There is no doubt painting your own kayak is a fun activity and an inexpensive method to improve the aesthetics, particularly if the kayak shows signs of wear and tear.

If you are not satisfied with your kayak stock colour, then you may consider giving your kayak a fresh paint coat. And even though the colour does not bother you much, knowing how you can paint the kayak can give you complete freedom to customize the boat so that it stands out in the water.

So why should you paint your own kayak? In this step by step guide on how to paint a kayak, we will show you how you can paint your kayak so that you will bring a little life back to the boat with a fresh paint coat. Without wasting any time, let us check it in complete detail.

Why Do You Want to Paint Your Kayak?

Painting your kayak is not only about increasing its aesthetic beauty, but also to improve your boat’s performance. Scratches can be a big problem when you are riding on a kayak. Often this hits objects across the water and scratches happen. This may turn in the potential damage in case we let this scratch lay down. You can paint your kayak in many different ways, check it out.

Different Ways of Painting Your Kayak

Kayaks are painted using a wide range of techniques. This depends on the tools and materials that are available for this painting job. The methods used for painting kayaks are:


Using the paintbrush; is one manual way of applying the paint over your kayak surface by using the paintbrushes. This brush is dipped repeatedly in the jar of paint that gets stained and wet with your choice of paint. And this is applied slowly to its target surface in the upward & downward way or side to side till your paint covers the whole kayak surface.


Rollers are just like brushes and are applied in the same way as the brush. The only difference is rollers have the cylinder over the bar, which rolls on when it is moved up or down and sideways. Also, paintings making use of rollers are much faster as less attempt is spent.


Sprayers can be a little faster and simpler with the sprayers. Sprayers generally come in different types, like one in the spray metal bottles having paints; and you just have to push down its cap to the tube and release paints when doing your painting job. There’re machine sprays also where the sprayer tube gets connected to the compressor, and the trigger gets pulled to release the paint in a small tank on its target surface.

What Kinds of Paint You Must Use for Your Kayak?

When you are selecting the paint, you must ensure that it is water-resistant and suitable for the plastics or exterior applications, since you will find that the standard paints will not stick to the plastic that will ruin your paint task. Marine-grade paint will be appropriate for a few kayaks but will be very expensive than regular paints. You can find specific kayak paints, which will be the perfect paint for some kayaks.

Probably you will find that two paint coats are required, even though it is marine grade. You may always finish with the coat of clear paint that will give it the third and final paint coat that will help to protect the kayak colour and your efforts. You may paint the wooden kayak, fibreglass or polyethene kayaks, providing you select the best paint that is appropriate for the kind of craft that you have in your mind. In an end, it comes to your choice. You’re totally free to choose whatever appears good to you.

Checklist for Kayak Paint

  • Marine-grade paint
  • Pair of gloves
  • Acetones
  • Paint rollers, spray guns and paintbrushes
  • Paint face mask
  • Multi-surface cleaner
  • Boat wax
  • Cotton rags
  • Assorted grit sandpaper
  • Matte finish spray

How to Paint Kayak? – Step by Step Guide

How to Paint Kayak

Preparation is key before you execute any method. When you have finally decided to paint the kayak, you need to keep this under consideration if you want to go with the brush painting technique or spraying as both these painting methods have good & bad sides.

Painting your kayak will turn out the best process if you do this painting when considering the given steps.

1. Prepare the Area of Painting

Ensure you find a well-ventilated and dust-free area to do your painting task and set the kayak on a reasonably-sized tarp when you start with your paint job. You do not want airborne particles to ruin your efforts and hard work. Suppose painting in the enclosed space, you must make sure all the windows are open & ventilation fan is properly running.

2. Strip Down 

The most effective paint task begins with the “clean canvas.” Thus, you must start by stripping the kayak down to its bare shell. Its seat, rod holders, foot braces, other accessories, and mounting hardware –something that you do not plan for painting must get removed. 

3. Clean Your Kayak & Sand Down 

Cleaning your kayak with a mix of water or dishwasher liquid will be very important to prepare this for a paint job. Get rid of any dust particles and built-up dirt or other potential contaminants, which can affect how this paint adheres to your kayak surface. Now will be a good time that you to peel off the old decals & repair any cracks and dents in its hull. 

4. Cheap and Simple Way to Repair Cracked Kayak

Just wipe down your kayak, and when you are waiting for this to dry, take a little time to check the hull for any uneven surfaces or scratches. You will want to smooth them out by using medium and fine-grit sandpaper prior to painting the kayak. You can sand the whole kayak down with fine-grit sandpaper; so that paint can stick better. 

5. Wipe It Out 

Here acetone will prove useful; just apply some to the cloth so it is damp and wipe over the whole kayak & wait for this to dry completely. You may want to use disposable protective gloves & reasonably sized tarp.

This can help to remove oils on the hull’s surface that will prevent paint from sticking and ruining the paint job.

6. Start Your Painting Job

Finally, you can start the marine-grade paint activity by using other items from your kayak painting supplies. Ensure you put the mask on for your painting process! Evenly spray painting over the whole kayak and continue till you reach the perfect shade that you are searching for. 

You may find you want to give the kayak two coats at least before you hit the exact kayak shade you desire. Let its base coat paint dry and cure totally before you give the kayak another coat or more fresh paint coats.

If you are looking to add the custom paint design, then you may use a brush after you have reached the main base colour (let this paint cure) for adding the personal touches. Stencils will work too. Suppose you want to add the camouflage design, making use of a sponge dipped in the different paint shades from the base colour paint can allow you to add the simple camouflage print to your custom paint project.

7. Give A Clear Paint Coat

This is one optional step in your painting process, you have to give the kayak a clear paint coat of finishing the spray paint and UV protectant spray on the painted surface. It can give it an extra layer over its whole surface that will protect the new paint task from getting scratched very easily, and extra UV resistance. But, you may select not to use any finishing paint.

 8. Stop! – Let Your Paint Cure

Yes, your paint can be touch dry and dry enough for applying the second paint coat within a matter of hours, however, do not waste your efforts work by not allowing this paint to cure completely.

Curing is a process of water and solvents evaporating from their painted surface, in which coalescing agents in the paint will cause film formation that develops in the hardened surface.

9. Clean & Wax the Kayak 

When all the hardware & accessories are installed, make use of the dishwasher soap & water to provide your kayak with a final clean down to make sure it is completely clean. You are free to reapply for the decal in case you want it. Now, the next step is optional, however, it is better to apply the marine wax as its final touch.


Is it essential to remove the old paints before you apply the new coats?

It’s the right practice if you plan to achieve a stable and great painting job. Applying the new paint coat over the old one will cause this to peel off very easily as there’s poor adhesion.

What type of paint can I use for my kayak painting?

You may paint your wooden, plastic or fibreglass kayak easily in case you know the perfect process. You may use oil-based paints & water-based paints to paint your kayak. However, it is better that you go for the water-based kayaks. Making use of a brush is perfect when you wish to draw something over the kayak, or spray is perfect for spraying paints quickly.

How can you restore your kayak?

You will have to clean the kayak surface with detergent and a dishwasher to remove dirt or mildew. Now you have to apply the automotive colour polish, which matches the colour of your plastic kayak. When you’re done applying this colour polish, you can use the gel protectant that will protect your kayak from the UV rays. This process is done; all have to do is just wait for 3 days before you begin using it perfectly.

Final Words 

You do not essentially need to bring the kayak to a professional to have this painted and styled with the decal. Painting & applying decals on the kayak will be something you may do in the garage and shed if you have the right tools and experience on how to paint your own kayak. This will be quite a worthwhile painting project and something that you may carry out during winter and when waiting for the next kayaking season. Happy painting!

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