Tips for Painting a Boat Trailer
The main reason for painting a boat trailer is to protect it against rust and corrosion, not to make it look good, although that wouldn’t hurt either. Ready to get started? Here are some tips for painting a boat trailer.
Choose Your Paint
Obviously the first thing you should do is choose the type of paint you want to use. To determine the best paint for your trailer, consider the following:
Durability/Longevity: A trailer needs paint that is hardwearing, can take a few knocks without scratching or chipping, and will not deteriorate over time when exposed to UV rays, rain, snow, etc.
Anti-Corrosion: Some paints contain resins that prevent rust and corrosion from spreading. Choose a paint with a corrosion inhibitor that's suitable for your trailer's type of metal.
Curing Time: Paints with longer curing times tend to be more durable, but the obvious downside is they require the trailer to be out of use longer while they cure. Most paints aren’t meant to be applied in extremely hot or cold conditions, which could also affect the paint’s curing time.
Pick Your Moment
You don’t want to paint your trailer in the middle of the boating season because it’ll be in constant use, but you also don’t want to wait until the weather is too cold or hot. The best time to paint a trailer is just before the boating season starts, or right after it ends.
Prepare for the Job
Preparation is key to a lasting paintjob, and if you take the time to do it right, you won't have to repaint the trailer as often.
- Put the trailer on blocks or jack stands to make working on it easier.
- Wear protective clothing, gloves and eyewear before sandblasting, grinding, sanding or painting.
- Remove every piece of hardware, including rollers, lights, trailer jack, wheels, etc., until only the trailer frame is left.
- Remove any rust, corrosion and peeling paint from the trailer frame. The best way is to sandblast the frame, or use a wire brush attachment with an angle grinder or drill, and go over every inch of the frame using a handheld wire brush or sandpaper for the hard-to-access areas.
- Wipe down the frame with solvent to remove dust and debris, then inspect the frame for any cracks or holes, particularly along the welds and repair them before painting.
Prime Before You Paint
The frame should be primed after it’s sanded, especially if it’s made of steel, which will rust immediately unless primed. Primer gives the paint the best surface to adhere to, and it’s this bond that determines how long the paintjob will last.
Skipping any of the previous steps may save you some time now, but it’ll cost you more time in the future as the paintjob won’t last. Once the trailer has been stripped of hardware, thoroughly sanded and primed, it’s ready to be painted. Applying the paint with a sprayer can be quicker, but a brush allows the paint to be applied much thicker, and make it more protective and hard-wearing once cured. For added durability, apply 2-3 coats of paint.
Reattach the Hardware
Wait for the paint to fully cure before reattaching the hardware. While the paint cures, replace any worn components such as the wiring harness, or upgrade items such as old incandescent lights with new LED lighting systems.
It’s also worth dismantling the wheel hubs, and checking the wheel bearings before they’re put back on the trailer. Failed wheel bearings can spell catastrophe when trailering a boat on the road, so inspect them, and re-grease or replace them if necessary. Not only does your trailer look like new again after painting it, but it’s nicely protected against the elements, and should last for years to come.