What Kind of Paint for a Boat Trailer?

by Don Kress
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Boat trailers may not spend all their time underwater, but they spend enough time in water to make corrosion a significant problem. When painting a boat trailer, properly preparing the surface for the paint is important, but even more important is choosing the right paint. Some paints are not suitable for use on a trailer and will wear out quickly.

Alkyd Enamel Paint

Alkyd enamel paint, such as Rustoleum, helps prevent rust on properly prepared and painted surfaces. The benefit of the Alkyd enamel paint is that it dries to an extremely tough surface that is resistant to abrasion and corrosion. Rustoleum offers marine-grade paint that perfectly fits the needs of a repainted boat trailer.

Powder Coating

Powder coating is a process different from normal painting with either a brush or a spray. Powder coating is electrically bonded to the metal being coated and then baked to cure the surface. The benefit of powder coating a boat trailer is that the surface is nearly impermeable and the powder coat material fully encapsulates the metal of the trailer -- including the insides of the trailer rails. The drawback of powder coating is that it is expensive to have done and a professional must apply it due to the size of the trailer.

Spray-on Truck Bed Liner

Spray-on or even brush-on truck bed liner forms a hard, impermeable bond with the metal on which it is applied, inhibiting rust formation by preventing water and air from reaching the metal. Application is easy, requiring minimal preparation. The finished product is extremely resistant to any form of damage, including scratches. Also, truck bed liner is available in a variety of colors to match your boat or trailering vehicle.


POR-15 is not a type of paint, but rather a paint manufacturer. Their product is widely used in automotive restoration as well as marine painting to seal metal against corrosion. POR-15 is applied after the surface is treated with their marine paint prep chemicals, which degrease and clean the surface to be painted. The POR-15 is then sprayed or brushed onto the surface, directly over any existing rust. POR-15's most notable claim is that exposure to elements actually helps the paint's curing process go faster.

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