Repainting fiberglass canoe?

-- Last Updated: Jul-08-15 11:28 AM EST --

I own a fiberglass 15'6" Old Town solo canoe that I acquired about 14 years ago as a teenager. When I bought it from a neighbor, it originally had a white hull that stained easily. Since I was going through an ultra-outdoorsy stage at the time, I repainted it with stenciled camo leaves using Krylon spray paint. I also added skid plates a couple of years after that.

Well...needless to say, I'm officially over the whole camo thing, and I'm thinking of re-repainting the canoe so something a little more "classic".

Can anyone recommend an affordable, easy-to-use paint that will hold up well in a wet environment? I've been looking at the Rustoleum Topside Marine paint in the navy blue color.....but am wondering if anyone has any better suggestions.

(Side note: after some extensive Googling, I'm about 99% certain that this canoe is one of the old "Northern Light" canoes, despite missing the decal with the model name. But I could be wrong...)

any paint will scratch off
I often use Krylon Fusion spray paint below the waterline on river boats simply because it is so easy to mask off and respray when it starts looking bad.

But good quality marine polyurethane paints do cure harder and are more durable. I have used one part marine polyurethanes for ease of application but the two part polyurethanes are said to be tougher still.

The brand I have used is Interlux Brightside and I have been pretty happy with it. Recently, Dave Curtis suggested to me Petit EasyPoxy which contains silicone and is said to have a gel coat-like shine. I have purchased some but not yet applied it.

CJ solo
If it was several years old when you got it, it may predate the Northern Light series, and be a C.J.Solo or one of the hulls that were originally White canoes that became Old Towns when Johnson Outdoors merged the two companies. Old Town is pretty good at identifying their canoes from the HIN number molded into the hull or affixed on a manufacturers plate. Dimensions would help the canoe gurus here to ID it for you.



– Last Updated: Jul-08-15 11:29 AM EST –

Turns out you're right! It's a CJ Solo. I've called Old Town before to have them run the serial number, without any luck. However, I just called now, and apparently talked to a much more competent person. She was able to tell the year it was made from the last two digits, and then they just checked the specs against models made that year. The ones made the year mine were had black plastic gunwales, but I can't find any pics online of any like that....the ones online all seem to have wooden gunwales with the bolts going through the side of the canoe instead of vertically up through the gunwales like mine.

1985 CJ Solo, 15'6" long, 29" wide, 31" at the waterline. Weights 52 lbs, originally came in blue, green, or white hulls.

I'm going to repost asking about this model in particular....having owned this boat for a long time, I'd love to know more of the history.

oil base paint into the fiberglass resin
I have just sanded my 14 ft great Canadian,and ready to paint.i have seen a utube video where the guy mixed a small amount of oil base paint to the resin after mixing the hardener,any thoughts on that idea

Color dilemma?
Well, when I first posted this, my plan was to repaint my canoe navy blue…but now that I know what model it is, and how few were made, I’m kind of debating about repainting it the original white.

Either color would be authentic to the model (which came in white, blue, or green). I prefer blue, but also like the idea of returning to the true color of the canoe since this 1985 model is now almost vintage.

The white will show fewer scratches over time (since the scratches would just show the original white gelcoat underneath), but it will also show dirt and grime more easily. When I bought it, there was a sort of “bathtub ring” at the waterline that showed up pretty bad against the original white color and that I could never get out, which is why I repainted it at the time (14 or so years ago).


can you remove the camo paint
and get back to the original gelcoat? Would be a bit more authentic.

stripping paint
I would make an attempt to strip the old paint even if you plan to repaint it. A non-uniform color pattern will likely require multiple coats of paint to get good cover, and if any of the old paint chips or flakes it will take your new paint off with it.

I have had pretty good luck stripping paint off canoes with Citristrip:

It might take multiple applications of stripper to get the old paint off.

Oxidized or discolored gel coat that has not otherwise been damaged can often be restored to a near new appearance by wet sanding, then applying a polishing compound and buffing the hull with an automotive buffer.

Start with the finest grit waterproof paper that is effective in removing the oxidation and discoloration and work down to 1500 or 2000 grit, then polish and buff.

Sanding off the paint, definitely.

– Last Updated: Jul-09-15 9:02 AM EST –

YES, I will definitely be sanding off the old camo paint before repainting whatever color I go with.

I don't want to just sand back to the old gelcoat and leave it like that for a couple of reasons....the original gelcoat has some spiderwebbing cracks (and some actual chips) around the bow. There's also kevlar skid plates on the ends, which would show up amber colored unless they're painted over. The original gelcoat also had 15+ years of waterline stain as well as a couple of other discolored patch jobs from prior owners that I'm not sure would sand off gracefully. Basically, the original gelcoat won't restore to a nice brilliant white. I'm going to repaint's just a matter of deciding the color. Original white or navy blue?

canoe paint
Do not overthink it. Sand the old paint to give it some tooth. Get of the dust and paint. Latex porch paint or house paint works fine. You can use spray enamel. Some people like epoxy paint, but it is expensive and hard to work with. It is designed for use on boats that stay in the water. Touching up a painted boat with a brush hardly takes any time at all. White is a great color for a canoe.

I painted my canoe with Topsides
I painted my fiberglass canoe with Rustoleum Topsides paint. And navy blue! I sanded the boat and filled scratches and gouges, and the areas I had to repair. A tree branch fell on it causing some cracks and bruises. Then sanded again. Then I put on two coats of Rustoleum wood and fiberglass primer, lightly sanding sanding with 320 sand paper between coats. Then I applied the Topsides with a roller. It took 4 coats to cover so the primer didn’t show through. Again, light sanding\scuffing between coats. It won’t hold up well if you are rough with your boats, bottom scrapes will happen easy. But it will be ok if you take just a litle care. And can live with ‘use marks’. After two years it doesn’t look too bad. I painted the inside with camo paint. Duck hunters use it to paint their boats, it was the only flat finish oil based paint I could find. The inside really looks good.

Rustolium Topside paint…

– Last Updated: Jul-10-15 1:58 PM EST –

I just used it on a kayak hull. It is one of the lowest cost paints of it's type but more than good enough for older paddle craft. Just follow directions and you will get a super job.

Thinning or tipping?
When you used this paint, did you bother to thin it at all, and did you bother to “tip” the roller marks away with a brush?