Painting a Jet Ski: Everything You Need to Know

Painting your Jet Ski can be an exciting task. Whether you are unhappy with the current condition of your jet ski or want to make your PWC as good as new, painting the exterior of your jet ski can give your watercraft a whole new look. Not only will painting your jet ski give you a new look to enjoy, but it will also serve as a protective layer for the hull.

There are two options for painting your jet ski: leaving the job to the professionals or taking the matter into your own hands. Regardless of which option you choose, investing in painting your jet ski can add to the value of your PWC if you decide to sell it in the future.

Why You Should Paint a Jet Ski

There are many reasons to paint a jet ski. For most PWC owners, the biggest reason to paint a jet ski is to have a new look. For people who want a new, modern look on their jet ski for every season, painting is an enjoyable hobby that changes the entire appeal. For people with old jet skis, the color tends to become damaged with rough usage or sun exposure, which is why regularly painting the PWC is important.

Getting a new paint job on your jet ski can also prolong the lifetime of your PWC. The paint acts as a protective layer which reduces the possibility of damage and scratches.

If you are interested in painting your jet ski, then the first thing you need to know is the various parts that can be painted. Here are the two most common components for painting your jet ski:

1. The Hull

This is one of the main components of your jet ski. Since the hull and the top deck cover most part of your watercraft, it is important to repaint these to ensure that you are happy with the color. Remember that the hull will be exposed to water constantly, so it is important to choose a paint that protects your jet ski against water damage.

To paint the hull, it is recommended to turn your ski to the side to gain full access. Alternatively, you can also flip it upside down or hoist it through straps which makes the paint job easier. While painting the hull, it is important to cover the entire surface area because any missed parts will be very prominent on your jet ski in the future.

2. The Deck

The top deck is located on top of your jet ski where the seat is attached. Since the deck houses the handlebars and the engine, it is not exposed to water. This means that it is the most visible part of your jet ski, which is why it is an important decision to paint it. To give your deck a unique look, you can paint it a different color than the rest of the craft. Instead of opting for a design, the deck is typically painted in one solid color only.

Painting the deck of your jet ski is easy since it can be removed from the watercraft entirely. If you have any additional components on your jet ski, it is essential to remove or mask off all of them before beginning your paint job.

Calling the Professionals

By this point, you must have realized that painting your jet ski is a lengthy and fairly complicated task. Many people opt to get the jet ski professionally painted instead of doing it themselves, especially if they do not have enough time to complete the job thoroughly. Remember that getting your jet ski professionally painted will cost you more than doing it yourself, but it ensures a perfect paint job without any hassle from your end.

If you choose to call the professionals, then you can simply head down to anybody’s shop in your area. You can also contact local boating stores to ask for recommendations or whether they can do the job themselves. If you live in an area where jet skis are common, then you are likely to have many stores available that would be willing to paint your watercraft for a reasonable price.

Here is the next big question: how much does it cost? Having your jet ski professionally painted depends on a few factors, including the size and model of your jet ski, and the specific paint job that you require. If you opt to add fancy designs and textures to your jet ski, the price will go up as well. The cost of getting your jet ski painted will also depend upon the amount of labor required and how urgently you need the watercraft back.

Can I Paint the Jet Ski Myself?

The answer is yes. It is possible to paint your jet ski yourself, and even turn it into an enjoyable experience where you can personalize your watercraft in the best way possible. The cost of painting the jet ski yourself will be considerably lower than any professional paint job since you will only be investing in the materials required for the job. You can also have the freedom to take as much or as little time as you need to paint your jet ski – which gives you more time to think about the color and designs that you like.

Painting the jet ski yourself will cost between $100 to $200. This includes the rental payment for equipment, the paint, and other cleaning and polishing materials of your preference. Most importantly, you should consider that painting the jet ski will require many hours out of your schedule as well as some tough labor.

How to Paint Your Jet Ski

If you are looking for an easy guide to painting your jet ski, then you have arrived at the right place. Here is a comprehensive guide on everything you need to do to achieve a professional paint job at home:

1. Before You Begin

Painting your jet ski will require patience. Instead of picking up some paint from the store and starting right away, you will have to take some necessary steps to ensure a smooth process. Firstly, you need an enclosed space such as a garage to keep the jet ski safe from dirt and residue. This area should have good ventilation since it is not recommended to use a paint gun in a closed space.

Another thing you need before painting your jet ski is a mount. While you may already have a trailer, it is not recommended to use it while painting since you could end up painting the trailer as well. The good news is that there are many jet ski mounts available for rent at local stores, or you can even create one yourself. The entire purpose of the point is to lift the jet ski off the ground and keep it in a stable position throughout the entire process.

Remember that the mount might end up getting some splashes of paint here and there, so keep that in mind when you are renting or making one.

2. Materials Required

You obviously need some paint to redesign your jet ski, but what else do you need? Apparently, a lot of things. The best way to complete your paint job in time is to gather the materials beforehand. Here is everything that you will need:

  • Primer: Before you begin painting the exterior of your jet ski, you need to prep the surface. That is why a good quality primer is essential.
  • Sandpaper: Speaking of preparing the surface for paint, you also need sandpaper to remove any damaged spots on your jet ski before adding a layer of paint on it. Get both low-grit and high-grit sandpaper since the former will be used before you begin and the latter can be used to fix imperfections after you are done.
  • Electric Sander: Instead of manually sanding down the entire surface of your jet ski, you can get an electric sander to save yourself some hassle. You do not need to purchase this if you don’t want to, but it can easily be rented from a local hardware shop as well.
  • Clean Towels: After sanding, you need to clean the surface with smooth towels. It is important to find new, soft towels that do the job without adding scratches to your jet ski.
  • Tape: Invest in high-quality painter’s tape since this is essential to keep other parts of your jet ski safe from unwanted paint. If you want to create some fancy designs, then painter’s tape will assist you by giving you a neat surface to work with.
  • Newspaper: This will serve as an addition to the tape to section off areas that don’t need to be painted. You can find newspapers in your own house, or simply buy some from the local market in bulk.
  • Paint: While this is obvious, it is important to consider the type of paint that you purchase. Regular paint will not stick well on a jet ski, so it is important to invest in one that this specifically made for watercrafts. It is also important for the paint to be highly water resistant. If you are planning on bleaching the jet ski, get some appliance epoxy as well.
  • Paint Gun: Instead of brushing each stroke on the watercraft individually, you need a paint gun to complete the job ASAP. This will give you are a more even finish instead of a rough, patchy one.
  • Paint Brush: You will need paint brushes of a few different sizes if you are adding fancy designs to your jet ski. Brushes can also help you with the fine detailing once you are done painting a major part of your watercraft.
  • Face Mask: Using a paint gun in an enclosed space means that you are exposing yourself to many harmful chemicals. To keep yourself safe, find an N-95 face mask to wear throughout the painting process to avoid any unnecessary illnesses.

All of these supplies can be purchased from your local hardware store, so it is a good idea to head to one which is most equipped with supplies. You can mention that you are painting a jet ski to ensure that you get the right type of paint, sandpaper, etc.

3. Preparing the Jet Ski

Now that you have all the materials, it is time to start painting. Well, almost. Before you begin, you need to prepare your jet ski for the layer of paint that will soon cover its entire surface area. While this is not the most fun part of the project, it is important to never skip it since it prepares your jet ski for a smooth layer of paint instead of a patchy one.

Before you start painting, inspect the jet ski for any scratches or damage. If you have any pending repair work, then it is important to get it done before you paint the jet ski. If there are decals on your jet ski, remove them entirely. The stickers might leave some residue on the surface, so you can use a cleaning substance to wipe them off entirely.

Remove the mats and any additional accessories on your jet ski as well. Before you move on, take a quick look at your jet ski to spot anything that could be potentially damaged during the paint job. If you don’t find anything, then you are good to go.

Use clean water and mild cleansing solutions to thoroughly wash the jet ski. Remove any buildup of dirt and water along the sides of your watercraft. Remember to wash the seats and the mats too, even if you are not planning to paint them. The cleaner your jet ski is, the easier it is to paint without disturbance.

After cleaning, you should wipe down the entire surface and give it a few hours to dry completely. Now, it is time to bring out the sanding paper. With an electric sander or your hand, start standing the exterior of your jet ski gently to create a smooth surface. Take your time with this step since it can be tiring, but do not skip it at any cost.

After sanding, remember to wipe off the dust with clean towels and cleaning solutions.

4. Painting the Jet Ski

Once you have completed the most tiring steps, it is finally time to get to the fun part: painting. Take a quick glance around to ensure that you have all the materials you need before you begin.

Start by using the painter’s tape and newspaper to section off the jet ski. You should cover the seat and handlebars first. Then, you can move on to creating the design of your liking with the tape. You can also opt to create specific sections to paint to divide the job across multiple days. Not only will this make the process more efficient, but it will also be less tiring. A good tip is to always be generous with your painter’s tape and newspaper because it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Before you fire the paint gun, take a moment to read the instructions or watch a video tutorial to understand how it works. Depending upon the type of paint gun you have, you should always practice beforehand to ensure that you get the hang of it. Once you start painting on the jet ski, there is no room for mistakes.

Start off by pouring the primer into your paint gun and testing it out on a large piece of cardboard. This will help you determine the strength of your gun and adjust your length accordingly. As you become comfortable using the paint gun, you can start spraying directly on the jet ski starting from one end and ending at the other. Try to use long strokes to create an even finish.

After applying the primer, you will have to wait for a few hours to let the primer settle down. This is a great time to clean out the paint gun and prepare it for the actual paint job. If you are wondering how much time it would take for the primer coat to settle, then it could be anywhere between 4-6 hours. This depends upon your specific brand of primer, so remember to consult the instructions before you begin to paint.

After the long wait has finished, fill your paint gun with the desired paint color and start spraying on your jet ski. Remember to use long and even strokes since this will give you a smooth finish. Complete the first coat of paint on your watercraft and leave it to rest for a while. Once the paint has dried down entirely, you can move on to the second coat.

By the end of this step, you would be done painting the majority surface area of your jet ski. Now, all you need to do is get the paint brushes to add some fine detailing and touch up certain areas that had not been covered properly. Keep an eye out for small imperfections such as paint drips, smooth them out with the high-grit sandpaper, and paint them again with long strokes using the paint brush.

You will have to be quite patient before removing the painter’s tape and newspapers. Remember that if you pull them out too soon, you could end up removing the paint too. Make sure that your jet ski remains in the same position when it is being dried to ensure that the paint does not move. It is incredibly important to give the paint enough time to settle into the surface of your jet ski before you can move the watercraft to another location.

For most paints, you will have to wait for a few days before you can use the jet ski. Read through the instructions on your paint box to know more about paint drying times and the after-paint care.

If you want to give a shiny finish to your newly painted jet ski, you can cover it with a clear coat once the paint has dried. This will also act as an additional protective layer against potential water damage.

What Are the Alternatives?

If you think that the process of painting your jet ski is too extensive and complicated, then there are a few alternatives that you can consider. As mentioned earlier, you can always opt to get the job done from the professionals. However, most professional paint jobs tend to cost a considerable amount of money that not many people are willing to pay. If that is the case, then there are a few ways to work around this situation.

Your first option is to hire the body shop for the paint job only. This means that you will have to complete the entire preparation process yourself and leave the painting to the professionals. This could lower the price of the job since preparation is what takes most of the time. You will still have to purchase materials such as the primer, cleaning solutions, and sandpaper, but their cost will be considerably lower than paying professionals to complete the entire job for you.

If you are only looking for an upgrade to the current color of your jet ski, then you can always opt for a glossy finish to enhance the existing color. You can invest in a glossy polish that brings out the color or add some decals and graphics to enhance the aesthetic appeal. While this is not enough to fix the imperfections on your paint, it is still a great alternative that costs lesser than repainting your jet ski.

Speaking of decals, changing the look of your jet ski is also possible with wrapping. This means adding a new, vinyl coating to the exterior of your jet ski which protects it and gives it a new finish. While you will have to contact a professional company for the wrapping, it will cost lesser than redoing the entire paint. This also gives you an opportunity to experiment with a few designs on your jet ski without committing to them with a permanent paint job. Vinyl wrapping can easily be applied to your jet ski with some tools and machines, and you can take it back to the same company whenever you wish to remove it.

The last alternative to consider is spray painting your jet ski. While this may not be as neat as the professional paint job, it is much better than having old paint ruin the aesthetic of your jet ski. Remember to use a water resistant, high-quality spray paint if you are using it on your beloved watercraft.

The Final Word

While repainting your jet ski is an extensive task, it is certainly worth it. Painting your jet ski yourself means that you have all the freedom to choose the colors and designs of your preference.

With a fresh paint job, your jet ski will stand out in the water and have a unique appeal of its own. You can convert this tiring task into a fun and rewarding experience if you choose to involve a few friends in the process with you. By having some extra help around, you can even finish the job quicker and more efficiently.


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