Confession time: when I was a teen, the boat maintenance job I hated most of all was doing the boat bottom paint. It was a nasty job, and it always seemed I got more of the goo-y, sticky paint on myself than I got on the boat. My father would explain that it’s very important to use good bottom paint to protect the hull from barnacles and sea life, but that stuff didn’t matter to me at the time. I just didn’t want to do the painting.
As I grew up, I saw the importance of good antifouling paint, and no longer think that it’s such a bad process.
In this article, I’ll review several of the best antifouling paints available. We’ve also got a buyer’s guide that goes through the details to inform your decision. We’ll start with a comparison table to get oriented, and then look at the Best Boat Bottom Paint, the Trilux 33 Antifouling Paint by Interlux.
Best Boat Bottom Paint
Our Top Choice: Interlux YBA068/1 Trilux 33 Antifouling Paint
Key Points at a Glance
- Can cover between 266 and 400 square feet per gallon
- Biolux tech prevents slime growth
- Comes in black, white, and blue
- For fiberglass, wood, steel, and primed aluminum
Our top choice of antifouling paint is the Trilux 33 from Interlux. Interlux has been making this type of paint for ages, and the Trilux 33 works great. This paint is reasonably priced, works well on a vareity of surfaces, and coats pretty consistently. The Trilux 33 uses an advanced formula, which is more effective at blocking fouling in areas where organisms are more heavily concentrated.
The Biolux technology used in its formulation has specifically been created to prevent the adhesion of slime and other soft kinds of fouling to the exterior of your hull.
This paint comes in black, blue, and white, so if you’re going for a cleaner, bright look for your vessel’s waterline, then this is a great option. The ablative nature of this paint also means that it’s easier to reapply once it has worn off.
This paint is designed to be used in saltwater, freshwater, and brackish water. But if you’re going to be boating in sensitive waters, it’s always wise to confirm that this stuff is ok for your environment.
It’s recommended that you apply two coats of this paint, and it can be painted on with a spray nozzle, a brush, or a roller, depending on what you have available. Effective coverage per gallon ranges between 266 and 400 square feet per gallon, depending on the application method.
The Trilux 33 is an excellent balance between price and quality, and is the Best Boat Bottom Paint. Note that it’s also compatible with aluminum pontoons.
- Powerful antifouling paint
- Uses the latest Biolux technology to block slime
- Suitable for fiberglass, wood, steel and primed...
- Size: 1 Gallon
- Color: White
Our Runner-Up: TotalBoat Underdog Boat Bottom Paint
Key Points at a Glance
- Comes in black or red
- Dries in one to four hours
- Includes a roller, paint tray, and cover
- 1 Gallon covers up to 400 sf
TotalBoat is a relative upstart brand compared to the established brands like Interlux and Pettit. That said, this stuff is good, and reasonably priced! However, despite this product’s relatively low price point, it is quite effective at preventing fouling, making it excellent value for money.
The Underdog paint comes available in either black or red, depending on whether you want it to look low-profile or if you want to opt for a classic red bottom hull. Keep in mind that this is ablative bottom paint, which is better used on boats which are frequently taken out into the water.
As time goes by, new layers of biocide are exposed due to the paint sloughing off of the hull. This also ensures that you can repaint the bottom of your boat without having to chip away too much left-over bottom paint.
Underdog is also meant to be one of the most durable ablative paints, and it can withstand being trailered without scratching off.
This paint comes in gallon buckets, and each gallon of it is sufficient to cover 400 square feet of hull. Underdog is designed to protect your boat for a single season, and it’s recommended that you use it in low-fouling areas to prevent it from being overwhelmed. Regardless, most users find it sufficiently effective at keeping the hull clean.
The paint takes between one and four hours to dry, depending on how much of it has been applied and the environmental conditions. If you’re looking for ablative anti-fouling paint at a reasonable price point, this product from TotalBoat is an excellent choice and is our runner-up among the Best Boat Bottom Paint.
- ECONOMICAL ANTIFOULING BOTTOM PAINT PROVIDES VERY...
- ABLATIVE TECHNOLOGY CONTINUOUSLY RELEASES FRESH...
- USE ON PROPERLY PREPARED FIBERGLASS, WOOD, STEEL,...
- UNDERDOG IS EASY TO APPLY BY BRUSH, ROLLER, OR...
- AVAILABLE IN GALLONS, IN BLACK, BLUE, AND RED....
Key Points at a Glance
- Can be applied over previous coatings
- Usable on wood, steel, and fiberglass
- Freshwater and saltwater-capable
- Covers 110sf per quart
This next product from Rust-Oleum is one of the most affordable options on this list, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to save. Though users should note that it comes in 1 Quart containers, which makes it ideal for small applications.
The Rust-Ooleum Bottom Paint features an ablative formula that will slowly release new biocides over time. It can dry within four hours of application, and ready to use within 16 hours (weather dependent).
Each can of this bottom paint contains a quart, which is enough to cover 110 square feet of hull. Since there is less paint when compared to some other brands, the Rust-Oleum antifouling paint is recommended for the owners of smaller vessels who don’t have much painting to do.
This paint can also be applied directly over old coats of fouling paint, provided they are still in reasonably good shape. This paint can be used in up to medium fouling conditions without too much trouble, and it is designed for both saltwater and freshwater.
You can find this paint in both blue and black colors, and it can be applied to a wide range of different materials, making it versatile. It is ideal for boats that are made out of fiberglass, steel, or wood.
If you only need a small can, this is the best antifouling paint for those on a budget.
- Ideal for use on fiberglass, wood or steel...
- Formulated to slowly release copper in order to...
- Able to recoat in 4 hours, to launch in 16 hours...
- Protective coating resists buildup of barnacles,...
- Hard, smooth finish provides a flat sheen over...
Best for Racing: Pettit Paint Black Widow Bottom Paint
Key Points at a Glance
- Features four slickening ingredients
- Dual biocides protect in all seasons
- Can be burnished
- Covers 440sf/gallon
For those who like to get their boat up to speed, the Black Widow Antifouling paint from Pettit is for you. It’s designed to keep you going fast while preventing the accumulation of organisms. As you would expect from the name, this paint is a glossy black, so it will look good on most boats, no matter their color.
If you don’t like the black color, the paint can even be burnished until it has a metallic sheen (this won’t affect the antifouling qualities of the paint).
This paint uses two different biocides to provide coverage in all sorts of waters. The paint can be applied with the use of a roller, a spray gun, or a brush.
This paint is suitable for both sailboats and powerboats, and it features an ultra-slick sheen that will help get you that little bit of extra speed. Thanks to its potent formula, it will also prevent the growth of organisms for a longer time than some of the more affordable paints it’s up against.
The slickening ingredients in this paint include silicon, graphite, molybdenum disulfide, and PTFE. If you’re trying to get every bit of performance out of your boat, then you mustn’t overlook even the smallest detail, so this is our main recommended antifouling paint for performance boaters.
But the price stings like a Black Widow!
Best for Efficiency: Interlux Micron CSC Antifouling Paint
Key Points at a Glance
- Low-Copper Micron technology uses copper efficiently
- Designed for multi-season use
- Comes in six colors
- Coverage: 440sf/gallon
There is still plenty of debate as to whether the copper oxides used in antifouling paint can cause damage to the ecosystem, but if you’re trying to minimize the amount of copper in your paint, Micron CSC is the right choice. The micron technology in this paint makes the production process more efficient, allowing less copper to do the same job as more used to.
This antifouling paint is also designed to be used in most seasons, as it features several different biocides which are specialized against different seasonal organisms. This type of paint can also be polished to the point that it’s almost reflective, ensuring that your boat gleams while it’s out of the water.
Since this paint wears off more uniformly than other kinds of ablative antifouling paints, it will be easier to reapply it evenly when the season has ended. This paint is also durable enough for the boat to be trailered after application without having to be reapplied.
This paint is reasonably priced, and its quality is certainly on the money! You can find Interlux’s Micron CSC paint available in many different colors, including blue, white, red, black, and more, so you have a degree of leeway when it comes to your boat’s look.
- Controlled polishing
- Multi-seasonal performance
- Proven performance for 20 years
- Uses less copper more efficiently
- Paint Color: Black
Best Boat Bottom Paint Buyer’s Guide
When traveling through the water in a boat or a ship, it’s often easy to forget that you share the vast blue expanse with many other organisms, some of which are small, and some of which are large. The smallest of these organisms can be microscopic, and they often cause the most trouble for marine vessels.
Organisms such as barnacles and weeds aren’t exactly picky when it comes to where they make their home, and they can often root themselves into the outer hull of a boat. This is known as fouling, and it can adversely affect the performance of a vessel by increasing its degree of hydrodynamic drag, slowing the sailing speed.
A smoother boat will go faster through the water, and the irregular shape of biofouling can severely disrupt that smooth shape. Throughout history, humankind has adopted a few different methods to prevent ships from fouling. The earliest examples include ancient greeks using pitch and horsehair to prevent the growth of organisms on their trireme warships.
During the age of sail, massive wooden vessels were “coppered.” That is to say that they had the bottom surface of their hulls coated with a sheet of copper, which prevented organisms from attaching to the vessel. As time went on, ships stopped being made of wood, but coppering continued in another form: antifouling paint.
Antifouling paint was (and still is) made with copper oxides. While the earliest forms of antifouling paint were red due to the presence of copper, modern formulae can be made in various colors, though red is still used on many vessels, though mainly as a matter of tradition.
Who Should Buy Boat Antifouling Paint?
Most boaters, especially those who travel in salt water, must use antifouling paint on their vessels to prevent the buildup of microorganisms that can negatively affect their boat’s performance.
Some freshwater areas require certain types of antifouling paints (eco-friendly), and some paints are for certain types of craft and certain environments.
Important Features to Consider
Type of Paint
There are two kinds of bottom paint, ablative and hard paints. Let’s look at both here.
For most civilian uses, ablative paints are used. They are easier to apply, more affordable, and effective enough for relatively infrequent use. Since ablative paint sloughs off as a ship moves through the water, more use will wear it away faster.
Hard paints can often be reapplied much less frequently, but many of them require heavy-duty tools or a high degree of training to be correctly applied. Some civilian bottom paints are in the middle-ground, featuring aspects of ablative paints and hard paints.
The biocides used in the paint can affect the environmental safety of your boat, and high copper-content paints are more harmful to wildlife in the water. Some materials, like zinc, can be used instead of copper and pose less of a threat to fish and marine plant life.
We should also mention that there are antifouling paint alternatives out there that help protect your hull without harming the environment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How should I apply my bottom paint?
You can either apply bottom paint using a brush, a roller, or a spray gun. Whether you use a gun or a brush, be sure to don a respirator due to the fumes. You should also wear a painting suit, gloves, and boots while you’re applying the paint, as you’re bound to get some on your clothes.
Do I need special paint for an aluminum hull?
Aluminum has a chance of interacting strangely with specific formulations of bottom paint, so you’ll want to look for a brand that can be applied to aluminum without any trouble. Most of the time, bottom paint will tell you the kinds of materials that it can be applied to in the product description or on the packaging.
For example, here is an Aluminum Hull Bottom Paint from TotalBoat.
How long do I need to wait before launching my boat?
The time to launch varies from paint to paint, so you should take a look at the instructions on your paint can so that you know how long it takes to dry and when your boat will be ready for launching.
How Many Coats of Bottom Paint Do I Need?
Typically you’re going to be doing at least two coats of bottom paint. If your existing paint is in good shape, and isn’t peeling, you may be able to get away with one additional coat. But if it’s peeling, you’ll need to scrape, sand, and do two new coats. And if you’ve got a fresh, unpainted hull, aim for at least 3 coats.
Other Products We Looked At:
Hydrocoat from Pettit is another type of ablative antifouling paint, and it features a moderate to high price point and a few notable features. This self-polishing paint ensures that you won’t have to sand your boat’s hull down after the season has ended so you can reapply the next coat.
This paint can also be cleaned off with soap and water, making it a lot easier to remove than other varieties. Thanks to the paint formula, there is no specific dry time to launch, so you can paint the hull when you want to, and it will be ready for use whenever you bring your boat out to the water.
Petti’s Hydrocoat paint is available in green, blue, red, and black, and it is one of the most environmentally-friendly options on the market thanks to its water-based formula. Unfortunately, it’s pretty pricey, and we already have a relatively eco-friendly option in our top five selections.
Key Points at a Glance
- Water-based ablative paint
- Self-polishing design makes it easy to reapply
- Limitless dry time to launch
The Krypton paint from TotalBoat is another excellent option for buyers that want something environmentally-friendly. The formula for this bottom paint features Econea and zinc instead of copper, ensuring that it is less damaging to marine life and that it can be used with aluminum boats.
This ablative paint can cover between 350 and 400 square feet per gallon, and it comes included with a roller, a metal tray, an abrasive pad, a paint suit, gloves, and more. All of the included bonuses are extremely helpful if you’re a new boat owner, and you don’t have any of those tools on hand.
Krypton can be used in saltwater, freshwater, and brackish water without any trouble. Unfortunately, like other eco-friendly paints, Krypton is a lot more expensive than other types with similar performance, so it couldn’t get a spot in our top five.
Key Points at a Glance
- Available in six colors
- Comes with a wide variety of accessories
- Eco-friendly formulation
Yet another option from TotalBoat, this antifouling paint is the opposite of the previous product. While the Krypton paint featured no copper, the Spartan paint features additional copper in its formulation so that it can be more resilient than your typical antifouling paint.
If you often boat through waters with a huge number of microorganisms in them, then you’ll need some strong paint like TotalBoat’s Spartan. This paint can protect your boat all year, and you can cover 400 square feet of hull space per gallon of it.
This paint is available in blue, black, red, or green, which tend to be the standard colors for bottom paint. The Spartan didn’t make it to our top five as it’s rather expensive, and it’s a more specialized variety of paint that will only be used by a few select buyers.
Key Points at a Glance
- High copper content for increased performance
- Smooth finish for better performance
- Available in four colors
This paint from Interlux is another great choice for boaters who want to go a little faster than the competition. This paint is like a hybrid between hard and ablative paints, as it wears off much more slowly, and it only wears away so that it can polish itself in the water.
As each layer of this paint strips away, it reveals another smooth layer that will keep your boat handling, accelerating, and speeding properly. This is also one of the more affordable paints offered by Interlux, improving its value for money dramatically.
This paint is available in four different colors, including black, blue, green, and red. While this paint may be affordable, we already selected a budget option for our top five, so this type didn’t quite make the cut.
Key Points at a Glance
- Dual-resin formula
- Smooths over time
- Lasts longer than other paints
Bottom paint is essential if you’re going to keep a boat performing at its peak abilities. While many kinds of antifouling paint are similar, there are a few key differences between them, and we hope that we’ve been able to clearly outline them for you in our review guide.