Using the best paint for boats is a simple way to boost the vessel’s curb appeal as well as protecting it against galvanic corrosion and marine growth.
It is important because the moment the boat leaves the shelter of the builder’s yard to the water, it’s vulnerable to electrolysis, galvanic corrosion, and fouling.
The paint is the only dependable line of defense that shields the raw vessel against ultraviolet degradation and hydrolysis. So, it’s crucial to paint your boat.
Best Paint For Boats
Why Should You Paint Your Boat?
There is just something pleasantly weird about the boat (I can’t really place my finger on) that awakens the adventurous side in us.
Whether you are scuba diving to mining the sails and fishes or exploring new beachfront, there is something incredibly freeing about cruising on the open water that lures you to visit over and over again.
And, one day you returned from an exciting ride only to see the color of the vessel fading, begun to erode or has been covered with marine growth.
Whatever the case may be, seeing your only escape to the water (boat) turning bad is very depressing.
It sounds obvious that forgoing the boat to getting a new one is a crazy decision you only get to make when you’re swimming in money.
But, using the best paint for boats is the quickest route to see your hull in good condition and back to the sea again.
Whether it’s a marine fouling problem, galvanizing corrosion challenge, or a matter of curb appeal, our top picks provide a real solution that meets the following criteria:
- It offers maximum protection against corrosion and marine growth throughout the lifespan of the vessel without having to repaint often.
- It improves performance. The paint won’t only enhance the hull efficiency, but will also significantly reduce fuel consumption over time.
- The paint is not harmful to the marine environment in any way. It doesn’t release any biocides.
- Easy to apply in various ways.
- Allows fast and easy preventive in-water ship hull cleaning.
- Reduces time in drydock, as well as the frequency of drydocking.
Best Boat Paint Reviews
It doesn’t matter the type of boat you have, either. Whether it’s a fiberglass, woody, steel, or aluminum boats, our top picks will sure put a smile on your face.
1. Flexdel 10101 Aquagard Antifoulant Bottom Paint
The flexdel 10101 Aquagard is an Antifoulant Bottom paint that is extremely easy to use, efficient, and eco-friendly – making it the perfect fit for your DIY boat restoration.
The flexdel 10101 Aquagard is a water-based formula that includes an ablative action to repel barnacles and other growth, without polluting the water with biocides.
The sole purpose of this product is to put marine growth build-up into extinction on fiberglass and wooden boats. It’s also suitable for use on inflatable boats without priming.
On top of that, the solution is fast drying and doesn’t run or make a mess when applying it with a paintbrush, roller, or sprayer.
Besides, the cleanup is a breeze – just wipe it with soap and water.
- Vibrant than bottom paints containing copper biocide
- High-performing marine antifouling boat
- Easy to apply and fast drying
- It’s somewhat expensive
2. Rust-Oleum 207013 Marine Flat Boat Bottom Antifouling Paint
The Rust-Oleum 207013 is another Antifouling paint you can bank on if you’re having is an issue with marine growth riding alongside you.
It’s ideal for moderating fouling conditions by slowly releasing copper below the waterline on fiberglass, wood, and steel surfaces.
Although the fumes can be disturbing, so I suggest you wear a decent face mask, alongside a pair of protective gloves.
The only drawback it has is it takes about 4hours to recoat, and about 16 hours to launch. However, professional boaters recommend you apply two coats and launch the boat within 60 days.
Aside from that, Rust-Oleum 207013 is undeniably efficient for use in mild to moderate fouling challenges.
The paint is smooth and applies well without hassle, which makes it the perfect combination of versatility and performance to lay down a professional-looking finish.
Lastly, It’s ideal for both fresh/saltwater, and covers approximately 110 square feet, with a sturdy, flat sheen that surpasses most aged antifouling coatings.
- Suitable for both fresh and saltwater
- Highly resistant to fouling
- It is affordable
- It takes time to dry
- Releases toxic fumes
3. TotalBoat Lust Marine Varnish
If you want to spruce up your dull and rusty boat with a more exciting finish, give TotalBoat lust a shot.
Whether or not you have prior knowledge about painting a boat, Totalboat Lust lets you handle the job with ease.
It’s a fast-drying formula that allows you to apply multiple coats per day without sanding each coat.
Aside from that, it is forgiving and ensures a beautiful finish with exceptional durability, clarity, and high gloss finish retention.
They say “Nothing drives a point home quite like a good statistic” so here is the math:
You can recoat in one hour (at 72 F). Hypothetically speaking, it lets you apply up to five coats in one day.
In short, you can start and finish your boat restoration in a single weekend. Also, Lust is UV resistant in both high gloss and matte finishes.
- Ideal for interior and exterior brightwork
- easy application
- The paint is fast drying
- Offers exceptional clarity & durability
- Available in Matte and gloss Finish
- It’s quite pricey
- Not the best choice for metal surfaces
4. Rust-Oleum 207008 Marine Spar Varnish
For a wood boat, the Rust-Oleum 207008 Marine Spar is a go-to option. The paint is excellent for use on exterior wood surfaces above the waterline such as trim, wood furniture, and railings.
More importantly, it’s an oil-based formula that will expand and contracts alongside the ever-changing weather condition. It dries to the touch in 2 hours and covers about 150 square feet.
Using the paint will skip the hassle and cost of hiring a contractor so that you can do it yourself from big to small projects.
The crystal-clear varnish will not only lay down a beautiful gloss finish but also with maximum protection. The stunning finish offers maximum resistance to mildew, UV rays, weathering, as well as sea spray
- Flexible finish
- performs even in the harshest conditions
- An excellent choice for exterior wood surfaces
- Provide superior protection
- Not clear
- It is slow-drying
5. Rust-Oleum 206999 Marine Topside Paint
The reason we included the Rust-Oleum 206999 Marine Topside Paint on our list of the best paint for boats is due to its exceptional gloss retention and versatility.
You can use this product on wood, fiberglass, aluminum, and other metallic surfaces above the waterline for beauty, as well as protection’s sake.
Topside paint can give elegance and maximum protection to even the ugliest vessels.
It hulks up your vessel with a durable coating that withstands abrasion and unfriendly weather conditions. Additionally, it provides long-lasting UV protection, yet it’s easy to wipe clean for a brighter outlook.
Regardless of its oil-based nature, it’s flexible, easy to apply with excellent leveling that covers up to 100 square feet.
The drying-time is fair. It dries to touch in as little as one to two hours
- Affordable price
- Best choice for fiberglass, wood or metal surfaces
- It gives a professional smooth-finish
- Provides long-lasting coat
- Not easy to apply for beginners
What to Look for When Buying Boat Paints
If you lay hands on the appropriate product that will serve your needs, you need only two things: identify the problem and choose the paint designed to solve that particular problem.
Identify the project you have in Hand
There are hundreds of marine paints in the market with different functionalities. And, you can easily get lost in the whirling abundance. So, it’s critical to know why you are buying the boat paint.
Are you touching up scratches, minor dents, improving the appearance of your watercraft to resist UV and weathering, or are you only interested in fighting against exposure to dirt, barnacles, algae, and micro-organisms?
Knowing the reason behind buying a boat paint will lead you to the appropriate product.
The Type of Paint
There are two different types of marine paint you can choose from to handle the job on the table.
Let’s look at them below.
Above-waterline marine paint
These paints are also known as topside paints. You can only apply them anywhere above the waterline of your boats, such as the sides of the hull, deck, and interiors.
They are oil-based formulas and are suitable for fiberglass, metal, and wood surfaces.
Topside marine paints have a high-performance for color retention, durability, flexibility, and UV resistance.
Thus, making them the best bet for minor dents, touching up scratches, as well as adding curb appeal because they are resistant to cracking, peeling, and chipping.
Below Waterline Marine Paint
These underwater hull paints are often called bottom paints or anti-fouling paints. They prevent the growth of organisms such as barnacle and algae that attach to the hull.
When repairing dent and dings below the waterline, bottom paint is a go-to option. Choose flat marine anti-fouling products. They slowly release copper, which helps prevent the build-up of marine growth.
However, without the bottom paint, these species can ruin the fabric of the vessel to the degree that water can sip in, and the boat will eventually sink.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does bottom paint devalue a boat?
Bottom paint has its merit and demerits, more precisely if there are many layers. Although, the only drawbacks you get to experience after using bottom paint are a liability in cost and performance.
There is a saying that maintenance is a drag on your time and your finances. And, that is the bitter truth in this case. Bottom paint will slow your boat down and eat up fuel pretty much.
You will be locked in a cycle of maintenance. Many boaters replace their antifouling annually – it’s not a once-in-a-while job. You will have to carter for it.
The worst part? Most boatyards are banning boat owners from rejuvenating their boats by themselves. So they could control the risk factors and insurance, which requires another cost on your path.
What happens if you don’t bottom paint your boat?
Cruising around with a naked boat is prone to barnacle, weeds, algae, and slime build-up. And when it does, it can drastically affect the vessel’s speed, performance, and durability for an extended period.
On the other hand, bottom paint will help prevent the growth of all these organisms that won’t hesitate to attach themselves to the hull.
How long can a boat stay in the water without bottom paint?
First and foremost, it isn’t advisable to leave an unpainted boat on the water – whether on fresh and saltwater.
I have seen a boat covered in barnacles in a matter of weeks, although location plays a vital role too. If the water is warmer, it will accelerate the growth of the Asian clams, zebra mussels, and other small organisms.
I wouldn’t dare put my precious boat in the water without bottom paint, although a couple of days would be fine.
Do freshwater boats need bottom paint?
It’s imperative to use bottom paint for your freshwater boat, especially if you are leaving it in the water overnight.
Your boat may not accumulate barnacles quickly, but in the long run, it can grow a healthy beard of algae slime and plant.
Read Also: Best Automotive Spray Paints
Do Boats need special paint?
When painting a boat, you’ll need different types of boat paint for above the waterline and below the waterline. These paints are specifically designed to withstand different elements over time. Topside boat paint protects your boat from the elements, like water, sunshine and sand.
What kind of paint do you use on a fiberglass boat?
polyurethane type paints
The best paints available, in terms of durability and gloss retention, are the two-part polyurethane type paints. These paints are very thin, requiring multiple coats. However, they chemically harden to a very durable finish that will last for many years.
What is the best kind of paint to use on fiberglass?
Acrylic paint adheres well to fiberglass, overcoming one of the main challenges to painting this material. Acrylic paint is less likely to crack and blister, and will hold up well to cleaning. This water-based paint is easy to apply, and contains fewer chemicals, so is more environmentally friendly.
Is rustoleum good boat paint?
Rustoleum has a ton of awesome coatings for boats, and one of their most simple offerings is the Rust-Oleum 206999 Marine Topside Paint. As a top coating, you’ll want to put this paint above the waterline to avoid corrosion. It’s one of the most affordable options, coming in at only $16.28 a gallon!
Can you paint a fiberglass boat with Rustoleum?
DESCRIPTION AND USES . Rust-Oleum® Marine Coatings Topside Paint is an oil- based alkyd designed to provide a durable, abrasion and weather resistant finish on fiberglass, wood and metal boat surfaces. It offers UV protection and is easy to apply. DO NOT USE BELOW THE WATERLINE.
What is gelcoat paint?
Gel coat is the most common surface coating used in the fabrication and repair of fiberglass reinforced products. Gel Coat is a specially formulated two-part polyester resin that is designed to be the first layer of resin applied in a mold when making a polyester or vinyl ester composite part.
Can you paint over gelcoat on a boat?
If the gelcoat is in good condition with no major cracking or crazing, the job is relatively straightforward—clean and prepare the surface, apply an epoxy primer, sand the primer, remove the sanding residue and then apply the topcoat.
Can I spray paint a fiberglass boat?
Painting fiberglass boats isn’t really much different from painting wood boats, except for the type of paint you’ll use and a few details in the prep and application. We should note that the very best finish can be attained by professionals who spray on the paint, rather than applying it with a brush and roller.
Can you use automotive paint on a boat?
When using car paint, you can paint over with urethane topcoat in cases of a smooth gel coat. While the paint isn’t as robust as a gel coat, it’s a viable choice for enhancing the appearance of an older boat. If you have a faded boat, the best option is to sand it with ultra-fine sanding paper.
What is the difference between paint and gelcoat?
What is difference between gel coat and paint? Gelcoat is usually much thicker than paint and is engineered to protect the underlying fiberglass as well as provide a smooth shiny appearance. Paint is thinner and typically much easier to apply.
Remember when we talked about how paint can devalue a boat, in the frequently asked question?
Well, that is not your fate if you are using our list of the best paint for the boats. You don’t have to lose sleep over the tedious maintenance cost and the reduction of fuel.
Our top pick not only combat marine fouling but also provide long-lasting protection against extreme weather conditions and UV rays.
Besides, these paints reduce paint build-up, which makes painting easier when next you are doing a vessel restoration project.