Painting a Fiberglass Canoe

by Richard Munn|Published 07-18-2006

After a number of years (particularly if a boat has been stored outside) it becomes faded and chalky in appearance. In addition, all boats pick up their fair share of battle scars from rocks, shoals, beaver dams and storag



The following are recommendations from Mohawk Canoes for painting fiberglass canoes. These instructions are general recommendations. You should consult with your boat manufacturer to ensure they agree with this technique before starting.


    • 1 qt. one-part polyurethane marine paint
    • 1 pint thinner for polyurethane paint
    • tack cloth
    • paint brush
    • 4" foam roller
    • 120 grit sandpaper
    • masking tape



  • Fill any deep scratches and gouges with a gelcoat repair or any product available for this purpose. Once all scratches are filled and patched, sand them smooth.
  • Remove any old stickers or decals with a heat gun, then remove any adhesive remaining with acetone or contact cement remover.
  • If your hull has been waxed recently, remove all traces with a wax remover.
  • Sand all exterior surfaces to be painted with 120 grit sandpaper. Tape off gunwales and end caps with masking tape.
  • Remove all dust remaining using a tack cloth. Wipe down the entire area to be painted with the thinner recommended for the paint you are using. Thin the paint by 10% using thinner. Roll out a 2 ft. x 2 ft. area with the roller, then smooth out the area immediately with a good quality brush. Carefully apply paint to areas not accessible to the roller (around the gunwales and endcaps).
  • After 24 hr. re-sand the canoe with 120 grit sandpaper, wipe it down with a tack cloth, clean it with a cloth and thinner, then apply a second coat.