Can You Paint a Galvanized Boat Trailer?

After a lot of use, your boat trailer has probably seen better days. Regardless of whether you have been taking great care of your trailer or if you have been letting it sit, getting the idea to freshen things up with some paint is an exciting idea.

However, galvanized metal can be quite difficult to work with especially when it comes to paint. Galvanized metal is coated with a layer of oil so that it won’t get rusty. To complicate matters even more, there are actually some other factors that could cause you some problems.

There are some paints like oil-based ones that will seem to have stuck to the surface just fine; but will eventually be broken up by the oily layer on the metal.

This can have the result of paint that will appear just like any other peeling paint. If you are painting with galvanized metal, you need to be very careful that you follow instructions carefully and that you are using appropriate materials at all times to get the desired result that you are looking for.

Can You Paint a Galvanized Boat Trailer?

It is possible to paint a galvanized boat trailer but you will need to be careful so that your paint job sticks. Essentially, you will need to rinse and sand the surface to make sure that the oil found in the metal don’t ruin all of your hard work.

To get started, you’ll want to gather some ammonia, heavy duty sandpaper, metal primer & paint (preferably paint specifically for galvanized metal) and tack cloths.

How to Paint Galvanized Metal

To start with, you’re going to want to wash and rinse the metal. This is a process that sets you up the right way to be able to complete this entire process without all of your hard work simply peeling away.

Your first step is going to be washing the metal with soapy water. This solution should be made with hot water and you should be sure to be as thorough as possible so that you are not missing any spots, even on corners or in tight spots.

After it has been washed, you are going to rinse the metal off making sure to get all of the soap off of it from the wash and it will have to dry. The drying process will probably take a few hours, so just be prepared for that time.

After you’ve let the trailer dry, you need to rinse it again, but this time you are going to use a somewhat weak solution of water and ammonia. Again, you’ll need to let it dry after this process which will take some time as well.

With your washing complete, you are going to want to get the trailer even further ready for your painting process. The first step here will be to remove anything that is not necessary to be painted from the metal of the trailer.

These are things like handles or attachments that do not need to be painted, so you are going to want to remove them from the process completely. This will allow you to get to all of the surfaces that actually do need painted.

After you are satisfied that you have the parts of your trailer that actually need painting, you are going to start the sanding process. You need to sand the entire metal surface of your trailer thoroughly making sure to hit the hard-to-reach spots like if you have a crevice or anything like that in the metal.

After sanding, you need to wipe everything down with the tack cloths.

With all of these things finally done, you should be able to start the actual painting process. While it seems like a lot of work, these steps are necessary to make sure that your paint job is going to stick.

To start off the painting process, you are going to need to start with your primer. It’s important to follow the directions when dealing with your primer because not all brands have the exact same solutions for their primer.

Again, since this is a fairly major project you just want to be careful so that you are doing everything in your ability to make this a success.

Regardless, you will apply the primer according to the manufacturer instructions – making sure to get to all of the surfaces of your trailer. Generally speaking, you should probably work at the top and work downwards, piecing your project into sections so that it is a bit more manageable.

One thing to note when applying your primer is that you need to be watching for any drips that could appear. If you do see drips when applying the primer, you should wipe them off quickly so that is why you cut your work into sections.

Your primer will need a certain time period to dry. You should read your directions to see what that time is for you, making sure to monitor and adjust if you don’t think your environment has allowed the primer to dry.

Once your primer is dry, you should do an inspection to make sure that you got into all of the surfaces of your trailer and didn’t have any spots missing. This will just lead to a poor-looking trailer down the road, so spending some extra time on this step would be a pretty good idea.

If you’re certain that the primer has been applied to the best of your abilities, then it is time to move on to the metal paint. Ideally your metal paint is from the same brand as the metal primer that you used, so you should be familiar with how to follow their directions.

You’re going to apply the paint in a very similar manner to the primer, but be careful to read if there are any differences with your brand.

Be thorough when painting and do your best to apply a nice even coat. Once you have painted your trailer; you’ll need to let it dry according to the manufacturer instructions.

Once dry, do another inspection, this time making sure that you’ve completed all of those surfaces with the coat of paint that you were aiming for.

The Importance of Your Boat Trailer

Buying a boat is such an awesome experience that people will occasionally forget to pay attention to the trailer that they are using. While the boat is an awesome item, you shouldn’t forget about the trailer that allows you to bring that awesome boat wherever it is you’re going.

In worst case scenarios, a poor trailer could cost you the price of that boat if you experience a catastrophic breakdown. Most situations don’t get that far; but you should still do a thorough inspection if you are trying to buy a cheaper third party trailer to save some money.

How to Buy the Best Boat Trailer

Buying an appropriate boat trailer is a good idea to make sure that all of your boating trips go according to plan.

You need a trailer that is durable and can hold the weight of your boat easily during travel. Here are some of the variables that can make that happen:


If you have more axles, you will be less likely to have a bigger problem when hauling your boat.

Can You Paint a Galvanized Boat Trailer?

You may want to get drop axles if you want to load and unload the boat easily, but if you are traversing a lot of rough roads then you are adding some risk to their poor performance there.


You should make sure that your trailer is certified by the NMMA. You may also want to get disc brakes or drum brakes which will be available on certain trailers.

Disc brakes work better for larger boat trailers and drum brakes are more frequently used for smaller boats.

While electric brakes are becoming more popular among consumers, you should make sure that they will continue to work if they get submerged.


Obviously, galvanized metal is a great choice to use and is extremely durable even when used in saltwater. That’s a great choice for a boat trailer although some people use aluminum for freshwater boats as well.

Tips for Painting a Boat

Boats often face a lot of adversity because they are being kept in the sun, in the rain, or in the water. Even when in use, they could face currents which effect their paint.

Mostly, the biggest concern is how the environment takes its toll on your boat. If your boat also needs a paint job, here are some quick tips:

  • Keep the boat in a ventilated area
  • Wear a mask and gloves
  • Sand the body similar to your trailer to remove rust
  • Be sure to use primer
  • Consider applying multiple coats


Painting a galvanized boat trailer is one part of a successful equation for your boat. While you may need to take some extra caution, you should be able to use the right tools to give your trailer a new paint job.