How to easily roll and tip topside paint on your boat

How to easily roll and tip topside paint on your boat

Topside boat painting tips are essential for applying paint, and to increase the durability of a boat. To paint the topside of your boat, you have to know some essential tips. If you cannot understand the tips before painting, your performance will be uneven, and you may encounter a dangerous situation. However, if you know the right painting tips, that is, the suitable painting tips, you will find your painting task quite easy.

To help you with painting activities, we will provide you with some useful painting tips that will help you know how and when to use them. We will also write about different types of painting tips to identify which would be the most suitable for your specific painting.

Surface preparation for topside painting

Surface preparation refers to treating the surface of a substance to increase its adhesion to coatings. It is one of the essential functions in the case of coating performance. It is the first-stage treatment before coating, lining, and painting. A beautiful paint job depends almost 90% on proper preparation and about 10% on the actual painting. The professionals put their most significant effort into prep, and in the same way, we follow their procedure.

You can also consider surface preparation as one of the most crucial factors affecting the success of a corrosion protection system. Usually, the coating duration lasts longer, depending on the ability to adhere to the substrate material. You can typically do it mechanically or chemically.

Topside Painting Equipment

For surface prep, some equipment is compulsory, whether you’re rolling or spraying. When you want to paint, you should arrange all the necessary machinery according to your application. We are going to state some essential specific equipment for rolling & tipping, or spraying the topside paint.

  • You have to use personal protection tools like a hood, eye-protector, a NIOSH-approved chemical organic vapor cartridge-type respirator or fresh supplied air, and gloves for sanding and spraying paint.
  • If the previous topside paint cracks, peel, or lift, sand it off by using a chemical stripper to remove it.
  • If the paint is loose, use a pressure washer, scraper, and cleaning brush for cleaning the hull before sanding.
  • If you want to sand down old topside paint that is not removing completely, use large dustless diameter, sanding disks, and a right angle grinder or sander.
  • Use a high-quality masking tape that you can remove cleanly to protect non-painted surfaces.
  • Use clean, lint-free wiping rags and denatured alcohol or mineral spirits to remove dirt, oil, and grease from surfaces.
  • Use the Dewaxing solvent for removing wax during cleaning.
  • Use tacky cloth for wiping down the surface before applying a coating.

Supplies for Rolling & Tipping

Roll and tip is such a method where we use the roller to apply paint to the surface of any substance. This method helps you apply the color evenly and achieve high gloss results similar to spraying. It needs a little practice to establish a rhythm, but assure a very smooth finish is leaving no marks of roller or brush. Moreover, it’s faster than brushing. You can apply both the topside primer and the topside paint using this method.

  • Brushing thinner – Use the solvent recommended by the paint manufacturer for applying by roller/brush. In general, people use Mineral spirits as thinner for rolling and brushing.
  • For rolling: Use a high-density and closed-cell foam roller to prevent air bubbles. These foam rollers are best as nap rollers leave hairs and apply the paint too thickly and inconsistently.
  • For tipping: Use a soft-bristled, 3″ badger hair brush to smoothen the applied paint and remove any air bubbles produced by the roller.
  • Use paint trays and liners.
  • Use small sizes of badger hair brushes or foam brushes for cutting in.

Spray Equipment Basics

For using spray equipment, you must know that two-part polyurethane paints contain extremely toxic isocyanides–especially when sprayed. It’s the best way to give the responsibility of spraying the two-part polyurethanes to the professionals because the procedure for masking, air handling/filters, and respiratory protection are much more severe.

If you want to apply a one-part polyurethane by spraying, aside from proper ventilation, make sure you have personal protective gear including a hooded paint suit, vapor respirator with appropriate cartridges (not a dust mask), gloves, and goggles. You should also check that you have the correct spray tip for your spray gun and your type of topside paint.

We find different types of spray guns available in the market. Still, we’ll describe some essential ones often used by do-it-yourselfers: conventional air guns, HVLP (high volume, low pressure), and air-assisted airless spray equipment. In case of your learning more about the spray equipment, you have to spend time behind it.

Spray Tip Basics

The quantity of paint flowing through the sprayed onto the target surface depends on the pressure setting and size of the spray tip. Spray tips rely on the orifice size, and it varies for different application.

  • Choose a spray tip of a size that’s appropriate for the job you’re going to do, and the type of paint you’re using. For example, you can spray lighter coatings with the smaller tip sizes, but for heavier coatings, such as high-solids primer or topside paint, use a larger spray tip size.
  • You should ensure that your spray equipment can handle the tip size as you need.
  • Some paint manufacturers include spray equipment specifications, gun types, and spray tip sizes in their product data sheets. However, if you have any questions or recommendations, you can contact the paint manufacturer.

Sanding Again

Sand the primed surface mildly with 220 or 320-grit sandpaper, or the grit recommended by the coating manufacturer. If you sand by hand, take care and use a sanding block or flexible longboard sander to sand evenly, and it does not create any unintentional (and unwanted!) dips in the surface.

If you want to sand with a random-orbit sander, set the switch mode to “random orbit” option (for finish sanding), but not to “random orbit with forced rotation” action (for aggressive sanding and polishing). It’s also essential to hold the sander flush with the surface and let it move to prevent swirl marks and dishing (low spots).


Some masking tapes tear easily and leave traces of the remainder when you remove it. So, you should use a high-quality masking tape that removes cleanly to protect non-painted surfaces. For taping curved surfaces, you can use a durable and flexible tape that helps you lay down a clean line quickly and easily.

Note: Many masking tape manufacturers indicate the safe time frame for removing the tape without having any residue problems, especially for outdoor use.

Wiping Again

You must ensure that there is no hand or fingerprints from masking, and traces of dust before painting. You need to wipe the surface with a clean, lint-free rag soaked in mineral spirits, or the paint manufacturer’s recommended solvent, and finally, allow drying completely. Be careful not to touch the surface before painting because any contaminant may affect its smoothness.

Note: To keep excessive dust away as possible from the surface while painting, we recommend you to change to a new paint suit between sanding and painting.

Final Word

Many people are looking for essential tips for painting the topside of their boats. That is why I would like to provide you with some crucial tips to decorate your boat safely. Whatever your purpose is, choose the most compulsory tips for your painting jobs. There are many tips for painting activities, but all the tips aren’t necessary for specific types of painting.

However, I have revealed some essential painting tips, and I hope you will find the information helpful. If you want to paint your boat, these tips will help you to decide which suggestions would be suitable for you. If you think this information helpful, please spread the pleasant news with your family and friends so they can choose the necessary tips to enjoy their painting jobs.

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