Latest News: Forums Technical Wooden hull – Paint or Varnish?

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  • #3997

    Hi all,

    We have recently become the proud owners of W844, a beautiful woodie that has seen a great deal of care and attention. She currently has a painted hull with antifouling below the waterline which could do with replacing. I am not sure what we want to do over the winter in terms of replacing the antifouling (we are at Grafham and unlikely to see too much salt water, at least in the first 12 months.) or biting the bullet and going for either a full strip and re-sparay or a strip and varnish.

    I have to confess that I find there is something considerably appealing about ‘the wood look’. I am therefore trying to get as many views as possible as to the pros and cons in comparing either painting or varnishing the hull in terms of longevity, protection, ease of repair, ease of application and anything else you may think is worthwhile considering. I am aware of a number of thread that discuss some of these aspects individually, but I have not seen anything that compares them

    I am sure there are many owners out there who have been through this a number of time, grateful for your thoughts. Bob, apologies if I have placed this thread in the wrong topic.

    Many thanks


    Colin Parkstone


    Some part of the success of a plywood boat in a varnished finish is due to how thick the outer veneer of the ply is and how much sanding you will be allowed to do before you go through that veneer.

    Goodluck with that, you will join a small band of people who have succeded with that and one is in Denmark who is going to be burnt in his when he goes!

    C P 😉


    If you paint the top and inside and then want to sell! What is the paint hiding? Painted hull is fine. I have seen a varnished outer hull and didn’t like the look of it but that’s me. You can’t beat a varnished deck or thwart for lovingly running your hand up and down, quite sensuous, it reminds me of – . But that’s another story.


    Hi John,

    Thanks (and to you Colin) for taking the time to reply. I completely agree about the beauty of the wood, which is why I have absolutely no intention of touching those areas except to maintain the quality.

    Essentially I was hoping to get the views of others on the pro’s and con’s when comparing painting the hull to varnishing; it is going to require a little TLC if nothing more than to update the anti-fouling. Am I right in assuming that the levels of ‘pain/effort’ in terms of maintenance and protection of each option is similar therefore it comes down to personal preference?


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