Q&A: preserving a canal boat’s paintwork

Preserving a paintjob

Preserving a paintjob - Credit: Archant

We ask the experts how to keep your perfect paintjob

Q) My narrowboat is in the process of having a total repaint. Could you please advise the best way to preserve the paintwork for as long as possible i.e. best type of wash shampoo and wax to use, frequency of waxing etc. - Mark Knight

A) TONY REPLIES: Perhaps one of the most important things to do is to keep turning the boat on its moorings so both sides get equal exposure to the sun. If you do not, you will find one side degrades a lot faster. It is also important to remove duck and other bird droppings as soon as you can. They can eat into the paintwork over time. If any dry on I have been told putting a blob of cheap hair shampoo on and letting it soak overnight helps loosen it.

For routine washing canal water early or very late in the day when the sediment has settled a bit is normally fine but don’t use it if there is an oil or fuel film on the water.

Any reputable car or boat shampoo will be okay; I use one that also contains a wax.

The normally recommended polish is one containing a decent amount of carnauba wax; any make should be okay, even a car polish. Avoid polish that contains silicon because it can make touching up or repainting tricky.

Be wary of using ‘colour restoring’ polishes or T-Cut on a regular basis because they tend to be a mildly abrasive and remove a layer of paint. Sooner or later the paint will fade or chalk, so using one then and following it with regular washing and polishing will keep the paintwork looking better.

Most Read

You ask about frequency but there is no one answer to that because it depends upon the wildlife deposits, the amount of time you moor under trees, algae growth, atmospheric pollution and UV exposure. I would probably wash down with canal water at least once a week, remove bird droppings daily, use wash & wax as required to remove dirt etc. and the same for polishing. Maybe polish two or three times a year, autumn, spring & mid-season.