shed build, made with battens and board plywood. We hope to paint to minimise maintenance, using a gloss with a black/blue such as Resene Bastille or Resene Double Cod Grey. What undercoat product should we use, and should it be tinted to match, if so with what tint?

A. There will be surface checking of the ply, painted or unpainted (dark paint colours will highlight this). The best system would be to prime using two coats Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat then apply two coats of Resene Sonyx 101 tinted to your colour (CoolColour™ formulation) and finish with a full coat of Resene Clearcoat UVS.

April 2017

Q. I have built a small timber and fibreglass cloth 14 foot punt that will be stored out of the water. Can I use Resene Armourcote 210 high build primer followed by Resene acrylic topcoats?

A. Best system would be coat of Resene Armourcote 220 epoxy primer and two coats of Resene Uracryl 403.

December 2016

Q. Can a Resene solventborne paint be used on a boat?

A. Resene solventborne paints have been used for this quite a lot. There isn’t really much difference between a solventborne marine enamel and a solventborne house enamel. As long as you use a gloss and it’s above the waterline then it’s fine to use a Resene solventborne enamel.

November 2016

Q. Do you supply paint that works on plastics? We want to paint a kayak.

A. It depends upon the plastic. Resene waterborne paints will adhere to uPVCc but not polyethylene or polypropylene.

January 2016

Q. We have an old fibreglass runabout boat and I would like to freshen up the inside - floor/sides (it is mainly for aesthetic reasons because my husband thinks it is fine the way it is!). I want a single pot paint, and I want to brush it on (and I don't want to do heaps of preparation!) It needs to be fairly durable as it is walked on and hosed down frequently. I would prefer a paint that I could tint, or something in light grey. Which paint would you recommend?

A. The best option for a single pack system would be a primer coat of Resene Quick Dry primer undercoat followed by two coats of Resene Lustacryl. Surfaces will need to degreased then ideally sanded prior to priming to achieve good adhesion.

December 2015

Q. Would you offer any suitable products for boat trailer repairs - bare steel, lightly rusted and galvanised steel?

A. Waterblast to remove all salt deposits. Remove loose corrosion products using a 3M Rust and Paint Removal Disc. Prime any bare areas of galvanising using Resene ArmourZinc 120 zinc rich epoxy primer then apply 3 coats of Resene Armourcote 221 epoxy and finish with two coats of Resene Uracryl 403 topcoat.

June 2015

Q. I have a steel built yacht painted over several years with a chlorinated rubber coating. I wish to change to a marine gloss enamel. What preparation is required?

A. Scrub down the chlor rubber with Resene Paint Prep and Housewash to label to achieve a chalk free surface then apply a coat of Resene Galvo One. Allow the Resene Galvo One to cure for 16 hours then apply the marine enamel. This system is only suitable above the water line.

May 2015

Q. I've used your Resene Uracryl coatings for many years in marine and other applications and they've performed really well. Normally I apply direct to epoxy coated timber. However I'm about to repaint a GRP boat deck and am looking for a suitable epoxy based primer. Is a primer absolutely necessary on GRP and if so, can you recommend one?

A. A primer is required for GRP. We recommend Resene Armourcote 221 epoxy primer.

December 2014

Q. We are repainting the interior of our wooden boat which is prone to mould. Have scraped down to original paint (enamel I assume). What is best prep/undercoat/topcoat to resist mould? I'm thinking gloss or semi-gloss in Resene Colonial White.

A. Mould growth is symptomatic of conditions. Treat areas of mould with Resene Moss and Mould Killer following label directions. Sand existing paint to provide a mechanical key for the new paint system. Dust off and apply two coats of Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat and finish with two coats of Resene Lustacryl Kitchen & Bathroom. This system will give the maximum protection against mould growth but it will only function if all the mould and spores are killed using Resene Moss & Mould Killer.

December 2014

Q. Am looking for a Resene product for coating Armaflex insulation for our current megayacht project.

A. We recommend Resene Flexicover E.

November 2014

Q. I am a little overwhelmed by the choices of enamel paints (water or solventborne). We are considering one of the bathroom/kitchen paints for their mould resistance properties although we are applying it inside our yacht. We are not looking for marine specific paint, but a good strong enamel. The thing is, we have a solventborne enamel paint on the bulkheads now. Are there waterborne ones that would stick to that?

A. There are two distinct types of waterborne enamels. The type we produce is based on a cross linking acrylic resin and even when fully cured is not as hard as the traditional solventborne enamel paints. The other type ts based on an emulsified alkyd resin and these do cure to be the same as the solventborne version and have the same deficiencies as the latter, are very brittle and yellow over time.

June 2014

Q. I have painted an 8ft wooden dinghy with Resene oil based primer, undercoat and Resene Super Gloss. How long should I wait for the paint to harden enough to withstand dragging across grass? There is no hurry to do this.

A. The curing (hardening) of alkyd enamel based primers, undercoats and topcoat enamels, such as you have used, is dependent upon temperature and an oxidation process. The alkyd enamel initially dries with the solvent evaporation over 6-12 hours and then an oxidation (oxygen reaction with the alkyd resin) process hardens the paint coating. As time goes by the hardness increases slowly.

To answer your question, under normal temperatures (14 - 18°C) I would suggest one week minimum. However the longer the better so if you gave it 2-4 weeks it will be harder and more resistant.

May 2013

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