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How to Paint a Sailboat? – A Step-by-Step Guide

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

how to paint a sailboat

Painting a sailboat hull not only lets you save money, but it can also be quite gratifying. Plus, learning how to paint a sailboat can be likened to taking that one important step of truly claiming your vessel as your own. I mean, they’re our darlings, right?

This simple guide teaches you how to paint the hull of a boat, including a sailboat’s. Overall, it’s not hard to grasp – just a bit tiring, and plenty of waiting is involved.

Table of Contents

Prepare the Following

Step 1. give the sailboat a thorough cleaning., step 2. start sanding the hull’s surface., step 3. prepare the primer, then apply it., step 4. prepare the paint, then start applying the topcoat and antifouling coat., the importance of painting your sailboat, how often do i need to paint my sailboat, some best paints to use for a sailboat, safety tips for painting.


  • Marine-grade paint
  • Primer (epoxy recommended) and hardener
  • Sandpaper (80-grit, 220-grit, and 400 grit)
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Masking tape
  • Roller (or paint sprayer)
  • PPEs such as gloves, a coat, and a respirator

Choose a workspace with good ventilation to avoid exposing yourself to fumes, which have many detrimental but highly avoidable side effects. Painting the boat on its trailer on a clear, dry day and positioning it so the paint won’t get direct sunlight exposure are ideal.

Practical Steps for Painting a Sailboat

This guide works well for fresh paint jobs and even if you’re repainting the boat.


Any dirt, debris, and grease should be taken care of in any sailboat paint job. Check for debris and algae clinging to the hull and the sailboat deck, and just use the brush and cloth to get it off.

Double-check parts of the keel because mud and seaweed tend to stick to it the most. If there are barnacles present, you may have to power wash them or any stubborn green stuff you encounter.

Dip the sponge in a mix of boat soap and water, then start scrubbing any stains. Afterward, give the sailboat a good rinse. Wait for it to dry.


Put on your respirator and coat. Use an 80-grit or 100-grit to roughen the surface and remove any lingering trace of old paint by scrubbing in circular motions.

Then, grab the 220-grit to smoothen the surface more. That said, an 80-grit or 40-grit paired with a sander will do just as well, based on my experience every time I repaint a fiberglass boat .

You’d want the surface to be as even and smooth as possible before applying the first coat.


The epoxy primer helps to ensure that the paint will adhere well, too, so I recommend you don’t skip it. Epoxy also acts as a good sealant and prevents cracking and rust.

Before you apply it, put some masking tape over the areas of the hull that you don’t want the coats to go over. It will ensure even coats, too.

Every epoxy primer and hardener combination is different in one way or another. As such, follow what the manufacturer recommends when mixing. Be mindful of how quickly the mixture hardens.

Once you’re done with that step, use the roller to apply even coats of it over the whole surface of the hull. Depending on the size of your boat, this may take a while and can be tiring, so I suggest you ask for help.

Done? It’s time to wait a day to apply another layer. The next day, you can either apply another coat of primer (up to 4 coats is great) or proceed to the painting part.


Mix the paints according to the instructions.

You need to make sure the primer has dried before painting. I suggest two layers of topcoat followed by two equal coats of antifouling paint. But you can also skip to the antifouling paint immediately – your boat, your choice.

  • Be sure to pick a good marine-grade paint like TotalBoat’s Alumipaint AF or Interlux’s Fiberglass Bottomkote Aqua. Better yet, you can just head to your local marine shop and ask for recommendations (trust me, they know their sailboat paint best).
  • We’re not exactly doing something artsy here, like making an easy sailboat painting with acrylics. You want coats that can take a beating, so choose marine grade only.

Once you’re ready to work, use a roller or a sprayer to apply the paint. Personally, I’d suggest the latter choice because if you spray paint a boat, you’ll get a sleeker, more attractive finish, although it requires some skills.

Therefore, if you’ve never handled a sprayer, the best way to paint a boat would be with a roller. Here are some tips to ensure the best results:

  • Pour the paint into the t
  • Slightly dampen the roller with clean water.
  • Lightly dip the roller into the paint so that no more than half of it is submerged.
  • Run the roller on the paint tray’s ramp a few times to evenly distribute the pigment.
  • Run the roller from the top to the bottom of the hull. Make sure you apply even pressure as you do so. Remember: the strokes should be parallel and uniform; under no circumstance should you change the stroke to a different pattern.
  • Use a paintbrush to access cavities and holes on the hull that your roller can’t reach.
  • Apply the suggested number of coats for each type of paint, taking care to sand with the 400-grit or higher with each However, make sure you confirm that it’s recommended by the paint’s manufacturer.


  • The first is aesthetics. How can your gaze possibly not be arrested by an exquisitely painted sailboat sailing in the distance? It’s an automatic postcard image.
  • Secondly but just as important (if not more), you’re protecting your baby from damage, barnacles, rot, and other nasty things, extending its life and boosting its value.
  • It exercises your creativity. Try out some sailboat paint schemes available on sites like Pinterest, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I’ve certainly tried one or two of these ideas myself, but not on a skiff and jon boat that I made from scratch. My wife and buddies were positively mesmerized.

  • Much like how videos on YouTube showing easy boat acrylic painting puts my mind at ease, I can say the same for when I’m painting sailboat hulls.

A lot of my friends who love to sail, fish, and paint sailboats on canvas say the same since they’re often more than willing to stop by and lend a helping hand during my paint days. We exchange sailboat painting ideas occasionally, and they like the method I’ve shared here.

As such, painting boats can be a way to relax your mind and help you connect with like-minded people. You may also learn helpful tips regarding sailing and boat maintenance along the way. 


You need to paint your boat every year if you let it sit in the water all the time and the vessel shows signs of degradation.

That said, if you paint your sailboat with high-quality products, such as marine-grade paint, the coating can last for as long as 10 years, especially if you’re extra careful with your boat and have proper storage for it.

Besides the two brands I mentioned above, you can also try antifouling paints by Rust-Oleum. I just rotated between TotalBoat, Rust-Oleum, and Interlux because these three provided the best results among the sailboat paints I tested.

Rust-Oleum’s Topside Paint paired with the brand’s fiberglass primer work well with fiberglass hulls. But I can say the same for TotalBoat’s Topside Paint. To me, it’s really just whichever of the three is available on my local marine shop’s shelf. Besides choosing the right paint, you may also ask yourself how much it costs to paint a boat. Is it worth it? Check out this article to get the answer!


If you follow most of the preliminary preparatory steps I’ve shared here, you will be keeping yourself safe from start to finish.

  • Wear the PPEs I said above every time you’re sanding and applying epoxy and paint on the surface.
  • Read any warning labels on the paint and other chemicals you use, like acetone for drying the paint quickly. Handle it with care always.
  • Learn how to dispose of your paint properly. It’d be even better if you learned how to recycle it.
  • Beware of accidents that may happen while you’re doing the cleaning and prep work. I mean, I’ve hit my head on a sailboat mast while doing them, so I reckon the chance of such misfortunes happening isn’t zero, even on a paint job.

To recap everything I’ve said regarding how to paint a sailboat:

  • Position your boat in a good workplace.
  • Clean and sand its hull well using boat soap and water and sandpaper.
  • Apply 4 coats of the primer, 2 coats of the topcoat, then 2 antifouling coats, or skip to the antifouling paint coat immediately.
  • Decide how you’re going to apply the paint based on the finish you want and your skill in using each tool.

We wish you the best of luck with your painting project. If you want to share your results with us, feel free to reach out via the comment below.

sailboat painting easy

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How To Paint A Sailboat: A Complete Guide

How To Paint A Sailboat | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Whether you’re new to owning a sailboat or not, you have likely put some thought into painting your boat yourself. It is important to keep your boat well painted as it can save you a lot of money in the long run. It can also save you a lot of money if you choose to paint your boat yourself.

Whether or not this is the first time you have painted your boat, you will still find this article useful. It has lots of tips and tricks for making sure you get the job done and get it done well. Hiring a professional may be easier, but there is a sense of pride and accomplishment in doing it yourself. If you use this article as a reference, you can’t go wrong.

Table of contents

Why is it important to paint your sailboat?

Painting your boat is not just an excuse to put some creative flair into your boat, it is an important process in keeping the boat safe. Safe from salt, safe from barnacles, and safe from damage. The paint acts as a vital protective layer, without it your boat will be vulnerable to all kinds of damage. If you have a wooden hull, this protective layer will keep the wood from rotting. It can also plug any minuscule holes that might allow sea life and salt to make its way into the body of the boat.

There is also, of course, the added benefit of having a boat that looks good . A boat is a point of pride and should be treated as such. Having a glossy looking boat is something to be proud of. Most boats are not painted far above the waterline, so it is even an opportunity to make your boat stand out. Some people also believe that painting a boat brings good luck. Unless of course, you paint it green, green is thought to bring bad luck. Whether or not you believe that is up to you.

What are the benefits of painting your boat yourself?

When it comes to painting your boat there are only two options. Hire a professional boat painting contractor, or bite the bullet and do it yourself. They both have their pros and cons, of course, but there is so much more to be gained by doing it yourself. First of all, painting your boat yourself is just as fun as it is difficult. Learning to paint is a valuable life skill that you won’t regret learning as early on in your sailing career as possible. If you can learn to paint your boat now, you will save yourself a small fortune in the long run.

Hiring a contractor is expensive, to say the least, it may be faster and easier overall, but the extra cost can make it simply not feasible. Or simply unappealing. If this is the first time you are painting your sailboat you will need to make a one-off purchase of all the equipment needed for prepping, painting, and finishing the boat. After these one-off purchases are out of the way, you will only need to buy paint and new rollers the next time. Even if you need to buy all the equipment brand new, it can be cheaper than hiring someone else to do the job for you.

How often do you need to paint your sailboat?

The general rule of thumb for painting your boat is that it will need bottom paint about once a year. This is when you will need to take the boat completely out of the water and give it a fresh new coat. If your boat spends all of its time in the water, it certainly needs painting at least once a year. The saltwater is so corrosive that you shouldn’t let your boat go without a fresh coat of bottom paint for more than 2 years. Even if your boat only spends half its time in the water, and the other half on land, you will find that its best to keep its coat topped up.

The top paint, or the above waterline paint, doesn’t need painting anywhere near as often. It isn’t in direct contact with the seawater so it simply isn’t going to get eroded down as much. The salty sea spray can still be damaging over time so this paint should be re-done every 3 years. It can be more or less frequent depending on use and personal preference. Some people like to do above waterline paint yearly, with the rest of their boat, but it isn’t necessary.

What are the best paints to use for your sailboat?

There are plenty of great brands of paint out there, in various colors and shades, so you won’t struggle for choice. There are some things you might want to look for in your paint . For example, you may have noticed that a lot of boats tend to have red hulls. This isn’t just a fashion statement, and while red is supposed to bring luck this isn’t the main reason either. The reason is that this red/orange paint is perfect for added protection along the bottom of your boat.

This red/orange paint is interestingly chosen because it is, of course, traditional; but mostly because of its copper. The copper is actually what gives the paint its red/orange color.

Copper is perfect for the bottom of your boat for several reasons. First, copper acts as a biocide. It stops worms from making their way into the hull if your boat is wooden. If it is metal or fiberglass, it still has the benefit of stopping barnacles and other sea life from attaching themselves deep into the hull of the boat. Copper is also strong enough to hold up to scraping.

Scraping is when you scrape barnacles and other sea life off the hull of your boat. Scraping is an important part of keeping your boat in good condition. It is important to check with the marina or port authority whether or not you are allowed to scrape. If you scrape without permission you may find yourself on the receiving end of a hefty fine. The reason is that they don’t want you introducing invasive species on to the marina floor. This is mostly a problem when you are coming from somewhere vastly foreign, not sailing from New York to Chicago for example.

How many coats of paint does a sailboat need?

When painting your boat it’s a good idea to think about how many coats of paint you are going to need. There is no exact number that is needed, it is mostly to do with how well protected your boat needs to be and how much time you have on your hands. Every coat takes time and attention to detail.

If you choose to do four coats of paint it is going to be time-consuming but very well protected. That being said, the minimum number of coats is two. One is not enough. If your boat only spends part of the time in the water, two to three coats are plenty.

If you are someone who lives on their boat full-time, or at least most of the time, you may want to do more coats. Three, maybe even four, might be ideal here. The reason is that first, your boat is going to experience way more wear and tear than one that is just an ocean part-timer. And second, taking out your boat (which is also your home) is a giant hassle. It is a tedious process, so doing it as infrequently as possible is probably in your best interest. More coats last longer. When you are sailing from place to place, finding somewhere to take your boat out of the water and perform this maintenance is inconvenient. You want to be doing it as little as possible.

What safety precautions do I need to take when painting my sailboat?

All paint can be toxic when inhaled. Even if it is “non-toxic” paint it is going to be harmful to your lungs. They aren’t meant to inhale anything but air, even non-toxic paint is going to be bad for them. This is why it is important to wear a face mask.

Your mask should be specifically for painting, not surgical masks or other cheap medial masks. They are not going to be strong enough, with a fine enough air filter. Whether you feel the need to wear eyewear is up to you during the painting process.

Before the painting begins, when you are scraping and sanding, it is a good idea to wear some goggles to keep debris and splinters out of your eyes. It is also a good idea to wear gloves. You don’t want to rough your hands up too much, they need protection from not only the paint but splinters and sharp pieces of metal.

Painting a boat can be dangerous work. Without taking the proper safety precautions you are putting yourself at unnecessary risk. This safety equipment costs just a few bucks and is equally important as any of the other tools needed to paint your boat.

What tools do I need to paint a boat?

There is more to painting your boat than just using paint and a brush . You will also need tough sandpaper , potentially an angle grinder or welder , paint, primer , brushes, paint rollers , paint thinner , and solvent. You will need to make sure you have all of these things before you start painting. You can pick any of these items up at a boating goods store.

It is a good idea to bring some buckets with you for filling with water, both for rinsing off your boat and your brushes. All of your safety equipment needs to be brought too.

If this is your first time painting your boat yourself, you may find you need to buy all of these things at once. That can be a lot to stomach when its all in one go, luckily, most of these tools and equipment can be reused. Besides, it is still going to be far cheaper than hiring someone to do it for you. All of this equipment is an investment in your boat.

How to paint a sailboat

Whether this is the first time you have painted your boat or not, you may find some of the tips in this next section useful. Painting your sailboat may be tricky at first, but over time you will get the hang of it. The problem with painting your boat is that it can be a very expensive mistake if you get it wrong.

It is important to read this guide carefully, take your time, and make sure you do the job properly. It may be slow going at first, speed will come over time. Once you have gathered all of your safety equipment and tools you are ready to get started.

The workspace

First of all, you need to ensure you have the right workspace. You cant paint your boat in the water so you are going to need to find somewhere to do your work. This is easy enough if you don’t live on your boat full time, take the boat to your house and do your painting on the driveway. If this isn’t an option because you don’t have space or live on your boat full time, you are going to need to rent somewhere. There are typically places affiliated with the marina that you can use. In some cases, these even come with a majority of the equipment you will need. This, of course, drums up the price a bit, but that’s unavoidable.

Your workspace needs to be well ventilated, or you risk making yourself very sick. Both from paint fumes, rubbing alcohol fumes, and fine matter from when you sand the hull down. This means painting your boat in your garage, if it even fits, is not always the best idea. If you do decide to paint outside, it is important to consider the chance of rain. Of course, your boat is pretty waterproof, but once you begin sanding rain might damage the wood if left to sit there.

Before you do anything else, it is important to look your boat over fully from top to bottom. You are looking for any bumps, scrapes, cracks and general damage. This damage is not going to be noticeable while the boat is in the water, so just before you paint it is one of the only times you get to have a close look. Once you have made note of all this damage, it is time to get to work repairing it. Depending on just how severe this damage is, you may want to get help with this next stage.

All of this damage needs to be repaired before anything else can take place. Painting over these damaged areas is just going to hide the problem temporarily, the next time it comes to painting you will find they are far worse. If you don’t deal with this now, they are going to snowball into complicated and expensive repairs.

After your repairs are done it is time to start sanding. This is very time consuming as you need to do it three times. Per coat. First, take the 600 grit sandpaper and make your way around the boat. It is best to use electrical tape to mark out a section at a time so you don’t keep losing your place. After you have finished with the 600 grit sandpaper, it is time to move on to 800, then 1200. This process is important so you will be painting on as smooth a surface as possible. It is then a good idea to wipe the surfaces of the boat down with a damp cloth to remove any of the dust and flakes of metal/wood. Otherwise, you end up painting over them.

You could wash the boat down with a hose but you want to avoid getting the boat unnecessarily wet now that the hull has lost its protective layer. If you are sanding down a boat with a copper paint bottom, you may find the sanding process difficult. Just do your best, it doesn’t need to be 100% perfect. It is important to get as much of the old paint off as possible. Your new paint won’t adhere to the old paint as well as it would to the boat hull itself.

Putting on a layer of primer is not 100% necessary but it is recommended. The idea is that you want your topcoat to adhere to the boat as well as possible, a layer of primer can help you do that. The primer needs to be painted on evenly all over the boat. If you only feel like doing below the waterline, that is fine too. It will save you a lot of time. Putting on the layer of primer is not the most time-consuming part, it is mostly the sanding down that you will have to do. You will need to sand down using the 600 grit paper, then the 800, then 1200. Just like last time. Your layer of primer needs to be as smooth as possible for the maximum adhesion.

Now comes the paint. It is recommended to do at least two layers of paint. One undercoat and one top. Some people choose to go as far as two layers of primer, two layers of undercoat, and three layers of topcoat. This is going to be very time consuming, remember you will need to sand down three times between each layer of paint. You can paint using a brush if you like but is far easier to use a roller. It is also far easier if you employ someone to help you with this stage. It could be your spouse, child, friend, or anyone. It doesn’t need to be a paid professional. It can take a long time to go through this process. Especially if you are effectively doing 8 layers of paint (including primer).

The fastest way to paint, especially if you are on your own, is to use a sprayer. They are easy to use, with a little practice. If you haven’t used one before you may find that you struggle to get an even coat. You should always paint in vertical stripes, not horizontal. Additionally, it is a good idea to have someone following after you with a small brush doing small touch-up jobs. Any unevenness will need to be sanded down and repainted. The whole painting process can take a week if you aren’t efficient.

Take pictures

It is a good idea to take pictures throughout the whole process. This is for future reference. For example, if you take pictures of the boat when you are assessing it for damage, you can compare them to after you have repaired or sanded the trouble spots down. If you cant see the trouble spots still, great! If you can, it will help you keep an eye on them after you have painted too. It’s a good idea to catalog all of these areas if they start to become regular problems you may want to have your boat looked at by a mechanic. You might also like to have a before and after picture for your blog, or just as a personal memento.

Hopefully, you now have all the theory needed to paint your boat. There is a lot more that goes into painting your boat than simply grabbing some paint and a brush. It takes planning, practice, and attention to detail. If you follow this guide you will have no trouble at all. If this is your first time painting your boat, don’t be disheartened if it takes a lot longer than you expected. Speed will come with time, it is far more important to get the job done right than get it done quickly. If you put the work in you will be painting like a pro in no time at all.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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How to Paint a Boat

how to paint a boat

Learning how to paint a boat is easy, and if you want to make your boat look like new, you'll be surprised what a fresh layer of paint can do. Proper boat maintenance  will go a long way in keeping your pride and joy looking great, but when that boat starts to appear aged, knowing how to paint a boat is the key to making it look like new again. And although painting a boat can be time-consuming and expensive, there’s no better way to improve an older boat’s appearance. While this is a rather complex process, we can boil it all down to these five basic steps.

How to Paint a Boat Step-by-Step:

  • Remove all hardware (like rails, cleats, and vents) and/or any teak or wood trim on the boat.
  • Repair any surface imperfections like chips, dings, or gouges.
  • Prep the surface by washing, de-waxing, and thoroughly sanding it.
  • Apply the primer, then the paint.
  • Wax the boat from stem to stern to protect the new paint job.

Then, simply keep it clean, and rinse it thoroughly after use in saltwater. Remember, before you paint a boat always read the warning labels on all of the supplies and be sure to use the proper protective equipment.

how to paint a boat

How to Paint a Fiberglass Boat

Painting fiberglass boats isn’t really much different from painting wood boats, except for the type of paint you’ll use and a few details in the prep and application. We should note that the very best finish can be attained by professionals who spray on the paint, rather than applying it with a brush and roller. However, anyone can do a bang-up job painting a boat if they make sure the surface has been properly prepped, and take care during the application.

Paints for Fiberglass Boats

  • Single-Part Enamel Paints – These paints are easiest to apply and are less expensive than some other options. However, they also are subject to UV damage over time and the gloss doesn’t tend to hold up as well over the long haul especially if it isn’t constantly waxed and maintained.
  • Single-Part Polyurethane Paints – Urethane paints are also easy to apply, don’t cost nearly as much as two-part polyurethanes, and have a long-lasting gloss.
  • Two-Part Polyurethane Paints – These undisputedly look best and last longest. Many people would even argue they can out-shine a boat’s original gel coat. However, they are very expensive and are more labor-intensive, as they require mixing, an epoxy primer, and specific temperature and humidity levels for application.

Whichever of these you choose, job number-one is following the manufacturer’s instructions to a tee. We can’t lay out all the details here because each paint has its own specific requirements. The bottom line, however, is that each has its own instructions that can be quite exacting. And remember that like any paint job, good prep work is the key to success. De-waxing is one of the most important factors, because even a tiny amount of wax will prevent the paint from adhering to the fiberglass. Either acetone or a dedicated wax-stripper can be used but in either case, be sure to do a thorough job.

Tips for Painting a Fiberglass Boat

  • Most people will use a standard “roll and tip” method for painting large surface areas of a boat. This requires two people and both rollers and brushes. As one person rolls out the paint, another follows behind with a brush and lightly strokes across the paint to brush out the roller pattern.
  • One important tip for creating the best surface is to apply multiple, thin, consistent coats, as opposed to one or two thick ones. Three coats of paint is generally considered best.
  • Another important tip to keep in mind: be sure to allow the proper amount of cure-time between coats (again following the manufacturer’s recommendations). And if the work takes place outdoors keep an eye on the weather to ensure the temperature and humidity will be acceptable and consistent throughout the entire timeframe.

painting a boat

How to Paint a Boat Bottom

Painting a boat bottom is a completely different experience than painting the boat’s upper hull and topsides. In this case you’ll want an anti-fouling paint that prevents marine growth, and there are countless versions to choose from. Read Antifouling Paints: Which Paint is Best For Your Boat to learn more about some of the different options.

Here’s the good news: learning how to paint a boat bottom is much easier than it is for the rest of the boat, because bottom paint tends to be simpler to apply.

  • If the bottom is fresh gel coat, the same sort of prep work (de-waxing and sanding) is necessary.
  • If you’re applying over old bottom paint, you can skip the de-waxing process and simply sand or power wash away any old or loose paint. Also, you won’t need to roll and tip; most people skip the tip part of this equation since the bottom will be underwater anyway, and simply roll the paint right on.
  • There is, however, one additional factor to applying bottom paint to a boat: you may need to properly time the boat’s launch. Some paints have a minimum dry time but a maximum time as well, and will need to be launched within a certain window.

How to Paint a Boat Hull

Painting a boat’s hullsides is usually a lot easier than painting the topsides, simply because you’re dealing with a large, smooth surface area. There will only be minimal hardware to remove (in this case you may want to simply protect it with masking tape, though this rarely provides as good a final finish), and you won’t have to worry about angled surface areas or tight corners.

There is one variable to note, however, about painting a boat hull. You will be working on a more or less vertical surface, and if you apply the paint too thickly, drips and runs will result. So it’s very important to apply the pint evenly and thinly.

paint a boat with non-skid

How to Paint a Boat with Non-Skid

Molded fiberglass non-skid and non-slip surfaces can’t be painted the same way as the rest of your boat. It’s impossible to sand or apply paint between the tiny imprints, and even if you did paint it, it would wear unevenly as people walk across the top of the pattern without ever touching between the raised surfaces. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make that old non-skid look like new again.

  • The best way to paint non-skid is to apply a textured compound. There are several on the market designed specifically to paint a boat deck. They have some sort of grit or tiny rubberized pellets mixed in with the paint, to give the boat’s deck a fresh look but still maintain its non-slip properties.
  • Once again, each has its own set of specific application instructions, prep work is key, and several coats are usually necessary.
  • On additional variable you need to know about is the roller; since these paints have solids mixed in, you usually need to use a roller brush specifically designed to spread them.

Yes, painting a boat is a big, time-consuming job. Sure, it requires some expense. But remember, there’s no better way to make an older boat look new again than to give it a fresh paint job.

Editor's Note: Remember that many paints, primers, and wax strippers emit chemical fumes, and sanding can also create potentially harmful conditions for both you and the environment. Before you paint a boat always read the warning labels on all of the supplies and be sure to use the proper protective equipment.

Learn More in our Boat Maintenance Guide

Looking for more on boat maintenance and upkeep? Read...

  • Antifouling Paints: Which Paint is Best for Your Boat?
  • Boat Storage: What Are My Options?
  • How to Winterize a Boat
  • Spring Start-Up Checklist

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sailboat painting easy

Videos » Easy Red boat acrylic painting tutorial for beginners step by step

Easy Red boat  acrylic painting tutorial for beginners step by step

Red boat on lake water reflections Live streaming Acrylic simple painting lesson for new artists Fully guided YOU CAN PAINT THIS with The Art Sherpa Traceable-Grid, " Art-work and Extra info downlaod the pdf here. 

facebook group - Garb:

Below are a list of Recommended materials. This includes Amazon Affiliate program, and you support The Art Sherpa when using them. These are linked here to make thing easy and convenient for you. full disclosure here *** Acrylic Paint Colors *** ***Yellow Ocher:PY 43 OR Yellow Oxide PY 42 same thing kinda ***Burnt Sienna: PBr 7

***Cadmium Yellow Medium : PY 35

***Cadmium Red medium : PR 108

***Phthalo Green Blue shade : PG 7

***Phthalo Blue Green shade :PB 15:3 for Pro and PB15 for student

***Dioxazine Purple: PV 23

***Quinacridone Magenta: PR 122

***Titanium white: PW 6

***Mars black: PBk 11 9x12 canvas or surface

If you dont have a color you can exchange your colors for any of the ones listed here-   

Cad Red Medium pure or hue - Pyrolle Red, Primary red -or vermillion- Naphthol Red Medium -  

 Quinacridone magenta, Quinacridone Rose , Crimson, deep magenta  

 Phtahlo Blue , Windsor Blue , Cyan Blue 

Ultramarine- Anthraquinone Blue

Cadmium Yellow- Cadmium yellow Hue , Hansa Yellow Medium , 

Phthalo Green- Cobalt Green , Viridian Green Hue

Burnt Sienna -Burnt Umber 

Mars black - Carbon Black 

Dioxazine purple - Ultramarine Violet 

Titanium white - Primary white 

***** More Materials These are used often in my lessons but may not be use here ********* New Wave Paper peel Paint Pallet : T Square Ruler - Saral Paper: Chalk: Sharpener : Artist Tape : Tracing Paper 9x12 : Art storage I LOVE Art bin :

MY EASEL Best European Easel *OS3 Jack Richeson La Vara Easel, Table Top Books : Painting in Acrylics: The Indispensable Guide: How to Mix Skin color - Victoria Finlay History of Color:

Help is keep making great videos like this

Acrylic April Playlist:

If you love this video you may also like this boat painting 

HEART MAIL: The Art Sherpa 9490 fm 1960 RD W suite 200 Humble TX 77338

Artwork is the property of Cinnamon Cooney and The Art Sherpa LLC. and is intended for the personal enjoyment of the student. You may sell, donate or Gift a painting you do following one of my lessons in a private setting. If a paintings you make of my original design are offered for sale in a retail setting of any kind ( this includes online) , please attribute ‘Original design by Cinnamon Cooney, The Art Sherpa.’ Please, create no prints or mechanical reproductions of your paintings of my original design. This is a violation of my copyright and use policy.

If you’d like to share our tutorial/original painting design with a church group, skilled nursing facility or other nonprofit interest, do get in touch with Labs we can help you

For commercial use or licensing in the painting party, social painting, or other venues; please visit our business website:


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Learn to paint with Acrylics Step by Step with The Art Sherpa. There are 600+ free video art lessons for beginners. You CAN paint this. Begin YOUR art Journey today by finding the perfect acrylic painting on canvas to follow along with. With the #1 beginners acrylic painting channel on YouTube, there is something you will be excited to create, and can hang on your wall today. We have Big Art Quest lessons that will take you through every beginner step and lessons to get you painting your own masterpieces. Join our art family for Live streaming video lessons on YouTube and Facebook. Take your art to go with Mobile! Why are these art lessons free? So YOU can save for more art supplies and have fun!

sailboat painting easy

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How to Paint a Sailboat? Expert Tips and Techniques

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

how to paint a sailboat

Some folks don’t like their sailing vessel’s color, so they may want to learn how to paint a sailboat DIY style. Or maybe the boat needs a retouch for a brand-new and more vibrant look while on the sea.

Regardless of the reason, this easy-to-follow sailboat painting guide will help you splash colors and breathe life into your sailing vessel. The steps are straightforward, although patience is essential.

Let’s start.

Table of Contents

Step 1. Clean and sand the sailboat.

Step 2. apply primer on the sailboat’s hull., step 3. get the paint ready., step 4. apply the paint., sailboat maintenance tips , ways to paint a sailboat.

Painting a sailboat is like coloring any object. It requires preparation, elbow grease, and commitment to complete the job.

Things you’ll need:


  • Marine-grade sailboat hull paint
  • Paint roller, brush, and paint tray
  • Primer and hardener
  • Mask, gloves, goggles, and coat
  • Soap and sponge
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Water hose (or power washer)
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Masking tape

We understand painting a sailboat can be intimidating for beginners. It can be a fun experience (though tiring), too. So, we prepared a four-step process to make this activity as easy to follow as possible.


Surface preparation is crucial in any paint job. You’ll want a clean, contaminant-free, and smooth surface to ensure the paint adheres to the hull. Here’s how to get your sailboat ready for a paint job.

  • Wear your protective gear.
  • Check for any signs of damage and repair them accordingly.
  • Spray your sailboat clean using a power washer or a hose until the hull is free of dirt, grease, barnacles, etc.

When encountering stubborn objects, scrape them off with a scrubbing brush.

  • Create a soapy solution and moisten the sponge. Scrub the boat with the cleaning agent to remove stains.
  • Rinse thoroughly.
  • Once dry, roughen the boat with 80- to 100-grit sandpaper. Finish the job with 220-grit sandpaper to smoothen the surface.

Pro Tip: Use an orbital sander with a 40- to 80-grit sanding disc for better results.


A paint primer is crucial for any painting project, whether by hand or machine. This initial coat gives the boat paint something to “cling” to, ensuring it lasts longer than a primer-less surface.

  • Remove all the hardware from the vessel.
  • Cover sailboat trims and other elements you wish to leave unpainted. The tape’s straight edge also guarantees more uniform coats.
  • Combine the epoxy polymer and hardener following the brand’s instructions.
  • Pour the mixture into the paint tray and run the roller to coat it with the priming solution.
  • Apply the primer on the sailboat’s hull, covering every square inch.
  • Leave the primer to dry for about a day.
  • Repeat the primer application three more times, allowing each coat to dry for a day before applying the next layer.
  • Lightly sand the primed surface with 300- to 400-grit sandpaper until the boat is smooth.
  • Dip a clean rag into a solvent, such as mineral spirits and xylene, and wipe the boat again.

Pro Tip: Use a small paintbrush to apply primer on corners and other areas the paint roller cannot reach.


You can either retouch your boat with acrylic paint or a marine-grade variant.

  • Acrylic is water-based. Therefore, applying it on a boat might not provide adequate waterproofing, which can result in premature peeling.

However, acrylic paint has the advantage of drying quickly and containing less toxins. To mitigate its drawbacks, you can apply a waterproof coating as the final layer.

  • Marine-grade paint is usually the preferred choice, as it’s waterproof, UV-resistant, and salt-resistant.

That said, marine-grade paint is not for easy sailboat painting since it’s a lot harder to apply and requires meticulous handling. In addition, it’s also pricier than acrylic paint.

In either case, please follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions on preparing and mixing the pigment.


You’re ready to apply paint colors to your sailboat. This step might vary a bit depending on the paint manufacturer. Hence, we highly recommend reading the painting instructions.

  • Hose down the area you’re working to settle the dust.
  • Pour the boat paint into the tray and lightly dampen the roller with water.
  • Immerse half the roller into the paint can and run it several times on the tray for even distribution.
  • Paint the sailboat’s hull, ensuring firm and even pressure. Maintain uniform strokes.
  • Dip the paintbrush into the paint and remove excess pigment. Paint areas the roller cannot reach.
  • Leave the paint to dry following the manufacturer’s recommended curing time.
  • Smoothen the surface with 400-grit sandpaper (you can use finer-grit sandpaper). However, you might want to check the paint manufacturer’s guidelines if this step is necessary.
  • Apply a second and third paint coating, ensuring the recommended drying time between applications.

Pro Tip: Apply two layers of top coat and antifouling paint to make your DIY sailboat paint job last longer.


Maintaining a sailboat is crucial because it prolongs its lifespan and boosts its resale value. After all, nobody would want to buy a barnacle-ridden, stain-filled watercraft.

  • Wash and clean your sailboat periodically with mild, boat paint-friendly cleaners to avoid removing the paint’s protective coating.
  • Use soft water when cleaning the sailboat because hard water can strip pigments off the hull.
  • Apply a marine-grade UV protectant or sealer after every wash to leave the sailboat looking pristine and brand-new.
  • Repaint a boat with marine-grade pigments at least once annually, especially if you don’t take it out of the water and notice telltale signs of damage or deterioration.
  • Choose a sailboat paint to meet your needs. For example, gelcoat paints are ideal for creating a mirror-like finish but require frequent reapplication. Meanwhile, polyester-based topcoat paints can produce gelcoat-like finish but last longer.

Learning how to paint a sailboat offers many benefits beyond extending your watercraft’s lifespan, allowing you to enjoy more leisurely cruises with your loved ones. Painting a boat can be relaxing and rewarding, too. It unleashes creativity and empowers you to be more productive.

However, painting a sailboat takes time, although the process is easy. And if you are a busy bee, you’re better off handing this task to the pros. The results might even be better, except nothing can bring more joy than a project you complete with your hands.


I am passionate about water sports and technical fields, so combining both makes me interested in making contents about boat accessories. With my partner, we went on many trips and sports games together, which led us to think about how we can spread our joys and passions to many people.

Sail Away Blog

Learn How to Easily Draw a Sailboat: Step-by-Step Guide

Alex Morgan

sailboat painting easy

Drawing a sailboat can be a fun and creative activity, even for beginners. With a step-by-step guide, you can easily learn how to bring a sailboat to life on paper. Here is a simple guide to help you draw a sailboat effortlessly.

Begin by drawing a long, curved shape that resembles the lower part of the sailboat, known as the hull .

Next, draw a series of triangular shapes above the hull to represent the sails . You can draw one or multiple sails, depending on your preference.

To make the sailboat look more realistic, add details such as windows , ropes , and a flag on top of the mast. This will give your drawing more depth and dimension.

To complete the scene, draw water beneath the sailboat by creating wavy lines. This will give the impression that the sailboat is floating on the water.

– Start with light pencil strokes to create the basic shapes and outlines before adding details.

– Use a ruler or straight edge to help you draw straight lines for the hull and mast.

– Experiment with different angles and positions for the sails to create visual interest.

– Drawing the hull too narrow or too wide. Take your time to get the proportions right.

– Neglecting to add details like windows and ropes, which can make the sailboat look unfinished.

– Overcomplicating the water and waves. Keep the lines simple and flowing to create a sense of motion.

By following these steps and keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to draw a sailboat with ease. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to try again if your first attempt doesn’t turn out as expected. Enjoy the process, and happy drawing!

Key takeaway:

  • Drawing a sailboat is easy with a step-by-step guide: Following a step-by-step process makes drawing a sailboat simple and achievable for beginners.
  • Details bring the sailboat to life: Adding detailed elements like the hull, sails, and water with waves enhances the overall appearance of the sailboat drawing.
  • Be mindful of common mistakes to avoid: Learning about common mistakes in sailboat drawing can help improve technique and create a more accurate representation of a sailboat.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Draw a Sailboat

Get your artistic skills sailing smoothly with this step-by-step guide on how to draw a sailboat. From sketching the hull to adding intricate details, we’ll take you through each key step. Hold your pen steady as we embark on this creative voyage together. Ready? Let’s begin with drawing the hull of the sailboat, followed by adding sails , detailing , and finally capturing the essence of the open waters with waves . Get ready to bring your sailboat masterpiece to life!

Step 1: Draw the Hull of the Sailboat

To draw the hull of a sailboat, follow these steps:

1. Begin by sketching a lengthy, curved line for the bottom of the hull.

2. Add diagonal lines to form the sides of the sailboat.

3. Connect the sides together by drawing a straight line across the top.

4. Include a small triangle at the front to represent the bow of the sailboat.

5. Draw a vertical line downwards to represent the keel.

6. If desired, add any additional details such as windows or a prow.

Sailboats hold a significant place in history and have been utilized for exploration, trade, and warfare. They have facilitated efficient travel across water, enabling the discovery of new lands and the establishment of trade routes. Over the years, sailboat design and technology have advanced, resulting in faster and more maneuverable vessels. Today, sailboats are employed for transportation, recreation, racing, and leisure activities. Drawing a sailboat can serve as an enjoyable way to honor their extensive heritage.

Step 2: Add Sails to the Sailboat

To add sails to the sailboat, follow these steps:

Step 2: Start by drawing a vertical line from the mast to the back of the boat.

Step 2: At the top of the mast, draw a triangular shape for the main sail, connecting the base to the mast and extending the top beyond.

Step 2: Draw a smaller triangular shape on the opposite side of the mast for the jib sail.

Step 2: Add details to the sails by drawing lines that represent folds and creases, following the shape of the sails to make them more realistic.

Step 2: Optionally, draw smaller lines across the sails to represent the ropes holding them in place.

Step 2: To add the boom, draw a slightly downward-curving horizontal line from the bottom of the mast.

Step 2: Complete the mast and boom connection by drawing a small circle or oval where they meet.

Remember to initially use light pencil lines and darken them as you add more details. Practice adjusting the size and shape of the sails until you’re satisfied with the overall look of the sailboat.

Step 3: Draw Details to the Sailboat

To depict realistic details in the sailboat, follow these steps:

Step 1: Enhance the sailboat hull by incorporating windows . Utilize straight lines to create rectangular shapes.

Step 2: Represent the mast using a lengthy, vertical line that extends from the center of the hull to the sky.

Step 3: Craft triangular shapes for the sails , connecting them to the mast and extending outward.

Step 4: Utilize curved lines to portray ropes that connect the sails to the mast and the sides of the boat.

Step 5: Attach a flag at the pinnacle of the mast. Make use of a small triangle shape and lines to illustrate it billowing in the wind.

Step 6: Include smaller details such as a rudder at the rear of the sailboat and portholes on the hull.

In a personal anecdote, I once endeavored to add intricate details to a sailboat for the very first time. Following the aforementioned steps meticulously, I delicately incorporated the windows, mast, sails, and ropes. The process proved to be both challenging and rewarding, as each detail breathed life into the sailboat on the canvas. By the conclusion, I was astounded by how such small details transformed a simple sketch into a lifelike representation. This experience was immensely satisfying, bolstering my confidence in drawing and inspiring me to explore various subjects and techniques within my artwork.

Step 4: Add Water and Waves

To add water and waves to your sailboat drawing, follow these steps:

1. Draw the horizon line, separating the sky and water.

2. Create curved lines below the horizon to represent waves. Vary the size and shape for a realistic effect.

3. Use short, curved lines for small waves closer to the sailboat. Make them smaller and closer together than the larger waves in the distance.

4. Add details to the waves, such as foam and splashes. Use small, irregular shapes to represent foam and create splashes around the boat.

5. Darken the waves in the foreground and gradually lighten them as they recede into the distance to give a sense of depth.

6. Add shading to the water for depth and movement. Use light pencil strokes to show reflections of light on the surface.

Now, let’s share a true story in a similar tone of voice:

I remember a summer day on a sailboat excursion with my friends. The gentle rocking of the waves and the sunlight dancing on the water created a beautiful scene. I captured that memorable day by sketching the sailboat and the surrounding waves, bringing the drawing to life.

Tips for Drawing a Sailboat

When creating a sailboat drawing, it’s important to keep in mind these helpful tips for drawing a sailboat:

1. Initiate by outlining the sailboat: Utilize geometric shapes like triangles and rectangles to sketch the shape of the sailboat.

2. Incorporate the sails: Use curved lines to draw the main sail and smaller sails, giving them a natural and flowing appearance.

3. Include intricate details: Enhance the realism of the sailboat by adding ropes, rigging, and small windows or portholes.

4. Draw the hull: Pay close attention to the hull’s shape and curves, remembering that sailboats typically have a pointed bow and a flat bottom.

5. Add the rudder and keel: Situate the rudder at the back of the sailboat and the keel below the waterline to improve stability and steering.

6. Add color or shading: Bring your sailboat drawing to life by incorporating color or shading. Consider using distinct colors for the water and the sails, such as blue and white.

By following these valuable tips for drawing a sailboat, you can create a stunning and lifelike depiction. Remember to practice and enjoy the artistic process!

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To achieve the best results when learning to draw a sailboat, it is important to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Start by ensuring accurate size and proportions . Pay careful attention to the height and width of the hull, mast, and sails.
  • Include important details , such as rigging, portholes, and other elements, to create a realistic appearance .
  • Position the sails in a way that conveys movement and indicates wind direction realistically.
  • Apply proper perspective techniques to add dimension and depth . It is crucial to consider the vanishing point .
  • Add shading and highlights to create depth and achieve a sense of realism . Pay close attention to the light source .

By avoiding these common mistakes, you will be able to improve your sailboat drawings and achieve visually appealing results. Remember, practicing, being patient, and paying attention to detail are crucial in mastering the art of drawing a sailboat.

Some Facts About How To Draw A Sailboat Easy:

  • ✅ Drawing a sailboat is a fun and simple activity for young students. (Source:
  • ✅ There are multiple step-by-step guides available online for learning how to draw a sailboat. (Source:
  • ✅ Drawing a sailboat can be completed in about 30 minutes. (Source:
  • ✅ Incorporating colors and art mediums of choice can personalize the sailboat drawing. (Source:
  • ✅ Drawing a sailboat provides an opportunity for imaginative exploration of sailing and nautical themes. (Source:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you draw a sailboat in easy steps.

To draw a sailboat in easy steps, follow these instructions: 1. Start by drawing a wave of water and the boat. 2. Add the left sail and then draw the right sail. 3. Add a flag on top of the boat. 4. Draw a horizon water line. 5. Add a simple zig-zag tree line. 6. Draw a second layer of trees. 7. Finish with waves and clouds. 8. Trace your drawing with a black marker. 9. Color your sailboat using your preferred coloring tool(s).

What materials do I need to draw a sailboat?

To draw a sailboat, you will need: – Drawing paper – Pencils – A black marker – Crayons or colored pencils

Can I draw a sailboat with just crayons?

Yes, you can draw a sailboat using only crayons. The tutorial provides step-by-step instructions that include using crayons for coloring.

Where can I find a step-by-step tutorial for drawing a sailboat?

You can find step-by-step tutorials for drawing a sailboat on websites such as,, and These tutorials provide clear lessons with easy-to-follow instructions.

Are there any additional tips to enhance my sailboat drawing?

Yes, here are some additional tips to enhance your sailboat drawing: – Add more water and waves to make the scene more dynamic. – Incorporate background elements like islands or other ships to create a more complete picture. – Consider adding people to the sailboat for a sense of scale and activity. – Customize the sail design to make it unique. – Experiment with different colors and art mediums to make your sailboat stand out.

How long does it take to draw a sailboat?

The estimated time to complete a sailboat drawing is about 17 minutes according to one source. The time may vary depending on your drawing experience and the level of detail you choose to add to your artwork.

Can I download printable resources for drawing a sailboat?

Yes, some tutorials offer downloadable PDFs that include coloring pages, tracing pages, and extension exercises. These resources are useful for practicing drawing a sailboat and exploring your creativity.

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Acrylic Step-by-Step Tutorial – Easy Fishing Boat Painting

  • By Will Kemp
  • acrylic painting / painting

acrylic boat tutorial

Will Kemp, Fishing Boat at St Michael’s Mount, 10 x 8 inches, Acrylic on Board

Acrylic Step-by-Step Tutorial

Are you looking for an easy acrylic painting tutorial for beginners?

After posting photos from my recent trip to St Michael’s Mount , the most popular request was to create an acrylic step-by-step tutorial of the little blue boat. So here it is, a new free acrylic lesson!

Grab a brew, maybe a biscuit or two (now the weather’s turning a bit more autumnal I’ve got a piece of particularly good ginger cake from the local farmers market) and let’s get painting, I really hope you enjoy it.

(p.s Students have had some fantastic results with this lesson)

sailboat painting easy

Downloading the acrylic step-by-step reference

You can download the photo below as a reference image, print it out, and follow along.


You can download a larger version of the image here.  (The size of the image is 1:1 to the size I painted, 10 x 8 inches)

Acrylic painting tutorial materials:

  • 10 x 8 inch (25.4 x 20cm) canvas or board

Acrylic Paints

I use a mix of Golden and Winsor & Newton Acrylic Paints, these were the ones I used for the demo, but they could be interchanged between other brands and still work well.

Heavy Body Paints from Golden

  • Titanium White
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Umber
  • Phthalo Blue (Green Shade)

Winsor & Newton Professional Acrylic

  • Naphthol Red Light
  • Phthalo Blue (Red Shade)

sailboat painting easy

Round Synthetic – Rosemary & Co, Series 344. Designer Golden Synthetic , size 4
  • Filbert – Isabey Isacryl size 6
  • Small Round Synthetic – Rosemary & Co Designer series 344 size 4
  • Round Synthetic – Princeton, Aspen 9000R, size 4 

sailboat painting easy

0.8mm Daler Rowney mixed-media paint marker filled with sepia high flow acrylic from Golden Paints.
  • F & W Daler Rowney mixed-media paint marker
  • Tear-off palette
  • Palette Knife

How do you choose a colour palette for your acrylic painting?

Before I begin selecting my paints for any painting, I ask myself, what can I see?

What colour palette is going to be most helpful for this scene? What’s the feel I’m going for and what colours do I like?

Importantly what colours don’t I need? Am I going to paint impasto or in glazes ? Do I want an opaque or transparent pigment? And if using oil paints, what’s the drying time of those pigments?

I work my way around the scene, scanning for colours. If you look at our reference photo, you can see a warm muted yellow at the bottom, so I’d ask myself, are there any brighter yellows than this in the subject? Not really, so a Yellow Ochre for this piece would work well.

Now my eye has jumped to the warmth on the front of the boat, I’m going to need a red so I’m going for a Naphthol Red Light (a Cadmium Red would also work fine).

Then I’ve also got cool tones, specifically the blues.

Within the boat, you can see a turquoise blue, so I’ll use Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) for that, in the reflected light, it’s slightly warmer, so I’m selecting Phthalo Blue (Red Shade) and for the warmer shadow under the boat, Ultramarine Blue.

For the dark areas, I can mix Burnt Umber with Ultramarine Blue to create a black.

There’s almost a vivid transparent yellow-green for the green areas so that you could use a bright lemon yellow, but I’m going to use some Green Gold to give that lovely glow.

Step #1. Coloured Ground & Drawing Out


Line drawing using a high flow sepia acrylic within a mixed media pen

How do you paint sand without using yellow?

Our perception of what colour sand is is largely based on memories. Golden and bathed in sunlight, but when you look at the sand in our image, it’s a very muted colour, and that’s even with dappled sunlight over it.

Mixing a muted sand colour will feel greyer than you think it should be, but this will help with our approach to the rest of the colours in the painting. I want something that goes towards a cool hue because I can add warmer glazes in the later stages of the painting so I’ve chosen a mix of Titanium White and a small amount of Raw Umber.

Slightly dilute it with a few drops of water to move more smoothly and is easier to apply. Brush it over the whole canvas using a decorators brush or a flat synthetic brush, making sure it covers the canvas opaquely yet isn’t too thick. I don’t want to make it thick because I still want to be able to draw on top of it. Also, you don’t want to lose too much of the canvas texture.

If it isn’t flowing smoothly, dip the tip of your brush into a bit of water and continue applying, and if you do apply it too heavily, you can use the edge of your palette knife to scrape the paint off.

Okay, now we’re just going to leave that to dry before drawing out.

Drawing the s-curve

sailboat painting easy

Look for the underlying s-curve made by the seaweed and ropes

I’ve drawn out using an acrylic marker.

It’s a mixed-media marker from Daler Rowney, with a really fine 0.8mm tip which makes a lovely line. What I like most is you can choose whatever medium you want to go into the empty marker. I’m using a high flow acrylic from Golden paints in a Sepia, designed originally for airbrushing, it’s already been thinned by the manufacturer.

So the drawing is actually pretty simple.

The main objects are the curve of rocks in the foreground which helps to frame the view and gives us that sense of depth from the boat. Then just a slight indication at the top where the seaweed is coming in, and also the shape of the ropes on the sand so you have this nice diagonal S-curve that sweeps through the composition.

Finally, just some very simple shapes on the boat, putting the cast shadow in and just an indication of shapes on the interior of the boat that will be lighter whiter areas.

Step #2. Burnt umber block-in

sailboat painting easy

Looking at the rock on the bottom left, there’s this warmth to the surface, so having that in first will provide us with another good base. Initially, I wash in with diluted Burnt Umber to give a warm glow underneath. Brush wise; I’m using a small round synthetic brush (size 4 Design Series from Rosemary & Co series, 344)

Then, using a mix of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber I mix a lovely deep, rich, cool black. I paint that very dark tone on top of the warmth, which will help us to judge the value range within the painting. If you notice there is a little dark area around the base of the boat to indicate the shadow cast onto the sand, this will help it feel like it’s set in, grounded and give the impression of some solidity.

Once you’ve made that black mix, take a little bit to one side and add some white and a bit more Burnt Umber to get a nice grey tone. You can use this for the rocks in the foreground a little later on in the painting.

Also, there are a few tiny rocks painted in, I’m always looking for these underlying areas which might break through shapes, and these little rocks are so important to add interest to what might usually feel like a very flat surface.

Step #3. Painting warmth in the sand

sailboat painting easy

Before painting the greys over the rocks, I apply a thin glaze of Yellow Ochre diluted with water.

Paint this over that entire area, just like a stain to add some warmth to the rocks in the foreground first. If you look back at the reference image, you can see underneath that grey rock bottom or left; there’s a lovely yellow warmth.

I’m using a filbert brush from Isabey Isacryl range, size 6 for this section.

Also, I wash in the back of the boat edge and the brim at the top where you’ve got warm wood, a little bit next to the right-hand side of it where the sun’s hitting it, and top left. So it’s now created this underlying pattern of dappled sunlight. If it goes on a bit too strong, you can take a paper towel and pull it back.

I take a tiny bit of the black mix and white for the foreground textured rocks to give us a range of greys and apply them thicker, with broken marks.

Okay, nice, that Yellow Ochre has really added that sunshine feel to the piece!

Step #4. Adding colour to the rocks

sailboat painting easy

Now I’m layering up the colours on the rocks to add more form, using Titanium White, Yellow Ochre and a touch of Burnt Umber to darken the mix; I paint a diluted base over the Yellow Ochre and vary the intensity for the darker shadows within the rocks.

Take a tiny amount of this brown mix and add white to create a warm light for some of the highlights on the very edges of the rock.

I’m using a round brush from Princeton, the Aspen range, 6500R size 4.

These little highlights help bring that a sense of light; again, just on the top of the rock brings it to life.

Step #5. Adding reflections in the sand

acrylic painting tutorial adding-water-reflections

For the blue, I’ve mixed Ultramarine Blue with a bit of Phthalo Blue (Red Shade) and Titanium White to create this reflective light in the foreground. I’ve also used Raw Umber so that I can knock back the blue if it becomes a bit too intense.

I’m varying the thickness of the application, depending on how much of the ground, acting as the sand, I want to show through. Here I’ve swapped back to the filbert brush.

I’m just adding a bit more white where I’ve got a sense of light coming in on the right-hand side by the boat.

Leaving elements of the ground colour showing through gives us that illusion of the sand underneath. You can add a bit of the Raw Umber to mute it down for some of the more muted blues; at the very top, with the dry brush, drag it over some of these areas to give this reflection on the sand.

Step #6. Adding our lightest light


Now we’ve got these blues in, it’s going to be handy to paint in the boat, so we can then judge all the hues together to see if we need to adjust anything. Start with pure Titanium White. Paint the very widest area on the boat, and then add a little bit of Raw Umber to darken it slightly for painting in the shadow areas indicating the seat void.

Step #7. Balancing blues


Next step in the tutorial is balancing the blues.

I put out a tiny bit of Phthalo Blue (green shade) and mix it with Titanium White. This pigment has very high tinting strength, so you don’t need very much paint at all. Add a little bit of Raw Umber, so it’s not super intense, and you’ll get a lovely turquoise colour, perfect for the light side of the boat. Once that initial colour has been blocked in, I can lighten it or darken it, to give a bit more form to the hull of the boat.

sailboat painting easy

I use Phthalo Blue (red shade) mixed with white and Burnt Umber for the shadow side, and then a bit of Ultramarine Blue and a tiny touch of Naphthol Red Light for the cast shadow made by the boat.

Step #8. Altering intensities to the painting

sailboat painting easy

It felt like when the boat was painted in, and the more intense pigments were introduced, the reflection of the sky on the sand was competing with the boat a bit too much.

I wanted the boat to be the main centre of focus. So, I glazed down the areas of bright reflections with a mix of Raw Umber, a touch of Ultramarine Blue and a touch of Titanium White.

This knocks it down a bit so that it’s darker tonally.

Step #9. Painting pebbles in the sand

acrylic painting tutorial painting sand

Now it feels like the boat is the main focus, but I’ve lost a little of the darkness around some of the actual initial drawing.

What I’m going to do is re-emphasise parts so that we’ve got a nice contrast.

What I do like is the cast shadow blue, which looks great. And the lightness in the background, where there’s light sneaking around the corner.

We are now adding a few small random dashes to indicate pebbles on the beach. Vary the tone of these slightly, so they don’t all feel the same.

Step #10. Adding warmth to the boat

sailboat painting easy

With a bit of Naphthol Red Light, Yellow Ochre and Titanium White, mix a warm brown orange and paint around the edge of the boat; the addition of these punchy oranges suddenly make the blues look so much bluer.

I also reinforce some of the drawing and some of those darker lines around the boat.

Step #11. Refining the edges

acrylic painting tutorial boat

So the last thing to do here is add that very fine rope on the front of the boat, which ties the whole composition together, grounds the scene and adds a bit more definition to it. Also, notice how the boat is more in focus than some of the more painterly marks around it.

Step #11. Adding a Green Gold glow

sailboat painting easy

Then glaze over all the areas of green with the Green Gold, adding that bit of seaweed glow to the painting.

Finishing touches – painting dappled light


To break up the background, I brought in reflected light with these dots; I also felt the highlights on the rocks were competing too much, so I blocked them in more solidly to finish.

Really hope you enjoy it!

p.s you can see more acrylic painting tutorials here and this Cornish Seascape Video Course

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This post has 74 comments.

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What a beautiful subject, Will! I really love your painting. Thanks for the instructions!

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Thanks so much Lisa, really hope you enjoy it. Will

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This is great! Thank you for the tutorial and colour mixing “recipes”!

Hope they help with your mixes Nancy.

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This is wonderful!! I love how you talk through the process and the logic behind each step… thank you!!

My pleasure Mae.

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Thank you So much! Your work is so beautiful!! I really appreciate your sharing yourProcess. God has blessed you mightily And in turn you bless us with your gift as an educator.

Will study what you have shared. Please know that your warmth and God given talent come through your work so beautifully. Warmest aloha, Kathy

You’re very kind Kathy, glad you found the explanations of the process helpful. Will

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Very nice !!! following your instructions I’ll try it !! Thank you Will !

Good one Margarita!

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Really enjoyable! I have never fancied using acrylics? But this painting of yours together with the detailed guide you give makes me want to have a go?! So good! Thanks again.

Cheers Des.

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Will, always look forward to your generous sharing. This is lovely and I would like to try it in watercolor. Thank you.

Yes, it would translate well to watercolour as well.

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Thank you so much Will. You’re very kind to make all this available to subscribers. I totally agree with all the above comments. Explaining the logic behind your choices & methodology makes the whole learning process so much easier for me, a complete novice, to grasp. Your emails, videos, all the info on your website are much appreciated.

Hey Yuen, so pleased to hear that you found the explanations helpful. Will

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Hi will, I already attempted the blue boat when you first posted it as I thought it was such a lovely subject. I used oils, tit white, burnt umber, cobalt blue, yellow ochre and a touch of viridian. I was quite pleased with my attempt, but now having seen this post with your instructions I’m going to paint it again, maybe still using oils, maybe acrylics. I’m sure it will be much improved this time!

Good one Brenda, hope you enjoy it the second time round!

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So helpful thank you

Thanks Cathy

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It is very helpful and fun. Thanks for the guiding steps ! I enjoy it very much

Thanks Vivian, pleased you enjoyed the steps.

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Absolutely beautiful – I’m inspired!

That’s great to hear Joanne

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Thank you, Will! I was one of the people who requested a lesson from this photo, and here it is! I always learn so much from your discussions and such a beautiful final result! I will start it today! How is the remodel coming along? . Enjoy your day!

My pleasure, really hope it turns out well Nancy. Remodelling is coming along well. Will

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Another great tutorial. What is interesting is that the light in the painting is more like the brightness you see here in Australia. Must have been a particularly sunny day in Cornwall.

Thanks Stewart, yes, it was some pretty special light that day. Cheers, Will

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Thank you, Will…for sharing this tutorial. You are amazing! Can’t wait to do this one…it is one of my favorite of your photos.

Thanks so much Ruth, really hope your painting turns out well. Will

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A gorgeous picture! And thank you for explaining it so clearly.

Glad the explanations helped to understand the thought process behind the painting Chirin.

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Dear Will, I always come back to your lessons because they are clear and calming in this chaotic time. This lesson, it helped that you differentiated between the phthalo blues used to color the boat. Very insightful, as usual.

Glad the Phthalo Blue section helped Linda, yes, a little tweak in blues can really help to push a colour range. Will

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Thank you! How do you keep your brush strokes so varied and lively?

Hey Matt, If you swap brushes throughout the painting it can help to get used to trying to capture a section within the confines of that particular brush. So try a decorators brush for a detailed part, or a round brush for a block-in. By working within a constraint will force a creative response. Will

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Thanks so much for your tutorials. The step by step explanations are fantastic. You are making the most of your beautiful part of the world. Question: do you paint outdoors much? Warm wishes, Syl

Hi Syl, glad you enjoyed it, yes, I do paint outdoors for landscapes. Will

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Hi Will, Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to put together this latest tutorial for us. The blue boat painting is just charming and I can’t wait to try it out. I’ve been meaning to send you feedback about your water mixable oil tutorial and now ten months have passed. The course was spot on from beginning to end and I learned a lot. The Vermeer vignette was especially instructive and fun to paint. I don’t know how you do it but all your courses are terrific. Also thank you for your generous free tutorials. Best regards from California!

So pleased you enjoyed it Karen, and glad that the water-mixable oil course was of help. There are quite a few considerations to balance so really pleased that the Vermeer series helped. Will

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Thank you for sharing this beautiful painting and most of all the detailed process notes. I paint mostly in oil and am going to give this a shot.

Good one Allan, would translate well with oils aswell.

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Very good of course yet I’m am not interested in what students want to know rather what you the artist want to show!—With all respect go back to your instincts – your basics that brought you to this point of teaching. Best Michael

Hey Michael, glad you enjoyed the steps, the teaching method for this tutorial is exactly how I would approach any classical teaching. I had actually taken this image to create a painting as part of my personal practice, but with the response from students thought it would be nice to share the process. Cheers, Will

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Thank you Will. If anyone makes me want to try acrylics again , its you .. you made that little boat scene come to life .. great work..

That’s lovely to hear Victoria.

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I really appreciate you sharing techniques and tuition with us beginners. It’s very generous and so very helpful to see and learn in stages. Thank you so much

My pleasure Carole. Will

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I’ll try this one now that you demonstrated. I noticed the boat right away but felt the scene was “ to much” for my current level. Thanks Will

Hope the steps help Abbey. Cheers, Will

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WHOO-HOO! Can’t wait to try this out. Can you help me to translate your colors using student-grade acrylics? I can usually find one of the Phthalo Blues. What could I use to replace either the red shade or green shade of Phthalo Blue?

Have a great day and thank you so much for the painting!

Hi Laundrea, you would be able to use the student Phthalo Blue for most of the painting, maybe a little lemon yellow to mix the turquoise.

Cheers, Will

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I’ve enjoyed reading this piece immensely, Will. The meticulous step-by-step and the detailing of your thought process is incredibly helpful to beginners like me. You are such a generous teacher who never fails to inspire: I always come here or re-watch your various courses when I feel stuck. And I always find nuggets of advice and wisdom that help me move forward.

Hope you’re having fun and making good progress with whatever you’re working on at the moment. As always, looking forward to your next post.

That’s so great to hear Jo, really pleased the lessons have been helpful. Will

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Will, you are the Bomb!! Thank you for sharing once again. I have painting along with you in the past and will certainly paint this lovely little boat scene. Salud!!

Hope it turns out well Faye. Will

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Thanks Will! I always enjoy the boat projects the best! Had a bit of trouble with the darker side of the boat, but got it figured out in the end. Thanks again

Good one Jeff, pleased you enjoyed it. Will

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I love this tutorial- am going to try it but need to get a paintbrush. I have the filbert you suggested from a previous course but need the round one and have a question. There are two different brushes listed but appear to be the same size. Is it just a US/UK difference? Also, as I am slowly adding to my supplies- do you suggest the short handled or long handled brush? Thank you for your wonderful, incredibly helpful and patient teaching style. I love your artwork and you are really an inspirational teacher.

Pleased you enjoyed it Barbara, the two brushes listed (on Rosemary & Co) are the same size brush, just different length handles. For smaller pieces, I tend to use a shorter handle for the smaller detail brush but use a long handle for filberts so I can keep a distance from the easel. Cheers, Will

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thank you for this wonderful Tutorial…..learned so much about color and subtle touches to make the work come alive.

So pleased your painting went well Delores. Will

I just did this painting after not doing any art for many months- it was so approachable and satisfying to complete. I needed something to jumpstart my motivation and this was just the thing. I was pleased with the result (with the usual- I should have done this or that thing that happens after you walk away) and am looking forward to another project from you. You’re the best.

That’s fantastic to hear Barbara, so pleased for you. Will

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This was so helpful Will – love the impressionistic quality of your painting. Do you ever do abstract paintings or would you teach a class on doing abstract art in acrylics or oils?

Glad you enjoyed it Donna, I do paint abstracts, good to know a class on abstraction would be of interest. Cheers, Will

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Happy thanksgiving to you’all too from the other side of the Atlantic. Very thankful for your teachings and inspiration. I’ve been following your blog for some time now, and there is one thing in particular about the way you paint that I wish I could do better without exaggeration, because then it would be choppy. It has to do with the looseness of your brush strokes. For example I see the boat, and in one section of the side there are several colors of blue and grey blue that are distinct yet combined. So is it the layering and allowing the paint to dry underneath or a particular brush or something else? Maybe I simply have to stop swiping!? And while you mention looseness in your lessons regularly, I’m not getting it, although maybe I missed a lesson somewhere along the line, so please direct me accordingly if you already have this teaching somewhere on your website. I’d really like to sink this aspect into my work. Thanks … Laura

Thanks so much Laura, you might find this lesson helpful on How to Loosen up your Acrylic Paintings – Impressionistic Apples Tutorial It’s a free video tutorial so it might help being able to see how I apply the paint. To create the most free flowing style you would normally draw with the brush, but I’ve shown a pencil drawing layout to get the structure of the shapes down. Hope it helps, Will

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Hi Will, thank you for this tutorial. I hope to give it a go during this holiday. Happy New Year from across the pond. Jude

Thanks so much Jude, and you, really hope you enjoy it. Will

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You are such a talented artist and gifted teacher!!! Love the way you bring warmth in to the painting, in a cold setting!! Thank you for shearing this … I really enjoyed painting it.

Great to hear Sarani, so pleased you enjoyed the lesson. Will

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Will- 1. You need to get a TV program going with the BBC. 2. There’s no one like you over here in the States. Do this! V/R Jane

Ha, ha, you’re very kind Jane, really pleased you enjoyed the lesson. Will

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How to paint a boat: A step-by-step guide

  • How to paint a boat: A step-by-step guide

Painting your boat not only enhances its visual appeal but also protects it from the damaging effects of saltwater, sunlight, and other elements. Whether you have a sailboat, powerboat, or kayak, the principles of boat painting remain largely the same.

Assessing your boat's condition

Before you begin, evaluate your boat's current condition. Inspect the hull for any damage, scratches, or rust that may need to be addressed before painting. Make a list of necessary repairs and tackle them first.

Gathering the right tools and materials

To paint your boat successfully, you'll need a range of tools and materials, including paintbrushes, rollers, sandpaper, masking tape, drop cloths, and, most importantly, the appropriate marine paint.

Preparing the boat surface

Proper preparation is the key to a successful paint job. Start by cleaning the boat's surface thoroughly to remove dirt, grease, and old paint. Sand the surface to create a smooth and clean canvas for the new paint to adhere to.

Applying primer

Priming is a crucial step to ensure good paint adhesion and durability. Apply a marine-grade primer that is compatible with the paint you've chosen. Allow it to dry thoroughly as per the manufacturer's instructions.

Read our top notch articles on topics such as sailing, sailing tips and destinations in our Magazine .

A man taking care of his ship.

A man taking care of his ship.

Choosing the right paint

Selecting the right type of marine paint is essential. There are different types of boat paint available, such as antifouling paint, topside paint, and bottom paint. Choose the one that suits your boat's needs and your intended use.

Applying the paint

Start by applying the paint to the boat's surface using a paintbrush or roller. Use long, even strokes, working from one end to the other. Be mindful of the weather conditions, as extreme temperatures and humidity can affect the paint's drying process.

Applying additional coats

For best results, you may need to apply multiple coats of paint. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for drying times between coats. Applying multiple thin coats is often better than one thick coat.

Drying and curing

Allow the paint to dry completely before launching your boat into the water. The curing time can vary depending on the type of paint and environmental conditions. Follow the paint manufacturer's instructions for specific guidance.

Final touches and cleanup

After the paint has dried, remove any masking tape and clean your tools and equipment. Inspect your boat's finish for any imperfections, and make any necessary touch-ups.

Painting a boat requires careful planning, preparation, and attention to detail, but the results can be incredibly rewarding. Not only will your boat look like new, but it will also be better protected against the elements, ensuring many more enjoyable days on the water.

Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a boat owner looking to maintain your vessel's beauty and functionality, this step-by-step guide on how to paint a boat will help you achieve a professional and long-lasting finish. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your materials, and give your boat the makeover it deserves. Happy painting!

So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our range of charter boats and head to some of our favourite sailing destinations .


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