How to Paint a Paddle Blade?

Has anyone ever painted a paddle blade? I am picking up a new paddle tomorrow and the blades are black. I would like to paint one side of each blade white.

Why? I live and paddle on a busy Florida bayou, I take all precautions, paddle safely and stay close to the shoreline whenever possible. Only once in 10 years have I felt uneasy, 2 racing jetskiers were closing in on me and I was able to raise my paddle overhead, wave it in the air and back them off.

I think the paddle was more visable because the blades were white. I remembered this incident AFTER I ordered my new paddle. So I am thinking of painting the backs of the blades white. Any suggestions on how and what to paint them with?

what material?
If they’re plastic, I’d try the Krylon Fusion which is made for plastics.

On my fiberglass paddle I just sanded lightly and used a standard outdoor spray paint, which has held up fine. I did mask off the edges because I knew it’d chip there.

Marine paint would be best if you can get a small quantity, but I wouldn’t buy a quart to paint a paddle.

White specks on the horizon
White paddle blades are not that effective for helping you be seen.

Moving white dots on the horizon blend with white caps and spray.

More useful to have a bright boat and PFD. You might try reflective stickers on your paddle if you are really worried.

I have found
I have found I have often seen the movement of the paddle of a far off kayaker well before I actually see them or their kayak. (this is even with black blades) Of course I am also in a kayak, and likely scanning the horizon more than a jetskier… I have heard of people painting blades contrasting colors (I think I read here about bumblee stripes?) to increase visibility as well.

My paddle is carbon fiber and I
painted the blades white after watching several kayakers in dark, choppy water. Blade flash was all I could see and the white blades stood out against the dark water and sky.

I painted mine with appliance white and tipped them with flourescent yellow.The appliance paint takes a while to dry but is very tough once it does.

…and this for …
…night time safety?

Clear reflective paint?!?


thanks to John Redmond for the idea…

Mask off the blade with 2 inch masking tape (Blue) forming 2 inch wide stripes…then paint with bright yellow, green or orange krylon paint.

I painted mine after I was able to spot him coming 2 miles out (NO exaggeration!)

I have seen the
striped paddle from a distance too. The movement with the contrast really stands out on the water.

Any hard contrast would probably work, but the stripes are the easiest to make – and no one will confuse their paddle with yours.


Hadn’t thought about stripes.
Pimp my paddle, anyone?

Thanks a lot guys
I will paint it in bright stripes , maybe red and yellow to match which ever boat I happen to be in. Its a carbon fiber paddle so I will get appliance paint.

what about
those “paddle reflectors” a guy sells on Ebay?

reflective tape really works
hard to beat the power of the sun

maybe apply that in stripes?

For maximum contrast, I’d
suggest painting white or a bright yellow on the black blades. If you do red/yellow, think about doing a deep dark red and a bright neon yellow.

If you are the creative type, maybe make a stenccil with a zebra stripe pattern. I would guess that big, bold stripes are most visible – maybe 3 or 4 or each color on the blades.



What about SOLAS tape?

This is not cheap ($1.95/ft in 2" width) but when it comes to flashing, nothing is better.


Cheap reflective tape

what kind of reflection?
Most reflective tape – including the SOLAS stuff – is RETROREFLECTIVE. It reflects light back to the source. That’s great at night when you’re wearing a headlamp and your eye is roughly aligned with the light source, but it doesn’t do much during the day.

For reflection in sunlight a metallic mirror or glitter tape will work much better. I tried some on my paddle – it was certainly visible, but the reflections towards me were so annoying that I took it off.

Don’t know about stripes…
Motorcycle helmets with fancy graphics tend to disappear in traffic even though they are brightly colored while bright solid colored helmets pop right out of the background. Perhaps it’s like the camouflaged graphic paint jobs put on ships during war time. Just enough of a pattern to break up the outline.

Solid bright color paddles seem to pop out at you when the paddler is using it for propulsion.


Chesapeake, VA