How To Paint A Kayak? A Step-By-Step Guide In 2022

You may not like your kayak‘s current color, or it no longer looks as vibrant as when you first got it. It may be time to “mask” that ugly crack in the hull you recently repaired. You might consider camouflaging your kayak for fishing trips or duck hunting outings. Knowing how to paint a kayak may be helpful, no matter what the case may be.

Stay tuned for some tips on selecting paint and a step-by-step guide if you’re up for a DIY kayak paint job!

Why do You need to Paint a Kayak?

Kayaks need to be painted not only to improve their aesthetics but also to improve their performance. The first problem we encounter when riding on a kayak is scratches. It often hits objects on the water, causing scratches. If the scratches are allowed to stay on the surface, they will cause damage.

Painting a kayak can be done in two ways.

Using a Paint Brush

The process of painting with a brush is time-consuming. In addition, it requires challenging skills. You should avoid large kayaks if you are new to painting. Small kayaks seem to be ideal for beginners. Brushes are sometimes a better choice. Yes, a brush can be a better option if you wish to add some detailed designs to the kayak.

Paint Spraying

Spray painting can be easier than using a brush because a larger area is covered in paint at once, thus giving you an even coat without brush lines.

As a downside, spraying will use more paint than brushing since many of the can’s contents will end up in the air, known as overspray.

In addition, spraying paint can be a messy process, so you will need to make sure you are in a large enough area, away from other objects, and that the areas you do not want to be covered in paint are covered.

As paint particles go airborne, spray paint can create a lot of fumes, so make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area.

UV Damage and Fading

As with your car, direct sun exposure, like UV radiation and warmth, can damage and fade your kayak’s original colors. A UV-protectant spray combined with fresh paint will restore the color of your kayak.

Don’t Forget About Preparation.

Prepare yourself before painting. You need to know and collect several things before you start painting.

  • A variety of sandpaper is needed for sanding the kayak. Sandpapers with a grit between 100 and 220 should be collected.
  • In order to paint a plastic or fiberglass kayak, you should use paint that is water-resistant and plastic-friendly. Standard paints will not adhere to plastic.
  • Fiberglass kayaks require paint other than plastic.
  • For painting, you’ll need marine-safe spray paint for plastic, acetone, finishing spray paint, or wax painting mask.

How To Paint A Kayak

To begin, here’s what you need before you even think about applying your favorite color(s):

Strip Back Your Yak

The first thing you need to do is remove all the parts of the kayak you don’t want to paint, such as the seat (if it’s removable) and any accessories. You only want to paint the kayak’s shell. You’ll end up with a very unattractive floating “thing.” That’s not good!

Also, make sure you and your kayak are in an ample, open space with good ventilation. There is only one set of lungs!

You should also be aware of the environment you’re painting in. This is especially important if you’re using spray paint. With a bit of wind, you could paint anything around you—even your neighbor’s possessions. You don’t want to fall out with the locals (assuming you already get along with them).

Give It A Good Clean & Sand Down

The next step is to wash your craft with dishwashing soap and water to make sure it’s clean and free of dirt or residue, and then let it dry.

After your yak is completely dry, grab your sandpaper and sand down any surfaces you intend to paint. This will help the paint adhere better to the surface.

Wipe It Clean

Use some acetone on a damp cloth to remove the dirt; you can do this by soaking the cloth in it. Wipe the entire kayak with it. By doing so, any oils on the kayak will be removed, which will make the paint stick better.

Start Painting Kayak

Now is the time to get down to business. Make sure you put on your mask before you begin painting. Use a spray bottle to evenly distribute the paint on the surf kayak’s surface, and keep spraying until you find the kayak sunshade you want. For specific designs, you can use brushes and stencils.

Give It A Clear Coat

You may want to spray your yak with a clear finishing spray paint. The extra layer will protect your new paint job from being scratched easily. If you prefer not to do this, you can do it.

Re-Rig, Your Yak

After all the paint has dried, you can start putting everything back on your yak. Therefore, you can reinstall all your mounted accessories and screws, as well as your seat.

Wash And Wax

Wipe your yak down with more dishwashing soap and water to make it spotless. After you have dried your craft, you can apply marine wax to give it a final touch. It will just provide an extra layer of protection.

Kayak Painting Supplies List

Make sure you have all the tools, supplies, and safety equipment you need before you begin painting your kayak.

You don’t want to be frantically looking for a clean cloth or some acetone in the middle of a paint job.

Anyway, here’s a list of equipment and supplies you’ll need to get started:

  • Marine-grade paint
  • Sandpaper
  • Foam paint rollers and a set of paintbrushes (spray can or a spray gun)
  • Dishwashing liquid or boat-wash
  • Water hose and water supply
  • A painting mask
  • A pair of protective gloves
  • Acetone
  • Clean clothes and rags
  • Marine wax (or clear finishing spray paint)


1. Can you spray paint a plastic kayak?
Make sure to choose a water-resistant paint suitable for plastic, as standard paints may not adhere to plastic.
2. How do you paint a fiberglass kayak?
Prepare the canoe for painting by cleaning and sanding it first. You should repair any cracks or gouges with a gel coat repair kit. Apply two fresh coats of marine paint using a paintbrush and a small paint roller. You’ll be able to use your canoe again in just a few days!
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  1. Use soapy water to clean the kayak’s surface to remove dirt, debris, and mildew.
  2. Apply a colored automotive polish to match the color of your plastic kayak.
  3. Protect the hull from harsh UV rays by applying a coat of plastic gel protectant.
  4. Allow the kayak to dry for three days before using it.
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You should use one-part marine-grade polyurethane paint on your kayak. Marine-grade paint is more durable, easier to apply, and leaves a nice, glossy finish. If you’re building a high-end kayak, then you want to use high-quality marine-grade paint.
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The curved nature of kayaks, however, can make it difficult to use liquid paint since it can run and then dry in clumps rather than evenly. According to us, a spray-on application is the best way to make your kayak as smooth and even as possible. 
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The most commonly recommended aquarium spray paint is Krylon Fusion, which is particularly popular for reef tanks. The paint adheres to plastics, PVC, and resins and has a clean finish.

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