Do I Need To Paint My Hull?
There are instances where the bottom painting isn’t necessary. If your boat is typically stored in a dry storage facility or on a trailer and only hits the water for a short time, you can opt not to paint. In these cases, your boat hull can be properly maintained with a heavy coat of wax and periodic cleanings. For most other boats that are docked in the water or see heavy off land use, bottom painting is essential.
Once you have made the choice to paint your hull, you must maintain it with periodic cleanings, paint removal and repainting with antifouling paint. This will help preserve the integrity of your hull intact and in proper operational condition.
What Is Antifouling Paint?
If your boat is usually stored in a dry storage facility or on a trailer and only hits the water for a short time, you can opt not to paint. This paint is applied all along the bottom of the hull up to the water line of the boat. This paint helps to protect the boat from various forms of water-based damage that can occur. Hull paint also prevents barnacles, weeds and other water-based life from attaching to the bottom of the sailboat.
Just like with regular paint there is a diverse range of brands, styles, and colors to choose from. Aside from these options, there are three types of antifouling paint; hard, hybrid, and ablative. The type you choose largely depends on the type of sailboat you have and your overall budget.
Hull Paint Types
Hard bottom paint is best for powerboats or other fast moving boats. It is a longlasting coating that is very hard and has a thick layer of biocide. The biocide layer wears away over time which allows the hull paint to last longer prior replacement. Once the biocide has been depleted, however, the hull must be repainted.
Ablative paint is well suited to casual boats and slow-moving sailboats. Unlike hard bottom paint, this type wears away directly over time. As the paint wears away while moving through the water, it releases more biocides. Many boaters call this paint self-polishing. As the paint wears thin on the hull, it will need to be replaced. Since there is less paint to remove, repainting the hull is easier and tends to be more affordable.
Hybrid paint is exactly what the name implies. It is a mix of both hard and ablative paint and can be used on all types of sailboats.
How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Sailboat?
Now that you recognize some of the basics about the need for hull painting as well as the main types of paint available, we can cover the cost. When it comes to hull painting, you can hire a professional or you can do it yourself. Just like most hobby projects, compared to hiring a professional you will save money. On the other hand, having your hull professionally painted will cost you more, but it will take less time and come with a guarantee.
DIY Hull Painting
A certain peace comes from caring for your sailboat with your own hands. If you choose to take on the task of painting your hull on your own, make sure to plan adequately and give yourself plenty of time to get the job executed properly. Though you can expect to pay less when you do it yourself, the cost still will vary widely. The main expense depends on the amount of paint you need and the type of paint you choose for your hull.
Hull paint is sold in one-gallon containers and can range from $20 - $200 per gallon. The price range depends on primarily the brand and style of hull paint. Aside from the paint, you will also need to budget for painting supplies such as;
- Drop Cloths
- Paint trays
- Masking tape
- Breathing mask
The size of your boat will determine how much product you need, and each brand list the amount needed per linear foot on the can. The majority of ablative hull paints will require two coats and modified epoxy hull paints only require one coat. Make sure to keep these in mind when calculating your cost.
- Single coat paints for boats that are between 20 – 35 feet will need 1 ½ gallon of paint.
- Double coat paints for boats that are between 20 – 35 feet will need 3 gallons of paint.
- Single coat paints for boats that are between 36 – 35 feet will need 3 ½ gallons of paint.
- Double coat paints for boats that are between 36 – 51 feet will need 6 gallons of paint.
- Single coat paints for boats that are between 53 – 63 feet will need 4 ½ gallons of paint.
- Double coat paints for boats that are between 53 – 63 feet will need 9 gallons of paint.
Professional Hull Painting
Hull painting by a professional starts off with a base cost that is determined by the size of your sailboat. As of 2019, the average cost per linear ft falls around $25 for basic selections which can range up to $125 per linear foot for premium selections. Boats that need more work or additional repairs may incur an additional cost.
Customarily, professionals will charge a moderately lower rate for larger boats over smaller ones. There are also cost involved with where your boat will be painted. Sailboats that must be blocked, stored or transported prior to painting will incur heftier fees than those on a trailer or stored on a personal slip. Older boats that have damage to the hull or other defects will need to be repaired prior to painting the hull which can also increase the cost. Virgin hulls, basically ones that have never been painted before will cost less to complete since there will be no need to have a paint removal service completed.
Depending on your boat size and your exact location, you can expect to pay the following estimated rates for basic hull painting & premium hull painting.
- $25.00 per linear ft. – 29′ sailboat + $155.00 for premium upgrades
- $29.00 per linear ft. – 30′ to 36′ sailboat + $190.00 for premium upgrades
- $34.00 per linear ft. – 37′ to 43′ sailboat + $250.00 for premium upgrades
- $38.00 per linear ft.. – 44′ to 49′ sailboat + $330.00 for premium upgrades
- $43.00 per linear ft. – 50′ to 54′ sailboat + $400.00 for premium upgrades
- $49.00 per linear ft. – 55′ to 59′ sailboat + $490.00 for premium upgrades
- $56.00 per linear ft. – 60′ and larger sailboats + $555.00 for premium upgrades
The Bottom Line
When it comes down to it, the cost of painting your sailboat hull is neither excessive or unmanageable. You have a range of options that will allow you to choose the best paint and finish for your hull that falls within your personal budget. Caring for your hull will ensure you get the most use out of your sailboat for years to come. Proper hull maintenance will prevent the growth of waterborne pests such as slime and barnacles while also giving your boat a sophisticated appearance. We wish you smooth sailing ahead and hope to see you again soon!