May 06, 2015

Choosing the Best Boat Bottom Paint

Boat and yacht owners who have had bottom painting work may have a preference toward one brand of paint or another. However, those who have never before needed a “bottom job” must first determine which type of paint is best suited for the boat based on storage and environment. Boats and yachts docked or moored in water compared to boats that are dry-docked, require vastly different types of paint. Additionally, environmental conditions should be considered in the paint selection process. These variables will affect the type of anti-fouling protection required.

Fouling occurs on the boat bottom of every hull. Bottom-fouling is caused by sub-aquatic organisms adhering to the boat’s surface beneath the water line. This marine growth is plant based causing “weed fouling” and slime, or animal based, called “shell fouling.” Multiple types of fouling often occur. Fouling increases both drag and fuel consumption and compromises the integrity of all parts exposed to water and can even cause systems such as air conditioning to overheat, posing a potential fire hazard. Because of this, anti-fouling paint is crucial, especially in warm coastal waters as in South Florida and the Bahamas.

Anti-Fouling Bottom Jobs | Hard vs. Ablative Bottom Paint

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Anti-fouling paint is available in two types – hard and ablative. These signify two methods of delivering the biocides to the surface. The biocides in hard paint leach out of the paint when in the water, thus protecting the hull. Eventually, the biocide is depleted and new paint is needed. Hard paints are only effective if the vessel is kept in the water as they lose anti-fouling ability when out of the water, even for brief periods. Conversely, ablative paint should be used on boats not kept in the water. Ablative paints, which physically erode over time exposing fresh biocides to the surface, are more efficient at delivering the biocide and contain fewer biocides.

There are numerous hard and ablative paint types and brands from which to choose. It is preferred to use the same brand and type of bottom paint used previously for greater compatibility. As for environmental concerns from leaching and biocides, most of the bottom paint that was harmful for the environment has been discontinued and banned in the U.S. However, the Bahamas has not discontinued or banned these environmentally harmful products.

A non-biocide foul release coating is recommended for trailered or rack stored boats and high performance speedboats that do not permanently stay in the water as it creates a hard and super smooth surface and does not affect the speed of the vessel.

Notably, hard bottom paint should never be applied over ablative paint, as it will not adhere. Metal surfaces are treated the same as fiberglass, using a copper-free paint that will adhere to the metal surfaces.

Bottom Job Prep : Chemical Strippers vs. Sand Blasting

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Chemical strippers and sand blasting achieve the same goal of removing years of paint build up. Both procedures will take the paint down to the gelcoat to achieve a new bottom paint job. Chemical strippers are less common on boats, but work just as effectively as sand blasting.

Even the presence of slime provides a comfortable attraction to weed and shell fouling organisms, so in addition to bottom paint, maintaining scheduled bottom cleaning is imperative to protect the beauty and integrity of the vessel’s underlying gelcoat.

A Commitment to Worry-Free Boating
Yacht Management South Florida values its clients in and out of the yard. Since most of our clients hire us to maintain their vessels after work is finished at the yard, our commitment is to providing a worry-free boating experience, and our priority is to obtaining peak performance. The Yacht Management Service Center, located on Fort Lauderdale’s New River, has an 80-Ton Travelift® to haul out boats up to around 100 ft., and we use top quality products. Our divers, mechanics, painters and electricians are all certified, and we are licensed and insured for your protection.

Call 954-941-6447 today. We’ll make sure your boat will never get fouled up.

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