How to Fiberglass a Canoe

How to Fiberglass a Canoe
If you have an old canoe that needs the fiberglass gel coating redone or repaired, or if you have built a canoe from a kit, you need to get the fiberglass done. You can fiberglass your canoe in your workshop. It is important to have a well-ventilated place when fiberglassing the canoe as the process uses caustic materials with hazardous vapors. Take precautions and wear masks and gloves.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Gel coat resin kit, marine quality
  • Acetone cleaner
  • Ventilator mask
  • Rubber gloves
  • Rubber work apron
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Ventilated workshop
  • Fans
  • Hair dryer or heat gun
  • Resin brushes
  • Canoe wax
  • Sandpaper
Step 1
Open the windows to the shop and turn on the fans. Put on your rubber gloves, apron and ventilator mask. Set the canoe on a workhorse or a secure boat holder. Sand any abrasions or rough spots on the canoe's hull. If there is leftover old fiberglass, use the acetone to remove it and then dry it off with paper towels or shop rags.
Step 2
Mix your gel resin according to the manufacturer's directions. Use the brushes for the mixed resin, and paint the canoe as you would paint a house. For aesthetic reasons, try to keep your brushstrokes going in the same direction. Inspect the canoe's hull for any spots you may have missed on the resin application and add resin.
Step 3
Add a second coat of resin after the first dries. Again, inspect the canoe for any areas you may have missed and do the touch-ups as needed.
Step 4
Let the resin dry for at least two days. Go back and inspect for any missed areas. If satisfied, add a coating of wax to the exterior of the canoe over the fresh fiberglass.

Tips & Warnings

 
If you want a custom design or specific color for the canoe, stencil it or paint it before adding the gel coat and resin. Add the resin over the custom color or design to seal it onto the hull.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.