Treating hull exterior


Canoe Enthusiast
Ok.... I've read any past threads I could find on the topic and any article I could find in my books. I'm still not sure what to use on the exterior of a canoe.

I've read the discussions on boiled linseed oil. I'm still on the fence about that one but I think the fact that it blackens with age will keep me from using it. I'd like to use it on the inside of the canoe after stripping it and before varnishing as well.

I'd like to know what you use to treat the exterior of your canoes and maybe why you choose to do so.

Also, if it's a particular name brand product, what the equivalent might be here in Canada.

I recently got a hint from the forum to use tractor paint. A little research on the web showed me that it has a very hard gloss finish and sticks to just about anything. At $20 a quart it is less than half the price of boat paint. Just do a web search for tractor paint and you will find all you can in a few minutes. Limited colors, but there are still some good choices. you can always add pigment to get the color you want. I'm going for gloss black with some white details on the bows.
Hi Bill,

I was actually referring to the uncanvased planking. Sometimes the wood just looks so dry and brittle. I'd like to treat it with something before covering it up.


Search the threads re "linseed oil". There have been a few discussions lately about this.
Re tractor paint; hard and glossy might also mean brittle.

I find tractor paint at my local TSC (tractor sales company?) It is not brittle and very durable. John Deere Green is a bit too green. It is about $10.00 a quart at my store. I still use Kirby's too.

One yeat I hung my Ot using ropes that went around the hull, in the spring the ropes left their impressions where they had been. the impressins went away after a few days.

but back to the subject. I wonder if perhaps mildewcide added into the boiled linseed oil would be a benfit?
Hi Rob,

Yeah....I've read those... I thought I might be opening a can of worms here...

I was also interested in hearing what people use other than linseed oil and why they use it. There must be some solutions from the crowd that don't use linseed oil?


I was thinking of trying mildicide with linseed oil. I think someone recommended it in one of the threads. Are there any alternatives?
I applied linseed thinned w/ turp to the interior of my canoe after stripping. Then I put it away for the winter...

I found a few spots where the mixture penetrated my canvas & filler [also stripped of paint] but did not soften the filler...or at least it didn't deform and was hard come spring when I re-started.

The wood looked less dry & I feel I did something for it after subjecting it to all that stripper...still looks good 8 years later...
For what it's worth, I have used boiled linseed oil on the hull prior to canvasing. It soaks in a bit and polymerizes. I have had no ill effects.
Right now I'm working on a Pal on which I plan to use dacron. In discussing this with Alex Comb, he recommended a wash coat of varnish on the hull to seal it. This is primarily because paste wax is to be applied over the varnish to prevent the fabric from adhering to the hull. The varnish seals the wood so the paste wax perhaps works a little better. I personally think either oil or varnish would work under canvas. I thinned the varnish 50%. I don't think either the varnish or the oil do much for the wood. Oil does not seem to add any special properties to the wood despite the fact that we tend to believe it somehow rejuvinates it. The stuff forms a film, does not penetrate very deeply and dries. The varnish perhaps dries to a little stiffer or harder state although good spar varnish tends to stay flexible.
Thanks Mark and Andy!

I appreciate all opinions on this.

I remember reading some comments on using tung oil or something called 'Deks Olje #1'.

I don't have any experience with either. I'm looking up Deks Olje #1 to see if it's anything I can find around here...


I'm posted this before but....

I use linseed oil/minerail spirts 50/50 outside, tung oil/minerial sprits 50/50 inside. No more then 1 qt of each. I put the packet of mildicide in both the oil mixes and the filler, maintaining the 1 oz mildicide to 1 gal mix.

I use the lo VOC minerial spirts so that I can oil inside, turp smells way too much to use inside.

The last canoe I did over I used the suggestion of Jack McGreivey and used boiled linseed oil cut with Cuprinol Wood Preservative on the exterior (after sanding of course). It seemed to work. The canoe prior to that I used up some old varnish on the exterior, the idea being to seal things up a little for when water gets inside the canoe. I did nothing on the interior except varnish on both canoes. Just my 2 cents worth.

Jim C.

Do you mind me asking why you use linseed oil on the outside and tung oil on the inside?

For exactly why you say, "I think the fact that it (linseed oil) blackens with age"

Tung oil doesn't.

I like a lighter interior, and after going through the effort to strip, clean, bleach, clean and sand the interior, I would prefer it looking a bit lighter.

I don't know long and under what condition linseed oil darkens, but it's easy to avoid by just not using it on the inside.

Oh, linseed on the outside because it's a lot cheeper then tung oil.

Does anyone know a paricular brand mildicide to look for in Canada (and possibly which stores or chain stores I should check)? I stopped at a paint store on the way home and they had no idea what I meant. They just told me there are paint types you can buy that already have mildicide pre-mixed in. I explained that I needed it to mix seperately with oil instead of paint to treat wood but they couldn't help.
tendercraftboats can help you out. They are located in Toronto and have just about anything you need.

UV and oxygen cause the oil to oxidize (burn very very slowly) turning it dark. The oil is usually thinned with turpentine to help with penetration and ease of application. Raw Linseed oil cures much more slowly than "boiled" Linseed oil. "Tung oil" can cure faster and has a harder skin because of the additives. It also does not darken as much as Linseed oil. Both are vegetable oils and can go rancid if not treated properly.

Of course I've only been doing this for 3 days so I could be wrong...

So that it soaks in as far as possible.

I get the mildicide packets at the home centers, they usually have them on a "card", in 1 oz packets for addition into paint (usually for in bathrooms)

The standard guidance is to not use raw linseed oil, be sure it's "boiled".

Tung Oil, I get the pure stuff, no additives. It's about $20-25/qt, I don't know how it's different then linseed, just that it "reportedly" doesn't darken, and it's a lot more expensive.

I have put both on new cedar and varnished, and couldn't tell the difference between samples.

Todd has mentioned Deks Olje #1 before as well. I looked it up and it seems to be good stuff. I'm trying to find it locally but if I don't, I'll order it from down south.
"Deks-Olje" from the Flood Company is a good product with many uses, if you can find it. Apperently the company has discontinued their whole Marine product line.:(

Dick Persson