How Much Does It Cost To Bottom Paint A Boat? Shocking Truths and Budget-Saving Tips

A few of my boating friends ask me, “How much does it cost to bottom paint a boat?”

Perhaps you have an old boat that you wish to revive and improve its aesthetics.

If you are interested in bottom-painting your boat, you may be up for some shocking realizations.

This involves crunching some numbers, knowing your best options, and deciding which route can save you more money without compromising quality.

This is why in this point, we’ll address multiple pain points boaters have when it comes to bottom-painting their boat – DIY painting costs, money-saving tips, and whether you should have a professional do the job or get it done yourself.

Let’s bring in the numbers and stats!

How Much Does It Cost To Bottom Paint A Boat – Two Scenarios

When determining the estimated cost of bottom-painting a boat, you need to ask yourself if you are doing it yourself, or are you hiring someone to work on it?

The answer to this question impacts the total cost of this project.

Cost OF DIY Bottom-Painting Your Boat

First, let us talk about doing the paint job yourself. What should you expect to pay when doing so?

For instance, you have decided to go for the single-stage PU (polyurethane) paint. Then, you will need to apply a gel coat after the paint dries for that added layer of protection and gloss.

In this case, the whole job including materials should cost you about $300 to upward $1,500. This all depends on how big your boat is and the paint quality.

We do not advise that you go cheap on the paint because the bottom of your boat is very delicate. It is the part that is exposed to harsh elements such as saltwater and certain obstructions in the water.

So, it only makes sense why the bottom portion is more crucial than the top. And yes, this makes the paint more expensive, as well.

Professional Cost To Bottom Paint Your Boat

If you would rather leave it up to the experts, then it is expected that the price range is a bit steeper than doing it yourself.

Professional painters charge their clients per linear foot of the boat. So, if your boat is too long, then the price becomes higher.

In this case, you may be charged about $1000 to over $3000 to bottom paint a boat.

It’s pricey, for sure!

But by getting it done by a pro, especially if you have no prior experience with performing this task, you can spare yourself from potential mistakes involved. And in most cases, an expensive mistake.

Read More: 9 Professional Tips on How To Strip Paint From Aluminum Boat

How To Estimate The Cost To Bottom Paint Your Boat

how to estimate the cost to bottom paint your boat

You may be wondering how we were able to come up with these numbers in estimating the total cost of the project.

First, you have to determine your boat’s dimensions. Know exactly the total height, width, and length of your boat, which impacts the amount of paint you need.

But it’s not just the paint that you should buy. There are also prep materials involved such as spray gun, sandpaper, respirator, paint brushes, paint trays, and masking tape.

All of these things can quickly add up to the cost. But if you already have some of these tools, then you can deduct it to the estimated cost.

With professionals, however, they determine the cost by measuring the linear square footage. The type of boat you have also impacts the expenses involved.

But the bottom line is that professional work is more expensive than DIY. The only real advantage, though, is quality makes so much sense when it comes to painting a boat. You need to make sure that your boat is carefully painted and has all the protection it needs from harsh elements.

This is why you should opt to hire experts with years of experience in this job. By doing so, you can guarantee your total satisfaction with the outcome and get the best bang for your buck.

Do The Maths: Cost To Bottom Paint Per Linear Square Foot

Let us take a look at the DIY estimated cost for each square foot of your boat.

For instance, the painting surface is under 200 square feet. You will need a coat of paint primer, double coats of a special anti-fouling paint (to protect the algae in the water), and some gel coat for finishing.

A half a gallon primer should suffice for 200 square feet of surface. So, this should work and it should cost under $100.

Don’t forget to apply your epoxy primer to make sure the new paint really sticks.

In case you plan on using paint at $190 a gallon, then you may need dual coats of the anti-fouling paint. This is then followed by the gel coat, which is about 1/16 inch thick. So, for the entire project, this would mean buying 8 gallons.

Overall, we are looking at under $250 gel coat for your boat.

Now, let’s do the math really quick:

Primer – $100

Anti-fouling paint – $190

Gel coat – $25

Total cost of painting a 17-foot boat (bottom only) as a DIY job is $540.

Your Choice Of Paint Impacts The Price Point

Naturally, whatever paint you choose affects the total cost when you bottom paint your boat.

Let us take a look at your options.

1. Polyurethane

You need 1 part of this paint for this project. This is a type of hard bottom paint used for painting boats.

2. Ablative Paint

This is a sloughing bottom paint that does not wear off quickly. Thus, it prevents barnacles and similar arthropods from wreaking havoc to your hull.

3. Barrier Coat

As the name implies, it seals your fiberglass off from moisture. It is epoxy-based, and this completes the job to achieve ultimate perfection in the result.

4. Epoxy Primer

You need 2 part epoxy primer for your paint job, as well. It is effective for conducting necessary repairs to your boat’s fiberglass material. Once it dries, it is as solid and durable as a rock.

5. Gel Coat

This refers to the outermost layer of paint for your fiberglass. It adds gloss and sheen to the boat while protecting it from external elements.

6. Anti-fouling Paint

And lastly, you need to use an anti-fouling paint for the external layer of your boat. It is a marine-grade type of paint that does not cause harm to various elements in the water such as the algae.

With all these things in mind, painting the bottom of your boat is much cheaper when done by yourself instead of hiring professionals. The entire task should cover about 40 hours, which can be very expensive when done by experts. You can expect to pay about $50 or even $200 per hour for professional labor!

By turning it into a DIY weekend project, you can significantly save so much money and get the job done, as well.

Final Thoughts

To know how much it actually costs to bottom paint a boat, you have to take into account your boat’s dimensions, the type of paint you need, tools, and whether you prefer to hire a professional or not.

If you want a cheaper option, you can do the job yourself and save twice as much as when you get an expert to do it.

We hope we were able to help you make an informed decision and take your next step. So, go get the bottom of your boat repainted either by an expert or yourself and ensure your safety when out in the water with a newly-painted, better-than-ever boat!

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