How Often Should I Bottom Paint My Boat?

So you have found yourself in the world of boating and are browsing through the various tasks you will need to perform in order to maintain your boat.

While there are many debates on what all of the necessary tasks are, bottom painting your boat can be a very important factor in keeping your boat in top shape. You are probably thinking of many questions.

Table of Contents

How Often Should I Bottom Paint My Boat?

How often should I bottom paint my boat? This varies depending on the frequency of boat use and boat storage choice. With regular boat use and storage in the water, you can expect to bottom paint once per season. If you boat less frequently and store your boat on dry land/storage you may be able to skip a season. Check your boat’s bottom paint at least once per year to be sure.

You do not want to build too many layers of bottom paint on your boat’s surface, so it is important to scrape off old hull paint and repaint to have a fresh and even surface.

This will reduce friction caused by chipped or rough bottom paint and thus prevent your boat from experiencing drag. Additionally, the antifouling properties will help to keep growth away in order for your boat to be long-lasting and up to speed.

How Often Should I Bottom Paint My Boat?

Why Do I Need to Bottom Paint My Boat?

Antifouling bottom paint is designed to keep away potential fouling such as barnacles, fungi, weeds, and more. These are the types of growth that your boat can experience on its bottom surface.

These growths can corrupt the surface of your boat leading to long-term damage. Additionally, they can effectively slow your boat down as they create tension between the water and your boat’s surface.

Bottom painting your boat is important for boat maintenance in both saltwater and freshwater.

Considering there are different plants and fungi in both sources of water, it is important to protect your boat from this regardless of the area you plan to use your boat.

If you are planning on leaving your boat in the water for storage, it is all the more important to use antifouling bottom paint on your boat. When a boat is stored in a dry area, there is less possibility that something will attach itself to the boat’s surface and begin to fester.

Stored in the water, though, will lead a different story for your boat. Unprotected vessels will begin to see large infestations of unwelcome plants, slime, and fungi leaching to its sides. 

For boats that do not see the water as often and are stored in dry areas, you can choose to not bottom paint your boat. However, you will need to be sure that you wash and dry your boat off after each use if you choose not to bottom paint it.

Regularly maintaining your boat will help to ensure that it lasts a long time. If you have already invested your time and money into the initial purchase of your boat, it is wise to make the choice of updating your paint regularly it for additional protection.

Regardless of whether you use soft, ablative paint that is self-polishing or hard paint, you’ll still need to update your bottom paint regularly. Primer can help your hard bottom paint last longer, but sand, algae buildup, salt water, and scratching metal parts from your trailer can easily scratch and damage the paint job on your boat’s hull. Picture a bar of soap slowly being carved away.

How Much Does it Cost to Bottom Paint My Boat?

Using antifouling bottom paint on your boat is one of the more important maintenance steps in taking good care of your boat. There are plenty of costs that will add up if you choose not to bottom paint your regularly used boat, so you can approach bottom painting as an investment that is worthwhile. 

The cost of bottom painting your boat will depend on the type of paint you are using and who you choose to paint your boat. Most antifouling bottom paints run pretty similar in pricing, so you can choose the best option for you and your boat.

If you choose to paint your boat yourself, you will only pay for the cost of the paint. If you have your boat painted professionally, you can expect to pay $15-20 per foot unless using premiere antifouling bottom paint. A professional bottom paint job could go up to $100 because of the additional steps the painter would have to do to prep your boat.

Remembering that the money you spend on bottom painting your boat will prevent further maintenance steps needing to be taken later can be a motivation for choosing to do so. Additionally, with the overall cost of the boat, bottom painting is not really that large of a purchase. 

How Often Should I Bottom Paint My Boat?

How Long Can a Boat Stay in Water Without Bottom Paint?

The longer a boat stays on the water, the more imperative it is that the boat is bottom painted. A boat should not sit on the water for more than 3 days without being bottom painted unless the boat owner plans to scrape off and clean any fungi, bacteria, or plants that have grown on the boat after its stay in the water. 

The purpose of bottom painting a boat is to prevent this growth from attaching itself to the boat’s underbelly. Therefore, if a boat is sitting in the water and is not bottom painted, it is significantly more likely to attract unwelcome guests.

This can lead to the corruption of your boat and long-term costs and consequences associated with it.

If you plan to store your boat on the water, be sure to have your boat freshly bottom painted to ensure its proper care.

Remove any additional layers from past boating seasons so that your boat has a fresh, clean, and smooth surface for the paint. This will also ensure that your boat’s speed is kept up to par.

Do I Have to Bottom Paint My Boat?

While the rules of bottom painting are ultimately up to the boat owner, it is strongly recommended that you bottom paint your boat. In the instances that you are storing your boat in water, use it frequently, or do not plan to regularly clean the bottom of your boat, bottom painting is a must.

If these conditions do not sound like yours, you may have the option of not bottom painting your boat, but you will want to follow a few other precautions.
If you do not plan on bottom painting your boat, you will want to take other preventative and responsive actions to best maintain your water ride. One of the most important measures you can take to care for your boat if you do not plan on bottom painting is to store your boat in a dry area and on a dry surface. Use a trailer to take haul your boat out for long-term storage.

Storing your boat in the water will obviously permit continued growth. Using the dry air to your advantage, you can halt growth and prevent further water organisms from attaching themselves to your boat’s side.

Another measure you can take to care for your boat if you do not plan on bottom painting is to clean and dry off your boat after each use. If your boat is dry, it will have less likelihood of experiencing the problems that antifouling paint is aiming to prevent.

Therefore, a good wash and dry should help do the trick. You will want to make sure to scrape off anything that is growing on your boat while you are cleaning.

Finally, you may add a layer of wax to your boat if you would like to seal in the cleanliness. However, note that adding a layer of wax to the bottom portion of your boat can create tension with the water’s surface increasing the likelihood of your boat experiencing drag.

This will slow down your boat, so waxing the bottom portion is not the best idea if you are considering the speed of your boat as well.

How Often Should I Bottom Paint My Boat?

How Long Does Bottom Paint Last on a Boat?

Antifouling bottom paint is used for the release of biocides that helps rid your boat of unwanted fouling growth. Differing bottom paint consists of materials including copper, epoxy, and more.

Bottom paint on an unused boat can last up to 10 years on a dry surface. Regular use of a boat and storage in the water will activate the antifouling properties and thus will last between 1-2 years.

If you use your boat regularly (as in every boating season), you will want to inspect the bottom paint on your boat each year.

Check for cracks, rough surfaces, or uneven areas that can cause friction between your boat and the water- these will reduce the speed of your boat and overall effectiveness of the antifouling properties. You can have your boat professionally inspected and painted or you can choose to do so yourself.

Be sure to regularly maintain the bottom paint on your boat regardless of the frequency of use and area of storage. Even if you store your area in a dry area for many years, and you have not touched your boat in the meantime, it is still an important factor to check for prior to the beginning of the boating season.

If you are finding yourself already in the middle of the boating season, it is never too late- go ahead and check and make any needed adjustments or repairs to your boat’s bottom paint.