Boat Maintenance Boat Project

Painting It Up With MDR Inflatable Boat Top Coating

Monday, August 08, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA



This is my buddy, Lance. We’ve been together for 14 years, through good times and bad. Life’s hasn’t always been easy for Lance: He’s been battered and bruised to the point of being sent off to the panel beater (a car body shop). He’s been left out in the sun. Dragged across oyster beds and barnacle covered rocks. Swamped by waves. And scratched to pieces by one of the cutest boat-dogs around. But through it all, Lance has remained steadfast and strong . . . a true friend.

The years were starting to show and Lance was looking a little worse for the wear, so it was time to say a proper thank you for everything he’s done with a special spa package for dinghies – an exfoliating treatment and body wrap. Okay, so maybe “spa package” is a bit of an exaggeration and a wet-sand and a pontoon paint job is more accurate. But you get the point: Lance was in store for a major makeover.

But wait a minute . . . paint an inflatable dinghy? Absolutely. Not with ordinary paint, though. With flexible, rubberized paint specifically designed for use on inflatables – Hypalon, vinyl or PVC. The product we currently use, MDR Inflatable Boat Top Coating*, comes in three colours – white, gray and light gray – and can be used to freshen up a dinghy or to change the existing colour. It’s waterbased, which makes it easy to use and clean up. And it requires no primer. 


The package directions call for a thorough cleaning and MDR recommends using one of their products such as MDR’s Inflatable Cleaner/UV Kit, Amazon’s Inflatable Cleaner or MDR’s Krazy Clean. But, because this is our third time painting, we wanted to wet-sand the pontoons to remove any build-up, to clean them and to roughen the surface so the new paint would have something to adhere to.

It’s a big job, and we’d hoped to get it done before leaving Kingston in May but between a very wet winter and so many other things to take care of before we untied our lines for the season, it didn’t happen. So, with a month’s worth of moorage paid for in Ocean Falls, I got to work.

I wish I could say I made fast work of the job, but it took a total of five days to finish the sanding (one or two where I had to stop early because of rain). They weren’t full days because my arm muscles couldn’t keep up with the overall demand, but the total number of man hours put into it was somewhere around 15. Had I just cleaned the dinghy, it would have been prepped and ready to go the next day. 

MDR Inflatable Top Coating doesn’t require a primer so, once the sanding was finished, I could start painting. Two coats are recommended and the second can be applied after four hours. I started with the bottom side of the dinghy in the morning, rolling on a thin layer of paint and fanning it out with a brush to make it as smooth as possible, and then waited. In the afternoon, I repeated the process (it was easier to apply in the morning when it was cooler). The next day, we flipped the dinghy and I started all over again. 


We couldn’t be happier with the end result. Not only does Lance look great, areas that had been thinned down by years of wear and tear are now protected and the pontoons hold air better than before. Based on past results, our dinghy should be good to go for another three years (depending on how much we use it and how hard) – not a bad deal for a few days work. MDR lists the coverage as at least 100 square feet per container, which was more than enough for Lance, who measures 3 metres long (10 feet), and sells it online for $39.64 per quart. Always in search of a bargain ourselves, we buy it from Jamestown Distributors for $30.40. Defender also sells the paint for $31.99 (all prices listed in US dollars).

*We have no connection to the company MDR and have not received anything from them in return for this review. This blog post merely represents our personal experience with and preference for MDR Inflatable Boat Top Coating as a flexible paint for our Hypalon dinghy.

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6 comments

  1. Lance has been going for 14 years!? That is a pretty amazing life span for a dinghy. And, it seems like you have extended his life some more with the paint. I had no idea this was possible. Our second-hand dinghy lasted about six years, with lots of paw wear. :-) We broke down in Curaçao and bought a new one, after getting really tired of patching and pumping for a year. Enjoy your dock time in spooky Ocean Falls!

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    1. Dogs are definitely hard on dinghy pontoons! Our Sally left her marks in more than one place, that's for sure.

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  2. That's quite the transformation! Lance looks so much younger with his new paint job.

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    1. I know! I'm thinking about buying a quart myself to see how it works on people. ;-)

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  3. Looks great! Our dinghy is less than 2 years old and looks pretty sad already- good to know there's hope for it to look new again!

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    1. Having a dog can be hard on a dinghy but painting definitely helps . . . until the claws come out again.

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