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Can You Paint Hypalon?

For those not in the know, Hypalon is a type of synthetic rubber, often used in the construction of inflatable boats and RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats). It’s prized for its resilience and durability, but over time, even the hardiest materials can start to show signs of wear and tear. One common question we hear from boat owners is: Can you paint Hypalon? Yes, in a nutshell, but there’s more to it than just putting on a coat of paint, as with any DIY project.

Can You Paint Hypalon?


In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be delving into the specifics of painting Hypalon and other rubber variant inflatable boats and RIBs. We’ll go through the best types of paint to use, how to apply them, and why you might want to paint your boat. We hope you’ll find this material helpful whether you’re a seasoned sailor trying to clean up your boat or a novice boater.

Explanation of the Use and Application of Flexible Paint to Hypalon and Rubber Variant Inflatable Boats and RIB’s

When it comes to painting Hypalon or rubber variant inflatable boats and RIBs, not just any old paint will do. You need a flexible paint that can withstand the rigors of marine life. One such paint is Flexithane, formulated by Polymarine specifically for the renovation of these types of boats.

Flexithane is a fully flexible paint designed to adhere strongly to Hypalon PU and rubber variant fabrics. It’s highly elastomeric, meaning it has an extreme stretch ratio that won’t crack or flake off, even under the harsh conditions of the sea. It offers a smooth satin finish and requires no mixing – just a vigorous shake or stir before application.

The paint dries quickly, typically touch dry in 5 minutes at 20°C, and hard dry in 20 minutes at the same temperature. It is recommended to apply a second coat for enhanced appearance and improved lasting durability.

Can You Paint Hypalon?

Yes, you can paint Hypalon — and rubber variant fabrics — using a specially formulated flexible paint like Flexithane. However, it’s important to note that painting Hypalon or any other material should never be seen as a ‘quick fix’ for deeper structural issues. Any loose components or patches should be repaired and reattached prior to painting.

Discussion of the Desire to Paint an Old Avon Hypalon Dink and Cover Previous Paint Markings

Perhaps you’ve inherited an old Avon Hypalon dink that’s seen better days, or maybe your own boat has accumulated scuffs and scratches over the years. In either case, you might be considering painting over the existing surface to refresh its appearance and cover previous paint markings.

While it’s certainly possible to do this, it’s worth noting that preparation is key. The surface to be painted should be checked for rough imperfections, which can be lightly sanded down. The entire surface should then be abraded to improve paint adhesion. Additionally, the inflatable tubes must be cleaned of dirt, oxidation, and grease using an appropriate cleaner, like Polymarine Inflatable Boat Cleaner.

Different Opinions on Painting a Hypalon Raft

In the boating community, opinions differ on whether or not one should paint a Hypalon raft. Some argue that painting can extend the life of the raft and improve its aesthetic, while others caution that improper painting can lead to more harm than good.

One of the main points of contention revolves around the issue of compatibility. Not all paints are suitable for Hypalon, and using an incompatible paint can result in peeling, blistering, or other types of damage. As such, it’s crucial to choose a paint specifically formulated for Hypalon and similar materials, like Flexithane.

Personal Experience with Using Paint on Dinks and the Results

Many boat owners have shared their experiences using paint on their dinks, with varying levels of success. Some have reported excellent results, noting that the paint adhered well, provided good coverage, and significantly improved the appearance of their boats. Others, however, have encountered issues such as peeling, cracking, or discoloration, often due to using incompatible paint or incorrect application methods.

The consensus seems to be that painting a Hypalon dink can indeed yield positive results, but only if done properly. This includes thoroughly cleaning and prepping the surface, using a compatible paint, applying it correctly, and allowing sufficient drying time.

Use of Antifouling Dinghy Paints for Painting Hypalon

Antifouling paints are used to prevent fouling organisms such as barnacles and algae from attaching to the hulls of boats. They are typically used on larger, non-inflatable boats, but some boat owners have wondered if they can be used on Hypalon dinghies as well.

While antifouling paints can provide protection against fouling, they are generally not recommended for use on Hypalon or other inflatable materials. These paints are typically hard and brittle, and may crack or peel off when applied to flexible surfaces. For Hypalon dinghies, a flexible paint like Flexithane is usually a better choice.

Potential Problems with Painting Hypalon and the Importance of Using Compatible Paint

As mentioned earlier, one of the key factors in successfully painting Hypalon is choosing a compatible paint. Use the wrong type of paint, and you can run into a host of problems, including peeling, blistering, discoloration, and even structural damage to the boat.

The importance of using a compatible paint cannot be overstated. A flexible paint like Flexithane, which is specifically formulated for Hypalon and similar materials, is ideal. It adheres well to the surface, provides a durable finish, and won’t crack or flake off when the boat is in use.


In conclusion, yes, you can paint Hypalon, but it’s vital to do so correctly. Preparation is key, as is selecting a compatible paint. By taking the time to follow the proper steps, you can breathe new life into your old Hypalon boat, ensuring it continues to serve you well for many years to come.

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