Paint for a 26 foot Wooden, Clinker, Ketch

What is the correct paint for my 26 foot wooden, clinker, ketch, circa 1963 asked Richard from the UK?

Richard asked the question on the DIY Wood Boat contact form, unfortunately the email address he gave ‘bounced’ when I tried to answer him.

So, I'm posting my answer below in the hopes that Richard will see it.


Hi Richard,

I'm not sure that there is a ‘correct’ paint.

There are so many ‘wonder products’ on the market these days, all with their guarantees but all with lots of caveats.

I'm not an industrial chemist, so any list of ingredients just leaves me baffled.

I personally use a good quality, oil based, exterior, house paint on my wooden boat.

One reason being that I do not have a chandlery convenient but there are the usual DIY stores near by, so buying house paint is convenient.

Besides I'm not convinced that having the word ‘Marine’ on the tin makes much difference, apart from the price.

The ingredients that do make a difference to the finish and how long it stays looking good are not in the tin, they’re in the preparation, elbow grease and maintenance.

And sometimes the color is more important than the type of paint.

The red pigment for some reason, regardless of the type of paint seems to fade faster than other colors.

Lighter colors will reflect rather than absorb heat and light, not that we get that much in the UK.

And I find that a creamy color looks better than pure white and a ‘satin’ finish less likely to emphasize any bumps, scratches, etc than a high ‘gloss’.

Sorry not to be more specific but I hope this helps.



Comments for Paint for a 26 foot Wooden, Clinker, Ketch

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Mar 16, 2011
by: Peter

Hmmm... thanks for the compliment!

My chandlery is on the beautiful island of Corfu, Greece!!

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Mar 16, 2011
by: Anonymous

Where is your chandlery Peter?

It sounds like a good place to go for good customer service and advice.

Mar 15, 2011
My tuppenceworth...
by: Peter

Hello Richard,

Mike has pretty much covered the subject, but I 'd like to add a couple of comments...

I own and run a chandlery, so these are the kind of questions I deal with on a daily basis.

In fact having bought a wooden boat of similar vintage and size last year I intend to follow Mike's advice as I got the same from a local friend and wooden boat specialist.

There are marine paints which have a "special" formulation that makes the colour more longer lasting and better protection.

But often the price difference is such that they are not cost-effective.

Marine paints that are significantly better than household are usually two-pack paints and they are definitely NOT recommended for wooden boats.

My solution has been to go for a reasonably priced household type of local paint in a pastel green (I once saw a classic painted in that color and she looked beautiful)

I will be adding something called Owatrol to the paint which is an additive that improves elasticity and flow/brushing characteristics.
It is highly recommended, most good painters I know use it.
Check it out!

Hope this helps...

(Owatrol is an oil that can be added to oil or alkyd based pain to prolong the wet edge time, improve flow and adhesion.)

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