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Painting a narrowboat stern

Job of the Day: Prepping and priming the decks

Michael Tyler


Owner and main contributor to the site.

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The decks on the boat are particularly damaged, and require completely stripping.

Today, the weather was good enough to get a full day in.

At 9 o’clock in the morning, I set out with screwdriver in hand and scrubbing brush in other, 1st job – to remove the fittings and sugar-soap the existing paintwork.


Sugar-soaping gets rid of the film of grime and makes the surface more adherent to future paint.

It also revealed the full extent of the rust.

Narrowboat - cruiser stern
Cruiser stern before

Here’s what the stern looked like.

It’s quite heavily corroded, the brown areas are areas of rust.

Rather than mess around with this in any way, I decided to simply get rid of all the paint and start from scratch.

Stripping paint

There are many ways of stripping paint from a narrowboat. Many people will suggest the best ways to do it.

These are the ways that worked for me…

Wire brush

Attached to the drill and turned up to maximum speed.

Without eye protection, you’re going to find one of the slivers of steel flies off and becomes lodged in your eyeball.
Unless you want to lose 1 half of your vision, I’d suggest eye protection.

Otherwise, it’s a bit of a bind of a job.

It removes lose an flaky paint.

Rotary blaster

There are two brands of rotary blaster. The Tercoo rotary blaster, and the Perago.

They are named after sand or shot blasting, and achieve roughly the same effect without the noise and debris associated with the blasting process.

Sand-blasting lite, you might say.

Tercoo rotary blaster
Tercoo rotary blaster

The small teeth are made from tungsten steel and mounted on a reinforced rubber disk which you attach to your drill.

As the bit rotates, the teeth basically smash the paint off.

Very effective.

There’s a video of me using the Tercoo rotary blaster on my narrowboat stern here.

These are the two main methods of removing paint that I use.

Rust treatment

It’s not an essential part in many peoples books, but in mine, it is.

I really don’t see the point of painting a boat if your going to get rust bubbles turning up in 5 years time.

I’d like to have the minimum risk of rust, and the maximum protection and the best overall finish.

I’ll be applying Craftmaster rust treatment solution to the stern, waiting until it cures the metal, then moving on to the next stage.

These are the basic steps to applying Craftmaster rust treatment solution. It doesn’t say on the tin, and there’s no factsheet on the Craftmaster website.

So here we go.

  1. Stir well. Maybe 5 – 10 minutes initially, then less for future use.
  2. Decant – The solution needs to be decanted to avoid rust particles souring the fresh solution.
  3. Paint it on – As thin a coat as possible.
  4. Let it dry – Maybe 5 – 10 minutes.

Job done!

Remember to wash your brushes immediately.

It’s like chewing gum once it dries.

I’ve made a video of me treating my deck with Craftmaster rust treatment to give you and idea of what it’s all about.


Priming in this case.

Not a lot to it.

  1. Prime with even strokes.

Once you get to the painting, most of the hard work is done.

Perhaps the most important part is making sure the whole area you want to paint is totally free from the debris you created in the previous stages.

I’m using Rylard Zinc Phosphate Primer.

Holding coat

The coverage is better more even than the iron oxide that I was using as a holding coat.

I anticipate I’m going to have to do a little work on this paint, it’s going to be standing for 1 month.

It’s not a holding coat, and for that length of time, I don’t anticipate it needs one.

Here’s some pictures after the 1st coat.

Painting a narrowboat stern 1st coat of primer Rylard Zinc Phosphate Primer

I’m fairly happy with the finish after the 1st coat.

It certainly needs 2 coats, possibly 3. We’ll see how it goes on.


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