Houseboat Waterproofing & Roof Repairshouseboat roof and deck restoration and repair


This page outlines basic processes to repair and re-coat a houseboat roof or other fiberglass type rooftop which may be used as a walking surface. We welcome your ideas and solutions too. Also see our Roof Repair  and Deck Coatings pages. We also feature AES-450 Polyamidoamine epoxy marine grade coating. It is chemically resistant and suitable for oilfield tanks or other vessels where toughness and chemical resistance is required. Other marine grade coatings, antifouling coatings and underwater coatings are here. All types of temporary hull repairs can be made with Eternabond.


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Related Houseboat Products:
  Caulking and Sealants (we recommend M1 and Duralink)
  Propane Parts and Accessories
  Rigging & Hardware
  Stainless Steel Fasteners
Handling Moisture Problems

Houseboats have it tough. The combination of heat + humidity + UV rays are hard on any kind of rooftop finish (except perhaps ceramic tile). Regardless of what the warranty says, most coatings will require a re-coat for maintenance every 5-8 years (to maintain UV resistance and a good appearance).

In re-roofing or deck coating houseboats, the most difficult area to deal with is the old caulking, waxes and water-repellant finishes. In marine applications, silicone based materials are commonly used. Nothing wants to stick to them (not even more silicone). You need to decide if your are going to remove the old caulking, re-coat the deck and then re-caulk, or try to terminate the new deck coating materials around the old silicone caulking (really not the best way).

RECOMMENDED BEST PRACTICE FOR WALKING DECKS: (see non-traffic deck options down below)


* Remove all loose materials & all old caulking.
* Clean (do not use alcohol or alcohol diluted products).
* Sand fiberglass gel coat to expose a fresh surface and provide a good "bite" for coatings.
* Re-caulk needed gaps (preferably with M1 Sealant).
* Apply a new Sonoguard Deck System. This system dries to a semi-gloss color tinted finish which is very durable, stain resistant and long-lasting.
* Alternative: Sand lightly and coat gel surface with 2 coats of Polyglaze 400 white (very nice finish and durable). This will be somewhat slick, like your original finish, and very durable.


1. Scrape away all existing patching materials  and caulking. Tip: Use a razor knife to cut out old silicone caulking.

2. Power-wire brush or aggressively scrub with a plastic scrub pad or sandpaper all surfaces where the old caulking was. You need to expose a fresh surface.

Important: All traces of silicone waxes and silicone caulking much be removed. Remove any silicone surface wax with a solvent based commercial automotive pre-paint wax remover (not alcohol based). 

3. With roof penetrations (vents, hatches, etc), you have a choice to remove them, or leave on and re-caulk around them. This would be a good time to upgrade any of these. It's definitely simplest to leave them on, but, definitely replace all rusty screws with new stainless ones. Remove all caulking as above. Put M1 sealant into the old screw holes and on screws before putting in new screws.

4. Sand all loose or rough deck coatings. An orbital sander works best. Lightly sand areas which may have waxes or silicone treatments until a fresh surface is exposed. Grit size is not too important. Your new deck coating will fill and hide the sanding marks. A slightly rough finish is better than smooth for best adhesion.

5. Remove as dust. Scrub clean all surfaces to be recoated and re-caulked. Use a TSP type cleaner with a scrub brush. Rinse well / power-wash. Let dry completely.  Caution: You may wish to mask surfaces sensitive to  cleaners.

SURFACE TEST: The cleaned surface, once completely dry, should pass the "Tape Test" (no surface elements lift off when masking tape is rubbed-on and peeled off). Also, water should not "bead-up" on surface. 
PRIMING: If in doubt, prime surface. Primers:
6. Re-check all caulking joints etc. Touch up and seal as needed with M1 Sealant.
7. Re-caulk all gaps, voids, sharp inside corners and holes with M1 Sealant. Let cure 24 hours.
8. Now you are ready for your new deck materials!
TIP: Use a disposable paint brush to do all detail / edge work in base coat and topcoats, BEFORE applying the center / field areas.
8.1 Apply Sonoguard self-leveling base coat at about 2.5 gallons per 100 sq.ft. (one base coat is sufficient over fiberglass coats).
If surface is highly sloped, use Sonoguard slope grade base coat, otherwise apply two thin layers of the self-leveling base coat.
8.2 Broadcast deck coat rubber granules (or deckcoat sand) into wet base-coat surface.
8.3 Let cure 24-48 hours.
8.4 Blow off excess rubber.
8.5 Topcoat with Sonoguard Topcoat (in color of your choice) at 1.2g gallons per 100 sq.ft. This is applied with a paint roller.
NOTE: Two THIN coats are better than one thick coat. TWO coats will result in improved color and is recommended for any custom color product.
8.6 Let cure overnight before applying second coat
8.7 Topcoat AGAIN as in 8.5, but thinner (1 gallon per 100 sq.ft.).
8.8 Let cure 48 hours before heavy traffic.
* Use RoofMate HT (high tensile). Dries quickly to a bright flat white. Takes light occasional foot traffic. Easy clean-up.

Rhino Top Anti-Skid Coatings

Rhino Top athletic court, pool-deck coating. This tintable non-skid epoxy-acrylic super-tough coating is an outstanding and easy to use product for coating concrete exposed to water and over blacktop / asphalt surfaces (RHINO TOP WILL NOT COMPLETELY WATERPROOF BALCONIES OR WOOD SURFACES, but it will protect the surfaces from water damage). It provides a beautiful long lasting low-skid surface. Rhino Top is recommended for sport surfaces, tennis courts, athletic courts, around pools, for slippery walkways and where cool-deck might be used. It is applied in just ONE DAY using standard paint roll-on equipment.

Link to Sonoguard Product Data Sheet

Our Roof Repair Items catalog pages.
Our Roof Repair Info & Tips page.
Our RV Re-Roof Replacement page.
Our Deck Coatings Products pages

Common Questions Repair Help:

What Tools Are Needed?
Each job is different, but generally you just need to have on hand just some simple tools:
* 9" Paint Roller & Phenolic-core roller covers (for basecoat and topcoats).
* Plastic Pot Scrubber or sandpaper - For sanding & cleaning roof repair surfaces.
* Razor Knife or Roofers Scissors - To cut Eternabond.
* Scraper/ Putty Knife - To remove old unwanted caulking or tool joints.
* Orbital sander.
* Caulking Gun - to apply NP1.
* Roller - This is the most important tool. It is CRITICAL to "roll-in" and flow the Eternabond adhesive.
* Rags & Xylene for tool clean-up (sorry we do not ship Xylene or solvents).
Do I Need to Prime Before Applying Roof Repair Products?
NEW galvanized metal materials should be primed in  areas to be sealed, as oil type contaminates can remain on the surface.
How Are Seam Areas Repaired & Re-Enforced before Recoating the Entire Roof?
Clean. Remove all silicones. Cut out any loose areas. Prime if needed. Caulk any deep areas with M1 or NP1 sealant and tool to a level surface. Let sealant cure 1-3 days. Tape the joint using fiberglass joint reinforcement cloth and basecoat as follows: Brush on a 4 inch wide layer of Sonolastic basecoat; embed fiberglass cloth into the basecoat; apply another layer of basecoat and feather out to hide joint (like taping a sheetrock joint). A 6" wide putty knife is commonly used to finish joint. 
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