Can You Paint a Boat Anchor?

Typically, you don’t see painted boat anchors. If you have an issue with rusty on your anchor, most people take it into the shop to be galvanized. Would a cheaper option be to paint it? Sailors often ask this question regarding their boat anchors.

Can You Paint a Boat Anchor?

Can you paint a boat anchor? Yes, but it will quickly flake and peel off. Additionally, all paint must be removed before you can have it galvanized again to deal with rust. The paint will not prevent rust on an anchor, as it chips off too easily.

Even though painting your boat anchor does not serve any real purpose, you will still find some painted boat anchors.

You may also see painted anchor chains, as well. But what is the purpose behind painting boat anchors?

Does it cause issues when you have to galvanize your anchor? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.

Why Would You Paint a Boat Anchor?

When it comes to dealing with rust on their boat anchors, most sailors take them in to have them galvanized again. Galvanizing is when the anchor is dipped into a bath of heated zinc. The chemical reaction between the rust and the zinc takes the rust off the anchor. This is the only way to remove rust from a boat anchor.

Paint won’t prevent rust, nor will it cover it for long. If you need your anchor galvanized again, you’ll have to remove all of the paint before it can be dipped. Why, then, should you paint your anchor? In clear waters, a painted anchor can be seen much more easily than a standard, galvanized anchor.

Do you frequently visit waters where you’re able to look down to see your anchor because of the water clarity?

If you do, you already know how hard it is to spot your anchor when it is deep in the water. The metal reflects brightly off the water, making it hard to tell where it is. Painting it can solve that.

The one reason to avoid painting your anchor is that it chips off quickly. Paint can be expensive, especially if you’re consistently fixing chips and scrapes.

Can You Paint a Boat Anchor?

Why Should I Galvanize My Boat Anchor Before Painting It?

In the case of heavy rusting, you’ll need to have your anchor galvanized or replaced. A quick dip in zinc will fix it up, but you’ll have to find a blacksmith to do it.

It can be expensive to have done, but some blacksmiths will agree to set it to the side until they have a bigger order.

There’s no point in painting a rusting anchor. The rust will flake off, as will the paint. In these cases, you’re just wasting time and effort.

If you get it galvanized before attempting to paint it, your paint will last longer. The only equivalent to a freshly galvanized anchor is a new anchor. Either of these is a breeze to paint.

How Do You Paint a Boat Anchor?

If you decide it’s worth your while to paint your anchor, there are just a few steps you’ll want to take. The first is to check for any rust. Rust will spread and quickly flake off your paint.

Small spots will be okay, as long as you know where they are, and you can frequently repaint them.

More significant rust spots won’t be okay. The larger the rust spot, the quicker it’ll spread and cover your anchor, flaking off all the paint. If you have large stretches of rust on your anchor, you should have it galvanized before you paint it.

Once you’ve dealt with any rusting, you want to make sure the anchor is clean and dry. Any debris you may have on it will get stuck under the paint and chip off or create an uneven surface. Then you’re finally ready to start painting it.

How to paint a boat anchor:

  1. For the most even and quick application, you can spray the paint on with a spray gun. If you don’t want to invest in that, a simple paintbrush will do just fine. Whichever you’re using, you should make sure it’s clean before you begin.
  2. Apply a coat or two of antifouling paint, such as Rust-Oleum Marine Flat Boat Bottom Antifouling Paint. This will prevent barnacles or slime from attaching themselves to the anchor. It’s also suitable for priming the anchor before applying the paint itself, which helps it last longer.
  3. Allow it to dry thoroughly. You should give it at least four hours in between coats.
  4. After the second coat, wait four hours before applying the next type of paint.
  5. Make sure your spray gun or brushes are cleaned between one paint type and the next.
  6. Apply at least two coats of colored paint over the antifouling agent. You should use polyurethane paint, like Interlux Brightside Polyurethane Paint, which is informally known as marine paint. This type of paint is designed to last the longest underwater.
  7. Follow the instructions on the can on how much time to give between coats.
  8. Allow it to dry for at least 24 hours, longer if your paint says to.

The paint won’t take long to begin chipping off, but you can retouch as necessary. If you’re hoping to see your anchor in the clear waters, make sure to grab a bright color that’ll stand out even while sitting deep in water.

anchor a boat on the beach

Why and How Do You Paint a Boat Anchor Chain?

More common than a painted anchor, anchor chains are also painted. Typically, however, you’ll only see stripes painted on specific places on the chain. Why is that? These are markers to help you see how far down the anchor is and, thus, how deep the water is.

Painting a boat anchor chain is the same idea as painting an anchor, but the process is a little bit faster and easier, as you’re only painting a few stripes.

The steps are about the same, though:

  1. A spray paint gun is preferred here, but a brush will work.
  2. Apply a coat or two of antifouling paint.
  3. Allow it to dry. You’ll still need to give it at least four hours in between coats.
  4. Clean your spray gun or brushes while waiting for the anti-fouler to dry before you apply the next type of paint.
  5. Apply at least two coats of colored polyurethane paint.
  6. Follow the instructions on the can on how much time between coats.
  7. Allow it to dry for at least 24 hours, longer if your paint says to.

The most common color choices for painting boat chains are:

  1. Red
  2. Yellow
  3. Blue
  4. White
  5. Orange

Each color represents another 25 feet of chain. This way, you can look down and see the blue stripe bobbing at the top. This means you’re 75 feet out, as it’s the third color.

Paint boat anchor chain


The answer to your question is yes; you can paint a boat anchor. The stipulation, however, is that you can’t expect it to last very long.

The water’s bottom is rough on painted surfaces, no matter what they are. You should expect quite a bit of repainting if you want it to stay in good shape.

Paint also won’t prevent rusting, and the paint must be removed before it can be galvanized, which is why so many sailors don’t do it. In clear waters, you may find it’s worth it.

In these cases, you’ll need to watch for any signs of rust. Rust will peel the paint off even faster.

More commonly, you can paint your anchor chain. This is an excellent option as it helps you keep track of how deep the water is.

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