How to Paint a Boat Deck

While painting a deck can be exigent, it is certainly within the capabilities of any gung-ho boat owner.

By removing as much hardware as possible, you benefit in many ways.1. It offers a smoother surface allowing for easier painting.
2. Painting under unattached hardware gives a cleaner look.
3. Rebedding over the painted surface gives surety of a non-leaking seal.

What to Remove:

• All possible hardware. (If painted, paint eventually cracks, water drifts under the paint, flaking and peeling occurs.)
• Aluminum window frames and sliding doors. (Paint does not adhere causing corrosion.)
• Plastic Parts (Flaking will occur on painted parts.)
• Strip all caulking.
• Remove Teak trim such as covering boards and hand railings.

Surface Preparation:

Prepping is 75% of the laborious task of painting a deck. Items of importance are:
• Follow application instructions diligently. Mixing only what you need for a 4-hour interval.
• Tape off non-painting areas.
• For easier paint splatter removal coat remaining non-detachable hardware with petroleum jelly.
• Begin painting mid-morning when dew has dissipated.


• Enamel has an extended pot life for paint brushing but it has the least life. If using, consider applying a semi-gloss paint used for the exterior on houses. Be sure it is alkyd enamel and not latex.
• Think about a single-part polyurethane as it offers double the gloss retention and can last for numerous years.
• If you desire high gloss and/or longer permanence, use a two-part linear polyurethane.

painting a boat deck

Painting A Boat Deck

A single color painted deck can be done in a continuous application. Work with a solitary wet edge (where the painted surface butts the non painted plane. Don’t exceed the four feet or timing will be insufficient to blend with the next batch of paint.

Any boat decks that sport a self-effacing beam be sure to tape down the decks centerline. Paint first down one side, then carefully peel the tape and paint down the other side.

If you are interested in a checkerboard deck pattern you should paint one out of the two color squares of the checkerboard first then come back the day after and paint the second colored squares.

If you decide you want a textured anti-skid surface you can create one by priming first, then applying a two-part polyurethane with a non-skid compound added in. You can procure an already mixed, no-skid compound, where all you do is open the can and apply.

One of the more recurring inquiries for those who own a fiberglass boat is “is it worthwhile to paint a fiberglass boat?” Definitely consider it. Fiberglass boats use gel-coat for exterior finishing. It harbors a resin that assists in preventing mold attachment to the fiberglass.

A couple of final suggestions are that decks are best painted with temperatures between 70 to 80° and below 65% humidity. Don’t even consider painting during rainy season. And last of all when prep cleaning be sure to use soft, natural bristle brushes or mops and rinse meticulously, particularly the point where water runs down the hull.

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