Oil Based enamel paint.

Dave Wermuth

Who hid my paddle?
I am a big fan of Kirby but my 1926 Old Town was restored using Farm implement paint from TSC. The stuff is tough. Under $10.00 a quart. The colors selection is limited. I use penetrol to thin it. I messed up the bottom of the OT last fall and am painting it Oliver Green. John Deere Green is a little too greenish. think about it. Tractors sit out alot and take much abuse what with all the farming and all that. I got the idea from Brian Baker, builder and restorer.
When we purchased out Otca in the 70's the local [real] hardware store owner recomended 'Porch & deck' enamel which worked well and was affordable.
Another paint option

A lot of restorers, including myself, use Tremclad high gloss rust enamel. It has all the qualitys of the more expensive marine paints,comes in a multitude of color choices and is available anywhere.
I have noticed that porch and floor paint is available in latex. Has anyone used latex based paint or should oil based be used?
I have used the latex porch paint on my porch stairs, and it did not hold nearly as well as the oil based porch and deck enamel, I was not impressed with the stuff. I would stick with the oil based. If you happened to use a latex based filler on your canoe, that might be another story as the compatibility may make it worth a try.
Consider all paint options

The paint discussion is a good one, and I'd like to hear more ideas about using a variety of modern paint formulations on w/c canoes. A lot of the talk on these forums revolves around traditional methods and reversibility of what we do so that the boats are eternally repairable. I agree with this approach, but when we are dealing with the canvas and what goes on it we know that it will be replaced at some point regardless of what we put on it. So it seems we should be wide open to finishes on the canvas itself.

I'm all for going cheap and basic when it yields good results, but not every paint off the shelf at the local hardware store produces a durable and beautiful finish on a boat. (Of course, depending on the canoe we may be willing to settle for less in some cases. That's OK, but at the moment I am looking for the products and techniques that give the best chance for high quality finishes.) The alkyd paints that have been around for years seem to be the choice of most of the best builders, and I take that seriously - they are what I use. The marine paint manufacturerers are replacing those lines with a host of polyurethanes. (e.g. Interlux yacht enamels have been replaced with their Brightside and Toplac paints. ) How do the latter do on canoes? Unless there is some problems with application or results, it seems they would be an obvious choice. Does anyone use the new poly paints? How do they compare?

In terms of application, we all have seen exquisite paint jobs that are the result of "rolling and tipping" or straight brushing, and some of the experts like Pam Wedd (see her recent and excellent series in Wooden Canoe) go to great lengths to help the rest of us achieve good results with these techniques. For me the paint job is always a crap shoot, trying to recognize and control all the variables of dust, paint, weather, star alignment, etc that affect the final finish. Why don't we hear more about spraying? Most of us do not have spray equipment available to us, but some must. Its the obvious solution to brush marks, of course. I'd be interested in hearing about the experience of anyone who has actually spray-painted canoes.

And speaking of spraying, what about automotive finishes, which must be tremendously tough and certainly can be attractive? If one had access to the equipment, is there a reason not to use these auto paints on boats?

I realize that cost is often the limiting factor in what we can do with our boats, and high tech materials and techniques may be out of reach. But
considering that the finish is the most prominent feature that most people notice about a canoe, I'd like to know about all the options. Then I guess its time to experiment.

Don in Vermont
Topcoat Technique

ddewees said:
Some of the experts like Pam Wedd go to great lengths to help the rest of us achieve good results with these techniques (see her recent and excellent series in Wooden Canoe).

-Don in Vermont

Looks to be a fine nugget you suggested, Don. Thanks.
I was able to find pdf's of the Pam Wedd Wooden Canoe series on getting a tight enamel finish on canvas.

Looking forward to having these in hand when it's time to paint.
Thank you, Pam.

Canvas Canoe Painting Techniques 1

Canvas Canoe Painting Techniques 2

Canvas Canoe Painting Techniques 3

I used latex porch/floor paint on my first canoe a few years back. It's held up pretty well. I suspect it will be a good utilitarian finish.

It was a lot harder to get looking right than the rustoleum. Latex does not sand well. Dry Ice helps, but only if you need to take out some small runs.

Doesn't have the shine of the oil based, but it doesn't show barnacle scratches.
Auto paint sound like a good idea. There are flex additives used for the flexible parts of the auto body that may work with a canvas canoe. I'll be interested in hearing of any results.
I used auto paint w/ flex added at the recommendation of a friend that did body work. It sounded like it made sense. He shot it with primer coats and GM Red, and clear coat. Looked super sharp! "Show Room"!
Within a couple of years, cracks radiated out from the screw holes for the keel. Water seeped up the cracks, through the screw hole and slowly into the canoe. I have not had any problem with Pettit or Kirby marine enamels. With proper additives (Penetrol) it flows out well to eliminate brush marks and is nearly as sharp looking as the sprayed auto paint.
Others may have had more experience....
Dave - Thanks for your reply. Based on your experience, I'll stick with the marine enamel and hand-application techniques that have worked it the past.
Why couldn't the marine enamel be sprayed? When I remodeled my house all of the stain and varnish on the woodwork was sprayed on using a gravity feed HVLP automotive gun. I have also used the same gun for polyurathane.
I guess the marine enamel could be spray applied, but I'd like to get an opinion from the paint manufacturer. I've seen instances where certain paints are recommended for brush application and others for roller or spray. I'm not sure why the different recommendations, but I hate to invest the time and money in painting something only to have it fail prematurely.
Messing with the color

Has anyone messed around with adjusting the color of the Valspar Oliver Green? In my opinion it's not dark enough.

I agree, it's too light. John Deere Green is worse yet. Their hunter green is an excellent color when you can find it. I see no reason you could not mix in black, brown, or red to try to get a shade you like. Just don't forget the recipe.
Hunter green would probably be ideal. Too bad it's not a tractor-specific color - TSC doesn't carry it. As for the recipe I was hoping someone had already figured out how many squirts of black etc. :D I'll share what I come up with if it works!

I got mine at TSC but lately it's not on the shelf. Sherwin/Williams may have it. Should be order-able.
I was able to get a match to my 18' OTC Guide by searching the color samples at places like Lowes and Home Depot. I took the sample that matched the canoe and had Sherwin-Williams mix it in an oil-based enamel. Sherwin-Williams would mix quarts whereas Lowes and Home Depot were unable to do it. Although even a quart is more than I needed, it was the best I could do for touch-up on minor scratches.
Hi, Just got in with an old W/C from Ohio about 100 years old. Am planning on a total restoration job. Restored an old fiberglass sail boat and used a two part urathane and came out great. When I get to the canoe I plan on using a two part urathane high build which allows a great 22 mil fill and that finish out with a high gloss like what I used on the sailboat ,which is one the 15 th year of hard use. Grover Griffin
I spray painted three canoes. It takes several coats because the paint is so thin. I like spraying the inside especially because you can just point the gun under the deck and let it go. Also, that thin paint inside seeps into every little crack. I bought a cheap sprayer from Lowe's and find it works fine, just a lot of cleaning. Thus far I am spraying the first coats inside and out figuring the thin paint will penetrate. When I've done this a couple times I take the brush and heavier paint on the outside to "build up" a layer or two, then spray to finish and hide the brush marks.