I was on a RIB two days ago that had painted tubes, you could barely tell they were painted and the finish was fantastic. They had used polymarine flexithane and I was very impressed with it and enquired about application, this is what i was told:
1) Wash the tubes thoroughly
2) A careful degrease using cellulose thinners - this melts the top surface of the tube so only a light wipe with a clean cloth.. and defiantly don’t rub..
3) I masked off the bits I did not want to paint..
4) Dilute the paint with the cellulose thinners 6:1 paint to thinners
5) Cut in the edges with a brush
6) Roller paint the main areas with a foam radiator roller… and do not go over the area … working the paint too much gives a very poor finish.. try and work on getting the paint on in one rill and not rilling back over it.
I have not done this myself but intend to do it on one of our boats as the tubes are looking very worn and cannot afford to have them re-tubed. Not overly sure how this would all work in a hotter climate or for changing the colour of the tubes but I hope i've helped at least a little bit