How To Paint Over Your Aluminum Boat (Step-by-Step)

Inevitably, the paint on your boat (despite the type of boat) will lighten, and your boat will require a repaint. If you’re in that situation where your aluminum boat is in dire need of a repaint, you’re in the right place. Here’s what you need to know to give your boat the ultimate fix-up. 

Painting over an aluminum boat involves preparation, priming, painting, and curing the paint. Before starting the repainting process, boat owners must ensure that the boat’s surface is free of dust or unwanted debris.

Any debris will cause the paint to peel and an unsuccessful paint over. 

Painting over an aluminum boat isn’t difficult if you follow the correct steps. The painting process will leave your boat with a paint coat that will last you at least a year or more. It would be in your best interest not to skip over the steps in an attempt to hasten the process.

How To Paint Over Your Aluminum Boat
How To Paint Over Your Aluminum Boat

Can You Paint Over Old Paint On Aluminum Boat?

Painting over old paint on an aluminum boat is not typically advised without proper preparation. Here are some of the things to consider before attempting to paint over old paint:

  1. What type of paint was the old paint, and will the new paint adhere or react to it?
  2. Is the old paint flaking or peeling? If so, the new paint won’t have a good surface to stick to.
  3. Are you planning on sanding the old paint surface or chemically preparing it for a fresh coat of paint?

Only after determining these three answers can you determine if painting over old paint is viable, or if the paint will have to be sanded off first.

I recommend whenever painting an old boat, that if you know the paint types and there are no conflicts, that you sand the hull prior to painting. This way any loose paint will flake off and you will know for sure. Whenever I paint a boat, I like to ensure that I’m working with a fresh surface.

Painting over your aluminum boat is possible, though, and numerous boat owners have done it with incredible success. Today’s process is a culmination of experiences filled with failures and successes. According to multiple experts in the marine industry, this process is the correct way. (source)

Steps To Paint Over An Aluminium Boat

You may have noticed that your aluminum boat isn’t looking as sharp as it used to. Fortunately, a little paint job will do just the trick and help turn things around. So how do you do paint over an aluminum boat? 

Here are the steps you need to know to paint over your aluminum boat. 

Aluminium Boat Painting Tip:: Ensure that you patch any leaks before kicking off the paint-over process. Not only that, but remove any hardware or wood trim. 

STEP 1: Preparing The Boat

Preparation is the number one step you cannot miss if you want to repaint your boat. You need to clean the surface to ensure there is no dirt or unwanted debris on the boat. Dirt or dust can cause the paint to peel in a matter of days. 

To avoid another paint over and additional costs here’s what you need to do to prep your boat. 

  • Wash the boat 
  • De-wax the boat
  • Sand the boat thoroughly

These three preparation steps will help clean the boat’s surface in preparation for the primer and the paint. When you complete the preparation steps, it reduces the risk of the paint peeling away or having a botched result. 

STEP 2: Priming The Boat

Priming involves the use of a primer. You can procure a primer in the same place you bought the paint. Sometimes, they’ll come as a set, depending on the paint brand. Priming sets the scene for the paint and makes it easier for the paint to lay on the boat’s surface. 

Priming also makes the paint adhere to the boat’s surface and helps intensify the paint’s color. Priming may seem irrelevant, but it plays a part in the paint job’s longevity. 

Here are some aluminum options to get you started:

  • Rust-Oleum 8781502 Stops Rust Flat Aluminum Primer

Aluminium Boat Painting Tip 2: Always check the instruction behind every product you use. Whether its the primer or the paint, be sure to check the instructions given on the product. 

STEP 3: Painting The Boat

Next up is the step we’ve all been waiting for: painting. Painting your aluminum boat requires you to use special paint manufactured solely for painting boats. In the case of aluminum boats, here are some boat paints you should check out:

  • TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Paint
  • Duralux Aluminum Boat Marine Paint
  • TotalBoat Wet Edge Marine Topside Paint 
  • Diamond Brite Paint 46000

Some paints in the market work on multiple surfaces, such as fiberglass, wood, and aluminum. You can try these brands. There’s no harm in it, but it would help if you turned to paint suited for aluminum boats. Hopefully, you can utilize the list shared above. 

STEP 4: Curing The Boat

The last step in this process is curing. Curing is the process of letting the paint harden. Until the paint is fully bonded to the aluminum surface of the boat, it is yet to cure. (source)

How long does the curing process take? The curing process could take 7-30 days, depending on the paint you used. It would help if you painted over your boat during the off-season to give it time to cure before taking it out. (source)

Without the proper care, the chemicals present in the paint could increase toxicity levels in the water. Antifouling paints could negatively impact the biota present in the water. 

Some local authorities check boats that use these paints, so be wary of those practices and check with your local authority. (source) (source)

Aluminium Boat Painting Tip 3: Take great care of the areas where the metals connect. You can use smaller brushes to get into those crevices. 

Step-by-step video showing you how to paint your aluminum boat.

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On An Aluminum Boat?

In general, there are two types of paints used on boats:

  • Leaching paints
  • Copolymer paints

Leaching paints are the most conventional types of paints, and 90% of boat owners will use leaching paints over copolymer paints. (source)

Researchers conducted a study to compare these two types of paints. They found that copolymer paints were the most efficient, regardless of popularity. 

Furthermore, commercial boat owners tended to paint their boats less regularly because they utilized copolymer paints. (source)

How do you know which one is which? Well, it’s all written on the paint label. You have to check and confirm with the seller before purchasing the paint. 

To Paint Or Not To Paint? 

You can paint over your boat every year or every four years. The difference lies in the steps you took to paint over your ship. If you want the best results for your boat, follow the steps without skipping them. 

Painting over your boat is another form of maintenance. It would be best if you carried it in the same manner as other forms of maintenance. Happy sailing. 


  1. Discover Boating, How To Paint A Boat, Discover Boating, Accessed March 17, 2022.
  2. Polygon, The Science Behind Curing A Surface For Tanks, Polygon, Accessed March 17, 2022. 
  3. International Yacht Paint, How Long Do Epoxies Take To Cure? International Yacht Paint, Accessed March 17, 2022. 
  4. Eklund, B., Watermann, B. Persistence of TBT and copper in excess on leisure boat hulls around the Baltic Sea. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 14595–14605 (2018).
  5. Nichols, J.A. Antifouling paints: Use on boats in San Diego Bay and a way to minimize adverse impacts. Environmental Management 12, 243–247 (1988).
  6. KV Thomas (2001) The environmental fate and behavior of antifouling paint booster biocides: A review, Biofouling, 17:1, 73-86. DOI.: 10.1080/08927010109378466

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