How to Paint a Kayak: Step By Step Guide

Everyone would like to have their kayak last for the longest time possible. What about your kayak looking nice? You will need to know how to paint a kayak so that you can have the above. It is often a simple process that anyone can do without expertise.

Why You Need to Paint a Kayak

Provided you prepare appropriately and use the right paint, you will reap many benefits from painting your kayak. They include:

  • It makes your kayak last longer by adding a protective layer
  • You get to have an attractive-looking kayak
  • You will get a chance to revive your old kayak
  • Reduction in cost of hiring someone to paint the kayak by doing it yourself
  • Provides an opportunity to change the design of your kayak

How to Paint a Kayak

There are two common ways of how you can paint your kayak. You can use a paintbrush or spray paint. Spray paint is recommended because it is faster to work with and does not require skills. The only setback here is that you may lack control when using spray paint. This means if you make a mistake, it will be hard to undo it.

On the other hand, paint brushes are slower and require skills to get a perfect coat. You will take a lot of time because you have to go from one section to the other. This will best suit experienced painters.

The steps to getting a well-painted kayak are not as easy as many people may think. Once you mess up in one of the procedures, you get shoddy work. We will therefore look at the steps taken to paint a kayak.

Step 1: Preparation for Painting

The first step is always about getting ready. You will have to choose the right place far away from your other important things. The place should be well ventilated to avoid getting suffocated. You can do it outside the house but remember, the paint fumes are dangerous.

A personal protective cloth and eye protectors will be key here. For brush painting, you will need to have your brushes ready. Choose the right paints according to the experts.

You will have to wash it to remove the grit that may interfere with the painting of the kayak. It is advised to use a pressure washer, but you can work with your hands if you lack one. Use mild soap if necessary.

You will need to achieve a ‘clean canvas’ so that the paint can stick. A 220 grit sandpaper can be used to remove decals. This should be done by hand rather than a power sander.

Step 2: Pretreatment of the Surface

Plastics are hard to paint because of how they generally make it difficult for the paint to adhere to them. The release agent in plastics also interferes with paint adhesion. Also, the molecular structure of plastic barely allows for adhesion.

So, to get a better painting surface for your plastic boat, you will have to pretreat it. One of the common techniques to do this is by flame treatment. This is done by flaming a section of the plastic lightly then wipe off the release agent using a cloth.

Step 3: Remove Particles/Dust

Take a piece of cloth then dip it in acetone so that you can wipe the roughened surface. This will help remove the sanding dust or any grease that may be available. You will avoid any adhesion problems down in the painting process.

Step 4: Adding an Adhesive Promoter

For your plastic kayak, add an adhesive promoter on the treated surface in even bands. Work in a side-to-side motion. After an hour, you can now put the topcoat on using the spray painting method. An example is Krylon Fusion which works well with almost all media. It is recommended to have 2 coats of adhesion promoter and 3 coats of color.

Step 5: Painting the Kayak

This is the final process of getting a properly painted kayak. You can now add the second color over the primary coat to give your kayak a final look. Make sure you do not go too heavy on the coat. For durability, you can use Krylon 1311 clear coat.

How to Stick Your Favorite Decal On Your Kayak

This is the fun part about your kayak. You can customize your kayak by sticking stickers or decals and make it more attractive. People have different ways of doing things, but there are procedures for the process to be effective.

First, you will need to have the following; 150 grit sandpaper, decals, a heat gun, denatured alcohol, and a clean rug. You can then go ahead and follow the steps below.

Step 1: Boundary Marking

This involves identifying the specific place of placing your decimal. You will have to make sure it fits and does not affect the functionality of the kayak.

Step 2: Smoothening

Using the 150 grit sandpaper, you can smoothen out the specific area. The bumps will affect how your decal sticks on the kayak. Make sure you do not overdo it such that it affects the kayak’s body.

Step 3: Cleaning

After you get satisfied with the sanding work, you can clean the surface with denatured alcohol. It is applied using a clean rug. This is to make sure you get rid of dirt or particles that may cause the decal not to stick.

Step 4: Heating and applying

The heat gun is used to heat the surface because the decal will not stick on a cold surface. Almost at the same time, heat the decal as you prepare to apply it. You can then stick the decal on the surface. Continue heating as you smoothen out the decal using a squeegee.

The final product will make you proud. In some instances, some kayaks are made from materials that resist things sticking on them. You can talk to the manufacturer for further advice on the matter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Color Choice for Your Kayak?

The color choice of a kayak depends on the owner’s preferences. However, some colors are recommended for you to use. Yellow, lime green, orange, and red are the most common colors. These bright colors increase visibility while on the water.

If you are a fan of black, you will have to sacrifice your taste. This is for your safety. On the brighter side is that these colors are aesthetically pleasing.

How Does the Color of a Kayak Affect Fishing?

Many anglers have an assumption that bright colors attract the fish. It is wrong, and it is all about your safety by having high visibility. The only exception is the white color which may sometimes spook fish away.

Therefore, it is advisable that when choosing your kayak, you consider the safety options rather than the fishing factors.

The white color can scare the fish away because the bottom of a fish is always white. They might think there is a large fish above them.

What Ways Can You Use to Protect Your Decals?

Firstly, you have to use ink that is UV resistant so that you protect them from the UV sun rays. This ink is harder to smudge, scratch, and rub off. Also, you can use a sealant spray to make sure the sticker stays in position and does not peel off.

The easiest way is just by having a clear laminating paper over the decal. They are easy to apply, just like the stickers themselves. All the three ways above will help the decal last longer.


As you can see, painting a kayak does not have to be hard. Always make sure to get all the supplies with you before getting started. From the method above, you should now be ready to go. You could still check out YouTube videos where necessary for more ideas on how to paint a kayak. Go ahead and make your kayak look awesome.

Leave a Comment