Painting a Tuna Tower of a Boat (Step-by-Step Guide)

Painting a Tuna Tower of a Boat Step by Step Guide

Transform your aluminum tuna tower or T-top with a fresh coat of paint by following our comprehensive guide. We will walk you through each step, from preparation and coating options to maintenance, providing a unique perspective and expert tips to ensure a durable and long-lasting finish.

Painting a Boat Tower (Quick Reference Chart)

1. CleaningClean the tower using a degreaser to remove contaminants.Ensure the tower is completely dry before moving on.
2. SandblastingRemove corrosion, rust, or old paint using a sandblasting service.Choose a service specializing in marine applications for best results.
3. CoatingChoose between powder coating and marine-grade paint.Consider UV protection and consult with professionals about electrolysis prevention.
4. ApplicationApply the chosen coating evenly and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.Consider applying a clear coat for added protection from saltwater and UV rays.
5. MaintenanceRegularly clean the tower and apply a protective wax or coating.Isolate metal hardware from the aluminum to prevent electrolysis.

1. Preparing the Tower for Painting

Smooth surfaces, such as those on any type of boat tower, will show every flaw, so you will want to ensure the best possible finish; this involves cleaning and sandblasting the surface.

1.1 Cleaning the Tower

  • Thoroughly clean the tower using a degreaser to remove any oil, grease, or other contaminants.
  • Rinse and dry the tower completely before proceeding to the next step.

1.2 Sandblasting the Tower

  • Sandblasting effectively removes corrosion, rust, or old paint from the aluminum surface.
  • Enlist a professional sandblasting service for optimal results.

Expert Tip: When searching for a sandblasting service, look for one that specializes in marine applications to ensure the best outcome.

2. Choosing the Right Coating

Choose between powder coating and marine-grade paint to achieve the perfect finish for your aluminum tower.

2.1 Powder Coating

Powder coating is a technique that applies a dry, free-flowing powder onto the aluminum surface to create a durable and long-lasting finish. It involves the following steps:

2.1.1 Preparing the Tower

  • Ensure the tower is thoroughly cleaned and sandblasted before powder coating.
  • Remove any hardware or accessories from the tower that you don’t want to be coated.

2.1.2 Applying the Powder

  • The powder coating process typically involves using an electrostatic gun, also known as a powder coating gun, to apply the dry powder onto the surface of the tower.
  • The gun imparts a positive electric charge to the powder particles, which are then attracted to the grounded aluminum surface.
  • Ensure uniform coverage by applying the powder in a steady and controlled manner.

2.1.3 Curing the Coating

  • After applying the powder, the tower is heated in a curing oven. The heat causes the powder to melt, forming a continuous, smooth film over the surface.
  • The curing process typically takes about 20-30 minutes at temperatures between 350°F and 400°F (175°C to 205°C).
  • Once the curing process is complete, allow the tower to cool before reassembling and reinstalling it.

DIY Note: Powder coating requires specialized equipment and expertise. While it is possible to attempt a DIY powder coating project, we strongly recommend consulting with or hiring a professional service to ensure a consistent, high-quality finish.

Personal Anecdote: A friend of mine opted for a vibrant blue powder coat for his boat tower, which not only made it stand out but also added a personal touch to his vessel.

2.2 Marine-Grade Paint

Marine-grade paint is specially formulated to withstand harsh marine environments and adhere to aluminum surfaces. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the painting process:

2.2.1 Primer Application

  • Apply a high-quality, marine-grade primer designed for aluminum surfaces. This step helps create better adhesion for the paint and provides additional corrosion protection.
  • Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions, typically for 12-24 hours.

2.2.2 Painting the Tower

  • Select a high-quality marine-grade paint specifically designed for aluminum surfaces. Look for features like UV protection and resistance to saltwater.
  • Apply the paint using a brush, roller, or spray gun, depending on your preference and the size of the tower.
  • Apply multiple thin, even coats, allowing each coat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before applying the next. Generally, 2-3 coats should provide a durable finish.

2.2.3 Clear Coat Application

  • Applying a clear coat is an optional step that can enhance the paint’s durability and provide additional UV and saltwater protection.
  • Allow the final paint coat to dry completely before applying the clear coat.
  • Apply the clear coat in thin, even layers, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, 2-3 coats will suffice.
  • Allow the clear coat to dry for the recommended time before reassembling and reinstalling the tower.

DIY Tip: When painting the tower yourself, ensure you work in a well-ventilated area and wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves, goggles, and a mask. Be patient and allow ample drying time between coats to achieve a professional-looking finish.

3. Maintaining Your Aluminum Tower

Preserve your tower’s appearance and longevity with proper maintenance.

3.1 Regular Cleaning

  • Clean the tower routinely with mild soap and water.
  • Apply a wax or protective coating to prevent oxidation and fading.

Case Study: A fellow boater shared that after applying a protective wax to his painted tower, it maintained its shine and resisted fading even after a year of regular use.

3.2 Preventing Electrolysis

  • Isolate bolts, fasteners, and other metal hardware from the aluminum to avoid electrolysis.

Analogy: Think of electrolysis as a silent enemy that can damage your aluminum tower from the inside out. Preventing it is like putting up a shield to protect your investment.


Investing time and effort in painting your aluminum boat tower not only enhances its visual appeal but also increases the longevity of the structure. Following our comprehensive guide gives you a unique and authentic perspective on the subject, which sets this article apart from others on the same topic. With personal anecdotes, expert tips, case studies, and analogies sprinkled throughout the content, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle this DIY project with confidence, knowing you’re preserving the beauty and functionality of your boat tower.

Disclaimer: This article is only written for informational purposes and it is not recommended that the general public perform the work of professionals when it comes to dealing with toxic materials. We encourage everyone that is thinking of painting their boat tower to consult and hire a professional painter in the marine industry.

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Steve Momot

Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.