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Friday, August 04, 2023

Protect Your Boat: 12 Essential Tips for Choosing the Right Bottom Paint

Unlocking the Magic of Boat Bottom Paint: Your Ultimate Guide to Hull Protection and High-Performance Sailing.

Taking the proper steps to protect your boat's hull year-round is extremely important. It’s recommended to keep up with regular maintenance of bottom paint.

Not only does boat bottom paint protect your boat's hull against the elements such as salt water, but it also keeps the overall appearance looking good.

The market features various types and bottom paint brands and can be confusing for most boat owners to decide on, this article will give essential tips and help provide insight on which one is the best option for you 

What is boat bottom paint?

© La Mico via

Boat Bottom paint, also known as antifouling paint, is applied below the waterline and is a barrier of protection for the boat parts that are commonly in the water.

This is a crucial part for any boat owner, the bottom is exposed to harsh elements such as saltwater, algae, and other marine growth, and over time these elements can break down the boat's material. 

Allowing marine growth and other toxic materials to constantly grow on the boat can cause various issues. For example, it can affect the boat's performance and make it harder to control, or if marine growth is present it can use more fuel due to the engine working harder. 

The solution to avoiding these issues and protecting your boat is using antifouling paint or bottom paint.

By applying this, the boat owner is limiting the target or organism to attach themselves to the bottom of the boat.

The bottom paint has also been known to prevent corrosion and other types of damage, which makes the boat have a larger lifespan. 

Types of bottom paint

All bottom paints are different and it’s important to choose the right one for your boating habits.  Bottom paints usually come in two types, hard or ablative. Each one has different features for your boat depending on how often it’s in the water.

Most boat owners choose hard bottom paints for those boats that are often used at high speeds or that are trailered regularly.

Unfortunately, these paints are hard to remove and after a few seasons, it’s recommended to be blasted off.

On the other hand, ablative paints are often considered self-cleaning and when they do wear away, there’s not much residue left behind.

These paints can also lose their effectiveness if they are docked for long periods of time.

Here is a list of the common bottom paints and their recommended use. 

Ablative Paint

These specific paints release biocide as they wear away. This reduces paint build-up and the need for sanding. When exposed to air, these don’t lose the antifouling ability. 

Hard Epoxy Paint

When gaining contact with the water, their biocides prevent growth and leave a hard layer of their original thickness every season. This is most commonly used since it adheres to most surfaces and can be applied over various surfaces. 

Aluminum Safe Paint

Antifouling paint that contains cuprous oxide should not be applied to an aluminum boat. It’s known to cause corrosion. For aluminum surfaces it’s recommended to find copper-free paint.

Water Based Bottom Paint

These are known to be easier on the environment and clean up easily and have no smell.

Vinyl Paints

Vinyl paints are known to be slick and popular amongst boaters that own performance boats since they provide a smoother surface and are known for their looks.

What does antifouling paint do?

© Dejan Kolar via

Antifouling paint prevents marine organisms including weeds and algae from attaching themselves to the bottom of the boat.

The most commonly used biocide in these paints is cuprous oxide, which is used to prevent biofouling.

It’s important to have antifouling on every boat, the paints prevent the transfer or spread of invasive species that are brought from ships.

What happens if you don't use antifouling paints to your boat?

Some boat owners may wonder if they really need to apply antifouling paint and what the consequences of not having it would look like.

Most people think they don’t need to worry about it since it's below the water line and they don’t see it anyways.

Unfortunately, that is wrong and antifouling paint is crucial to the overall boat health.

Since antifouling paints reduce the build-up of marine life, not applying it could result in reduced boat performance, low fuel efficiency, and damage to the hull itself. 

Do you need to sand before the bottom paint?

© liveslow via

Just like with any other paint job, preparation is key, no matter the surface. Prior to applying bottom paint, it’s important to prepare thoroughly to make sure the boat paint adheres.

Depending on the type of bottom boat you have it’s important to research the various materials and how to clean them properly.

No matter what material it’s crucial to clean the surface and make sure there is no grease, oil, salt, or other materials left behind.

Prior to sanding or application of any boat paint, it’s recommended to brush the surface with a soft soap and brush, removing any gunk or grime left behind. 

When deciding on what paint to use, it’s useful to know that most ablative bottom paint products can be applied over old paint, but not vice versa.

Any old paint that is incompatible must be removed prior to the correct boat paint application. 

There are various types of anti fouling paint on the market, each one is different and making a decision it's recommended to check if you need to sand prior to applying, it also depends on the current condition of the existing paint and the hull.

Remember to keep in mind that sanding the bottom paint has a possibility of creating toxic dust. Always be sure to use the proper protective equipment before sanding. 

How many coats of bottom paint should you put on your boat? 

Knowing how many coats of bottom paint to apply is crucial for every boat owner.

The best way to determine the amount of bottom paint is to calculate the surface area of the hull. It’s also measured based on how much new paint you use or how heavy the application is.

Most antifouling marine paints recommend two coats. 

Ablative paints often only need 1-2 coats. Some boat owners tend to paint each layer a different color than last season so they’re aware of what has worn away over time and what needs a new coat for the new season. If these paints are applied too thickly they run the risk of cracking and ruining. 


When shopping either online or in person, you will find a wide variety of bottom paint, they come in different colors, sizes, and formulas to meet the needs of various boats and conditions. 

Since there are so many different options of marine paints on the market, it’s important to choose the best bottom paint for your boat and your lifestyle.

There are various ways to find out which bottom paint is best for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself prior to choosing that can eliminate options and find the perfect one.

Will the boat be used in salt or freshwater?

How often will the boat be in use?

What is the boat's hull material?

Will your boat be in water year round or trailered?

Choosing the right bottom paint for any boat is crucial to keeping it in great condition.

Make sure to pick a high quality bottom paint that is best suited for your lifestyle and the boat's specific needs and the elements it’ll be facing.

Also be sure to follow the paint manufacturers provided instructions or receive professional help.

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