Although quite durable, aluminum boats still require the necessary protection to make it last for many more years to come. Probably one of the best ways to make your aluminum boat more capable of surviving the harsh environments is to give it a protective coat of the best paint for aluminum boats.
As many experienced boatmen would tell you, finding an appropriate paint that would adhere to aluminum can be difficult. However, there are specialty paints made specifically for water vessels, even for your aluminum boat that will not only make your watercraft look years younger but will also protect it from the elements.
If you are on the market for a couple of gallons of the best paint for aluminum boat, this article might be able to help. Let’s start with the short reviews of some of the best products in this category.
- Best Paint for Aluminum Boat Reviews
- 1. TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Paints
- 2. Duralux M736-1 Aluminum Boat Marine Paints
- 3. TUFF Coat UT-100 Non-Skid Coating
- 4. Rust-Oleum 207005 Marine Topside Paints
- 5. Sea Hawk AH7033GL Aluma Jon Boat Paints
- 6. Diamond Brite 46000 Aluminum Paints
- 7. Majic 8-0850-2 Camouflage Paints
- 8. TotalBoat TotalTread Non-Skid Deck Paints
- 9. Durabak 18 Coating Deck Paints
- 10. Rust-Oleum 207016 Marine Metal Primer
- Who is This for?
- Features to Consider When Buying Paint for Aluminum Boat
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Paint for Aluminum Boat
- Care and Maintenance
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Paint for Aluminum Boat Reviews
1. TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Paints
In my opinion, this paint from TotalBoat is a good choice for the best paint for aluminum boat hull as it does not need any kind of surface preparation other than ensuring that the surfaces you will paint are pristinely clean. Unlike other paints that require a coat of primer, you can apply it directly to the scuffed-up aluminum surface.
I am also glad that it is easy to apply this TotalBoat aluminum boat paint over the surface. I produced an even coat using just a roller brush, so I reckon that you can get an even better result if you use a sprayer. It also dries up quite fast. I was able to put the second coat after just an hour of applying the first without sanding in between the coats.
Another feature I genuinely liked about this product is that it has a low-sheen finish, making it the perfect choice for fishing boats as the light will not reflect off the surface. With that, I can say that the paint is ideal for painting camouflage patterns on water vessels.
This aluminum boat paint is also highly durable. It is ideal not just for the exterior of the boat (above the waterline). I also discovered that it is useful in painting the deck and interior panels.
The only thing that I did not like is that the army green color is more of a mint green hue. I had to tint it with a bit of black to make it darker and closer to a camo green.
2. Duralux M736-1 Aluminum Boat Marine Paints
I use my aluminum boat primarily for fishing, so I do not want anything too shiny, and the Duralux boat paint is one of the best I have used so far. I wanted to paint a camo pattern and was pleasantly surprised to find that they have all the right colors in their inventory. I did not need to use other brands, which made the paint job consistent.
This paint is also very economical. I own a 14-foot aluminum fishing boat and I decided to paint it with a camo pattern, so I got three quarts of different camo colors. Needless to say, after I finished painting (three coats), there was a lot of paint left over, so much that I was able to give my backyard shed a new coat of paint.
I also liked how easy it was to use this paint. All I did regarding surface prep work was just clean the boat as much as I could, and then wiped the surface with denatured alcohol. I did not need to lay down the primer. The paint evenly stuck onto the surface easily and I only used a brush and a couple of rollers.
It is also quite durable. I find it tough enough to handle being used as paint for the underside of my boat. Although it is not an antifouling paint for aluminum boats, it is still sturdy enough that it does not peel off even after a couple of weeks on the water.
I do not have any serious complaints about this product, but if I have to pick one out, it would be that you have to thin it out quite a bit if you will be using it in a paint sprayer.
3. TUFF Coat UT-100 Non-Skid Coating
If you are like me and you have slipped up one too many times while fishing in an aluminum boat, then you need to get the TUFF Coat non-skid paint. It leaves a rubberized finish that does not get slick even when you get it wet.
Unlike other non-skid paints that I have used in the past, this one is completely water-based so there are very few noxious fumes. I was able to paint the entire deck of my 14-foot fishing boat without pausing every fifteen minutes.
The durability of this non-skid coating is also top-notch. It has been a month or so since I painted my boat, and I have yet to find any damage on the finish. There are probably a couple of scratches here and there, but nothing too serious. This paint is also highly resistant to UV rays, so it will not get brittle and crack even when left under the sun.
I am also impressed with the many different colors for the non-skid coating. If you can’t still find the exact color that you want from the many shades available, you can have it tinted without running into any issues. I was lucky enough to find a color that I liked, so I did not need to experiment with paint tints.
The only issue that I have with this paint is that it can be quite hard to work with. This non-skid paint is so thick that you need to use a special roller. You also have to avoid putting too much pressure or you will only be pushing it to the side.
4. Rust-Oleum 207005 Marine Topside Paints
The nice thing about this product is that you can use it on any surface, be it aluminum, fiberglass, or wood. If you will be refinishing aluminum boat above the waterline, you can be sure that it will last for many years.
This marine-grade paint for aluminum is also oil-based, so it is easy to apply to the boat. It also self-levels quite easily. I used a brush to paint my boat and it goes on so smooth that you would hardly notice any brush lines. If you want your paint job to look even smoother, you can load this paint on a spray gun.
Speaking of painting, this aluminum boat paint Rust-Oleum dries to the touch within an hour of application. It means you can apply your second and third coats all in just one afternoon. Also, the paint will fully dry and cure overnight so you can hit the water again the following morning.
What I genuinely liked about this paint is its high-gloss finish. Even when you just brush it on the surface, it self-levels so much that it leaves an almost polished-looking finish capable of lasting for many years without even dulling.
One thing I did not like about it, though, is that if you are going to load it into a spray gun, you will need to thin it down a lot more than what the given instructions indicated. Due to all the solids suspended in the paint, it can easily plug up the nozzle.
5. Sea Hawk AH7033GL Aluma Jon Boat Paints
I genuinely liked this olive drab aluminum boat paint, and I notice that it goes so well on a Jon boat. I always take my boat out when I am fishing, and this best paint for aluminum Jon boat option helped camouflage it so well that it does not disrupt the surroundings when the motor is off and I just let it drift.
I also find this paint easy to use. However, I do recommend that you use a roller to apply this aluminum Jon boat paint. Using a brush will take too long and will leave streaks considering the fact that this paint is so thick. Using a roller will ensure that you will be applying an even coat and will not be pushing the paint over the surface.
You also do not need a lot of surface prep when using this Sea Hawk aluminum boat paint. All I did before painting my boat was clean it as much as I could and then gave it a once over using mineral spirits to get any dust off the surface. There was no need to scuff the surface. I also do not need to apply a primer.
Speaking of painting, I am happy that it dries up quickly. After an hour of applying the first coat, you can proceed to lay down the second one without sanding. Although you can technically bring the boat to water a day after painting it, I recommend that you wait at least 72 hours so that the paint has a chance to dry and cure completely.
I do have a rather serious issue with this paint, though – that is the fact that you will need to use MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) to thin it out. The problem is that MEK is highly toxic and produces noxious fumes. Moreover, MEK eats away at plastic, so unless you have a completely metal spray gun, it will render it useless.
If you will not be thinning this paint, then it is one of the best that you can use on your aluminum boat. It dries up quickly and leaves a beautiful and durable finish.
6. Diamond Brite 46000 Aluminum Paints
This paint is not just excellent for metal boats. I also noticed that it works perfectly for metal fences, gates, and wrought iron pieces. It gives anything that it touches a high-gloss metallic finish. When I used it on my years-old Jon boat, it made it look like it was used for just a couple of weeks.
Although I used a roller to apply this paint onto my boat, I believe that I can still get the same coat consistency if I used a brush. It is also a fantastic choice for the best spray paint for aluminum boat. You do not have to thin it by much – just around 10% will be enough for it to go through the nozzle without any issue.
Unlike other paints, you can apply this product even when the metal surface is hot. You can apply other paints when the surface is at least cool enough to touch; otherwise, it will cause bubbles to form. However, although you can do it, I do not recommend that you paint on a boat that has been laying out in the sun the whole day. It is not pleasant.
A little bit of this paint can go a long way. You do not need to apply that many coats to get the look that you want. In fact, a coat or two is often enough to give an impressive finish. I bought a gallon of this stuff thinking that it might just be barely enough for my boat. By the end, I still had enough left over to paint the roof of my shed.
However, I find it a bit annoying that this paint seems to settle quicker than I initially expected. I still have to stir it every time that I need to use it, even if there was only a day between uses.
7. Majic 8-0850-2 Camouflage Paints
As the name suggests, Majic Paints camouflage paint is one of the best if you want to make anything seem to blend in with the forest background. This particular product is olive drab green, which I discovered was the perfect shade for my aluminum fishing boat. If I turn the outboard motor off, you will hardly notice it on the water.
Another reason why it is the best choice for aluminum boats, and metal boats, in general, is that it can inhibit the formation of rust spots. If you want to restore an older boat, then I highly recommend that you use this paint on it.
Aside from being completely waterproof, it is also highly resistant to the harmful UV rays of the sun. It means that you can leave your boat under the sun the entire day without a cover without worrying about the paint chipping and cracking.
Aside from metal, you can also use it on wooden structures. After I saw how good it looked on my boat, I bought a couple more quarts of Majic Paints camouflage paint for my deer blind. Aside from blending well into the forest, it also protected the wood from rotting.
The only thing that left a not-so-good impression on me regarding this paint is that it takes a while for it to dry. Depending on your location’s climate, it may take anywhere from three to four days. I suggest painting your boat during the fishing off-season so the paint gets a chance to dry and cure properly.
Drying time aside, I was pleased by the finish of this paint. It is even, vivid, and highly durable. I reckon it would take a year before any noticeable deterioration appears.
8. TotalBoat TotalTread Non-Skid Deck Paints
What makes the TotalBoat TotalTread boat deck paint different from the others is it combines the durability of polyurethane with the traction provided by rubberized paints. It provides you with a floor that is comfortable to walk on even when completely drenched with water.
Because this paint is polyurethane, it is highly resistant to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Unlike other paints, it will not dry up, crack, and peel even when left to bake under the hot sun for days. However, it is still highly recommended that you still take measures to protect the paint.
This paint is also durable. Even a year’s worth of foot traffic will not be enough to make this paint fade. It has been roughly a couple of months since I used it on my aluminum fishing boat and it still looks like new.
The finish is also quite easy to clean. It is also resistant to chemicals, which is a good thing as it allows you to use industrial-strength cleaning aids without worrying about the finish getting harmed in the process.
I discovered that it is not just suitable for the best bottom paint for aluminum boats. There was still a bit of paint left over after I finished painting my boat, just enough for painting the steps on my backyard deck. It works so well that I am thinking of buying another gallon to paint over the entire deck surface.
The only problem that I have with this product is that it takes a long time to dry and cure completely. I remember that after letting the paint dry for a day, it was still a bit tacky. It took an entire week for it to dry completely.
9. Durabak 18 Coating Deck Paints
The thing that I liked the most about the Durabak non-slip deck paint is there are dozens of colors to choose from. You do not need to have it tinted because there will surely be a color that will fit your requirements. I did not just use this paint on my boat. I also used a different color for my backyard deck.
Unlike other deck paints, this paint contains tiny bits of recycled rubber tires for additional texture, making the finish non-slip and waterproof. It is one of the best non-slip deck paints that I have used so far. Even when it is raining, it is still easy to move around my boat.
This deck paint is also durable. If applied properly, it will not easily scratch or peel off. It is also highly resistant to the sun’s UV rays, which means that the paint will not dry up even when you leave the boat under the sun.
This paint is also easy to apply. I used a roller since it is the faster method. I do not like loading rubberized paint on my paint sprayer as it makes for a tedious cleanup later. I also discovered that thinning the paint for sprayers melts the rubber additives, so the resulting finish will not have the same texture.
The only problem I had is that you would need a special roller brush to apply it; otherwise, you will only be pushing the paint and rubber pellets around. You will need a special roller brush to apply this paint without pushing the rubber additives to the side.
10. Rust-Oleum 207016 Marine Metal Primer
I am sure that when you paint your boat, you would want the finish to last at least a couple of years before it starts to disintegrate. I am happy to say that it is possible with the Rust-Oleum marine metal primer. I used it on my aluminum boat and the paint is still solid after a couple of months.
This metal primer also makes it easier to lay down the topcoat. If you have ever tried to paint over an aluminum hull, you may have realized that most paints would peel off easily once they dry.
Applying the best primer for aluminum boat will allow the topcoat to adhere evenly and permanently. This marine metal primer itself will not have any trouble adhering to bare metal with minimum surface preparation.
I also like how it can go over all metal surfaces, not just aluminum. I had quite a lot of paint left over, so I used it to paint the wrought iron railing on my porch. It helped prevent the rust from getting worse while also making an even base for painting over.
The best thing about this primer is that it completely dried within an hour of application. Of course, I live in a rather dry and hot place so that played a role in the drying process. It is the reason why I was able to finish painting my 14-foot boat in just one afternoon.
The only issue I have with the product is minor – that is you need to thin the paint a bit or it will streak when applied using a brush. The streaks are not that serious of a problem since you can just sand them to smoothen them out. However, it is supposed to be unnecessary if the paint was a bit thinner before application.
Who is This for?
If you own an aluminum-hulled boat, like a Jon boat, and you do not like the bare metal look, then you should get an aluminum boat paint. Do not just pick any tin of paint that you see. Make sure that it can bond onto aluminum surfaces. If not, then the paint will start cracking and peel off right after it dries.
Features to Consider When Buying Paint for Aluminum Boat
Some features you should check out when buying an aluminum boat paint are:
Ease of Application
If you will be painting the boat yourself, then choose one that is not tricky and complicated to use. You should be able to load it into a spray gun easily to make the finish more even. Find out if you will need to apply a base coat first, too. It is important as it will decide whether your boat will look better or worse after painting.
Drying and Curing Times
Ideally, the aluminum boat paint that you get should be dry to the touch after just an hour or two. It means you can finish painting your boat with a couple of coats in just a single afternoon.
You do not want to spend a fortune on paint and then waste hours painting your boat, and then after just a week, you will see it riddled with scratches and faded areas. A good boat paint should be able to withstand a good amount of punishment and not leave a mark.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Paint for Aluminum Boat
Using paint for an aluminum boat is beneficial for a wide range of reasons. One is that it can protect your boat from rust and corrosion. When applied on the deck, you can also expect it to provide a non-slip surface to walk on. Aside from that, it helps make your boat look a lot of years younger.
One more thing that the paint can do is that it can make your boat easier to see. It will greatly depend on the color, though. Moreover, you can also use paint, which can provide an effective camouflage when hunting or fishing.
As for the downsides, one of the most common complaints is its tendency to peel or crack when you do not prepare the aluminum surface properly. It may also take a couple of days to cure, which also means no boating in the meantime.
Care and Maintenance
To take care of the painted surface, the first thing that you need to keep in mind is that you need to clean it on occasion. Also, even if the paint is UV-resistant, it is still best to place a tarp or cover over the boat. It helps in preventing sun damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Kind of Paint to Use on an Aluminum Boat?
This will depend on what kind of environment you will be using the boat for – either saltwater or freshwater. If you will be using the boat in saltwater, make sure that it is labeled as marine boat paint. On the other hand, if you will be using the vessel on freshwater only, just regular boat paint will do.
How to Paint an Aluminum Boat Yourself?
First, you will need to clean the entire surface to be painted as much as you can. Vacuum any dust and dirt that you can see. Scuff up the surface using some steel wool, then vacuum the dust. Wipe the entire surface with mineral spirits to remove all traces of dirt and dust.
If you will be painting the boat by hand, use a roller to apply the paint evenly over a huge area. It makes the process shorter. Use a brush to get into the tight spaces. Let the paint dry for an hour or so before applying the second coat. If you want the paint to become more durable, lay down a coat of primer before the actual boat paint.
Should I Paint the Bottom of my Aluminum Boat?
Ideally, yes. It is important to paint the bottom of your aluminum boat. However, use the best antifouling paint for aluminum boats to prevent biological life from attaching themselves to the bottom of your boat.
You do not use just any regular paint for your aluminum boat. For one thing, it may not bond on the surface of the metal. You will need the best paint for aluminum boat if you want to protect your vessel and make it look just like new.