What Paint is Best For a Jon Boat? Aluminum, Wood & Fiberglass


Applying paint to a Jon boat

If you are thinking of painting your Jon boat either for maintenance purposes or you simply want to upgrade its look, you will be faced with a dilemma. That is, what paint should you use for your Jon boat?

Traditionally, the paint you use on your Jon boat will be dependent on the type of fabrication material it is constructed of. Nowadays, paint manufacturers have developed versatile generic paints that can be used on most types of boats though the paints used for specific construction materials have some major advantages over generic paints. Paints that have antifouling, anti-corrosion, and anti-abrasion elements are the most recommended paints for specific types of Jon boats.

Paints to use for Jon boats

Aluminum, wood, and fiberglass Jon boats require specific maintenance treatments and you can benefit from using paint designed for the specific material your Jon boat is made from. Because of this, each paint type differs in the preparations and application methods that need to be employed for painting them.

Nowadays, painting and coating manufacturers have been developing versatile generic paints that can be applied to all Jon boat fabrication materials. This is different from the traditional way of maintaining the boat’s paint and coating, which relies on specialized paint designed to be used on specific construction materials constructed from aluminum, to wood and fiberglass.

Should you use generic or specialized paint?

Generic paints that can be used on any fabrication materials have their advantages. These paints commonly consist of an anti-corrosion formula. Generic paints tend to be advertised as an all-around coating that can act as a primer and finisher at the same time.

In contrast, specialized paints are intended for specific boat construction materials. As an example, an aluminum paint that contains anti-galvanic corrosion formula does not work well with wooden boats because they are best used for metal build boats.

Generic paints are fine for most Jon boats but for certain boat owners a generic paint will no be enough protection.

Although generic paints work well for the majority of Jon boats, regardless of their construction material, if you really want to give your boat the best protection you may prefer to opt for a specialized paint deigned for your particular Jon.

For example, an aluminum Jon boat that is used in saltwater really needs an aluminum paint that contains an anti-galvanic corrosion formula because saltwater erodes aluminum quickly. Likewise, a wooden Jon boat would fair better with a paint designed to protect wood against rot.

Topside or below waterline paint?

A topside paint is applied on the upper waterline of a boat to protect the hull from corrosion and exposure damage. A below waterline paint is applied to the bottom of the boat to prevent the build-up of micro-organisms that can harm the vessel. A below waterline paint is usually advertised as having an antifouling formula.

As a Jon boat is a small vessel with a shallow draft and flat bottom does it really need both types of paint?

A Jon boat’s can benefit more from using a topside paint on the entire hull of the boat due to its cheaper cost. In addition, the need for antifouling paint is usually only required for larger boats that get extensive saltwater exposure. Since Jon boats are mainly used in inland waterways, an antifouling paint is not really necessary.

Generic paints and coatings that have anti-corrosion formula are better for Jon boats that are used in freshwater, even constructed from aluminum, wood or fiberglass material.

However, specialized paints, each developed for specific construction materials, still have their uses and offer advantages over the more generic paints. We have therefore listed some of the best paints and coatings for each Jon boat construction material below.

Paints suitable for use on a Jon boat

The environment in which you use your Jon boat and the construction material of the boat will often determine which type of paint you need.

The paints that are most suitable for using on a Jon boat are:

  • Generic paint suitable for all materials.
  • Paint formulated specifically for aluminum.
  • Paint formulated specifically for wood.
  • Paint formulated specifically for fiberglass.

Generic paint

Generic paints, such as most topside coatings, are more favorable for Jon boats mainly used in inland waterways. A good marine topside paint works well for this.

One advantage of using generic paints is their relatively cheap cost. Another advantage is that the time spent on painting the boat is reduced in half because most generic paints require no primer as the the paint acts as a primer and finisher.

There are some very good generic paints on the market many of which have anti-corrosive and antifouling formulas. Marine Ablative boat bottom paint offers antifouling elements that effectively act as protection against weeds, algae and slime. This paint is versatile as it can be applied on aluminum, wood and fiberglass Jon boats.

Be aware though that if your boat is made from aluminum are using your Jon boat in saltwater areas the boat will suffer from major corrosion if it is not treated with an anti-galvanic paint.

If you intend to use an aluminum Jon boat in salt water then you need a specific type of paint.

Paints for aluminum Jon boat

Widely regarded as the most common type of material for Jon boat construction in the USA, many manufacturers are well-versed in crafting paints and coatings for aluminum Jon boats.

Here are some of the best paints and coating you can use if your boat is fabricated with aluminum:

  • TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Paint offers a corrosion-resistant and non-reflective finish to the boat. This paint is great if you are looking to improve the boat’s discreet appearance especially for hunting or fishing activities, due to its available camo color options (see our camo painting guide here). This paint can be directly applied as a complete coat or can be used as primer.
  • Aluma Hawk by Sea Hawk is also a corrosion-inhibiting coating that can be applied straightforward to your Jon boat.

Either of the above mentioned paints would be a good choice if you want to cut your painting labor in half as there is no need to apply any primer to the boat. These paints, although marketed as topside paints, can be used below the waterline of the boat as well. The one paint will do the entire boat.

Anti-corrosive elements are usually found in aluminum paint because Jon boats that are primarily made of aluminum materials are susceptible to galvanic corrosion. You may want to know how to protect your Jon boat if you are going to use it in salt water areas.

Paints for a wooden Jon boat

Many wooden Jon boats have been made as a DIY project. You can actually build a wooden Jon boat by following our simple 15 step process. However, after constructing a wooden boat, you are likely to be faced by a question of what paint you should use to give the boat a better finish and greater protection.

The traditional options for coating or painting a wooden Jon boat are oil-based paints and glosses. These materials are often used to prevent the wooden hull of the boat from expanding and flexing too much and to give the wood a certain amount of protection against rot.

Nowadays, the type of generic coatings mentioned above, which are applied to fiberglass and aluminum boats, can also be applied to wooden boats.

Marine wood finishes for a Jon boat are also very common and accessible. Most of them are also cheap and easy to apply.

As wooden boats deserve extra attention and more maintenance work, it is important to choose a paint that has antifouling elements. This type of marine boat bottom antifouling paint is a water-based coating designed for wooden and fiberglass boats. The formula used in this paint can be effective in repelling most type of growths below the waterline.

Yacht varnish is also used to make a wooden boat look expensive and well-maintained. Varnish not only offers an extra protection to a wooden Jon boat but it also gives it improved aesthetics. However, be aware that a good primer is needed before applying yacht varnish as the varnish alone will not offer the wood sufficient protection.

If you are looking to construct or buy a wooden Jon boat, it is important to give extra attention to the maintenance of the vessel especially when paint chipping, wood expanding or growth build-up (like slime and algae) start to appear. This is important to keep in mind when choosing a paint or coating for your boat.

Paints for a fiberglass Jon boat

Although fiberglass is regarded as a tough and sturdy type of material for Joan boats, and is almost maintenance-free it does need a certain amount of maintenance as well. A great way to protect a fiberglass Jon boat is to simply give the boat an appropriate paint job.

There are a lot of paint options that can help protect and maintain a fiberglass Jon boat. Fiberglass specific paint options have formulas that offer better finish and longevity to the boat than a generic paint can.

Listed below are some of the best choices of paint for a fiberglass Jon boat:

Wet Edge is a great topside paint that can be used over the entire hull of a fiberglass Jon boat. It gives a glossy and clean finish to a well-prepared vessel. The paint offers an abrasive resistant surface and its formula makes it flexible enough to hold any flexing, expansion and contraction of the hull.

This paint is also 1-part marine-grade polyurethane, which has a hardening agent that can give fiberglass boats a durable finish – polyurethane is used in kayaks because of its toughness. Keep in mind that this type of coating is highly toxic and should therefore only be applied when you are wearing proper safety equipment (like a mask) and are working in a well ventilated environment.

TotalBoat Underdog boat bottom paint offers good protection in fresh waterways due to its copper biocide base. A benefit of using this type of paint is its ablative formula, which offers an abrasion-resistant finish from all sorts of knocks and can even protect the boat from lose road chippings when you hauling your Jon boat on a trailer.

Rust-Oleum’s Antifouling paint also gives the boat’s bottom better protection due to its antifouling elements. As mentioned previously, this coating is specifically designed to prevent damage to areas that are below the waterline of the vessel but it can be used all over the boat. However, you may want to use this paint only on the bottom of the Jon and use a cheaper topside paint for the rest of the boat.

These are some of the best paint and coating options to consider if you are planning to paint your Jon boat to prevent it from being damaged by the elements, suffering trailering abrasions, or protecting it from harsh impacts while on the water.

Basics of painting a Jon boat

Aside from knowing what type of paint you should use for your Jon boat’s maintenance; you also need to know the basics of using these paints and coatings.

Below are the essential 5 steps to paint a Jon boat effectively:

  1. Prepare yourself, your paint area and your boat for painting.
  2. Clean the boat before painting it.
  3. Make any necessary repairs.
  4. Apply the primer if using one.
  5. Once the primer has dried apply the correct paint for your specific Jon boat.

For more detailed instructions, you can read our article with detailed instructions for painting a Jon boat.

Recap

Aluminum, wood, and fiberglass vessels have specific paints that have been formulated specially for those materials. However, generic paints do exist that can be used on most materials.

These days painting and coating manufacturers have developed special generic paints that can be applied to any fabrication material. In most cases these paints are more than sufficient for any type of Jon boat regardless of its construction material.

However, although generic paint works well for most Jon boats if you use your boat in specific environments, such as an aluminum Jon boat in saltwater, then you need extra protection from a specialized paint. Aluminum deteriorates quickly in saltwater due to a galvanic corrosion and you therefore need to apply an anti-galvanic anti-corrosive aluminum paint like the ones we mentioned above.

There are also other benefits to using a paint designed specifically for your Jon boat’s construction material as we also outlined above.

The most recommended paint for aluminum Jon boats are as follows:

Generic

Aluminum

Wood

Fiberglass

After choosing the appropriate paint for your Jon boat, you must also know the basics of painting your watercraft, our ultimate guide can help you with that.

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