Do Pontoon Boats Need Bottom Paint?

Do Pontoon Boats Need Bottom Paint?

Pontoon boats require ongoing maintenance and care to keep them in top condition, and applying bottom paint is something that most of these vessels will require.

Owning any type of boat is a serious investment and with pontoon boats specifically, there are things you need to know in order to maintain them and protect them from damage.

So, do all pontoon boats need bottom paint?

The short answer is yes, but the long answer depends on the type of water your boat is in and how long it’s moored there. Saltwater pontoon boats must have bottom paint regardless of mooring times, and freshwater pontoon boats are generally recommended to have it as well unless they only ever spend short amounts of time in the water.

Boat ownership is a serious business and considering the effects that both saltwater and freshwater can have on a pontoon boat, the bottom painting needs careful attention.

We’ll show you exactly why they need bottom paint, how to apply it, and the general costs you can expect from this preventative measure.

Bottom Paint On Pontoon Boat?

Paint For Boat Bottom

Bottom paint is a serious recommendation for both commercial and recreational vessels, and pontoon boats are included in these groups.

A pontoon boat generally does require bottom paint keep but there are some factors to consider that could change the answer.

The purpose of applying the bottom to a boat is to protect the hull from algae buildup.

Also referred to as an antifouling agent, this paint will protect a boat in both freshwater and saltwater conditions.

There are three general rules to follow that can indicate what the best approach is for your pontoon and where you use it.

  • Boats that are moored in saltwater must always have bottom paint applied, so if they’re used in seawater or estuaries, this is a requirement.
  • Pontoon boats mooring in freshwater for long periods of time will also need to have bottom paint applied due to the potential for algae build up.
  • Boats that are only in freshwater for short periods can go without bottom paint, but the boat must be pressure washed when it comes out of the water and then stored in a dry location to prevent the hull from getting algae to build up.

Even if you don’t plan on mooring your boat for long periods in freshwater, you still might want to apply bottom paint for protection.

This paint can prevent algae, organisms, barnacles, and salt from attaching to the hole and doing serious damage to your boat, so it never hurts to use preventative measures.

How Much Does It Cost To Bottom Paint A Pontoon Boat?

Holding Dollars In Hand

The cost of applying bottom paint to your pontoon boat is generally calculated by size and other factors like quality of paint and additional work to be done before it can be applied.

These costs can range anywhere from $15 to $100 per linear foot for professional application.

To apply bottom paint for yourself, you can purchase the paint supplies from a marine store, and other supplies.

These include drop cloths, paint thinners, brushes and tools, buckets, and masking tape.

You’ll want to calculate the total cost of all supplies and the time the job will take before deciding which approach is more economical.

Once the hull has been painted, you can expect this application to last a number of years.

Depending on how often your boat is used and how much time it spends in the water, this can vary.

The standard application of bottom paint is recommended every three or four years just to be safe.

For reapplication, there may be additional costs for rejuvenation or removal of previous paint, so take these into consideration as well.

Can You Use Topside Paint On The Bottom Of A Boat?

Boat Topside Paint Can

In an effort to save money and time, boat owners might wonder if they can use topside paint on the bottom of the boat as well.

The answer to this depends on how often your boat sits in the water and for how long, so it’s not always recommended.

A pontoon boat that is fully immersed in the water less than a few days at a time might be okay with just topside paint but this is generally recommended for freshwater only.

Boats that live in saltwater conditions and are moored for even just a couple of days should use dedicated bottom paint due to its unique properties.

Topside paint was designed to protect against the sun and other outdoor conditions, whereas bottom paint, has antifouling properties that make it ideal for being immersed in the water.

Unlike topside paint, bottom paint must also be removable so that you can replace it as needed and ensure it still has protective properties, so this is usually the recommended approach.

How Does Bottom Paint Work?

Man Painting Pontoon Boat Bottom

Also known as antifouling paint, bottom paint works as a coating that’s applied to the outside layer of the hull of a boat.

These paints might be applied as part of a multi-layer system designed to protect the boat and could also prevent corrosion, rust, or even strength the flow of water that moves past the hull.

Most modern antifouling paints use cuprous oxide or other special chemicals that stop the growth of marine organisms and algae.

There are slight variations with the hard or soft bottom paints and depending on the variety, it will also include chemicals like copper and zinc-based biocides, and even silicone and Teflon coatings.  

Once the paint has been applied, these biocides will be released into the water.

The more movement a boat has, the more they will be released and prevent growth from occurring.

Tips For Painting Your Pontoon Boat

If you prefer to apply the bottom paint to your pontoon yourself, you’ll need to be prepared for the task at hand.

Choose the right paint

Cans Of Paint In Shop

Depending on the material of your boat, you might only be able to use an aluminum safe antifouling agent when painting the boat.

With the wrong one, the pontoons could become damaged with a copper-based paint which could lead to holes forming on the boat.

Preparation is key

The bottom paint application isn’t just about the paint, but it largely has to do with preparing the surface.

You’ll need to first sand the hull, remove any old paint, and then use a primer that should dry before applying the bottom paint.

Invert the paint can

The day before you plan on painting, invert the can to allow all of the important ingredients to mix together.

Paint with copper especially will need to be blended as the copper usually settles at the bottom of the can.

Related Questions

Pontoon boat ownership requires a lot of effort and money, and there are many things to consider to keep your boat in good condition.

These are some commonly asked questions relating to pontoon boats and bottom paint, as well as other methods of maintenance that might be required.

How Much Does It Cost to Maintain a Pontoon Boat?

Handgiving Cash

After the initial outlay to purchase your pontoon boat, there are monthly costs to factor in.

Insurance premiums may be between $20-$30, moorage could be a few hundred dollars, fuel and operational costs will differ, and general maintenance will depend on what requires fixing and cleaning month to month.

What Other Maintenance is Required When You Own a Pontoon Boat?

Depending on the age and condition of your boat, varying levels of maintenance will be required.

Basic maintenance includes flushing the engine after use, covering the boat, checking for dents and leaks, scrubbing the decking, and preserving the surface with a wax coating.

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