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Yellow Kawasaki 550 Jet SkiPainted by Neil Bollmann

How to Paint a Jet Ski: 10 Easy Tips

Advice from Neil 'Neilski' Bollmann, the Jet Ski Painter of the Stars

How To

Learn from the best on how to paint a jet ski, with Neil Bollmann who recently joined Vintage JetSki on the Ride by Day, Wrench by Night podcast.  Neil was around for the glory years painting for the likes of Scott Watkins, Harry Goatcher and even Rob Van Winkle (aka Vanilla Ice).

Here are Neil’s key steps and tips on how to paint a jet ski.

Step 1: Remove the stickers

The biggest challenge here is removing the glue behind the stickers. There is a product called Xylene, which is a serious chemical so use rubber gloves. Wipe it over the glue a few times and then use a squeegee. The glue should come right off. The Xylene won’t damage the existing paint, so if you’re just removing stickers and not repainting then this is still a handy trick!

Step 2: Take off your accessories

Remove the handle pole, pad, exhaust and pole bracket

Step 3: Clean the ski

Wipe the whole ski with Pre-Kleano

Step 4: Reinforce the hull (optional)

Depending on your preference you can also fiberglass over the location for the gas cap at this stage, which essentially reinforces the hull. To do this, remove your engine and anything else inside the hull and then use a grinding disk (usually 40 grit) to grind the inside of the nose, including the side wall. Grinding it first will ensure a strong bond, which is critical in painting! Then, layer it with two coats of polyester resin. Finish with an Imron type paint. It is also worthwhile doing this at the side of the electrical box.

Step 5: Sand and prime

Sand the entire JetSki using 80 grit sandpaper and then put a layer of epoxy primer on. You can instead use a Urethane primer which can fill in gaps that epoxy can’t and is a newer option. You will likely use 2-3 layers in total. This must be done within 72 hours of then painting the ski as the paint etches into the epoxy. It’s really important to read the can and then use the appropriate paint gun that is set up correctly (as recommended on the can).

Step 6: Apply a guide coat and sand

Use a black spray can and spray the ski at a distance. Then, when you sand it down it is easier to see where you have sanded and where you haven’t. Sand the entire jetski with 80 grit and then 400 grit wet sandpaper.

Step 7: Apply your base color

Paint the entire ski with your base color. If your base color is white, it is good to use Intercoat Clear to cover the white before doing any detailed work (the same can be said for most other light or bright colors also). This means that if you make any mistakes, you can generally wet sand them out without affecting your base color.

Step 8: Tape your lines

Use 3M Fineline tape to prepare for your stripe & design work. This ensures that you have a nice clear line without any bleeding.

Step 9: Paint your design

Paint your design. Then apply clear coat and let it sit for a day or two before wet sanding it back using 600 or 800 grit. Then apply another coat of clear.

Step 10: Apply any stickers

Then finish over them with clear coat.

Step 11: Final polish

Use 1000 to 2000 grit sandpaper to make the ski shine

R and R JetTech Jet Ski painted by Neil Bollmann
R and R JetTech Jet Ski

General tips

  • Painting is 90% prep
  • For any paint or product you are using: READ THE CAN
  • It is best to give yourself a couple of days
  • Good to make sure that you paint it in a well-ventilated area or if you’re doing it outside, use a portable shelter and some plastic covers to ensure that bugs or anything else doesn’t get into the paint. You can use a 20 gallon air compressor with a 25’ or 50’ hose with a water separator.
  • If you’re painting indoors, ensure everything is well covered as paint can get everywhere!
  • Get a good pressure regulator

Want to try a graphics kit instead?

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