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Best Boat Bottom Paint – Top 6 Antifouling Paints for Boats

So clearly you have landed on this page because you are on the hunt to find out what is the best bottom paint for your boat. Well, then you are in good hands because we have taken the liberty to write this comprehensive review so that we could help people, just like yourself, narrow in on the best choice for their vessels.

If you plan to store your boat in the water for long periods of time, then it is very important that you take the steps to protect the underside of your hull from the vast amounts of marine growth that will build up in a very short amount of time.

Boat Bottom Paint Application (1)

​Allowing this type of growth to take place will drastically affect the speed and fuel efficiency of your vessel. If left unchecked, then you will be dealing with more problems than lack of speed and fuel efficiency.

There are MANY different types of bottom paints, also known as antifouling paint, on the market today, and it can become quite the task to choose the right one for your needs. For that reason, we have created this guide to help assist you in finding the right bottom paint for your hull.

Let’s go!!!

Table of Contents:

The Top 6 Antifouling Paints Reviewed for 2021

1. Interlux Bottomkote NT Review

2. Pettit Odyssey Triton Review

3. TotalBoat JD Select Review

4. TotalBoat Underdog Review

5. Rust-Oleum Bottom Paint Review

6. Sea Hawk Cukote Review

Bottom Paint Buyers Guide

What are the Different Types of Bottom Paint?

Copolymer Ablative

Modified Epoxy – Hard

Aluminum Safe

Thin Film

Water-Based

Soft Sloughing

Vinyl

How Much Bottom Paint Do I Need?

Should I Use Copper-Based or Copper-Free Bottom Paint?

Freshwater or Saltwater?

Compatibility to Material or Surface

Launching and Recoating

FAQ’s:

Who makes the best bottom paint?

What is the best bottom paint for fiberglass boats?

How long does bottom paint last on a boat?

How much does bottom paint slow down a boat?

Where to buy bottom paint?

Our Final Thoughts

The Top 6 Antifouling Bottom Paints Reviewed for 2021

View All Bottom Paints Available on Amazon Here

1. Interlux Bottomkote NT Review (Hard)

Interlux Bottomkote NT.jpg

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The Interlux Bottomkote NT (New Technology) is our top choice because of its dual-resin technology which gives it the benefits of both hard and ablative paints all in one can. You get the best of both worlds with this product.

In order to prevent any paint build-up, Fiberglass Bottomkote will slowly wash away over the course of a boating season providing a long-lasting coat similar to other hard paints. It is also one that works great with sailboats and power boats alike and it bonds well to fiberglass, wood, and prime metals.

It does not matter if your vessel will be spending most of its time in freshwater, saltwater, and even brackish water, because it holds up very well in all situations.

The finish on this Interlux bottom paint is very tough and with the slow self-polishing process it will hold up well to prevent marine growth and can produce season-long protection.

There are quite a few color options for you to choose from including black, red, dark blue, blue, brown, green, and shark white. These colors are chosen by Interlux because of how well they complement the overall look of most boats.

Color Options:

  • Black
  • Red
  • Dark Blue
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Green
  • Shark White

Don’t bypass the preparation instructions in order to achieve the best results, because this top pick allows you to apply the paint and launch your boat the same day due to the fast drying time.

You will have a well-protected boat bottom along with a great fuel-efficient finish with our top choice.

For the best results, you will want to apply about 2 to 3 coats of this paint with a roller, brush, or sprayer.

It is offered in either 1-gallon or 3-gallon sizes, so it is more suitable for larger vessels or multiple smaller boats that may need painted all at once.

 Pros:

Works well with both sailboats and power boats.

Stays strong in brackish water, saltwater, and freshwater.

Utilizes a slow self-polishing mechanism to prevent paint build-up.

Offers season-long protection from marine growth.

Suitable for fiberglass, wood, and prime metals.

The dual-resin technology gives the best of both worlds of ablative and hard paints.

 Cons:

Does not work for aluminum boats.

Does not apply as smoothly or evenly as other paints do.

2. Pettit Odyssey Triton Review (Ablative)

Pettit Odyssey Triton Bottom Paint_edite

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3. TotalBoat JD Select Review (Ablative)

Total Boat JD Select Bottom Paint.jpg

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Being one of the few bottom paints on the market that offer low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), TotalBoat JD Select is very cost-effective and one gallon of this stuff can go a long way. This water-based paint can cover about 400 square feet per gallon and is ideal for fiberglass, steel, and wood boats.

JD Select is very easy to apply and is an absolute breeze when it comes to cleaning up because it is a water-based paint and only requires some soap and water to do the trick. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that it is unable to do its job though. 

JD Select is a very effective anti-fouling paint that has a concentrated biocide in its formula and works well in fresh and saltwater.

Considered a single-season protector, it works well at combating barnacles, weeds, and slime from clinging to the bottom of your sailboat or powerboat.

To get the best results with this paint, you will want to apply 1 to 2 coats with a roller, a brush, or a sprayer. If it seems a bit thick, then you just need to thin it out a bit with a little water beforehand.

Color Options:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Green

Depending on what the temperature is outside, you can reapply additional layers after about an hour and a half wait between layers and then launch the boat in about 6 hours.

 Pros:

The water-based formula makes for easy clean-up

Low VOC and low odor

Easy to apply and dries very quickly

Great for speed and fuel efficiency

Can be applied over most anti-fouling paints

Forms a hybrid paint film that works in fresh and saltwater

 Cons:

Requires a good quality thinner to work well

Does not offer multi-season protection

4. TotalBoat Underdog Review (Ablative)

Total Boat Underdog Antifouling Bottom Paint.jpg

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This single-season ablative paint from TotalBoat is best used on fiberglass, wood, and steel boats to provide the best protection from marine organisms, trailering, and beaching. Once this stuff dries, it holds up very well to frequent use and is perfect for sailboats.

If you choose to go this route, you can rest assured that this paint will put up the ultimate fight against marine fouling by releasing fresh biocide, as your boat moves through the water, to repel those pesky barnacles that want to attempt to make a home on your vessel’s hull.

On top of it being able to combat fouling activities very well, it has great results at preventing paint build-up, which will make it easier to apply fresh coats each year, and who wouldn’t enjoy the fact that it is very economical in price considering the job that it does.

A gallon of this paint goes a long way with the 500 square feet that it can cover with each gallon and is easy to apply with either a roller, brush or spraying.

Color Options:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Red

Underdog by TotalBoat is best if you apply 2 coats and allow at least one and a half hours of drying time between each coat for temps at 90°F 3 hours for temps at around 70°F and 6 hours at 50°F. 

Relaunch of your boat will require a wait time between 6 and 16 hours depending on outside temperatures.

 Pros:

Perfect for boats that are used frequently

Fast drying times

Economical price point

Very durable against abrasions from trailering and air exposure

Does not require sanding between new applications

Works well on wood, fiberglass, and steel

 Cons:

Requires xylene to thin it out if you are going to use a spray application

Not able to be used in the state of Washington or San Diego due to the high copper biocide

5. Rust-Oleum Bottom Paint Review (Hard)

Rust-Oleum Bottom Paint.webp

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This is a hard antifouling paint that is ideal for a cost-effective option for avid boaters to protect their hull from unwanted growth that will be spending a lot of time on the water. It is suitable for fiberglass, wood, and primed metals. However, DO NOT use this option for aluminum boats.

Certainly one of the most well-known and respected brands in the painting industry, this option will allow you to rest assured that your vessel is well protected from any unwanted marine organisms attaching themselves to it.

This Rust-Oleum Marine Flat Bottom Paint is very thick, but yet it goes on very well as it is easy to spread and provides a nice smooth finish. This paint is even ideal for beginners who want to take on a DIY project because of how easy it is to apply.

It offers top-quality antifouling properties and will give you a nice flat finish to keep your boat’s hull protected, look amazing, and provide multi-season protection.

While this is not a commercial-grade product, it is perfect for those boating enthusiasts who keep their boats in the water for long periods of time and for those who are looking for a great deal on a high-quality product.

You will want to apply a minimum of 2 coats to the boat bottom for best results along with 4-hour drying times between each coat. It is also best to wait at least 16 hours before relaunching back into the water and should be done within 2 months of applying the paint.

This option is available in quart-sized cans and should be enough to coat about 110 square feet. You can apply this over the top of other antifouling bottom paints and will still get a nice protective seal over old layers.

Color Options:

  • Black
  • Blue

Note: Be sure to apply in a well-ventilated area, use a good quality respirator, and wear proper PPE when using this product because it produces VERY strong fumes and has a strong odor to it.

 Pros:

Provides excellent antifouling properties for fiberglass, wood, and steel.

Easy to apply and covers surfaces very well.

Provides multi-season protection.

Works well in both saltwater and freshwater environments.

Durable to abrasions from trailer mounting.

Dries fast

 Cons:

Has a very strong smell to it (be sure to use a respirator and proper PPE)

Only available in Black or Blue

6. Sea Hawk Cukote Review (Semi-Hard)

Sea Hawk Cukote Anti-Fouling Paint.jpg

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This semi-hard, self-polishing antifouling paint by Sea Hawk is one that is used by many boat owners and has withstood the test of time, and this is why it has made our list as one of the best bottom paints for your fiberglass, wooden or steel boat. This paint is NOT to be used on bare aluminum.

Considering the fact that it is used by some of the most well-known OEM’s like Wellcraft, Hatteras, and Egg Harbor, you can feel confident in this selection knowing that you will be backed by their one year manufacturers’ warranty against barnacle growth.

Using an advanced, copolymer, biocide release technology, Sea Hawk Cukote allows for your boat to be hauled out without the antifouling properties being adversely affected and prevents the buildup of coatings.

While this option does have a very high copper content of 47.5% Cuprous oxide, it will no doubt keep your boat bottom protected even in the most severe fouling areas. If you are looking for a bottom paint solely based on its effectiveness, then this is a perfect option to go with.

Some added bonuses for this paint are that it can be applied over the top of existing paints and has many color options for you to choose from like black, blue, dark blue, red, teal, green, and shark white.

Color Options:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Dark Blue
  • Red
  • Teal
  • Green
  • Shark White

It is recommended to apply 2 full coats to your boat’s hull to get the best results with Sea Hawk Cukote antifouling paint.

 Pros:

Highly effective at preventing hard barnacle growth

Open air exposure does not degrade the protective ablation

Offers a 1-year warranty against barnacle growth

Approved for California

 Cons:

High copper content can affect marine life

Very strong odor

View All Bottom Paints Available on Amazon Here

Bottom Paint Buyers Guide:

What are the Different Types of Bottom Paint?

Copolymer Ablative

Ablative or self-polishing antifouling paints are designed in such a way that as the boat moves through the water, it will slowly begin to wear away and expose a fresh biocide to keep your hull protected from marine growth.

One of the biggest advantages to this style is that as long as you are using your boat, then you will have very minimal paint build-ups and lessen the amount of sanding needed to be done after haulouts. An added bonus to copolymers is that they contain smaller amounts of the highly debated copper that is in modified epoxy counterparts.

Note: Ablative paints are not ideal for fast-moving boats because it will cause a much more rapid paint loss and therefore you will need to reapply a new layer much sooner to keep your hull protected.

Modified Epoxy – Hard

Hard bottom paints allow the water to penetrate much deeper into the paint and cause the copper Biocide to slowly release over time until all of the biocide has been depleted.

Some great benefits to this style is that the hard coating will last until the end of the season, it will stick to any material along with other kinds of paint, and it is highly resistant to abrasions. 

A couple of notable disadvantages is that, unlike ablative paints that strip the actual paint as you use your boat, hard antifouling paints will eventually need to be removed because the built-up layers will begin to crack and peel. This makes for a very messy and complicated process. Secondly, if you plan to store your boat in the water the entire season, you will want to go with a paint that has a higher copper content to it.

Aluminum Safe

A very important thing to remember when looking for bottom paints for aluminum boats is to NEVER apply a paint that has cuprous oxide because of the galvanic corrosion that will take place.

For aluminum boats, you need to find a paint that uses cuprous thiocyanate or a paint that is free from any copper and uses a biocide that is non-metallic ECONEA.

Thin Film

Thin film paints are ideal for freshwater environments where the biggest concern is algae growth. They have a very rapid drying time provide a smooth PTFE finish and include at least one form of a biocide to keep any growth from forming on the bottom of your boat.

Water-Based

A water-based paint is much more friendly to the environment and is less toxic to the person who is doing the application. A couple of added benefits to these are that it makes cleanup much easier and there is little to no smell from the solvent.

Soft Sloughing

Just like ablatives, sloughing paints will begin to fade off as the boat moves through the water. This means that your boat will go faster the more you are out on the water with it, which in turn causes the paint to wear off much quicker. Since these types of paints are so soft, there are very few bottom paints that can be applied on top of them.

Vinyl

Popular among performance boat owners, these types of paints are hard paints that provide a very smooth, slick surface and can only be applied on top of existing vinyl paints. Compared to good quality ablatives and modified epoxies, vinyl-based paints are inferior in regards to their antifouling effectiveness.

How Much Bottom Paint Do I Need?

You can use this very simple bottom paint calculator to get a fair estimate of how much paint you will need to purchase for your vessel.

Always look at the specifications of the product to get a better idea, because not all paints apply equally. Some paints are much thicker and will require more than a thinner paint.

Should I Use Copper-Based or Copper-Free Bottom Paint?

This is going to be a choice that you will have to make on your own because it comes down to how strongly you feel about some of the paints on the market that may have a negative impact on marine life and the environment.

This is a highly debated topic within the bottom paint industry, and there are more and more eco-friendly paint choices coming to market for you to consider if you so choose to go that route.

Freshwater or Saltwater?

You will want to make sure that the paint you choose is formulated for the type of water you will have your boat in.

The ideal paint would be one that works for both freshwater, saltwater, and even brackish water.

Compatibility to Material or Surface

Not all bottom paints are made alike. Some products are designed to work with certain materials and you will need to keep your eye out for this.

You don’t want to buy paint that is made of aluminum and use it on fiberglass because it will have an adverse reaction.

Be sure to check all the details of the paint to see if it is compatible with aluminum, fiberglass, wood, or primed metals.

Launching and Recoating

A very important aspect of this whole process is knowing how long you need to wait to launch your vessel back into the water after it has been bottom-painted.

To get the best answer to this question, you should make sure you carefully read the directions and specifications on the product label.

FAQ’s:

Who makes the best bottom paint?

If you have read this entire review to this point, then you will see that we have reviewed most of the main players in this industry. The top brands consist of Interlux, Pettit, TotalBoat, Rust-Oleum, and Sea Hawk.

What is the best bottom paint for fiberglass boats?

If you go with our choice, then we feel that the best option for fiberglass boats is Interlux Bottomkote NT because of the dual resin technology. However, Odyssey Triton from Pettit is a VERY close second.

How long does bottom paint last on a boat?

Generally speaking, you will want to apply fresh coats once per year, however, there are some options of paints that are available that can last you up to the 2-year time frame.

If you use your boat on a regular basis, then you will definitely want to check the condition of the paint annually. 

The main factors that come into play with this question, would be how often do you use your boat, and are you keeping your boat in or out of the water?

How much does bottom paint slow down a boat?

This is a very common question that comes up, and the truth of the matter is, that it really does not slow your boat down at all if you keep up with proper applications. 

Antifouling paints were created to keep the marine growth off of your hull which will be the main cause of what will slow your vessel down.

If you are not checking the condition of your bottom paint, then you can begin to experience paint build-ups and a rough, damaged coating over a period of time and this will cause you to feel a lack of speed and fuel efficiency.

Where to buy bottom paint?

You can find good quality bottom paints at most of your local marine or boating supply stores. Otherwise, you can do some further research online to find a reputable website to purchase from.

Just remember to be diligent when selecting a place online to purchase from and make sure they are legitimate and reputable sites.

Our Final Thoughts

To wrap up this extensive review piece on some of the top antifouling paints on the market today, we hope that you have learned a lot from this article and it has helped clear up any questions you may have on the topic.

We feel that we have put together a very comprehensive list of the best of the best when it comes to protecting the underwater portion of your boat’s hull. Now that you have a clear understanding of the importance of it and what it is designed to do, the choice is now in your hands.

Thank you so much for checking out our review. Happy boating!!!