View Full Version : paint question

01-28-2011, 10:11 PM
does anyone have experience using regular exterior latex paint on a hull? im building a boat on a somewhat tight budget and have heard from a couple sources that it will work. any cons? thanks


Lazy Jack
01-28-2011, 10:29 PM
Much on this topic of you use the search thingy. Paint and Varnish are equipotent to Religion and Politics across the forum when it comes to raising passions.

Yes, Latex will work....like Latex. It is not smart enough to know if it is on a house or a boat or a chicken coop or whatever. It will apply like Latex, clean up like Latex, hold up like latex. Many have used it successfully. It all depends on what results you are after.

I'm an alkyd enamel guy myself

Duane Brown
01-28-2011, 10:45 PM
I have used it on a skiff and the results are a mixed bag. I didn't get that yacht shine, applied with a roller. Primed with kilz primer. It, I think, has held up remarkably well. I will be doing a refreshening before this spring, the first since applying, and will find out how easy it is to retouch the dings.

01-29-2011, 08:27 PM
Ck out Boatsville.com "How to paint a boat article...very informative.I'm going thru the same thing.

01-30-2011, 11:05 AM
It will be a big help if you give us more info. Will it "work"? Yes. Is it a good idea for your boat of ? design, painting ? part of the boat, used on ? waters, stored in ?, transported by ?, etc == who knows?

For a small trailered boat used in mostly fresh water, I'd say just use an oil house or marine paint -- the cost difference ain't much. For a larger boat that lives in salt water, it might be worth it for topsides but possibly not for hull/bottom paint.

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Ian McColgin
01-30-2011, 11:29 AM
Any good exterior latex is great. Good enough for Spaulding Dunbar and my Dad from the '50s on. I think it's only really successful with a flat or at most semi-gloss white. Needs repainting every second year but it goes so fast who cares?

Cuyahoga Chuck
01-30-2011, 11:45 AM
The type of boat you are working on makes a difference. For instance, plywood has a shortcoming because it shows end grain on it's edges and that is a dandy place for water to wick in. Therer are better things than paint to cut off that kind of water intrusion. So, there are no one-size-fits-all answers whether it's paint, glue, screws, lumber or whatever.

Tom Freeman
01-30-2011, 04:55 PM
Each time I've tried to take shortcuts by using housepaint, I have regretted it. But we hold ourselves to a pretty high standard, so you may end up being quite happy with it if you don't care about a Bristol finish.

Bob Smalser
01-30-2011, 05:14 PM
A traditional alkyd porch and floor enamel like Kelly Moore Tredcoat (link below) costs me less than 30 bucks a gallon.....less than a decent latex at a Big Box....and when applied properly rivals Kirby's for the right look on a vintage design.

Like a rubbing varnish, it cures hard and can be rubbed out using red and grey Scotchbrite lubed with paste wax for a silky feel and traditional, low-gloss look without the chalky appearance of many latex paints. The end result is a much richer color and texture than most latexes are capable of. It also lasts longer. Latex house paints were formulated for siding and trim, not to resist foot traffic and abrasion...and don't do either very well.




John Turpin
01-30-2011, 05:28 PM
I'm a big fan of Glidden Oil-based Porch Paint. (Assuming that we're talking about a trailered boat.)

02-04-2011, 08:54 PM
There are a few really good "latex" paints out there. CIL's premium semi gloss exterior paint works really well. It dries a little too quick to get a really good finish but it will also hide a lot of things things that a perfect gloss finish wont. It stretches alot. so fewer cracks when the boat moves a little. It breathes so it will allow excess moisture to evaporate out of the wood. It cleans up very easily.
I will be using oils though because I just like the gloss look.

Rich Jones
02-05-2011, 09:37 AM
I've used latex on two of my builds. One, a 15' sailing skiff and the other, a Sam Devlin designed Cackler modified garvey. I'm satified with the results. Both boats are trailered and the Cackler sits outside during the boating season. I went with semi-gloss on both of them because I felt the latex wouldn't give that beautiful gloss finish.
The skiff is epoxy sealed marine ply without fiberglass. The Cackler is epoxy/fiberglass covered marine ply. Paint holds up well, even on the bottom when going along with the 15hp engine (top speed of 20mph). The skiff gets very little use, but the Cackler has been used regularly and I've only re-painted it once in 12 years.

02-05-2011, 11:25 AM
This is a great thread. While there are many many topics on this, should I just skip Home Depot and go straight to Kirby's for assistance?.. there only right up the street from me.

02-05-2011, 11:43 AM
So... would you use deck-type paint , on, say, a faering? Or is that heresy? ;-)

John P Lebens
02-06-2011, 12:35 AM
I've heard that elastomeric latex paints can be good on a boat because it breathes but remains flexible.

Brian Palmer
02-06-2011, 07:42 AM
I like Sherwin William's SWP oil based alkyd enamel. About $16 a quart, and they can mix any color you want.

What state are you in? Some (e.g., California) have banned almost all oil-based (solvent borne) house paints.


Ian McColgin
02-06-2011, 08:35 AM
Bob makes a good point that I never really thought of. Since I don't walk on my topsides, I never considered a porch and floor enamal for that purpose. I have used P&F for decks quite happily. The two types go on a little differently and I am not sure I'd have any luck painting a larger boat hull like Granuaile's with P&F. That was nearly 500 square feet per side and all verticle or a bit past and drips and sags might (or might not for all I know) be an issue. Worth the test.

Here's where I think Bob's thought might open new possibilities - I have never been satisfied with any latex topside except semi-gloss white. If the P&F handles as readily on a verticle surface, then a range of colours opens that I've not even played with.

For painting the larger planked wooden hull, the scuff and dirt resistance of latex is not in the same ball park as with something like Kirby's. To look really sharp, the hull that's sailed hard needs painting at the minimum of every other year. Annual is better. This is worth it with latex since the total paint coating can be kept constant with a fast 80# sanding. The taping is the biggest job, especially if the hull has much fussy detailing. Grana did not. It normally took me working alone about an hour per side sanding, half hour per side taping, and a half hour per painting - 4 hours for a pretty big boat. I've done conventional topside paint on boat's Grana's size and the sanding increment took about 4 times as long, the painting 6. Even the strongest paint begins to look a little sad by the third or fourth year of hard use, so great topside enamel needs 5 or so times the total durability for the work input of each approach to equal out. When you add the increased costs of sandpaper (less sanding with latex) and paint (just look at those Kirby's costs) and the relative efficiencies are noticable.

HOWEVER, none of these savings amounts to all that much in little (one ton or less) boats. As boats get smaller, you get lot's more detail, more stuff to paint around and paint different colours. The added work of all that fine prep makes the investment in really hard core durability worth it. And smaller boats get handled more. Latex collects surface damage while a good marine topside paint resists. So as a boat gets smaller, the absolute value of cost for paint diminishes while the work inputs per painting increase. It quickly gets to the point where you've not really saved much to put latex on a nice little wherry and you've made her look rather common.



Bob Cleek
02-06-2011, 08:33 PM
This is a great thread. While there are many many topics on this, should I just skip Home Depot and go straight to Kirby's for assistance?.. there only right up the street from me.

Absolutely! Drop in on "George the Third" and I'm sure he'll fix you right up. Latex paint is latex paint. You get what you pay for. IMHO, even the best latex isn't up to an average high solids oil based deck and porch paint. (Which you can buy by the gallon at Kelly Moore or wherever in white and have them color to whatever shade you want.) There really isn't a lot of difference in oil based paints. It is a mature technology. You got linseed oil, turps, a little Japan drier, and pigment. (The pigment is what costs.) They're all the same. The "conditioning" you'll pretty much have to learn yourself by experience... thinning and a bit of Penetrol, depending on the humidity, temperature and time of day when applied. I have seen Penetrol makes a conditioner for latex paint, but I haven't used it. Maybe it works, but in my experience painting houses, latex paint is really difficult to apply if you expect to get any kind of fine finish, which isn't the case with houses... given my definition of a fine finish. It's great for siding and drywall mud textured walls and ceilings. Not so great for topsides.

If you can't make up your mind, ask yourself this: If my boat was a car, what kind of car would it be. Now, it could be a classic Rolls Royce, or it could be an old rat rod '32 coupe, or whatever. Once you have that in your mind, ask yourself, "If I needed to paint it, would I use latex paint from Home Despot? You might... "your mileage may difffer." And then again, you might not.

Don't forget, you're usually getting a lot more paint in a can of alkyd enamel than you are in a can of latex enamel. Most of the oil based enamels now are formulated rather thick to keep the VOC content within EPA standards. After you thin and condition them for proper application, you will find you have half again, if not twice the volume of paint as came in the can. Not so with latex, which doesn't seem to tolerate thinning much at all and, when thinned, suffers in finish without any real increase in ease of application. At the end of the day, the price per square foot of coverage isn't all that different.