Can You Paint a Fiberglass Ladder? The Pros and Cons of Ladder Painting

Can You Paint a Fiberglass Ladder

In the ladder community, fiberglass ladders are regarded as highly durable, reliable, and lightweight ladders that are effectively used to reach high areas at home or the workplace. Over time, it is pretty common for your fiberglass ladder to begin to weather. This is common with most materials exposed to natural elements for a long period.

If your ladder has any major structural damage, you will need to get it fixed before you can use it. However, if its structure is still intact, but has incurred damage to its surface, you can paint your fiberglass ladder and restore it to its lost glory.

How to Paint a Fiberglass Ladder

Unlike wooden ladders, the surfaces of fiberglass ladders are regarded as non-porous and so are not suitable for any form of spray paint adhesion. And so, before you can successfully spray paint your fiberglass ladder, you will need to employ a few specific techniques in preparing the surface of your fiberglass to accept the paint coat.

If you do not carry out this procedure first, you run the risk of the paint finish peeling off the surface of your fiberglass ladder after a short while. Also, the surface of a fiberglass ladder is very smooth and slick and so the application of the paint coat will be a little challenging as the paint coat may just slide off before it even dries.

You will need to employ a special method of application to ensure a smooth finish free of drips, runs, and sagging. The end product of this application method will be similar to a professionally done job. Here are steps to follow to ensure a very good spray paint job on your fiberglass ladder. 

  1. Properly clean your fiberglass ladder first using any high-standard dish soap. This will prevent you from painting over dirt, debris, or oily surfaces. Ensure the ladder surface is completely dry before proceeding.
  2. Carefully inspect the parts of the fiberglass ladder to ensure there are no holes or cracks. If there are any, fill them with epoxy filler and let them dry for some time. 
  3. Next, you will need to abrade the surface of the fiberglass ladder to promote adhesion. The best way to achieve this is to sand it using a palm sander that is equipped with 400 grit sandpaper. This will effectively ensure that your fiberglass ladder adheres properly to the spray paint.
  4. After sanding, proceed to wipe down the surface with a dry cloth. 
  5. To successfully paint without staining certain parts of the ladder, cover those parts with painter’s tape. Then proceed to cover around, below, or adjacent to the fiberglass with cloths to prevent unwanted paint stains.
  6. Next, add a super light primer coat to the surface of the fiberglass ladder. Proceed to spray the fiberglass in intermittent mists of paint to get a professional-looking paint job. Ensure the spraying is done intermittently as this will prevent flaws in the finished coat as a result of sagging or drooping of the paint.
  7. Leave the primer to dry for some hours. Do not rush this process as this will result in poorly finished work. After the primer is properly dried, apply a uniform coat of standard acrylic spray paint by following the same steps as you did with the primer.

Can I Use Enamel Paint on A Fiberglass Ladder?

When it comes to popular marine paints, enamel paints may just be the easiest to apply. This is due to the thick nature of the enamel paint that evens out and covers uneven areas or surface imperfections.

Additionally, enamel paints are compatible with all types of surfaces be it wood, metal, or fiberglass. This makes enamel paint a highly sought-after option among all the brush paints on the market.

The process of painting your fiberglass ladder with enamel paint depends on the current state of your fiberglass ladder before painting.

Generally, the painting will first begin with a thorough cleaning of the ladder surface to remove wax, oil, debris, dust, etc. If this is not done properly, it could negatively affect the outcome of the paint job. You can clean the surface with detergent and warm water, and if mildew is present you can use bleach for effective cleaning. 

After ensuring the fiberglass is clean, the painting process is pretty much the same with any other surface or any other type of paint. However, a few exceptions are present. If no gel coat was applied to the fiberglass ladder during the molding process, you should use an adhesion promoter to prevent the paint coat from coming off when you peel back the tape.

What Can You Spray on A Fiberglass Ladder?

Fiberglass ladders go through a weathering process over time. This is usually accelerated by prolonged exposure to natural elements outdoors.

Elements like high humidity levels, moisture, warm climates, and UV radiation. The result could be a steady degradation of the overall appearance of the ladder. It will lose its color, gloss finish, fiber appearance on the surface, etc.

To prevent this, several protective coats are sprayed on the surface of the fiberglass ladders. Fiberglass protective coats will prolong the lifespan of your fiberglass ladder by a significant amount of time. 

The process of applying this protective coating spray is super easy too.

  1. Ensure the surface is clean and dry before you begin spraying.
  2. Shake the spray thoroughly for at least a minute before applying. You should also shake the spray at intervals while painting to ensure you get the maximum output. 
  3. Begin to spray the surface of your fiberglass ladder from a safe distance of about 8 to 10 inches with steady and even strokes. Add several coats of spray to ensure a perfect finish. 
  4. Allow the ladder to dry for about 30 minutes before proceeding to use it.

What Kind of Paint Will Stick to Fiberglass?

As we’ve established, fiberglass material can be difficult to paint as a result of its slippery nature of fiberglass. This is why you must pay attention to the type of paint you use with your fiberglass ladder.

The kind of paint that is the most suitable will easily stick to the surface of the fiberglass. Here are some professionally recommended options you can try.

  • Acrylic latex

Acrylic latex is a water-based paint that is super easy to apply. You also don’t have to worry about adverse effects as it contains fewer chemicals than other types of paint. This makes it more environmentally friendly and safe to use.

According to the Sunrise Window company, acrylic latex paint is great to use on fiberglass. This is because acrylic paint sticks or adheres properly to the surface of the fiberglass.

By adhering properly, acrylic latex eliminates the main challenge that you might encounter when painting this material. Additionally, acrylic paint is much easier to clean and is proven to be less likely to form blisters and cracks.

  • Urethane

Most fiberglass outdoor objects like boats are usually painted using urethane paint for a plethora of reasons. One of which is the ability of the paint to stick properly when applied.

However, unlike acrylic paints, this paint is not water-based. This paint utilizes just chemical solvents because it contains a lot more chemicals than acrylic latex. It also is a lot harsher to apply and so you will need to wear protective gear like a face mask and goggles.

You will also need to work outside when applying urethane-based paints. For fiberglass objects that come in contact with other objects regularly, urethane paint provides users with a quality finish as well as high performance and resistance to wear and tear, chipping, and other damages that may occur.  

  • Blend

To get the best of both worlds, you can utilize a blend of both acrylic and urethane to paint fiberglass projects.

This paint blend provides you with the benefits of both water-based polyurethane which is not a type of urethane that is a chemical solvent. This paint blend has unique adhesive properties that help you save time by reducing the process of application.

Will Rustoleum Paint Stick to Fiberglass?

If you intend to apply Rustoleum to your fiberglass, it is only logical to wonder if it is capable of sticking properly. Rustoleum sticks pretty fairly to fiberglass, and so is suitable to be applied to fiberglass materials, just above the waterline.

You can also use the Rustoleum marine primer as a base coat for fiberglass before adding any layer of paint you want. 

Does Spray Paint Stick to Fiberglass?

The simple answer to this question is No. To analyze further, the nature of fiberglass is the chief hindrance to the inability of spray paint to stick to the fiberglass surface.

The lack of proper adhesion of spray paint on surfaces is more evident with fiberglass as a result of the non-porous nature of the fiberglass surface. To get past this, you will need to employ a few unique application techniques that will give you the desired finish. 

How Do You Prepare Fiberglass for Painting?

If you have never painted a fiberglass material before, chances are you don’t know how to prepare one for painting. Not to worry, here are some steps to preparing a fiberglass surface before you begin painting. 

1. Thoroughly Inspect the Fiberglass First

You never should begin working on your fiberglass without first inspecting it for cracks or holes. You must ensure any crack or hole in the fiberglass surface is taken care of first before you even begin entertaining the idea of painting.

2. Remove Debris, Dust Oil, or Wax from The Surface

This step is so important not just because it determines how your fiberglass finish comes out but also determines how long the paint coat will last. 

3. Protect the Surface

Before you begin spraying, prepare your fiberglass by protecting the surface of the fiberglass.

4. Add the Primer

Primer is usually added to a fiberglass surface as a “pre-coat” to ensure the coat of paint you intend to apply will adhere perfectly to the surface. You must use the right primer for your fiberglass ladder. As the wrong primer will cause the paint to peel off quickly. 

What Primer Do You Use on Fiberglass

When it comes to the perfect primer to use for your fiberglass, consider Rustoleum Marine Wood & Fiberglass primer. It provides you with a unique and smooth base coat for your fiberglass surface. This will make the Rustoleum paint that will be top coated with Rustoleum marine coatings a lot more effective.



Despite their durability, fiberglass ladders require constant maintenance to retain their structural integrity and aesthetics. As a fiberglass owner looking to paint or repaint, you must follow the instructions outlined above to get a perfect glossy finish.

Additionally, it is pertinent that you allow short intervals for the paint or moisture to dry off the surface of the ladder before you continue.