Brace yourself for a spot of reading!

 Our Charges…

To slip the boat out of the water (at our local marina at Lilford) and to return it after blacking: £300.00

Hull blacking: £10.00 per foot, including materials (we use International InterTuff)

Tunnel flashes: £25.00 per flash (matched to nearest colour)

Anodes - per 2.5 kg large anode (large): £50.00 each, inc. attaching by weld


Boat Painting…

If you’re looking for a full boat makeover (paint-wise), we highly recommend our Lilford Marina colleagues Tol & Linda. Examples of their fantastic work, as well as a price list and contact details, can be found here:

The Process…

  • The hull sides will be jet washed. It is usual with flat-bottomed boats not to clean or paint the bottom, as deterioration here is minimal and use of the waterways renders painting superfluous.

  • Vee bottomed boats, especially those with folded sides, are painted round the chine (fold) to a reasonable distance towards the keel centre line, at an extra cost – please ask for details.

  • Tunnel flashes, particularly those near the water line, can be painted at an extra cost – please ask for details. This is not fine painting, but workmanlike and tidy; if fine painting is required such as topside painting, we can arrange for a specialist painter to effect the work, at additional cost.

  • We clean the hull down further after the jetting with rotary wire brushing, and try to provide a good key for the subsequent painting. Miogard is used to cover any bare patches. We reserve the right to make an extra charge should the boat require more than the standard cleaning regime.

  • The paint surface will be effective but not smooth, and surface imperfections will remain.

  • The bitumen paint we use is compatible with most old existing coatings, but we accept no responsibility for reaction between existing coats, which are often themselves a mixture of paint types. Gloss vinyl paint will often peel, and further peeling can occur as the bitumen is applied. Other reactions can lead to a finish that will not dry, sags or bubbles. We will touch up after curing, but we will not re-coat a boat which has suffered by incompatibility.

  • Bow and stern name/pattern areas will be left unpainted by several inches, so that you may cut in to your own taste with your own paint type.

  • Anodes can be fitted to suit the boat size and these are most effective when welded in place. There is an inherent fire risk and we will conduct a 30-minute fire watch after welding. The price for this is included in our anode fitting charges. Internal paintwork disturbed by our welding on of anodes is not covered by our standard charge and should be rectified by the owner.

  • Battery master switches will be turned off by operating those near the appropriate label.

But why does the hull need blacking?

The Basics – The hull is blacked to protect the bottom section of the boat, so specifically the area of the boat that is in the water and just above the water line. The “blacking” process protects the hull from rust, pitting, rubbing (through locks, other boats, banks etc) and generally extends the life of the hull. 

Part and parcel of owning a narrowboat means that you need to carry out certain maintenance jobs and blacking is among one of those jobs.  Some maintenance work you will be able to do yourself, however blacking your narrow boat can be quite time consuming and something that you may not want to do yourself.

The boat will need to be out of the water for the blacking process to take place and there are three different ways that are actually used to get the boat out of the water. 

  • Dry dock, where the boat is floated into a chamber and then the water is removed.

  • Craning the boat out, but this can be expensive. 

  • Slipway trailer, which is where the boat is put onto a trailer and a tractor pulls the boat out the water. This is the most cost effective and popular choice.


There are two types of coatings that can be used to black the hull, Bituminous and Two Pack Epoxy. Epoxy paint is more expensive but it will last 5–6 years once applied and a Bitumen finished coating will last around 2–3 years.  We do not undertake epoxy resin coatings.

If your boat is already coated with Bitumen you are unable to put Two Pack Epoxy over the top, you will need to get the hull “shot blasted” which means stripping everything back to the bare steel. This is a very expensive process and needs to be carried out by a specialised company.

A quick and easy way to check which coating is on the hull is to soak a cloth in white spirit and rub the paint, if the residue is transferred to the cloth it is more than likely to be Bitumen. Whoever undertakes the blacking process will check this for you before they quote and start the process.

The blacking process needs to be carried out on a dry day as the paint will not dry if applied in the wet and also will not stick if the temperature is too cold. Other than that, the job can be done at any time.

3 Day Process Explained…

Day One: The Boat is pulled out of the water and pressure washed to remove the old blacking and debris like weeds, mud, and rust. This prepares the hull for the new application.

Day Two: The hull is now ready for painting and this has to be done manually with a small brush, the reason behind this slow manual process is the paint goes hard very quickly so it has to be applied in small sections.  The application is then left for 12 hours minimum to dry out thoroughly.

Day Three: Repeat day two! The second coat gets applied and if required you can ask for an additional coat around the waterline – we may charge a little extra for this. The boat is then left for 48 hours to dry before it is returned to the water.