Refurbishing your Narrowboat? Look no further than Breakwell’s Paints…

Looking to refurb your Narrowboat this spring, then look no further than Breakwell’s narrowboat paint.

With over 20 years’ experience supplying a wide range of paints and consumables to the Heritage and Narrowboat markets, Breakwell’s online shop has everything you need to undertake this project yourself. Not quite sure where to start and prefer to talk to a member of our team then our trade counter is open Monday – Friday with our expert team on hand to offer you advice if needed. After owning and running his own Paint Shop targeted solely at the Narrowboat market, Our UK Sales Manager Steve Gorton also has a wealth of knowledge and tips should you need them, Steve is available on 07803 846337 or you can email him,

If you are using our online shop and can’t find the colour you require we can easily colour match for you against your required colour, just bring in your tin or colour name and we will sort this for you.

The Narrowboat Painting Process

When painting your narrowboat there are 4 stages to consider, preparation, primer application, undercoat application and topcoat application but as with all paint projects preparation is the key. You also need to be aware of the environmental conditions before you start. Temperatures need to be not too hot or too cold with the ideal temperature being between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius, higher temps could impact on the overall finish of your project. It is also worth keeping an eye on wind (zero to light) and rain (zero chance for a few hours) conditions. Try NOT to paint in full SUN as this will heat up the steel or fibreglass, as a result the products will not flow out properly and ruin your finish, the same goes for wind and rain. If preferred you can book your narrowboat into a covered wet or dry dock for refurb, alternatively a temporary cover i.e polly tunnel or tarpaulin on a framework could be used, (but wind and sun are still a factor to consider) so weather conditions are less of a hindrance.

Narrow Boat During Painting

Stage 1 – Preparation 

Thoroughly wash and clean the area to be painted, DO Not Use any products containing waxes or silicone.  All loose paint needs to be removed, this can be done by shotblasting, paint stripper, scraping and sanding or grinding, this is important as substrate contamination can cause loss of adhesion. When using any method of preparation ensure you are wearing correct PPE for any of the methods mentioned.

Rusty areas should be treated in the same way as other areas making sure that all rust has been removed, in addition a needle scaling tool can be used to remove and pitted rust. Where rust is still active after prep has been done this should be treated with a proprietary rust cure product prior to any paint being applied.

Any surfaces must be cleaned and degreased to avoid contamination, all panels should be solvent wiped then tack raged to remove any grease or dust immediately prior to any paint or treatments being applied. 

Stage 2 – Primer Application

Ensure the paint is stirred thoroughly before starting and that ventilation is good.

It is important that you don’t flat any of the coats of primer unless the recoat time has passed or the finish is not as required. The first coat of synthetic Primer should be applied to a dry film thickness (DFT) of approximately 30 microns or in accordance with the product data sheet. Once thoroughly dry a second coat should also be applied as above, again let this dry thoroughly if necessary rub the first coat with red scotch bright. This should be left to dry for a minimum of 16 hours at a temperature of above10 degrees Celsius. If the primer is left exposed for more than the product recommends, it must be lightly flatted/abraded to provide a mechanical key for subsequent coats. ‘Always follow the product data sheet’.

Stage 3 – Undercoat Application

The first coat of undercoat should be applied in accordance with the product data sheet. This process should be repeated three times, letting each coat dry thoroughly before the next,(If the primer is left exposed for more than the product recommends, it must be lightly flatted/abraded to provide a mechanical key for subsequent coats). Once dry the third coat of undercoat can be lightly flatted to provide a smooth finish for the application of the coach enamel topcoat. After two coats of primer and the three coats of undercoat, ensuring the third coat has been flatted prior to the application of topcoats, the DFT must be a minimum of 110 microns. ‘Always follow the product data sheet’.

Stage 4 – Topcoat Application

After the third coat of undercoat has been applied and has been left to dry thoroughly you can then apply the first coat of coach enamel topcoat. If needed this can be lightly flatted to provide a smooth finish for the subsequent coats. The second and third coats of topcoat should be applied in the same way. All coats of primer, undercoat and topcoat can be applied using a roller and if necessary laid off by brush. In total, this is an eight coat process and the minimum DFT for the total process must be 200 microns. If this all sound a bit too technical for you then don’t worry just give us a call and we can talk you through the process and advise. ‘Always follow the product data sheet’.

Refurbished Painted Narrow Boat Engine

We would love to see the pictures of your finished project so please email these to

**NB – The above is just a guide and technical data sheets can be provided on all products if required. ‘Always follow the product data sheet’