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Boat Painting Process

The initial stages of preparation are the most crucial in many respects. Our preferred method of removing paint is to have a boat shot blasted. This deals with any existing rust and fully removes mill scale that might be coating the steel. 

Mill scale is electro-chemically cathodic to steel and so will accelerate corrosion wherever the thin coating on the steel is broken. We feel that in order to offer the most robust paint job possible this common issue must first be rectified.


All the windows are carefully taken out and the remaining mill scale is ground off from behind them. Broken screws are attended to. Anything that can be removed is removed. We prefer to work from as close to a bare hull as we can.


The insides of windows are covered in plastic sheeting to prevent excess dust from entering your narrowboat. We wipe down the entire boat with a de-greasing solvent to ensure the steel is clean for when we apply our first primer.


An initial primer is applied. The following day International Interfil 833 filler is applied to any blemishes in the steel. After 24 hours the filler is sanded flat. We proceed to add layers of primer until a minimum of 80 microns is reached. We measure this with a digital micron meter.


Reaching a lustrous gloss finish requires depth of paint and careful application. We apply a minimum of three undercoat layers followed by three hand brushed gloss coats. By the time the top coat of gloss has been applied you will have ten layers of paint on your boat. If your paint scheme requires a second colour then it is applied on top of this foundation.

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We clean the windows and put them back in replacing all the old screws with stainless steel screws. If you request it we can have fittings powder coated to make them look smart. We can also polish and lacquer brass work. When these details are attended to we begin the process of adding a second colour or coach line.


Once we have established what area will be painted with a second colour we mask the border. We then cover the rest of the previously painted area with brown paper to avoid any splashes or spray. Two or three coats of gloss are usually sufficient to provide adequate coverage on the second colour and coach line. 


Finally, the signwriters step in to work their magic and add detailing to the boat. If you have a vision of what your signwriting should look like then they will work closely with you. You could of course give the signwriter a theme and ask them to improvise. Some of our most striking boats are the result of giving our signwriter free reign!

From start to finish the whole process takes between four and five weeks depending on the length and complexity of your narrowboat. We encourage you to visit during this time to ensure that everything is to your liking.