Standard antifouling paints don’t adhere properly to aluminum. If you try to use the wrong bottom paint on your aluminum pontoon boat, you’ll have a problem!
Green and black slime, barnacles, snails, and even small kelp plants can make their home on the bottom of the hull. This is especially true for boats that spend a lot of time in the water and never get a chance to get out and get clean.
In today’s article, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look at antifouling paint for aluminum pontoons. We’ll look at four of the best options on the market, and go over everything you need to know to keep your ‘toon boat looking perfect!
Best Antifouling Paint for Aluminum Pontoons
Key Points at a Glance
- Certified by the Lloyds Register.
- 6 vibrant (or Vivid) color choices- Blue, Black, Red, White, Yellow, Green.
- Colors can be mixed!
- Multi-season anti-fouling paint for long-lasting service.
- Combines ablative technology with the color of a typical hard paint.
If you’re looking for the ultimate anti-fouling paint for your aluminum boat, then you can’t go wrong with ViViD by Pettit Paint. This is hands-down one of the best products in the industry, so don’t let the rather basic packaging deter you. Sometimes the best products are the ones without the gaudy advertising.
Vivid uses state-of-the-art hybrid paint technology that combines the benefits of both ablative paint and high-quality hard metal paint. Ablative paints are designed to peel back layer-by-layer over time, constantly exposing a fresh layer of anti-fouling agents to prevent build-up. Hard aluminum paints, on the other hand, are typically known for their vibrant coloring.
While the majority of anti-fouling paints are ablative, they often lack the true vibrance of color. Your options are usually a dull white, blue, or black color.
Pettit Paint wanted to create a truly high-end bottom paint that wouldn’t sacrifice the artistic design taste of the boat owner. They packed their ViViD anti-fouling paint full of the latest chemical technology to create a product that not only lasts for multiple seasons (up to a full year in some cases) but also comes in a variety of colors.
While they typically offer 4 RGBY as well as black and white shades, they can do custom blends of paint to make color variations like turquoise, orange, pink, plum, and various shades of blue and green. Pretty great, right?
Our Runner Up: Interlux Paint Trilux 33 Gallon
Key Points at a Glance
- Available in 3 colors- blue, black, and white.
- Can be used on all boat types.
- Can be used on the hull, propeller, and outdrive.
- Made with Interlux’s patented Biolux Slime-Blocking Tech.
If you’re more into freshwater boating and you don’t have to worry about giant barnacles and sea debris, then this is the perfect product for you. While it doesn’t contain a lot of the more potent biocides for use at sea, it’s made with Trilux’s patented Biolux technology that’s designed to prevent algae and other slime-causing organisms from attaching themselves to the hull of your boat.
It features the same ablative properties found in other similar anti-fouling paints. The manufacturer refers to this as “slow-polishing” but it’s really the same principle. One of the things that we really like about this particular paint is that it can be used on multiple surfaces.
Say you finish applying it to your aluminum hull and still have half of a can left. You could then apply it to the underside of your fiberglass boat or your old wooden sailboat that you’ve been waiting to take out!
While Trilux 33 only comes in 3 colors, it’s still a great quality paint for a decent value. Since it comes from a well-known manufacturer you’ll also be able to find plenty of customer support if you run into any issues or have any questions.
Key Points at a Glance
- 2 colors- blue and black.
- High-coverage paint.
- The copper-free formula prevents “green ring.”
- Ablative paint for constant exposure.
- Can be used in low concentrations.
- Single-season paint.
If you’re just looking for a single-season paint and you want to save some money, then TotalBoat’s AlumiPaint Bottom Paint is a perfect option for the average saltwater boater. This paint is designed to last all season, and a quick look at the numerous reviews will show tons of satisfied customers.
While it doesn’t feature the wide color selection that the Pettit ViViD line up does, TotalBoat comes in a standard navy-blue and black colors. Unlike many of the other more popular anti-fouling paints on the market, this particular brand doesn’t use any copper, meaning that it’s less toxic and won’t leave that weird ring of green water around your boat’s hull.
Their claim to fame is their unique, patented organic biocide that’s designed to leave a minimal impact on the environment and surrounding sealife. While no anti-fouling paint can be fully non-toxic, TotalBoat has done its best to create an environmentally-responsible product.
Another thing that we really like about the AlumiPaint is that you get a really good value for your money. Just a single quart can cover 125-square-feet and a full gallon can cover up to 500-square-feet meaning that you usually won’t have to purchase more than a gallon unless you have a large toon boat.
- COPPER-FREE ANTIFOULING PAINT for superior...
- ABLATIVE PAINT wears away to continuously expose...
- SPECIFICALLY FORMULATED FOR PONTOON & ALUMINUM...
- EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE ON OUTDRIVES & RUNNING GEAR....
- AVAILABLE IN QUARTS & GALLONS, IN YOUR CHOICE OF...
Environmentally-Friendly: TotalBoat Krypton Copper-Free Anti-fouling Paint
Key Points at a Glance
- Highly-concentrated organic biocide blend.
- Full-season coverage.
- Can be used on all boat materials.
- Fast-drying formula.
- Available by the quart or by the gallon.
The Krypton anti-fouling paint by TotalBoat is a more powerful version of the TotalBoat AlumiPaint that we just reviewed above. It features a higher concentration of the same organic biocide and also does not use any copper, meaning that it leaves a lower impact on the environment and won’t give you the infamous “green ring.”
The other main difference between the Krypton paint and the AlumiPaint is the materials and surfaces that it can be used on. While AlumiPaint can only be used on aluminum surfaces, Krypton can be used on wood, iron, fiberglass, steel, and even iron boats!
One of the other top reasons that we like TotalBoat products is that they give you the option to purchase their paints in both quarts and gallons. Unless you have a big boat, you usually won’t need a full gallon, and having the option to purchase a more affordable option is great for a lot of boaters who own smaller boats and don’t want to spend hundreds buying a whole gallon.
- HIGH-PERFORMANCE MARINE ANTIFOULING BOAT BOTTOM...
- COPPER FREE FORMULA won't cause galvanic corrosion...
- FOR USE ON FIBERGLASS, WOOD, STEEL, IRON &...
- EASY TO APPLY: For brushing, use a high-quality,...
- AVAILABLE IN FIVE BRIGHT, VIBRANT COLORS: Blue...
Antifouling Paint for Aluminum Pontoons Buyer’s Guide
Thanks to today’s high-quality towing systems, most average boat owners can simply tow their boat out of the water in a trailer, and store it when they’re not using it. However, not everybody has a great towing setup. And some people just flat-out prefer that their boat stays in the water for convenience’s sake or because they don’t want to have to pay expensive mooring fees at the marina.
If you own a boat that spends a significant part of the day tied up in the water or resting at the dock, then anti-fouling paint is one of the simplest and most affordable solutions to keeping algae, barnacles, and other marine organisms off of your hull.
This goes far more than just cosmetics too! It’s actually a real safety concern and not one of those “safety concerns” to be shrugged aside. If you do a quick internet search, you’ll find that every year there are a number of boating accidents that were caused by barnacles and hull damage.
Once they penetrate the hull, the micro-organisms can make their way into your piping systems and end up completely killing your engine, pontoon lighting, and other valuable components, in some cases causing the ship to sink!
By taking the proper precautions and putting a trusty coat of aluminum anti-fouling paint on the bottom of your boat you’ll not only make your boat faster, but you’ll also ensure that the build-up doesn’t go on to cause thousands of dollars worth of damage.
This brings us to our next point- efficiency and speed.
Apart from damaging your boat’s hull and interior pipes, marine fouling can severely affect both your speed and efficiency. For one, it creates a lot of extra drag that holds the boat back, preventing it from cruising at maximum speed. For two, the boat’s engine has to work harder to go the same distance or speed, using a lot more fuel than it should. In some cases, severe hull fouling can cause a 15 to 20% reduction in fuel efficiency.
With marine fuel being as expensive as it is, the couple hundred bucks you’ll spend on some anti-fouling paint will easily pay for itself by how much wasted gas money that you would otherwise be spending at your local gas station.
Important Features to Consider
Now that you’ve seen your options and know a little bit more about anti-fouling paint, it’s time to take a look at the most important features that you’ll need to keep in consideration when deciding which type of marine aluminum anti-fouling paint to purchase for your particular situation and boat.
Although each different type of anti-fouling paint has its own “special” technology that makes it better than the next one, one of the top factors is customers’ decisions is the colors that are offered by that particular manufacturer. After all, nobody wants a miscolored boat!
That being said, anti-fouling paint doesn’t have to coat your entire boat, just the part of the hull that stays underwater. While algae can still grow on the sides of your boat it’s a lot less common due to the fact that it often gets hot and isn’t in contact with water very often.
If you can’t find an anti-fouling paint that matches with the rest of your hull’s paint job, then you’ll just have to be satisfied with a dual-tone appearance. In fact, this is why most large shipping tankers have a bright red or blue color towards the bottom half.
Single-Season Vs. Multi-Season Paint
If you were paying attention to the products we listed above, then you probably realized that 2 of the options were single-season paints and the others were multi-season paints.
Generally speaking, the single-season paints are far cheaper than the multi-season paints. This is because they’re not as thick and don’t have quite as high of a concentration of anti-fouling agents. That being said, they are significantly less toxic, easier to apply, and cost less upfront.
If you want something that’s going to last for the year, though, then we would suggest spending the extra money and getting the multi-season anti-fouling paint. Not only do you get more bang for your buck, but you also won’t have to worry about taking your boat out of the water and performing a full hull clean and re-paint after just one short season.
Anti-fouling paint is definitely expensive. It’s usually 3 to 4 times more expensive than regular marine paint! When people are paying this much for a gallon of paint, it can be very tempting to just go with an off-brand option or a cheap knock-off. While these knock-offs can be found, we wouldn’t recommend using them. They typically are far more toxic than brand-name paints and oftentimes don’t perform half as well, so you’ll often waste your money and time painting.
If you’re in a sinch for money, then we would suggest going with a seasonal anti-fouling paint instead of a more expensive, longer-lasting multi-season paint.
Sure, you’ll have to reapply it next season, but hopefully, by then you’ll be able to afford the more expensive multi-season option.
Thicker paint is almost always higher-quality paint. It’s more concentrated which means that you’ll usually use a lot less if you know what you’re doing. That being said, thicker paint may need to be thinned with a manufacturer’s paint thinner. It’s vital that you follow the manufacturer’s recommended instructions for mixing paint, otherwise, you may render the anti-fouling coat useless.
If you purchase an anti-fouling paint and it’s already thinner and smooth, then you probably shouldn’t dilute it anymore.
This is one of the key differences between more expensive multi-season coats and thinner single-season coats. The thicker the anti-fouling paint, the longer it will last (usually).
If you’re purchasing your anti-fouling paint online, then try to look at the ratings to make sure that other customers who have the same type of boat as you were able to use the product with their particular boat. This can save you a lot of headaches and help answer some questions that you may have about the brand without you having to go out of your way to research them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we finish up, let’s take a few minutes to review some of the most commonly asked questions by first-time anti-fouling paint users.
Is Anti-Fouling Paint Easy To Apply?
Anti-fouling paint is incredibly easy to apply. Once the hull us prepped, all you need to do is spray or roll it on. If you don’t have access to a high-quality sprayer, then it can be easily rolled on with a 3/16” foam roller.
Do I Need To Clean My Hull Before Applying Anti-Fouling Paint?
Yes! If you want your anti-fouling paint to apply correctly and do its job, then you need to fully clean and de-scale the bottom of your hull to remove slime, algae, plants, and barnacles from the surface.
Does My Hull Need Priming and Preparation?
Yes! Almost all anti-fouling paint manufacturers recommend sanding down your hull and then spraying a layer of primer (manufacturer-approved) to the hull so that the paint can have a good surface to adhere to.
How Much Anti-Fouling Paint Do I Need?
A high-quality paint like the ones referenced above typically provides 500-square-feet of coverage per gallon.
Do I Need Any PPE While Applying Paint?
Paint fumes are dangerous to inhale, so you should always wear a respirator mask while applying paint. This is especially true with anti-fouling paint which has extra chemicals in it. You probably want to wear a full paint suit, gloves, glasses, and a larger mask.
Can I Use Anti-Fouling Paint In A Paint Sprayer?
Yes! Just make sure that you properly clean the sprayer out before and after application to prevent different paint types from mixing in the pump system.
Is Anti-Fouling Paint Toxic?
Many antifouling paints are copper-based and are not good for the environment. Some newer paints use organic biocides that are less harmful. There are also some new antifouling paint alternatives that are certainly worth exploring.
There you have it! Coating your boat with an anti-fouling coat is definitely a lengthy process the first time you do it since you’ll probably have to clean off a thick layer of barnacles and slime.
However, as long as you remain consistent with your application of the product, then you should have minimal preparation and cleaning to do each season why you do your re-coat.