What is a Boot Stripe?
The Boot Stripe is a narrow stripe that runs the length of the boat and is usually positioned a few inches above the waterline. The stripe provides an aesthetic touch and creates an optical illusion that makes the boat appear to be longer. It also gives the boat a nice “finished” appearance that many boaters take pride in. Boot stripes also define the separation between anti-fouling paint (below) and the topside paint (above). Vinyl boot stripe tape is available in different widths, colors, and designs, but unless the boat has a flat, slab side this will make the boat appear to sag or squat in the water. Painting the boot stripe on the hull allows the width to change with the geometry of the boat and give the finished stripe a uniform look. Repainting an existing Boot Stripe will be easier than starting from scratch since you won’t have to mark and score the stripe.
Find and mark the Boot Stripe. The boot stripes of many fiberglass hulls are cast into the hull from the mold by the manufacturer. They can only be removed if you sand down to the fiberglass.
If there is no stripe on your hull you will need to mark the waterline on your boat and transcribe it up to the desired height of your stripe. This can be done by applying successive layers of masking tape along the waterline curve. There are other numerous methods worth investigating online. Also, consult a professional and ask them questions about your specific boat.
Mask off the stripe with tape and get within 1/32nd in. to the edges of the old stripe. This will allow you to sand to the very edge of the old stripe, and avoid damaging the surrounding gel coat.
De-wax the stripe area using a de-waxing solution and a rag.
Sand only the stripe area with 220 grit sandpaper. Once sanding is complete, remove the masking tape and wipe the area with acetone. This will remove any remaining adhesive and sanding remnants. Sacrificing the first mask will contribute to a sharper finish. It is possible that the first application of tape can transfer sanding residue to the paint and result in a poor finish. Mask twice and you will only have to paint once! Be sure to take your time with the second masking. Remember: If the stripe doesn’t look good in tape, it will look even worse once painted. Now you’re ready to paint!
What type of paint should I use?
There are many different varieties of topside paint suitable for painting a boot stripe, but we have narrowed it down to just a few options for you.
Good: Duralux Marine Enamel – Easy to use, economically viable, with a nice color selection. When applying this marine enamel to fiberglass, no primer is needed. Simply wipe the surface with acetone before and after sanding, then apply your paint. For aluminum, prime with one coat of Duralux Zinc Chromate and apply 2 coats of paint. This high gloss enamel will create a bright and colorful boot stripe on any vessel.
Better: Interlux Brightside – One part Polyurethane with a crisp, high gloss appearance. It is more durable than regular enamels, but just as easy to apply! If you are applying Brightside to fiberglass, make sure the surface is clean and in good condition. Remove wax and other contaminants using Fiberglass Solvent Wash 202 and then sand with 220-320 grit paper. Apply Pre-Kote. Brightside offers excellent flow and gloss retention especially for painting a boot stripe.
OR Pettit Easypoxy – Another single-stage Polyurethane that provides a nice sheen of gloss and durability for painting a boot stripe. However, the color selection is more limited than Interlux Brightside. Easypoxy is only available in black, white, and off-white. Both products produce a high quality finish and are easy to use.
Best: Revolution SM-1000 – Exceptionally beautiful paint that can be applied above or below the waterline. Revolution produces a bright and smooth finish, self levels like a dream, and will last longer than other topside paints. Awlgrip is often renowned for being the best topside paint money can buy, but Revolution Marine Paint outperforms Awlgrip for a cheaper price! An Etching Primer is recommended for most surfaces. Revolution will keep your boot stripe (and your boat) looking like new.