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Choosing the Best Boat Bottom Paint

May 01, 2024

Image 0889: For new boat and yacht owners, choosing the right bottom paint for your vessel is more than just a preference - it’s an essential decision that could greatly impact your boat’s performance. Whether you’re a seasoned captain or new to the world of boating, bottom paint for boats requires careful consideration. From docking/storage conditions to environmental factors, choosing the best bottom paint for your vessel is crucial. Here at Yacht Management, our experts can guide you toward the best boat bottom paint for you. 

How Do I Choose Bottom Paint?
Selecting the ideal boat bottom paint involves a variety of factors that should be considered. First, you should assess the type of water your boat is primarily in. If your vessel is in a saltwater environment the majority of the time, you should opt for antifouling bottom paint, which helps protect your hull from marine growth. On the other hand, if your boat is in freshwater, an epoxy bottom paint will be the best option. Boats that are in freshwater lakes or other freshwater bodies of water don’t need the same level of antifouling protection that vessels in saltwater do. 

You should also consider your vessel’s material and storage conditions. This can aid in determining the type of bottom paint that suits your vessel’s needs. Different hull materials require a specific bottom paint to ensure that your hull is protected. For example, an aluminum hull will require a specific boat bottom paint since this material will be more susceptible to corrosion. Therefore, you will have to select the correct aluminum boat paint to preserve your hull. There are special bottom paints specifically formulated to adhere to aluminum surfaces better than others. These will also protect your vessel against corrosion. 

Similarly, boat owners must identify the storage conditions that their vessel undergoes in order to decide on the best type of bottom paint. Boats that spend most of their time on a boat lift instead of docking in the water may benefit more from an ablative bottom paint. These paints are made to gradually wear away over time, exposing fresh biocide and ultimately preventing marine growth. This process creates a polished look for your hull. 

On the other hand, if your vessel is continuously moored or docked in the water you may need a stronger antifouling protection from marine growth such as algae or barnacles. Antifouling bottom paints that contain biocides will be essential for preventing any fouling also leading to enhanced vessel performance and significant hull protection. 

Bottom Job Prep: Chemical Strippers vs. Sandblasting
Chemical strippers and sandblasting 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 an application of a chemical solution that breaks down the bond between the paint and substrate, allowing it to be scraped away easily. This method is excellent for removing multiple layers of paint. Chemical strippers are less abrasive than sandblasting, which makes them best for delicate surfaces. 
Sandblasting uses high-pressure air or water to remove paint and coatings from the hull effectively. Sandblasting is a rapid and effective solution for heavily corroded surfaces. It achieves a more uniform finish compared to chemical stripping.

Hard vs. Ablative Antifouling Paint
Antifouling 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 antifouling 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, exposing fresh biocides to the surface over time, 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. Using the same brand and type of bottom paint that was previously used is preferred for greater compatibility. As for environmental concerns from leaching and biocides, most of the bottom paint that is harmful to the environment have 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 speed boats that do not permanently stay in the water as it creates a complex and super smooth surface and does not affect the vessel's speed. 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.

Boat Bottom Painting Near Me in South Florida
Whether you’re in need of yacht hull painting, yacht bottom painting, or boat hull painting in Fort Lauderdale, Yacht Management South Florida is committed to providing a stress-free boating experience. With our state-of-the-art boatyard and equipment, we ensure that your vessel will always receive the highest level of care. Contact our dedicated team today to receive top-notch boat service, maintenance and management.

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