Painting your boat’s bottom, topsides, and deck should be viewed as an investment. Done properly, it will protect and enhance your boat, making it faster, better looking, and easier to clean, but if you get it wrong, it can turn into a nightmare.
If you are just learning how to paint your boat and exploring the wide array of choices to barrier coat, bottom paint, color your hull, or put new non-skid on your deck, you can find tips and tricks as well as brand comparisons and bottom paint compatibility charts here. Learn how to prepare the hull for painting, techniques for rolling, brushing, spraying or roll and tip painting, and how to maintain and touch up boat paint jobs.
The most common task facing boaters is painting the bottom with antifouling paint to help resist the growth of algae and barnacles. Bottom paint generally has a lifespan of a few years at most, so boats that are stored in the water will require repainting before you know it.
Choosing the Right Paint
The best paint to choose depends on many factors, from water conditions to intended use of the boat and the paint already on the boat. A sailboat used for racing in cold, fresh water does not need the same paint as a trawler cruising Florida and the Bahamas. The “best” paint for any given application may not be compatible with the bottom paint already on the hull, and choosing a different paint may be preferable to stripping off old bottom paint. To help sort out the available choices, please visit our Anti-Fouling Bottom Paint page.
Preparing the Boat for Painting
Once you have chosen a paint, it’s time to prepare the bottom of the boat for painting. You may just have to scuff up the existing paint with a drywall sander, or it may be necessary to strip all paint, repair blisters, fair the hull, apply an epoxy barrier coat, and then apply antifouling paint. For tips on determining what your boat’s hull needs before bottom painting, please visit our Preparing Your Boat for Bottom Paint page.
If you are painting the topsides of your boat or applying a boot stripe or cove stripe, you are embarking on one of the great journeys of boating. A new paint job on the hull sides in the colors of your choice can help your boat to do its main job: make you smile! Do it right, and if you do not think you can do it right, hire a professional. They are expensive because their services are worth it! If you are doing it yourself, you can visit our Topside Painting page to learn a bit more about fairing, spraying, and roll and tip techniques.
Painting over the gelcoat deck of an old boat and applying non-skid deck paint to heavily traveled areas is a relatively easy way to improve the appearance of your boat while at the same time making it safer to use and easier to clean. Old, oxidized gelcoat or painted decks can be slippery and often have accumulated stains and cracks over the years. Done properly, a paint job on the deck of your boat can last for years and enhance value at resale. For comparisons of deck paint brands, non-skid surfaces, preparation and application techniques, please visit our Non-Skid Deck Paint page.