Advice on Refinishing Aluminum Duck Boat?
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By Knollie81 - 4/7/2014 2:29:30 PM
Hello all.  Looking at refinishing an old 16ft Polarkraft aluminum jon boat for next year.  OD paint is coming off in places so I'm looking at refinishing the whole thing and putting a shadow grass type camo patten on it.  Are there any good painting tips anyone can share before I go too much further?

So far, I have vacuumed and powerwashed the entire thing.  Next, I am planning to wirebrush areas where the old paint is chipping.  Not sure what to do next since there seems to be alot of conflicting info whether to wirebrush, sand, use a paint thinner, or a combination of these over the entire surface (not just chipped areas) to 'prep it'.  What does everyone think?  After I have gotten past that point, does it make sense to use an aluminum self-etching spray primer prior to applying the base coat?

Also, willing to listen to any suggestions for a good, durable base paint (brand and color) to use on this thing.  I am thinking that I will try a Shadow Grass pattern since it is a pretty versatile pattern and will blend in good with the areas we tend to hunt.

Last but not least, the outboard board was previously spray painted over and I'd like to redo that as well because it looks terrible.  Anybody ever painted their outboard motors?

Thanks for the feedback!
By Knollie81 - 4/11/2014 2:56:40 PM
Bump.  Please help!
By Amish Amy - 4/15/2014 11:09:00 AM
I did two aluminum boats last year, mine and my sons and they came out great.  I began like you and after getting off any loose material I used a product called Trailer Brite and cleaned with that, I then used Krud Cutter for aluminum which etches the alum. Had to order it form Home Depot.  I used an etching primer from West Marine that I had to brush on because it was so thick. I then used Parker duck boat paint in green with a compressor and spray gun and then stencils and two shades of brown for the grass.  i

I'll look for some pics, it wasn't cheap but I wanted to do it once.  Held up really well paint got very hard when cured , a few spots that I touch up with Parker spray cans if need be.  Joe
By Knollie81 - 4/16/2014 10:27:27 AM
Thanks for your reply.  What type of camo pattern were you trying to mimic?  I'm trying to do a Mossy Oak Shadow Grass and will likely end up purchasing the stencil kit from Styx River.  Thinking of doing a Parker Duck Boat base coat.  What do you think of their paint?  I'm debating on using either the Hunter Green or Marsh Grass colors.  Which do you think is more suitable for the Shadow Grass effect?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
By Amish Amy - 4/16/2014 10:44:30 AM
I used the green as a base coat with a tan and mud brown stencil pattern I think I did use Styx River.  Parker paints are super. Make sure u  with an etching primerfirst.  The Primer I used was awl grip from West Marine
By Knollie81 - 4/16/2014 6:15:52 PM
Thanks, you've been really helpful.  Just need to figure out how many gallons of Parkers to get for a 16 footer.  Should I have plenty with 1 or would 2 gallons be better?
By Amish Amy - 4/16/2014 7:37:15 PM
one should do inside and out on a 16 and you'll have some left over,  I used a pro spray gun from a body shop helped a lot you can probably get one at Northern that would work fine
By Knollie81 - 4/17/2014 7:35:35 AM
Thanks.  Definitely owe you one.
By Knollie81 - 4/21/2014 10:29:59 AM
Did you have to thin the Parker paint at all to put it through the spray gun?
By Amish Amy - 4/21/2014 11:17:52 AM
I did at first a little but it ran.  So I put it on straight and it worked great
By Knollie81 - 5/7/2014 3:19:20 PM
Sorry for reviving this post once again.

I have now primed the entire boat - inside and out.  Now, my next challenge... we received some heavy rain 3 days after I put on the primer coat. The boat was covered with a tarp after the primer dried but some of the dirt and pollen is now incidentally on a few areas.  I read in a few places that I should probably wipe down the surface with a damp rag, let it dry, then apply the base coat over top to allow the paint to better stick to the primer.  Do you think this is the best course of action and that the primer is still good to paint over? Really hoping to avoid re-priming as that took A TON of spray cans.

Next, I did get a gallon of the Parkers OD Duck Boat Paint.  Now looking at purchasing an inexpensive but decent rated HVLP Gravity-Fed spray gun from Harbor Freight or Northern Tool (as per Amish Amy's suggestion).  Is this style of gun that you used as well?

Thanks again for the advice.  Will post pictures of the 'before and after' once I am done.
By Amish Amy - 5/12/2014 4:38:05 PM
Sorry been away and its tough on my cell to answer, its all about the primer from what I'm told.  Doesn't matter how good your paint is if the primer doesn't stick to the aluminum . Should be fine if its dry and I think the spray gun would be fine.  I borrowed one from a body shop and ended up buying it  Joe
By shawn73 - 5/13/2014 8:44:06 PM
I have to paint my boat this summer. I heard from several guys to use rustoleum paint. it comes in several colors. anyone here use this
By Hillbilly John - 5/30/2014 7:07:56 PM
I bought some rustoleum paint in camo. Spray cans. Haven't used it yet to paint my alum boat but I have heard alot of good things about it
By jcropsey - 6/5/2014 9:59:47 AM
I used rustoleum on an aluminum boat I redid a few years back.  It pealed:crying:  Maybe it was the rustoleum or maybe it was the rustoleum primer.  Other people I know have used the Parker products and swear by them:)  That's what I'll be doing this next time.  I used krylon on a fiberglass canoe to good effect:D  Roughed the surface with sandpaper.  Cleaned and prepped it with acetone.  No primer.
By Knollie81 - 6/16/2014 8:12:49 AM
The Good:

Hey guys, I used the dark green Rustoleum Self-Etching Primer cans (link below) after prepping the surface.  It seemed to stick very well assuming you take the time to properly prep the surface before applying.  Next, I did a gallon of Parker Duck Boat paint in Hunter Green through a spray gun I bought at Harbor Freight.  The results were very, very good!

The Bad:

My plan was to do a Mossy Oak Shadow Grass stencil over the base coat so I bought a Styx River stencil kit.  I figured this would be easy enough after researching some tips from others.  Anyway, I tried doing the stenciling this past weekend and am very disappointed with the results!!!  It was damn near impossible to hold the stencils flush again the sides of the boat which resulted in a huge mess.  I even tried using a coat hanger to try and hold down while spraying but the stencils are, in my opinion, way too big and difficult to manipulate which caused a ton of overspray.  There was also a ton of build up on them from the spray cans which made matters even worse.  To me, the boat now looks like crap so I am already thinking of buying another gallon of Parkers to go back over it and just leave it that way.  Besides, the Avery Quick Set blind will cover the boat when hunting anyway.  The stenciling really was very frustrating considering how much time, effort, and money I spent powerwashing, sanding, blowing, wiping down with mineral spirits, applying self-etching primer, and then spraying with a base coat.  Beware that the stenciling will be a PITA!!!

By the way, Anyone looking to buy some stencils?
By Amish Amy - 6/17/2014 4:26:15 AM
UHHH OH!  Yeah i bought two sets of the styx smaller ones and had to let one set almost dry befroe I used it in between shots.  It was a pain it didnt seem to matter if you got the stencil right tight to the metal in fact it looked better if I held it away a little i just used duct tape on the gunnel and it held it an inch or so away so the paint dribbling down the back didnt hit the metal. .   You have a blind for your or are you getting one??  I'm thinking the same thing and considering an AVERY blind. Joe
By Knollie81 - 6/17/2014 2:28:37 PM
Haha - I know, pretty disappointing considering everything was going right up until the stenciling.  Oh well, I will just paint it back to the plain Parker color.

Yes, we already have a blind on it. We inherited an Avery Quick Set blind with the boat when we bought it.  I'm not sure what the pattern is but it is an older looking net that has definitely seen better days.  I am thinking I will purchase a replacement net for it on eBay in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass because the frame itself is still in good condition.  Thinking of getting a KillerWeed boat blind kit to use in conjunction with the Quick Set camo net to give it a more realistic look.  The blind has worked pretty good for us as we killed quite a few ducks out of it last season.

By Knollie81 - 6/18/2014 10:55:17 AM

Did you use the Mini Stencils from Styx River?  I just checked out their site and it seems life may have been easier if I had gotten these instead.  The ones I bought are way too big - I'm guessing like 3' x 4' - and the difficulty in handling them seems to have lead to most of the mess.

Seriously, is anyone possibly interested in purchasing my bigger stencils?  I'd be willing to give someone a good deal and they've been used very lightly and include all original paperwork.

By Amish Amy - 6/18/2014 7:01:37 PM
Heres a sample of what my camo looked like its held up very well photo Camojob.jpg

By nelson84 - 6/19/2014 6:20:05 PM
I see everybody was getting back to ya about the boat but did you ever paint the outboard? and if so how did ya do it cause been wanting to paint mine just wasnt sure best way to paint or would it be better to just get one of the graphic kits but I know they can be pricey
By Knollie81 - 6/20/2014 9:59:44 AM
Yes, I actually did and it came out very good (I will post pictures once I have repainted over the messed up stencil job-should be really soon).  I considered the graphics kit at one point too but, since they are vinyl, there would be a glare which might prevent ducks from committing to your decoy spread.  Anyway, here's what I did to the paint the outboard...

1) I took an orbital sander to rough up the surface a little bit to provide some "tooth" for the paint to stick better.  Cannot recall off the top of my head what grit sandpaper I used but believe it was 180 or 200.

2) I then wiped down the surface area with a rag and some mineral spirits to clean off any the grease, impurities, etc. FYI -A little will go a long way

3) Next, I stuffed plastic bags or newspaper in any  holes to prevent primer and paint from getting up into the motor itself

4) Once the surface had dried from the mineral spirits, I sprayed the Rustoleum Self-Etching Primer (link below) on it all the way down to the top of my hydro-stabilizer.  The outboard (a Honda 50HP) took 1-2 cans of the primer.

5) I waited a couple days to let the primer really set before I painted the outboard (along with the rest of the boat).  I used the Parker Duck Boat Paint in Hunter Green (link below) through a HVLP spray gun from Harbor Freight and it worked out very well.

Like I said in the previous posts, I had a very good experience up until I tried the stenciling.  I did leave the outboard motor decals on and just went right over them because they were stuck on there so hard.  Also, I would recommend letting the paint dry for at least 2 weeks before attempting to put the boat in the water.  Hope this helps.

Rustoleum Self-Etching Primer:

Parker Duck Boat Paint: 

Harbor Freight Spray Gun:
By nelson84 - 6/28/2014 6:25:50 PM
thanks for that reply it will probably be soon that I paint the outboard cause its a pain to try and keep it covered being glossy black

with red and white decals
By DuckDown85 - 6/18/2015 12:38:44 PM
Hey Knollie,

I too had an aluminium jon boat that had a gnarly 80's rambo camo pattern on it when I bought it. Since I hunt pretty sandy embankments, I decided that the color had to change.

I started out thinking that I could just wire brush and wet sand everything down to an even paint level. I quickly learned that whoever had painted this boat before had the same idea and the paint ended up having about three different layers and colors that needed to be totally stripped to bare metal before I could even start to think about getting it to the color I wanted.

I used a gel paint stripper and let it set for about an hour and started scraping off what I could. It worked fantatically easier than the brush and sanding. I was almost down to bare metal and was having some trouble spots with certain areas where the paint was 3,4 or even 5 layers thick. So, I repeated the gel strip again. This time I was in a good place to start my other prep work.

Next came the pressure washing. This is a MUST DO step. It got dirt off from under the transom and seat blocks that I otherwise would have been trying to paint over. (Dirt+paint= flake city and fish eyes in your paint).

After the boat dried overnight, I used lacquer thinner over the whole of the boat. Lacquer thinner makes sure that every miniscule piece is clean, fresh and ready to paint.

Finally it was time to prime. I used a Rustoleum self-etching aluminum primer from a spray can. I highly recommend it, but do caution you to buy atleast 4 cans. I did two coats of primer to make sure everything was even and covered. Nothing is worse than trying to paint with a non-relfective paint only to realize that you had a low spot in your primer that allows reflection of light off of the bare metal.

After drying overnight, it was time to base coat. I used a sand-tan color (again by Rustoleum) that was part of their camo series paints. It provides great coverage per can and has almost zero light reflection. Again, if you think you need 4 cans, buy 6.

While I didnt do, or havent done, the camo patterns, you can use the same paint type just in a different color and use whatever stencil you want. Some folks choose to use natural foliage as their stencils, while others choose to use store-bought or homemade stencils. Its really a matter of preference for you, but be sure to pay attention to where you are going to be hunting. If you are going to be hunting swamps with primarily hardwoods and grasses, it doesnt make a whole lot of sense to use a pine branch, does it? (That's a lesson I learned from my brother's boat's paint scheme, but a story for a different time.)

Hope this helps.