Can You Paint Boat Fenders? How To Clean Boat Fenders!


I know you have seen those dirty looking, nasty, gray fenders that sit in the storage lockers of our boats! How in the world they get so nasty looking, no one knows! So what do you do to get that moldy look off of them?

Can You Paint Boat Fenders? No, it is not a good idea to paint a boat fender. Technically you can paint them, but the paint will not stick and will also be rubbing off onto your boat. As well as what the fender is being put against to protect the boat from. Cleaning the fenders or buying fender covers is a better alternative to buying new fenders. 

This is why you shouldn’t paint your boat’s fenders as well as alternatives to painting. Along with the best way to clean the fenders up!

Why Painting Is Not A Good Idea

New Boat Fender Not PaintedBoat fenders are usually made out of a certain type of rubber. There are other plastic fenders, but they are not nearly as popular in the recreational world. Probably because they are hard on the boat’s gel coat or paint!

Being that they are made out of rubber and placed between the boat. They are constantly being pressed against, making them expand and contract.

Painting the fenders may look good when it is first done, but it won’t take long to wear that paint off! The constant stress of the boat will make the paint chip and fall off.

No matter how well you cleaned and scuffed the fender before painting it! There is just not a good paint that will be able to stick to the fender and withstand the movement that the fender will go through.

Another reason why it is not a good idea to paint them is the hull of your boat! The paint can be pressed against the gel coat or paint on the boat’s hull. Leaving all kinds of marks and possibly even paint color!

We all know how bad a fender can look after it gets that dirty mold look to it. And no one would mind changing the color of the fender to make it match the boat.

The best way that most people change the color of their fenders is to buy fender covers.

Are Boat Fender Covers Worth It?

Boat Fender CoverFender covers are pretty inexpensive. You can get them in many different colors as well.

Generally, they will cost you from $15-$40 depending on what kind and how big of a cover you buy. The material of the cover will also vary.

Fender covers are nice if you are looking to have that clean look. As well as leaving the fenders out and on display. Leaving them tied to the bow rail or off to the side all the time, is a good reason to go for the cover.

Seeing that they are relatively inexpensive and the primary purpose of the cover is to create a clean look. Then I would say they are worth it, for what you are getting.

It is also cheaper to take a dirty fender that will not clean up. (More on cleaning shortly) Then sticking it into a cover and boom, it looks like a brand new fender!

There can be a disadvantage to the cover though if it is left in the water for too long. In a saltwater environment, (Read this article here if you want to know all about Freshwater Vs. Saltwater effects.) you can get all kinds of growth that will grow in and outside of the cover.

Barnacles can grow on a bumper that is left in the water. If that bumper has a cover than the barnacles can grow on the inside and outside. Climbing up the bumper and creating a nasty deal as well as something that can scratch the boat.

How To Keep The Fenders Clean

The best way to keep the fenders clean is to keep them out of the water! Simple as that!

Keeping your boat fenders dry and out of the water will prevent growth and other things from growing on the fender.

Most of the dirt that you see on the fender is growth and build up. The dirt, water, and salt that gets left on the fender once it is put away. Is then left to begin growing all kinds of stuff as well as staining the fender.

This growth and stains that form on the fender can then end up rubbing off onto your boat.

It’s best just to spray them down and clean them off after using them. Then make sure that they are dried off before storing them away.

Preventing the entire process of getting them super dirty and having to pull out a nasty fender next time you need it!

How To Clean Boat Fenders!

There are many products out there to use to clean the fenders. There are also many methods to use to clean them.

The most common way is to just take some regular old bleach, some soap, and some comet. Mix them up in a bucket and heavily soak the fender while brushing it off using a deck brush.

Then you can also buy some magic erasers that will usually restore the fender to a nice white color. If they were originally white, to begin with.

There is a marine wipe out eraser that you can use that is a little more aggressive than the magic eraser. It will hold up a little better and allow you to scrub the dirt off of the fender without blowing through a whole box of magic erasers.

Using some other degreasers and cleaners will also work. A scotch bright pad, some zep soap, simple green, or orange clean will get the job done as well.

There are also some other harsher chemicals that you can use to get the really dirty fenders cleaned up. A lot of people like to use acetone to clean the dirt off. Which does work well and cleans a lot of the stains off of the fender.

What ever method that you find works best, is going to be the ticket. Any of these will get the fenders clean. Then once they are cleaned up, you can always stick them in a nice colored cover and save your self a lot of money.

You are not having to buy new fenders that can get pretty pricey depending on what kind and how big of a boat bumper that you use!

Let us know about your fender experiences in the comment section below!

Check Us Out!

Hope this has been a little helpful article to get you in the right direction to getting those old dirty boat bumpers or boat fenders cleaned up.

You can save a ton of money by buying some used, old, dirty fenders from a garage sale or second hand. Cleaning them up and sticking them in a nice cover. Opposed to going out and buying brand new fenders, that can get pretty expensive!

We’d like to invite you to come and check us out on our Youtube Channel: Born Again Boating! We make all kinds of DIY, How To Boating, and Outboard service hints, tips, and tricks!

Along with our Technician’s Tuesday series where we take you along with us on a normal day as a Marine Technician at a super busy marina in the Florida Keys.

You never know what we will be working on, and always keeps you up to date on our restoration, rewire, and repower projects! We hope you will get subscribed to the channel and add us to your favorites so we can be your go-to resource when it comes to completing all of your DIY boating projects!

Aaron Hilligoss

Aaron has been working in the Marine Industry for over a decade and holds certifications for Yamaha and Mercury Marine. It is not uncommon for him to own and be working on at least three different boats at any given point in time!

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