How to Revamp Your Kayak with a Stylish Makeover

Are you tired of looking at the same old color on your kayak? Do you want to give it a fresh and eye-catching look? Well, you’re in luck! Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to paint a plastic kayak and make it stand out from the crowd. Not only will a quality paint job enhance the appearance of your kayak, but it will also provide added durability and protection against rust. With the right paint, your kayak will not only look great but also have a longer life expectancy and improved performance. Plus, by taking on the project yourself, you can save both time and money. So, let’s dive into a complete guide on how to give your kayak a stylish makeover.

Can You Really Paint a Plastic Kayak?

Absolutely! Painting a plastic kayak is not only possible but can also give it a brand-new shine. You have the freedom to add attractive designs or signs to make it even more appealing. However, it’s crucial to choose the right paint that is water-resistant and suitable for plastic materials. Keep in mind that not all paints adhere well to plastic, especially polyethylene materials.

What Paint Should You Use for Your Plastic Kayak?

Selecting the right paint can be a bit of a challenge. You need to consider several factors before making a decision. The paint should be water-resistant, suitable for plastics, and provide a smooth finish. Here are some recommended paints for painting your kayak:

  • Krylon Fusion for Plastic®: This paint requires no sanding or priming and dries quickly.
  • Valspar® Plastic Spray Paint: Ideal for changing the color of rigid plastic surfaces, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Rust-Oleum Specialty Paint for Plastic Spray: An oil-based formula that can be applied directly to various plastic materials without a primer.
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Using a primer can help achieve the desired color. Some recommended primers include Rust-Oleum Specialty Plastic Primer Spray, Krylon CoverMaxx Primer, and XIM Plastic Bonding Primer.

How Much Does It Cost to Give Your Plastic Kayak a Makeover?

The cost of painting a plastic kayak can vary depending on its size and the complexity of the painting job. On average, a 10-foot-long kayak can cost between $200 to $350, depending on its condition. However, the value of painting a plastic kayak goes beyond aesthetics. Paint provides protection against scratches, dents, UV fading, and other damages caused by everyday use. Painting your kayak can also save you money in the long run by preventing dust and rust from affecting its performance.

9 Simple Steps to Paint Your Plastic Kayak

To make your kayak painting project a breeze, follow these effective steps. They apply to both plastic kayaks and those made from other materials. The key here is to ensure the adhesive quality of the paint specifically for plastic kayaks.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Before you start painting, gather all the necessary tools and materials. Some of these include:

  • Paint suitable for plastic kayaks, like Krylon Fusion for Plastic® or Valspar® Plastic Spray Paint.
  • Marine-grade paint, paint thinner, dishwashing liquid, water hose, and water supply.
  • Acetone for cleaning and removing any oils that may affect paint adhesion.
  • Personal protective equipment such as gloves, a painting mask, safety glasses, and earplugs.
  • Clean cloths, rags, sandpaper, gelcoat repair kit, pressure washer, utility knife, and masking tape.
  • Foam paint rollers, paintbrushes (spray or spray gun), and a sponge (optional).
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Step 2: Choose the Right Area

Choose a suitable area for painting your kayak, preferably outdoors with minimal wind. If you choose to paint indoors, ensure proper ventilation and a dust-free environment. Avoid confined spaces, as dust can negatively affect the final result. Place your kayak on a cloth or frame to protect the surrounding area from paint.

Step 3: Strip It Down

To achieve the best results, remove any parts of the kayak that you don’t want to paint. This includes seats, rod holders, screws, and foot braces. Keep in mind that unnecessary painting can affect the kayak’s performance and buoyancy.

Step 4: Clean and Sand Your Kayak

Clean the kayak thoroughly using detergent or liquid dishwasher to remove dust, rust, and other debris. Dry the surface with a soft cloth to ensure maximum adhesion. Use sandpaper to smooth out any imperfections and create a better surface for painting.

Step 5: Wipe Down Your Kayak With Acetone

After cleaning and sanding, wipe down the kayak with acetone to remove any remaining dust, oils, or paint. Acetone also acts as an adhesive promoter, ensuring better paint adhesion. It’s essential to follow each pre-painting step meticulously for a long-lasting paint job.

Step 6: Let’s Paint!

Now it’s time to paint your kayak. Gear up with protective gloves and a mask, and start by spraying the paint onto a foam roller or brush. Apply the paint evenly to the clean surface of the kayak. Depending on the type of paint and the surface, you may need to apply three to five coats for optimal coverage. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one. Multiple coats will enhance the glossy finish.

Step 7: Apply a Protective Clear Coat

Once you’ve achieved your desired paint finish, apply a clear coat for added protection against UV rays, weather effects, and fading. Choose a high-quality clear coat and apply it to the dry painted surface using a soft brush or paint cloth. The clear coat will bond with the paint and extend its lifespan.

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Step 8: Patience is Key – Let the Paint Cure

Allow the paint to cure for the recommended time. Spray paint typically takes around 30 minutes to 2 hours to cure, while oil paint may require more than 24 hours. To be safe, let your kayak dry for 24 hours before using it.

Step 9: The Final Touch – Light Cleaning and Marine Wax

After the paint has cured, lightly clean the surface and apply marine wax. Marine wax acts as a permanent polish, protecting the color and coat of your kayak for an extended period. Apply the wax using an automated brush or polisher, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the wax dry for a few hours before taking your kayak for a spin.

Some Extra Tips for Your Plastic Kayak Makeover

Here are some additional tips to make your plastic kayak painting experience even better:

  • Ensure the kayak is thoroughly cleaned and dried before painting to maximize paint adhesion.
  • Apply 2 to 4 coats of paint, depending on the type of paint and surface.
  • Allow the kayak to dry for 24 hours to ensure proper curing.
  • Test the color on a white base before applying it to the kayak.
  • Choose the correct base color to achieve the desired look.
  • Test the sprayer or can on a cardboard or newspaper before painting the kayak to ensure consistency.


Now you have all the information you need to give your plastic kayak a stylish makeover. Painting your kayak is a straightforward process if you follow the right steps. However, it’s crucial to consider the materials you’re using and the specific application process for oil or spray paints. Stay tuned for more exciting knowledge and tips about kayaking in our future articles. And remember, with a little effort, you can transform your kayak into something truly unique and eye-catching.