Painting Kayak

I have a red rotomolded kayak with lots of scratches, & in need of a paint job.I bought it used last year.

I called a collision place that I know & he said he would look at it.

Is this a good idea & what if I wanted to change the color?

would not advise it
The finishes applied by auto body shops will not adhere to polyethylene and, in fact, some solvents will damage it – they are formulated for metal and fiberglass surfaces. The Krylon brand spray paint that is designed for plastics may coat it somewhat but you have to pay close attention to the preparation directions for the surface to have it adhere. Don’t expect the paint to fill in the scratches or to wear very well over time – it is more designed for patio furniture than something that gets rough use Stick with the same color the boat is now for the least funky outcome. This link describes repair options for rotomold kayaks. You’ll note at the top of the second column they state that painting is “not an option.”

probably not
Not only would it add significant weight, the paint would easily scratch off, and the old color would show through every chip and scratch. Unless you really babied it, it would probably soon look worse than it does now.

I’ve done it…
years ago, I wanted my poly kayaks camoflage. Hey, I was 19 or so.

I used Rustoleum paints with a brush, they held up pretty well. I think it also protected them over the years from UV light.

Fast forward 25 years, the thing looks awful. I sand it down and use the Krylon paint. Nice blue deck and white hull.

It scratches off more easily than the Rustoleum. Oh well, it ain’t going in a museum.

If you want to do it to amuse yourself, go for it. But don’t hire it done, it’s an investment that won’t last.


I was thinking about painting one!I was hoping there was advancements in painting!!

Why bother?
Simple scratches are irrelevant. They happen. As to the color - if you hate it as above the best solution is to hold for a new one.

Krylon makes a spray paint just for plastics. I can’t remember the name, but your Home Depot should have it. It flexes and works great on stuff like outdoor patio furniture. You can probably Google it to find the name.

It does not matter
The brand or type of paint does not really matter because any paint will scratch off each time the hull brushes up against a solid object.

A good paint job requires a lot of prep work. The new paint may stay on for a while but in the end it will sctatch off in places to show the original plastic color and look as bad or worse than before being fixed up. If you can’t stand the looks of the boat, sell it and get another.

Kayak Painting
You certainly can paint your kayak! Maybe!

(How’s that for an oxymoron?)

If your kayak is a composite material (fiberglass, carbon fiber, etc.) you shouldn’t have any problem painting it provided it is properly prepped.

But if it is plastic, the determining factor is whether or not the manufacturer uses a “release agent” on their molds. This is a chemical that is sprayed in the mold to help keep the kayak from sticking to it - - serves much the same purpose as spraying Pam in a frying pan. You would need to contact the manufacturer to find out. My guess is, most do.

If they do, the chances of getting any kind of paint to bond well are somewhere between “slim” and “none”.

If they don’t, you would first need to scuff the surface with a fine grade sandpaper or Scotch-Brite pad, then apply a coat of adhesion promoter (available at automotive paint stores) prior to painting.

From strictly a personal standpoint, I wouldn’t do it! No paint is as flexible or as “soft” as the plastic which will make the paint very susceptible to chips and scratches. It will look good when you are finished painting it, but it won’t take too many trips to the water for your kayak to start looking pretty ragged.