Do You Need Special Paint for Fiberglass Boats?

You have two options when it is time to give your fiberglass boat a fresh coat of paint. You can do it on your own or have a professional do it for you.

The question ofhow to paint a fiberglass boatdepends on your skill level if you are opting to do it on your own. Painting a fiberglass boat is not much different from painting a wooden boat. However, the process differs in paint type, vessel preparation, and the application of paint. For example, you can use a roller and brush. On the other hand, a professional will spray paint the boat.

Painting your fiberglass boat

There are a few essential things to consider before painting a fiberglass boat. One is the paint to use. The other important thing to consider is that fiberglass is not porous. Therefore, it is easy to ruin the painting job. Consequently, you should ensure that the surface is prepped correctly and care is taken during the painting.

Your paint options include:

  • Single-part enamel.This type of paint is the easiest to apply. It is less expensive, but it is susceptible to UV damage after some time. Without regular maintenance and constant waxing, the gloss of the paint will not last for long.
  • Single-part polyurethane paint.Polyurethane paint is easy to apply. It is not that expensive, and the gloss lasts long. However, the paint needs thinning and should be used in the right consistency.
  • Two-part polyurethane paint. In terms of properties, this type of paint is the best choice for a fiberglass boat. The paint is long-lasting, and it maintains its glossy finish better than a gel coat. The drawback is its cost. Two-part polyurethane paint is costly, and the application is labor-intensive because it is fragile and requires multiple coatings. In addition, the paint needs proper mixing. The boat needs an epoxy primer, and the application requires the appropriate humidity and temperature levels to ensure good paint adhesion. Most professional boat painters use this type of paint, which hardens to a durable finish that will last for several years.


Since fiberglass boats are regularly waxed, the most crucial step to prep the boat for painting is to remove every bit of wax on the boat’s exterior surface. A spot of wax will prevent the paint from adhering to the surface.

  1. Use dish soap to wash and clean the fiberglass surface. Rinse and allow to dry completely.
  2. The fiberglass surface is smooth and not porous. Abrade the surface with 400-grit sandpaper loaded to a sander to ensure paint adhesion.
  3. Use a tack cloth to wipe down the abraded surface.
  4. Cover the small areas you are not painting with painter’s tape and the larger areas with drop cloths.
  5. Apply a thin coat of primer using a spray gun. Spray in intermittent mists, so there is no build-up of the primer in some areas. When you spray in a constant stream, the coating may sag, drip, or run, which will create flaws in the coat.
  6. Leave the primer to dry and cure for four hours before applying the paint of your choice.

Choose the correct type of paint you can afford, and follow the manufacturers’ instructions so your fiberglass boat painting job will succeed.

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