Does Bottom Paint Devalue A Boat? Important Things To Consider

Does bottom paint devalue a boat?

This is a common question asked by many readers, and we think it is important to address this issue.

Basically, bottom paint or antifoul is used to ward off the nasties such as barnacles, weed and slime, as well as several other creatures from growing underneath your boat. Hence, this protects your vehicle from these things that eventually cause damages.

The biocides in the paint are obtained from cuprous oxide or copper. They work by “destroying life” or those things that attach to the bottom of your boat. We’ll discuss the impact of the bottom paint to your boat’s value in this post.

Does Bottom Paint Devalue A Boat?

Bottom paints come in two types – hard bottom and ablative.

Hard bottom paints are non-sloughing. They contain epoxy coating that is quite tough and long-lasting. This material is non-wearing, so the biocide tends to leach out. When there is no biocide left, the paint erodes and you will need to recoat the hull. Either that or strip and start once more.

On the other hand, ablative paints erode quickly. These paints are also regarded as self-polishing or eroding paint, which means that water ends up wearing the paint quicker. When you run your boat fast, the bottom paint also erodes much quicker. Hence, you will need to reapply it more often.

Recreational boats usually have ablative paint. But do keep in mind that there is no single, particular antifouling system used in all boats. You need to consider certain factors including weather, water, speed, and the type of boat you have.

Bottom Paint And What It Does

bottom paint and what it does

So, should you use bottom paint for your boat? Let us consider these factors.

1. The impact on the water and fish

Boats are useful for transportation and fishing purposes. They allow you to explore rivers, lakes, and oceans, yet the last thing you want is to poison everything you come across with. Unfortunately, this is what biocide does – destroy life. The copper component in the paint is what prevents living creatures from sticking on your boat.

Thus, the paint kills these creatures. Eventually, the materials leach into the water and can cause damage to marine life.

2. Toxic effects to humans

But it is not just marine life that gets negatively impacted by the bottom paint. Ultimately, it can also be a safety risk to humans.

Generally, antifouling is the last thing you want in your body. There are even talks about the environmental impact of this material. The chemical can wreak havoc to your body such as your eyes and skin. Even when disposing of this material, you need to wear proper cleaning and safety gear to protect your body.

3. The effect on your boat

While bottom paint does protect your boat from things that can eventually cause damage to it such as slime and weeds, there are negative effects to your vessel, as well. For instance, the bottom paint may eventually reduce the speed of your boat.

This may not be the case for hulls with a great paint job. The effect on the speed may not be visible at first. However, after adding a few more coats of an ablative paint as time goes by, combined with the reduced frequency of boat usage, the different layers will eventually build up.

It is also worth noting that the protective properties of the bottom paint will eventually become less and less each time. Soon, slime may begin growing and sticking onto the bottom of your boat. The paint job may also become noticeable rough, which will soon slow the boat down and require more fuel usage.

What this means is that you will have to spend more on fuel as the efficiency is reduced. Not only does this impact the speed of your boat but also your expenses on fuel.

4. Boat maintenance and expenses

Speaking of expenses, as the bottom paint wears off, you need to reapply it as often as possible. This puts you in a never ending cycle of applying, cleaning, re-touching paint on your boat. The expenses simply build up over time.

It is also important to note that you need to put the right paint over the old layer. When you scrape the old one off, you should ensure the barrier coating is not damaged. Antifouling needs to be replaced annually, which adds up to your expenses. In addition, the fresh paint job gives you time and makes finding boat materials easy.

Additional Things To Consider About Bottom Paint On Boats

Aside from the expenses to consider when using bottom paints, along with the additional hassles they come with, there are certain things that are out of your hands – an important thing to think about.

The Environmental Protection Agency in the US aims to limit paints used on boats and other recreational vessels. In fact, the copper ban was first initiated in Washington State in 2018. Though the ban has been put into a halt, restrictions are still under consideration and it is only a matter of time until a complete ban on copper used in bottom paints is enforced.

There are also partial bans on bottom paints in the Netherlands and Sweden.

Read More: What Size Motor For 16 Foot Fiberglass Boat Do You Need? 


Overall, bottom paint eventually devalues a boat by causing it to slow down, resulting in further damage and maintenance expenses.

The paint also leaches out into the water and can be detrimental to marine life, as well as on human life.

Thus, more eco-friendly options may be worth looking into to protect your boat without having to use bottom paint. By doing so, you can extend the lifespan of your vessel without negatively impacting the environment.

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