How to Remove a Boat From a Trailer for Painting

A fresh coat of hull paint every two or three years will protect the value and longevity of your boat. If you are interested and able to do it yourself, your first task will be to remove the boat from the trailer and block it up for easy access to the underside. Patience and attention to detail in this process are imperative. With safety a primary consideration, you need the correct blocking and balancing equipment.

Lifting and blocking your boat off the trailer makes painting much easier.
  1. Choose a level work site. The key to safety once your boat is off the trailer will be balance on the blocks and boat stands. Choose a location that is level and preferably hard. An indoor, concrete floor is best. Outdoors, consider placing plywood sheets under the trailer to support the blocks and stands to eliminate risks from ground or asphalt sinking.

  2. Mark the hull for safe blocking areas. Use a wooden mallet or light hammer to gently tap the hull. The tapping sound will be significantly duller when created over a support strut. On most boats, hull strength under the engine is reinforced. Mark the struts and box out the engine area with a single color tape.

  3. Box out weak hull areas with a second color tape. Hull space under the bow should be marked as dangerous, because the steep angle may cause the boat to slip off blocks placed there. Central hull areas without struts may also be weak. Mark those as off limits for hydraulic jack placement.

  4. Block the trailer tires for safety. Place a wheel block under each trailer tire to prevent the boat and trailer from rolling forward.

  5. Disconnect all trailer tie downs.

  6. Lift and block the stern. With boat stands in place and snug, use a hydraulic jack to lift the stern just enough to clear the trailer by one or two inches. Place stable wood blocks under the boat, using support markers as a guide for placement. Lower the boat so all of the weight is resting on the wooden blocks. Raise the boat stands to help balance the boat on the blocks. Remove the jack.

  7. Lift the bow. Place an hydraulic jack under a supported forward section of the boat. Use scrap wood between the jack and the hull to prevent damage. Jack up the bow just enough to create 1 to 2 inches of clearance from the trailer.

  8. Remove wheel blocks and roll the trailer forward. Stop just before the first trailer cross support reaches the jack. Place a second hydraulic jack on the opposite side of the trailer cross support. Raise the second jack to support the boat and remove the first jack. Repeat this process to cross the rear axle and pull forward until reaching the rear cross support. Carefully place a boat stand on each side of the boat as far forward as possible.

  9. Block the bow. Place stable wooden blocks under marked safety zones on the forward hull, behind the rear trailer cross support. Lower the jack until the entire weight of the boat rests on the blocks. Raise boat stands until boat feels balanced and stable. Remove the jack and the trailer.


  • A boat in dry dock is not safe to board. Engine work and interior repairs should only be completed when the boat is in the water or on the trailer.
  • Test the stability of boat blocking before standing under the boat, every time.