Found an old canoe. How do I repair it?

Dear all,

Someone left me an old canoe. Despite being old it isn’t completely broken (already made a small trip with it), but it could definitely use a brush of paint.

I’m planning to do a restoration project for my girlfriends birthday. However, as I’m quite new to the world of canoes, I was wondering whether you may have a few tips on how to repair it. Please find some images below.

More specifically, I have the following questions:

  • Do you know what kind of material this is? I assume its polyester. but I would like to be sure before I apply the wrong resin and burn the material haha. Small note: you can see fiber mats in the inside (the brownish part), but unfortunately I could only upload one image.

  • The canoe has impacts on the bottom. I can feel the foam inside. Should I cut everything open and let it dry for a few days?

  • What kind of paint should I use after having its dings repaired?

  • Would it be possible to make some benches inside? Or will the construction not be strong enough?

Many thanks for all your time and answers in advance. Naturally all advice is more than welcome!


Old fiberglass canoes are around and not worth much. Look carefully at the strength of the boat, since they can deteriorate over time. You can easily remove damaged glass and repair it with epoxy and fiberglass cloth. Rough up the surface a little and you can easily paint your boat. Many kinds of paint will work. I like Rustoleum marine paint. A rattle can will work, Porch paint is good. Even latex house paint will work fine.

Many thanks for your answer. Why do you recommend to use epoxy and not polyester? Since the canoe has two small little holes in the boottom, I’m planning to bore a few other holes in the canoe, so the foam inside can properly dry. Would you agree on that as well :)? Thanks!

I didn’t expect latex house paint haha.

If you cut into foam, then tape, sand, and fill coats might be required.

Epoxy sticks to polyester. Polyester does not stick to epoxy.

The big question on water in the core material is where did it get into the core.