• How to remove old paint from your boat

How to remove old paint from your boat

Does the paint on your boat look flakey? Do you want to paint your boat in a new color? The only way to achieve a nice finish on the surface of your boat is by stripping it from it’s old paint. There are several ways to remove old paint from your boat.

What condition is the paint on your boat in?

Before starting to remove the paint, you should think about how much you actually want to strip your boat of it’s coatings. Usually the paint of a boat contains several layers: Gelcoat, primer and topcoating. Stripping it down to the gelcoat is the most thorough way of cleaning it, but it’s not always necessary. For example: If you only want to paint your boat a new color, it’s a waste of time, energy and money to strip down the paint to the gelcoat. Removing just the topcoating and maybe the primer should be enough. But if you want to remove old paint for maintenance reasons, stripping more layers can be beneficial.
It also depends on how much you use the boat and in which way. Boats and ships for professional use are often a lot more exposed to water, algae, wear and other contaminants than hobby boats. Therefore professionally used boats benefit more from a total stripping of the layers than hobby boats.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there osmosis damage on the gel coat?
  • Is the paint flaking?
  • Is it just old and needs a topcoat?
  • Are there cracks in the gel coat due to structural problems?

What quality of finish do you want after repainting your boat?

The amount of work you put into preparing your boat for a new layer of paint has great influence on the quality of finish later on.
If you want to go for a factory finish boat that looks as good as new, you have to remove the old paint very thoroughly. If you leave any residuals form the old paint, rust and dirt you won’t get that factory finish look.
If you don’t want a factory finish look, but you still want to have your boat look decent, the old paint removal can be done with less effort. You still have to make sure that you remove any obvious old paint layers and other contaminants. Your boat will look good from a distance, but when standing nearby you’ll see that the surface isn’t even.
Of course you can also do it ‘quick and dirty’. Your boat won’t look great but it’ll do the job. You often see this on fisherman boats.

What products should I use to remove old paint from my boat?

Depending on the kind of layers of paint you’d like to remove and the quality of the new finish you want, you could choose a product that cleans just that type of paint. For example: Gelcoating should be removed in another way than topcoating. However, to make it easier for you, you could remove all the layers with just one product: The TERCOO® Rotating Blaster. TERCOO® is a natural rubber disk with 12 hard metal tips that create a ‘hammer effect’ during operation. This movement ensures that the tips clean the surface perfectly, removing all contaminants and other old coatings. It’s the easiest way remove old paint from a boat without the help of a professional or using many different products.

Other methods to remove old paint from your boat are:

  • Sandblasting: Can remove all the layers of paint. This needs to be done by a professional and can get pretty expensive.
  • Mechanical scrapers: Can also only be done by a professional and is mostly used for boats and ships that are professionally used.
  • Hand scrapers: It’s heavy work that takes a lot of time. But you don’t need a professional for it and costs are low.
  • Chemical cleaners: Don’t always get through all the layers of paint. Can be dangerous to use because of all the chemical released.