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How to Care for a Canoe


A canoe is a wonderful way to enjoy the water. You can paddle for hours, relax on a calm lake, fish, and even splash around with kids. With proper care and storage, you’ll be making memories and enjoying your canoe for many, many years.

Canoes can be made from a few different materials. Traditional canoes are still made from wood or canvas. There’s also aluminum. It is more common for modern canoes to be made from molded plastic or composites such as fiberglass or even Kevlar. But no matter what material your canoe is made from, the general care and storage is the same. To get the most enjoyment possible out of your canoe we suggest the following.

Canoe Care

  • After every use, turn the canoe upside down to ensure any water inside drips out and remove any stones or pebbles that have made their way inside so you scratch the inside up the next time you get in.
  • Clean the inside and outside of the canoe with a mild soap and water. Give a final water-only rinse to get all the soap out so it’s not slippery the next time you get in.
  • Store your canoe upside down, supported by the gunwales. Ideally inside in a shed or garage. If you’re going to store it outside, make sure it’s protected from the sun. If you cover it with a tarp, make sure it’s suspended above the canoe, so it has room to breathe. Just laying a tarp on top of your canoe will trap heat and moisture and do more harm than good.
  • Do not sit in your canoe on solid ground.

Canoe Care by Material

  • Composite Canoes: To keep composite canoes looking great use a car or boat wax on the outside only. Don’t wax the inside as it will be slippery.
  • Plastic Canoes: Use a UV protectant to help shield the plastic from the sun’s damaging rays.
  • Wood: Seal scratches right away and lightly sand and re-varnish all parts of the canoe annually.
  • Wood Trim: Sometimes wood is used as trim for gunwales or seating. If they are varnished, just lightly sand and varnish every few years. If they are oiled, you will want to treat them annually.

Owning a canoe is great fun and taking care of it will ensure it lasts for many years to come. If you are looking for proper canoe storage system, we offer a variety of canoe stands and racks that can safely hold up to eight canoes. They are made from quality Northern White Cedar logs, handcrafted to perfectly cradle and support canoes of every size. View our canoe storage racks online or contact us at  for a custom storage solution.