Can You Paint a Kayak? Step by Step Guide [2023]

Have you recently bought a kayak and want to give it a new and unique look? You might be wondering now: can you paint a kayak? 

Whether you got yourself a new or second-hand one, you want to make it your own and use the colors you love. 

Or maybe it’s just time for a fresh coat of paint after using your kayak extensively in the sun. Your kayak might be full of scratches because it hit a lot of obstacles over time.

The answer is yes, you can paint a kayak! However, you shouldn’t be doing it in a rush with whatever paint you can find in your garage. 

It’s very important to choose the right paint and to prepare your kayak so the paint will stick to it and last. 

In this step by step guide for beginners, kayak and adventure enthusiast Saskia will share with you how to paint a kayak, what supplies you need, what paint to use, and much more!

Can You Paint a Kayak? Step By Step Guide

  • How To Paint a Kayak in 5 Simple Steps
    • 1. Get All The Supplies You Need
    • 2. Choose and Prepare Your Painting Area
    • 3. Clean and Prepare Your Kayak 
    • 4. Sand Your Kayak 
    • 5. Paint Your Kayak 


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How To Paint a Kayak in 5 Simple Steps

Now you know that you can paint a kayak, let’s get into HOW to paint a kayak! 

In this step by step guide for beginners, I will share the 5 steps with you that will turn your old and scratched kayak into a brand-new one!  

1.Get All The Supplies You Need 

You should get prepared with all the tools and supplies you need for painting your kayak. There’s nothing worse than having to look for equipment when you’re in the midst of something. It slows you down and makes the job harder than it has to be.

Here’s a list of all the things you will need and what they’re good for: 

  • Paint of your choice 

Pick a color or multiple colors you would like to paint your kayak with. I’ll share more details on what kind of paint to use further below. 

  • Clear Paint

After painting the kayak, you should apply a layer of clear paint to protect it from scratches. 

Even if you decide to use spray paint, it’s always handy to have a brush nearby in case you feel like customizing your kayak. 

You need to sand your kayak before you can paint it. The sandpaper makes the surface rougher and the paint will stick to the kayak more easily. 

  • Acetone

This will help you to get rid of any leftover stains on the kayak, may it be oil, paint, or other kinds of dirt. 

  • Dish soap 

Cleaning your kayak before painting it is essential to make sure no dirt or dust is left on it. 

  • Bucket of water 

You will need a bucket of warm water to clean your kayak with, or if you have a water hose nearby, that’s even better. 

Make sure to buy some cloths or rags to clean and dry your kayak with before painting it. They’re also handy to wipe the paint off your hands so you don’t get it everywhere. 

  • Marine wax 

Finishing off your kayak with marine wax will protect it from the UV of the sun and also keeps the color nice and shiny. 

  • Painter’s tape 

You can use tape to cover up any areas on the kayak that you don’t want to paint. 

Safety first! It’s important to protect your lungs from breathing in the dangerous fumes of the spray paint so be sure to grab a mask. Also, protect your eyes with goggles and your hands with gloves.  

  • Sawhorses

Not a must, but something to consider. Putting the kayak up on sawhorses will make the paint job so much easier and you protect your back at the same time. 

  • Blanket/tarp  

Protect the area you’re painting in by using an old blanket or tarp. You don’t want to get paint on the garage floor or the grass. 

2.Choose and Prepare Your Painting Area 

Now you know what supplies you need, let’s move on to choosing the right painting area and preparing it! 

The painting area should be a location where you can work for a good amount of time without being interrupted. 

You don’t want to move your kayak from the driveway onto the lawn halfway through the job, because your roommate needs to move their car out of the garage. 

If you work inside a garage, make sure that the door stays open so you don’t breathe in too much of the paint fumes.

Also, be mindful of neighbors and others around you as not everyone will be happy to smell the paint. 

Be careful on windy days! You might want to choose a calm day.

Not only could the wind blow over your kayak (if it’s on sawhorses), but it would also mess up your paintwork if you use spray paint. 

Once you have picked your perfect painting area (and day), put down your blanket or tarp and set up the sawhorses, if you chose to get some. 

Have all the supplies you need within reach as well as some water and snacks to keep you going. 

3.Clean and Prepare Your Kayak

Before you start to clean your kayak, take out all the accessories (that you don’t want to paint) like the seat, rod holders, screws, etc. These will only be in the way and make it awkward to clean the kayak.

Also, take off any old decals there might be left from the previous kayak owner. 

Now it’s time to get out the rags, cloths, water, dishwashing liquid, and acetone! 

Make sure you clean your kayak thoroughly and get rid of any dust, dirt, and marks. If you come across any oil or paint stains, the acetone cleaner will help you remove them. 

Before you move on to the next step, let your kayak air-dry completely or dry it with a clean cloth. 

4.Sand Your Kayak

The last and very important step before painting a kayak is to sand its entire surface. Sandpaper gets rid of bumps and scratches and will make the paint stick better to the kayak. 

I recommend using medium or fine grit sandpaper to avoid taking off too much material from your kayak. 

Wipe the kayak clean one more time to remove any leftovers from your sanding job. 

5.Paint Your Kayak 

Alllrite, let’s get down to business! You finally get to know the ins and outs of how to paint a kayak. 

Use the painter’s tape you got to cover up the spots you don’t want to paint. And don’t forget to put on your mask, goggles, and gloves.  

Depending on your preference and the size of the kayak, you will now need spray paint, normal paint, a brush, or a roller

Note: it’s probably easiest to use spray paint, but be sure you have more than one can, especially if your kayak is very long. 

If you run out of paint, your kayak will have an uneven coat and you will be able to see where you stopped painting. 

You might prefer to paint your kayak with a brush, but be prepared that it takes longer and the paint could run down and leave drops on the surface. 

How Many Coats of Paint Do I Need to Use? 

You should use at least two coats of paint on your kayak, but leave a few hours in between. Another layer of paint helps cover any former paint jobs and protects the paint from chipping easily. 

How Long Does It Take for The Paint to Dry? 

If you don’t want to ruin all your hard work, let the kayak dry completely for about 24 hours before touching it again. 

What Happens After Painting? 

You’re nearly done! I know, it seems like a lot of work but while you’re at it, you might as well do an outstanding job so you don’t have to paint your kayak again in a few months. 

After applying two coats of paint and letting it dry for a full day, you should put a clear coat of finishing paint on your kayak to protect it from scratches and UV light

The clear coating makes the paint last longer. 

Can You Wax a Kayak? 

You definitely can and you should wax a kayak using marine wax if you want it to look glossy and protect it. 

Now you understand why you need to pick a painting area that you don’t need to move from. Painting a kayak is not something that’s done in a few hours. 

Best Paint for Kayak: Oil-Based vs. Water-Based 

Choosing the right paint for your kayak is crucial. But what is the best paint out there? You might also be wondering if you should get an oil-based or water-based paint. 

You should choose a paint that’s water-resistant and formulated for the kind of material your kayak is made out of. 

Oil-based paint is a very hard paint and could make your painting job very frustrating. 

The paint can become crumbly and the sun makes the paint fade away much quicker. 

As the kayak is usually exposed to the sun and other potentially harsh weather conditions, water-based paint would be a better option. It lasts much longer and is easier to apply. 

Here are a few water-resistant paints for you to choose from: 

can you paint a kayak
can you paint a kayak
can you paint a kayak

Do I Need to Use Marine-Grade Paint? 

You might have come across the term one-part marine-grade polyurethane paint before.

I have to admit that this type of paint is more expensive, but it’s so worth it! It’s more durable and much easier to apply than other types. Especially if you’re working on a high-end kayak, you will appreciate the glossy finish it leaves.

If you’re not keen on spending much money on the paint, standard water-based paint will do. 

However if you are looking to buy marine grade paint, here are some top recommendations : 

can you paint a kayak
can you paint a kayak

Paint a Kayak: Brush vs. Spray Paint

What paint can you paint a kayak with? It all depends on what you would like to do to your kayak. 

Spray paint will do for most of the jobs, especially if you plan to only paint the kayak with one color. 

If you want to write something on your kayak or have special painting work in mind, you will need a brush. 

Using a brush for your entire kayak will take you a very long time though, considering how many coats of paint you have to apply.

Keep the weather conditions in mind, if you spray paint your kayak. You don’t want the fumes to go all over the place and annoy people around you. Always wear a mask when using spray paint! 

Can You Paint on Spray Paint?

You might be wondering: can you paint a kayak if it has previously received any layers of spray paint?  The answer is yes, you can paint on spray paint. Just be sure that the spray paint has dried completely before painting on it. You will also need to sand the kayak first to provide some grip for the paint. 

Here are some top recommended spray paints for you:

can you paint a kayak
can you paint a kayak
can you paint a kayak
can you paint a kayak

Can You Paint a Plastic Kayak

Yes you can paint a plastic kayak. Whether you’re painting a plastic or polyethylene kayak, be sure to choose a paint that is suitable for these types of materials. You can find this information on the back of the paint bucket or spray can. 

How Can I Protect My Kayak After Painting? 

You can protect your kayak after painting by finding a suitable and large place to store your kayak, without the risk of hitting it with other things. Make sure, the spot is out of the sun and other harsh weather conditions.

Also, always keep your kayak dry and clean. If you don’t dry your kayak properly, the moisture will eventually turn into mold.  

How Can I Add a Decal to My Kayak?

If you want to add a decal to your kayak, follow the below steps to be sure it will stick and not come off after your first kayaking trip:

1. Sand the spot where you want to apply the decal on.

2. Clean the area with dishwashing liquid and acetone.

3. Heat the spot with a hairdryer, then wet it using a damp cloth (this will help the decal stick better).

4. Apply the decal in the spot you have just prepared by starting from the center and moving towards the sides. Use a credit card or something else that’s flat to push the air out to the sides.

5. Wait 30 mins. before removing the backing.

FAQs On Can You Paint A Kayak

Can You Insure a Kayak? 

Yes, you can insure a kayak. If you have an active homeowner’s policy, you might already be covered for the loss, damage, or theft of your kayak for up to $1,500.

You can also choose separate kayak insurance if you want to protect yourself against liability, legal fees, and damage to kayak accessories. Here are a few insurances that can do this for you: 

Can You Anchor a Kayak?

Yes, you can anchor a kayak and use either a drift anchor or a folding anchor to do so. The best way to cast an anchor is from the kayak’s stern or bow. Don’t do it from the side, as the risk of the kayak flipping over is higher. 

Where Can You Launch a Kayak?

You can launch a kayak wherever you can find an accessible launch point for small water crafts. It’s easy to launch a kayak at a small harbor in the bay where there are proper launch points for the boats. 

You can also launch your kayak at a river or the beach where it’s more informal. 

How To Paint the Bottom of a Kayak 

If you’re planning on painting the bottom of your kayak, you should do this on sawhorses. Being able to lift the kayak and turn it around makes the paint job a lot easier. Then follow the steps outlined in this beginner’s guide on how to paint a kayak. 

What Is the Best Paint to Use on a Plastic Kayak?

The best paint to use on a plastic kayak is the one-part marine-grade polyurethane paint. It lasts longer, is easy to apply, and makes the kayak look nice and shiny. If you’re looking for a high quality paint to use on your kayak, marine-grade paint is the best choice. 

How Hard Is It to Paint a Kayak?

The shape of a kayak can make it a little hard to paint it. Because of the kayak’s curves, the liquid paint can run down and dry unevenly, if you use too much. Equally, if you have a longer kayak, it can seem a little dull to paint it with spray paint. 

How Do You Paint a Kayak Name?

If you’re wondering how you can paint a name on your kayak, you can have some decals printed with the words, font, and size you prefer. This is probably an easier option than trying to paint it yourself. 

If you choose to sell your kayak in the future, you can easily pull off the decal.   


Can You Paint a Kayak? You Sure Can! 

There you go! That’s everything you need to know if you’re planning on painting your kayak. I hope these tips and instructions help you and make you feel more confident in taking on your new DIY project. 

Whatever the reason for painting your kayak may be, it’ll be a fun and rewarding experience! How much more satisfying is it to make your kayak your very own instead of taking on someone else’s previous paint job?

I would love to see your newly painted kayak – share your photo with me in the comment section below. Best of luck!

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