How to Refurbish an Old Fiberglass Canoe or Skiff

How to Refurbish an Old Fiberglass Canoe or SkiffLike any boat, fiberglass canoes and skiffs are subject to wear and tear as well as water damage. If your canoe or skiff is old, cracks may have already started to appear along the hull. While these surface blemishes may inspire you to throw out your old boat, these repairs are easy to complete. Using just a few tools and a couple coats of fiberglass paint and primer, you can refurbish an old canoe or skiff.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Sandpaper
  • Chisel
  • Cloth
  • Acetone
  • Resin
  • Gel coat
  • Fiberglass primer
  • Fiberglass paint
Step 1
Repair damage including cracks, breaks, holes and dark spots, which are indicative of water damage below. Dark spots generally require at least 12 inches of repair work below the spot of discoloration.
Step 2
Slide your chisel into the middle of the hole or crack. Press the chisel downward and inch the chisel as far down as it can go.
Step 3
Prepare the area around the hole with 120- to 220-grit sandpaper. Clean the area with a cloth dampened with acetone. Acetone is used to remove dirt and oil, which improves adhesion.
Step 4
Protect the area around the repair with a piece of cardboard, which is used to catch run-off during the refurbishment process. Wet your fiberglass cloth with a dime-size amount of resin.

You'll need 12 inches of fiberglass cloth for every 1 inch of damage. Bury the fiberglass cloth in the hole using your chisel. Top with a drop of resin. Smooth the area with 120- to 220-grit sandpaper.
Step 5
Section the repair area off with tape. Brush on three layers of gel coat. Shelter the area under a piece of plastic and wait for the gel coat to cure. Even out the gel coat with 400-grit sandpaper.
Step 6
Repeat steps 1 to 5 for other holes until the refurbishment process is complete. You are now ready to paint your fiberglass canoe.
Step 7
Remove any tape and adhesive residue left behind from the repair work you just completed. Wash the fiberglass canoe down with warm, soapy water. Allow the boat to air dry and then brush a fiberglass primer on your fiberglass canoe or skiff. Drying times vary, but expect to wait at least eight hours.
Step 8
Brush a coat of fiberglass paint onto your fiberglass canoe or skiff. Add an additional coat after the first has completely dried. Apply using up and down strokes. Be careful of streaking to create a more professional look.

Tips & Warnings

Tape off gunwales and end caps to avoid getting paint on these areas.
Always use protective skin cream to protect your skin from contamination by resin or solvents, which according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission can pass through gloves.

Article Written By Charlie Gaston

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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