Black Aluminum Gunwales

I’m wondering how durable the black aluminum gunwales that Wenonah uses are. Are they anondized? Do they hold up well or show scratches easily. I really like the look of the canoe with black gunwales but don’t want to get them if they don’t hold up well. Thanks.

Pretty durable…
You may get different opinions on this. But I’d say they’re pretty durable. It seems to be anodized rather than painted. I’ve got a couple canoes with the regular aluminum gunwales, but one with the black gunwales. No noticeable scratches after about six years.


i’ve never had black aluminum gunwales but here in the sunny south i would be reluctant to go with black. my hobie mast is black and it can get too hot to handle. my black hatch covers are noticeably hotter than the surrounding red decks. if i had my choice i’d do a light color.

Wenonah Black Gunwhales

– Last Updated: Mar-16-07 6:29 PM EST –

After a dozen years the black gunwales (and the rest of the trim) on our kevlar Wenonah Jensen 18 are just perfect; no degredation at all. We see a lot of the black trim around here and I've never seen any go bad (or look bad). We're in Wisconsin so don't have the heat problems of the writer from the south. If I had to do it over again (and was ordering the boat new) I would probably get the ultralight wood gunwales w/the black trim, simply because every time we see a big bird and put our paddles down to watch it we get that big aluminum "thunk" and invariably scare the bird off. The boat has been perfect after a great deal of use in all conditions.

Different uses . . . but
It seems to me (just a suspicion - not based on real life events) that if an aluminum gunwale is dented/bent, it would need to be replaced. Wood, on the other hand, might be able to be glued, or a small bit spliced in.

On a flatwater canoe, this might be irrelevant, but if the canoe sometimes runs whitewater without you, it might be something to consider.

The black is paint -
I have an Escapade with black gunnels.

The paint is durable, but will scratch with abrasion. If you cartop on racks, make sure your racks are carpeted and not exposed metal.

The good news is any scratches can be easily covered up with black paint, and they do look good.

Would I get them again, Yes!

stair tape
I have a Sawyer Shockwave and a Wenonah Sundowner, both with black gunwales, and they have both received some nicks and scratches. I have tried an aluminum blackening product and paint with less than satisfactory success, but have recently applied one inch tape which is made to apply to slippery steps. It is black, rubbery with a pebble grain, and actually looks quite attractive on the gunwales. The tape is thin, but still has an added advantage of muffling the sound of laying a paddle across the gunwales while resting.

Have Had Them On a Couple Canoes
One of my Wenonah’s had black aluminum gunnels, also my Souris River. They ARE anodized, they WILL scratch, but not that badly with a minimum of care. Someone mentioned “Padding” your racks and that’s going to keep most deep scratching from occuring. Also it gets pretty hot here in the Ozarks, but never noticed a significant difference between “Regular” aluminum gunnels and black. WW