Buying Guide

Boat and Marine Paint

Above vs. Below Waterline Marine Paint

Above and below waterline boat paints are specifically designed to withstand different elements over time.

Above the Waterline Marine Paint

Topside paint features an oil-based formula that can be applied above the waterline on metal and wood surfaces. It also works well as fiberglass boat paint. These paints are great for touching up scratches or minor dents to improve the appearance of your watercraft.

Typically, topside marine paint has a high-performance coating for UV resistance, color retention, flexibility and durability. They are also more resistant to cracking, chipping and peeling.

Below the Waterline Marine Paint

The bottoms of boats are constantly exposed to barnacles, algae, dirt and micro-organisms. When making repairs of dents and dings below the waterline on your boat, it is best to choose a flat marine paint that includes a hard, anti-fouling coat. These coats slowly release copper, which helps prevent the build-up of micro-organisms.

Barnacles and other micro-organisms create hull drag, which increases the amount of fuel needed to power the boat through the water. Left unattended, these species can destroy the fabric of the boat to the degree that water enters and the boat eventually sinks.

Anti-fouling paint contains a modified epoxy resin that adds needed durability to boats that are regularly hauled or remain in the water for long periods of time.

Because the durability of anti-fouling paint is stout, these paints are ideal for speedboats, powerboats and racing boats, as well as your everyday cruisers or houseboats.

Boat Paint Application Tips & Care

Both topside and bottom boat paint can be applied to fiberglass, metal and wood. 

First, clean the area where you’ll be painting using a soft cloth and mineral spirits as needed, then let dry.

Use a brush or sponge to apply the paint. Topside paints dry in as little as two hours, so you won’t have to wait all day to get your speedboat, sailboat or fishing boat back in the water. If you are painting the bottom of your watercraft, wait four hours before exposing the paint to the water to ensure it is completely dry.

One quart will cover approximately 100 square feet. Follow manufacturer directions at all times.

For details on different kinds of deck paint, read our comprehensive buying guide.