Owning a boat is already quite a huge investment in itself and you can further protect it by applying a new coat of the best boat paint after a certain number of years have passed. Even if your boat is quite old, giving it a new coat of paint will make it look like it just left the boatyard.
However, you cannot use just any paint off the shelves. It must be specifically for boats and the kind of environment the vessel will be facing. With that said, it is crucial to choose your paint wisely. You would not want to end up spending hundreds of dollars on paint that may not work as well as you hoped it would.
In this article, you will learn how to spot the best marine paints, as well as how to use them properly. Let’s start with a few boat paints that are worth checking out.
Best Boat Paint Reviews
1. Rust-Oleum 206999 Marine Topside Paint
I am glad to say that with this paint, there is no more reason to worry about what kind of material your boat is made of. The reason is that it will adhere to any material without any issues at all. The Rust-Oleum marine topside paint can work on wood, fiberglass, or metal, proving its versatility.
If you like to DIY most of your boat repairs and maintenance works, then you will also love the fact that this paint is very forgiving and easy to work with. It is oil-based, which, I think, is the reason why it is easy to brush onto the sides. I also find it easy to level it out. With that, it is the perfect choice for beginners.
It is also very economical. One gallon of it is enough to cover around 100 square feet, making it perfect if you have a modest skiff or a small fishing boat. If you have the proper tools and you know what you are doing, one would suffice in covering everything.
It is also nice that this paint dries up in as little as an hour depending on the weather outside is. In other words, if you started painting your boat in the morning, you can already take it out to water that same afternoon. Once dried, the paint is also highly abrasion-resistant and has excellent UV-protection.
What I did not like about the Rust-Oleum topside paint is that you will need to thin it considerably if you will be using a spray gun. Even after thinning out the paint, it still easily bogged up my spray can after each session.
- Fast-drying, and cures after a week
- Highly resistant to abrasion
- Easy to apply using a regular brush
- Can resist outdoor weather and blocks UV rays
- Highly economical – It lets you get multiple coats on a small boat and still have enough left for retouches later
- Hard to use on a spray gun
If you are on the market for the best paint for boats and you only have a modest budget, then a tin of Rust-Oleum is the ideal choice.
2. TotalBoat TotalTread Non-Skid Deck Paint
Deck paints need to be highly durable because they will be experiencing a lot of foot traffic. It is true especially if you like going on fishing trips quite a lot. Not only is TotalTread durable but it also dries into a textured and non-glare surface, making it perfect for boat decks and other surfaces that usually get wet.
If you will be painting your boat on your own, you will like how easy it is to apply this non-skid deck paint. You can either use a brush or a roller and the paint will still adhere to any kind of boat surface, like fiberglass, wood, previously painted surfaces, and even on aluminum if primed properly.
This marine paint for wood boats is also quite economical. One tin can cover up to 300 square feet. It means that you can easily cover the entire deck of a small boat several times over. I tried using it on my fishing boat and I managed to give it two coats, and still had a lot of paint left over for a couple of outdoor furniture.
This paint is high-quality polyurethane and although it is matte, you can immediately tell how nice it is because of how even and bright the finish is. Aside from being beautiful, the matte finish of TotalTread can last for many years without fading.
The only problem that I had with this product is that it took quite a long time to dry and cure. Even after a month, there are patches on the deck that still got smudged whenever I walk over them. Granted, there wasn’t that much sun in my area at the time I painted it, but still, it is quite an inconvenience.
- One can is enough for an entire boat and other surfaces
- Easy to apply using a brush or roller
- Provides a durable, non-stick surface
- Completely waterproof and UV-resistant
- Can adhere on any surface
- Takes a while before the surface dries and cures completely
Even though I had a couple of issues when it came to drying and curing times, the TotalTread did what it promised to do and that is providing a nice-looking surface that is both durable and non-slip.
3. TUFF Coat UT-100 Non-Skid Coating
If you want to save money on refinishing the deck of your boat, then you need to get a gallon of Tuff Coat non-skid boat paint. This rubberized paint provides a textured surface, thanks to hundreds of thousands of tiny plastic beads mixed in with the product.
The textured surface makes it a lot easier to walk on the deck of my boat even if the surface is completely wet. I love the non-slip surface as it gives good footing for when I hook a particularly lively and strong fish.
Even though the paint is water-based, its finish is incredibly durable. There are many times when I dragged a full cooler of ice over the deck, and the paint showed no scratches or scuffing at all. It is also water-based so you do not have to worry about noxious fumes as much.
This non-slip deck paint also comes in a variety of colors. With other non-slip coatings, I needed to have the shop mix in a bit of tint to give them the color I need. With this one, I just choose the color I want and use it immediately.
I do have a minor gripe, though, and that is it is a bit too thick, making it quite hard to apply on the flooring. I had to thin it a bit using some water and only then did it spread on evenly. In its defense though, even with the addition of water, the paint still dried quickly.
- Easy to walk on once dried and cured properly
- Highly durable and abrasion-resistant finish
- Comes in different colors
- Water-based, so you can’t complain about any noxious fumes
- Economical as its content is enough for a boat
- The paint is a bit too thick straight out of the can – You have to thin it out a bit for easier application.
The paint is a bit too thick straight out of the can – You have to thin it out a bit for easier application.
The Tuff Coat non-skid coating is one of the best boat floor liners that you can buy right now. Aside from the tough and durable rubberized and textured finish, it is also capable of preventing people from slipping and skidding on the surface.
4. Interlux Y4359/QT Brightside Polyurethane Paint
I liked that I no longer need to buy a separate tinting agent to get the color I want with this product. I just chose from one of the more than a dozen different available colors of the Interlux polyurethane paint.
It is also a marine polyurethane paint for fiberglass, which can leave a high-gloss shine that makes any old boat look like new. Speaking of the high-gloss finish, it is not only shiny but also contains fluoro micro-additives that give it increased paint resistance. It also makes the painted surface easy to clean and maintain.
Another cool thing about this product is that you can get an even finish, almost like if you applied the paint using a paint sprayer. I used a lot of thin coats and the results came out very even and there are no visible streaks at all.
When applied properly, the Interlux Brightside polyurethane marine paint is also highly durable. This paint has very high abrasion resistance. You will need to try hard to even leave scratches over the finish.
The only thing that bothered me with this paint is that it takes at least a week to dry completely. I advise that you schedule painting your boat deck during the off-season so that you can easily fight the urge to take your newly-painted boat to the water and quickly ruin the paint job.
- Brushes on smoothly and evenly
- With enough coats, the finish will not have noticeable brush strokes.
- Provides an extremely shiny and deep gloss finish
- Durable and scratch-resistant
- Boasts of a stain-resistant finish that is easy to clean
- Takes a long time to dry
Although it will take quite a while to apply this paint and an even longer wait for it to dry, the Interlux Brightside provides a smooth and even finish that is all worth it.
5. Duralux M724-1 Marine Paint
The Duralux marine paint is specifically for saltwater exposure, meaning you do not need to worry about it peeling off and causing the underlying metal rusting. It will protect and keep your vessel looking like new for many years.
You will be taking a risk when you apply a separate tint to marine paint as it might lose its resistance to corrosion and saltwater. You do not need to do that with the Duralux marine paint because it comes in 20 different shades. You will surely find the right color among these choices.
It is also easy to apply. I just used a regular brush and was able to paint my 14-foot fishing boat with two coats. The good news is that I still had enough left over for some of my outdoor patio furniture. It comes on easily regardless if you will be using a brush or a roller.
Aside from boats, you can use this paint on other outdoor structures constantly bombarded by the weather. I used some of the leftover paint from my boat to cover the roof of my backyard shed. It has survived a month’s worth of tropical typhoons and there is not even a trace of rust.
However, I discovered that some people had issues using this paint on their boats. The usual culprit is improper surface preparation. There are also times when applying the paint during particularly humid days caused it to bubble and peel off the surface.
- Excellent rustproofing and saltwater protection
- Has 20 different color options
- Ideal for use on other outdoor metal structures
- Applies easily and evenly
- Completely dry to the touch in just 30 minutes
- Hard to apply in humid climates
Although there are a couple of people who were a bit disappointed with the Duralux marine paint, a huge majority of the customers were quite satisfied. I am also sure that, with the right preparation and application, you will love it, too.
6. Rust-Oleum 207012 Flat Bottom Paint
If you are like me who is sick of scraping barnacles and other fouling matter from the bottom of your boat, then you will surely enjoy using the Rust-Oleum antifouling paint. I applied this paint about a month ago and I only noticed minor fouling beneath the waterline.
I am also glad that this product is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater vessels. I have used this paint on a saltwater fishing boat and it has not shown any sign of corrosion due to seawater. If this paint can withstand the punishment from saltwater, then freshwater would not even be a challenge.
With proper preparation, this paint will adhere to the surface and stay there regardless of your boat material. I used it on a fiberglass skiff, and I had no problems with the paint even after a couple of months.
I also noticed that it dries quickly. You can apply a second coating of the paint after just four hours of drying, and it will be completely dried and ready for the water after another 16 hours. You will not be wasting time waiting when you could be fishing.
The only issue I have with this paint is that it is thick, which is as it should be. However, this product is so thick that it almost feels like you are painting using road tar. Also, because it dries too quickly, you need to be quick when applying it below the waterline of your vessel.
- Quick-drying, allowing it to get completely dry in just 16 hours
- Suitable for both saltwater and freshwater
- Compatible for use with all boat materials
- Can handle light to moderate fouling
- Rust-resistant and completely waterproof
- The extremely thick consistency can be bothersome at times.
Although this paint would be very hard to apply for a beginner, the resulting finish makes it worth all that effort.
7. Interlux YBB379/1 Fiberglass Bottomkote NT Paint
Finding an antifouling paint that works well with fiberglass boats can be quite difficult, but the Interlux Bottomkote just might be one of the best that you can find in the market right now. You can even use it on both saltwater and freshwater applications.
A gallon of this best fiberglass boat paint can go quite a long way. Unlike other antifouling paints available, the Interlux Bottomkote is quite thin and easy to apply. You will only need two coats to create a durable and lasting layer of protection against fouling.
Another impressive feature of this paint is that it is self-polishing, meaning the surface gets even shinier the more you use the boat. You do not need to buff the paint after it dries. You can hit the water immediately once it cures.
Speaking of drying, the Interlux Bottomkote does so quite fast. I started painting the bottom of my boat right after breakfast. By late afternoon, I was already cruising around the marina. However, I did paint my boat during a rather hot day. You may want to wait another day or two to make sure that the paint is completely dry and cured.
The only issue I had with the paint was that initially, the finish was unevenly glossy. In other words, there were patches on the surface that were noticeably matte. However, it is not that big of a problem as the paint’s self-polishing feature fixed the issue after a while.
- A little bit goes a long way
- Dries in just hours
- Has a self-polishing feature
- Can deal with light to medium fouling
- Easy to apply, allowing it to cover surfaces evenly using just a brush
- The initial finish is not at all glossy in certain parts.
If you have a fiberglass boat that has been in the water for a couple of years, you can restore it to its former glory both in looks and performance with the help of the Interlux Bottomkote antifouling paint.
Who is This for?
This product is for boat owners who would like to save money on maintenance by doing the painting themselves. However, these paints are not for the exterior panels of boats. In most cases, you can only use them for the deck and the part of the boat below the waterline. It means the parts that other people do not see.
Features to Consider When Buying Boat Paint
Are you planning to start shopping for the best paint that you can use for your boat? Then here are some features and factors to look for and consider:
Remember that you will be the one to paint your boat, so you should avoid buying a product that is difficult to use. Obviously, manufacturers will not put any indication on how difficult it is to use their products. However, you can still rely on customer boat topside paint reviews for insights.
Will you be painting over aluminum, straight fiberglass, wood, or over gelcoat? You will need to use paint that can adhere to the material of your boat. Although many paints claim that they can work on all surfaces, it is still better if you get one specifically made for your boat.
Saltwater or Freshwater?
Some paints come highly recommended for saltwater use while others are only for freshwater. You may think that saltwater boat paint is okay for freshwater since saltwater is harsher on paint in general, but that is not always the case.
Some saltwater paints react to saltwater to make them more effective and you have to avoid using them in freshwater. You can also find a few options for the best marine paint for wood.
These products are often specific whereas you can only use them on wood floorings of seafaring vessels. Find out where you will be using your boat and paint it accordingly.
If you are an avid fisherman or just like riding on your boat whenever you can, then you must not like your vessel sidelined for any amount of time. If you are shopping for paint to use on your boat, you should pick a rolling and tipping marine paint that has the shortest drying time.
If you have a small boat, then you will most likely have a lot of paint left over after your DIY project. Now, you can store the leftover paint in your shed, or use it for other outdoor structures like decks or sheds. You can also find marine topside paint reviews that tell how other customers used their leftover paint.
Fouling occurs when biological lifeforms start making their homes at the bottom of your boat, like barnacles and the like. If it is a problem for you, get a boat paint that specifically says it has antifouling properties. These paints gradually release a form of biocide, preventing any biological organisms from attaching to your boat.
Another benefit of using antifouling paint is that it can improve the fuel efficiency of your vessel. With no barnacles and other lifeforms causing excessive drag, your boat can cut through the water easier, putting less strain on the engine.
If you are looking for the best marine topside paint to use on your boat deck, avoid the high-gloss ones that will only make your boat hazardous once you hit the water. Look for paint designed specifically for flooring as they contain tiny beads that provide a somewhat rough finish, making them easy to walk on.
Additionally, look for rubberized flooring paint, in addition to the rough texture. If you can find the best topside boat paint, it will also feel like rubber, adding even more grip.
Of course, you need to choose the right color paint to use on your boat. Pick one that matches the original color scheme of your boat; otherwise, anything that you paint will look out of place. If you cannot find a paint that has the right color for your boat, then you may need to mix different colors or get the store to tint your paint.
Also, ask yourself if you want your boat to stand out from the rest. If you do, then get brightly-colored paint. It also makes your boat highly visible in case of emergencies.
You would not want to repaint your boat every couple of months because you chose a paint that does not have a durable finish. If you will be painting your boat, particularly the deck, pick one capable of leaving a highly durable finish.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Boat Paint
The use of boat paint allows you to enjoy multiple benefits – one of which is that you can use it to paint your boat on your own. This means that you do not have to pay for the services of others, which can be quite costly.
Another advantage of using boat paint is that it helps you extend the service lifetime of your vessel. Moreover, your boat will most likely look several years younger than its actual age.
However, be prepared to encounter a couple of drawbacks, though minor, upon deciding to use the boat paint on your own. One possible drawback is that doing it on your own can be time-consuming and requires effort on your part. Another downside is that it is highly likely that you will strip everything and start over in case you use the wrong one.
Care and Maintenance
To make your boat paint last as long as possible, you need to clean the surfaces regularly, especially the parts below the waterline. If you still have quite a lot of paint left over from your DIY project, make sure to replace the lid tightly and store the can away from direct sunlight.
Most boat paints are also low-maintenance, usually only requiring that you clean the surface occasionally. In the case of a painted boat deck, you will need to clean it quite often because the textured surface provides dirt with a lot of handholds, so you will need to scrub the flooring daily.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Kind of Paint do You Use on Gelcoat?
Painting over gelcoat can be quite tricky because you will need to prepare the surface properly or else the paint will not stick onto the surface properly.
Once you finish scuffing up and sanding the gelcoat surface, you will then need to use epoxy-based paint. Why epoxy-based? The reason is regular polyurethane or enamel paints will not be able to adhere to gelcoat surfaces. Epoxy-based boat paints and finishes have an adhesive component, so they can adhere to almost all surfaces.
How to Remove Bottom Paint from a Boat?
There are several routes that you can take if you want to strip away the bottom paint of your boat. These include the following:
If your boat is relatively small, like a canoe or a skiff, you can just scrape off as much of the paint as possible then use a lot of sandpaper to get rid of the patches that remain. If you are afraid that you will damage the material underneath the paint you can do wet sanding, although that will take a much longer time.
If you have access to a sandblasting machine then you should use it. A sandblaster can give you the same results as manually sanding the surface, but with a lot less manual labor. However, make sure that you have the right-sized sanding media and air pressure to prevent damaging the base material.
Chemical paint stripper
Instead of scraping off the existing paint, you can just brush on a good quality chemical paint stripper. However, if you have a fiberglass boat, it is best to steer clear of chemical paint strippers as they can damage fiberglass material. Despite that, a paint stripper is still the quickest solution if you have an aluminum boat.
How to Restore Faded Boat Paint?
If you have a fiberglass boat, it is still possible to make the paint look brighter just by sanding and polishing the gel coat. Just be careful that you do not go too deep with the sanding.
On the other hand, if you have an aluminum boat and the bottom is painted using enamel or lacquer paints, there is no other option other than stripping off the existing paint and applying a fresh coat of paint. Once enamel and lacquer paints fade, the damage is permanent.
For most boat owners, their vessel is their pride and joy, especially since they have dropped a whole lot of money into buying them. Therefore, it is only natural that they buy the best boat paint for their beloved watercraft.
Now that you have reached the end of this article, it is safe to assume that you already know what to look for when it comes to refinishing your boat. You no longer need to worry about wasting your time and money because you already know how to choose the right paint and use it properly.