There is a little prep work that must be done before painting. This is the process we use to get the longest lasting results:
1. We stretch the chain out on the dock or boatyard in loops so that each of the 25-foot lengths are alongside each other. It is easier if the sections to be painted are in the middle rather than at the ends of each loop (see figure). Once this is done, the chain must be degreased and cleaned whether it is fresh from the galvanizer or has been used for a few years. We start with a bucket of degreaser and a deck brush and go over each section that will be painted. We rinse it well, and then use a general purpose cleaner to remove any dirt (or sea life if the chain was previously used). We rinse well one more time and let it dry, usually overnight.
2. Next we tape a painter’s plastic drop cloth or a tarp underneath the section that will be painted. We prefer to use cans of spray paint rather than trying to paint the chain with brushes. Whether we are priming first or using an acrylic latex topcoat, the process is the same. We paint one side of the chain, wait the re-coat time and then spray on a second coat. Since the rows of chain are usually quite close together, we use a section of cardboard to shield the chain lying next to the one being painted. After the re-coat time, we roll the chain over and apply two coats to the other side of the chain. If we are priming the chain, we repeat the process with the topcoat paint.
3. We let the paint dry thoroughly before feeding it back into the chain locker.