How Much Does It Cost to Bottom Paint a Boat? (& More)

Before embarking on any painting task, one primary factor that influences all others is the total cost of the task.

The cost will determine your method of approach to carry out the task, the materials you will get, and if you will hire a professional or not. The same is the case when you want to paint the bottom of your boat. So it’s normal to wonder how much it will cost.

On average, the cost to bottom paint a boat by yourself ranges between $300 to $2000. If you hire a professional or employ the services of a boat-painting company, the total cost will be between $1000 to about $4000. Of course, these are just estimated amounts.

The cost to bottom paint your boat might be more or less than the amount stated above due to several factors such as the condition of the boat, the quality of paint to be used, and the size of the boat amongst others. For instance, it will cost more to bottom paint a 30-foot boat than it will cost to paint the bottom of an 18-foot fishing boat.

Overall, knowing how much it will cost you to bottom paint your boat will help you make better financial decisions. So how do you estimate the cost? What type of paint should you use to bottom paint a boat? And when should you hire professional help?

You see there is a lot more to know about bottom painting your boat and this post will introduce you to all you need to know about the process. So let’s get on with it.

What Does It Mean to Bottom Paint a Boat?

To bottom paint a boat means applying coats or layers of paint to the hull or bottom of a boat. The paint serves as a cover to the bottom frame of the boat to prevent it from damages that can hamper the boat’s performance. Apart from beautifying the hull material of the boat, the paint serves as a protective shield to the hull of the boat too.

The bottom part of a boat suffers from intense friction and moisture. Regardless of whether the hull of the boat is made from wood, metal, aluminum, or any other material, the hull needs to be protected. Most of the time, your boat will be in the water.

I'm sure you heard about this a lot, but what does it mean to bottom paint a boat? There are a few reasons why people do it. One of the biggest reasons is that the paint can serve as a shield to the bottom of the boat, and another reason is that it makes the boat look better.

When it’s not in the water, the boat is on the harsh sand of the shore, or in the back of a trailer when it is being transported. It is the bottom part of the boat that suffers from the coarse nature of the sand, the salty and bacteria-infested nature of the water as well as the steel frame of a trailer.

Without a hard coat of paint, the bottom part of the boat will experience scratches, dents, cracks, and holes. Not to mention the activity of different organisms in the water like algae, barnacles, and bacteria.

All of which will hamper the speed and performance of the boat in the long run. If the frame starts to crack open, it will also become very difficult for the boat to stay afloat.

This is why the bottom part of the boat is usually painted so the durability of the boat can be improved.

What Factors Determine the Cost to Bottom Paint a Boat?

Painting the bottom frame of your boat will cost you some cash but the amount of cash you will spend depends on the following factors.

  • The Size of the Boat –  The bigger your boat, the more paint you will use and the time it will take to paint it. Extra gallons of paint equal extra cash and I’m sure you have heard of the cliché “Time is money.” For instance, it will cost you more to fully paint the bottom of a 35-foot boat than it would cost for an 18-foot boat.
  • The Paint – You can’t use the normal latex or oil-based paint meant for walls to paint the bottom part of a boat. This is because these paints are not designed to be used in water. The paint needed for the bottom part of a boat needs to be able to cope well with the salty nature of the water and it must be able to resist the activity and growth of organisms that attach themselves to the boat. Antifouling paint is usually advised because the paint is specially designed for marine life.
  • The Labor Used – Painting the bottom part of your boat by yourself will cost you less than hiring someone or contacting a boat-painting company to paint it for you.
  • The Tools Needed – To paint the bottom of a boat, the boat needs to be elevated or suspended above ground level. You will also need additional tools and materials like sandpaper, scrappers, a primer, and the likes. All of which will spike the total cost eventually.

That being said, let’s check out how to calculate how much it will cost to paint a boat.

How Can You Calculate the Cost of Bottom-Painting Your Boat?

Painting the bottom part of your boat can be done in two ways. You can do it yourself or employ the services of a professional boat painting company. The cost to bottom paint your boat will depend primarily on the method you decide to use.

  • The Cost of Hiring a Professional Boat-painting Company

If you want to employ the services of a boat painting company, the estimate would be made known to you by the company. Usually, they will require you to provide the size dimension of your boat or take the measurements themselves.

  • The Cost of Painting the Boat Yourself

If you want to paint the bottom of the boat yourself, then you will need to do more than just provide the size dimension of the boat.

In addition to the size dimension of the boat, you will need to buy a few materials, rent a few tools, and depending on the size of the boat, you might need to hire an extra set of hands to help you out.

Regardless of the method, one similar need of both methods is the size dimension of your boat. The size dimension will determine the amount of time and paint you will use. So let’s check out how you can get the size dimension.

How to Measure the Size Dimension of a Boat?

The size dimension of your boat refers to the width, height, and length of the boat. To measure these, you will need:

  • A tape rule
  • A pencil and paper.

To get the size dimension of your boat, use a tape rule to take the measurements and write them down on a piece of paper.

As I said before, the total cost of painting the bottom of your boat varies from the size of the boat. So, how to measure the size dimension of a boat? Easy, you can use a tape ruler and just write down the dimensions.

Be mindful of the curves and corners of the boat while you take the measurement. The best way would be to measure along the curves to get an accurate measurement especially for the height of the boat.

For the width, measure the length of the widest part of the boat. The widest part is usually around the middle of the boat.

For the length, measure the distance from one end of the boat to the other and write down the measurements.

To be sure you have the accurate size dimension, you can search for the size dimension of the model (the type of boat) you have online and crosscheck what you see online with what you measured.

Let’s check out other factors that will determine the total cost to bottom paint a boat aside from the size dimension.

The Cost of the Tools Needed to Bottom Paint a Boat

If you want to bottom paint the boat by yourself, asides from the size dimension, you need to get a list of the tools you will need to successfully bottom paint your boat.

If you want to hire a professional boat painting company, then you don’t need to worry about the tools because the total cost will be made known to you.

However, if this is a DIY task for you, then the cost of the tools and materials you need will affect the total estimate.

To bottom paint a boat by yourself, you will need:

  • For the hull of a boat, you will need to buy coarse sandpaper.
  • A paintbrush, roller, or paint sprayer
  • Paint trays
  • Primer
  • A pair of work gloves, safety goggles, and a respiratory mask
  • A scrapper to get rid of barnacles and other attachments to the bottom of the boat
  • Masking tape and drop cloths
  • The paint.

The Cost of the Paint

The cost of the paint for the hull of a boat is usually more costly than the cost of your regular latex, acrylic, or oil-based paint.

This is because the paint used for the bottom of a boat has to be moisture resistant, able to withstand a lot of friction, and has to be capable of curbing the growth of organisms on the boat. Usually, antifouling paint is recommended for the hull of a boat. The paint is specifically designed for the outer layer of boats so it will work well underwater.

Other paint types include ablative paint which is designed to wear off slowly, Hard-bottom paint which is best for speed boats, and Polyurethane paints.

Regardless of the type of paint you go for, expect to spend more than you would ordinarily spend on a bucket of latex paint for walls.

Hull paints are usually sold in one-gallon containers and the price can range from as low as $30 to over $200 per gallon. The price will depend on the paint you decide to get.

It’s advised to go for quality in this case as bad paint will ultimately expose the frame of the boat to damages and aquatic organisms. The size of your boat will also determine how many gallons of paint you will need and the number of coats required.

Below is an estimate of the gallons needed according to the size of the boat.

  • For boats that are between 18 – 35 feet, a single coat of paint will require one 1½ gallon of paint while a double coat of paint will require 3 gallons of paint.
  • For boats that are between 36 – 51 feet, a single coat of paint will need about 3½ gallons of paint while a double coat will require about 6 gallons of paint.
  • For boats that are between 52 – 63 feet, a single coat of paint will need about 4½ gallons of paint while a double coat will require about 9 gallons of paint.

The bigger the boat, the more gallons of paint needed.

The Cost of Prepping and Repairing the Bottom Part of Your Boat

When attempting to bottom paint your boat, you will notice dents, cracks, and other damages to the hull of your boat. These damages would need repairs so the new paint can stick to the surface properly and so that the water wouldn’t affect the paint when sailing.

You will also need to prep the hull before painting. This will require you to scrape the barnacles and bumps off the bottom of the paint.

This can take hours depending on how hard the barnacles are. You will also need to prime the hull to increase its adhesiveness.

The cost of repairing and preparing the bottom part of the boat can be as high as $500 depending on the size of the boat and the extent of the damage.

It can even cost more than that if you have to replace a damaged part of the boat’s hull. Of course, this is for when you want to do it yourself.

Hiring a professional boat painting company will cost more. These companies charge per linear foot of the boat and the price will cost between $30 to over $120 depending on the size of the boat.

That’s just the price for painting. Boats that need additional repairs will cost more than that. For boat painting companies, there is also an additional cost for storing and transporting the boat before and after painting.

Of course, these prices will also vary based on your location and the type of paint job you want. For instance, premium hull painting will cost more than basic hull painting.

How to Calculate the Estimate to Bottom Paint a Boat?

The estimate for bottom painting your boat will depend on if you decide to DIY or hire a boat painting company.

If it’s a company, then the overall cost will be made known. The challenge is when you want to do the task yourself. You will need to do a lot of calculations for this.

For instance, let’s calculate the estimated cost of painting a 30-foot boat by yourself.

Let’s assume,

  • You buy two gallons of antifouling paint for $70 each. That will cost you $140.
  • You buy a can of primer for about $20 since priming is advisable to increase adhesiveness.
  • You will need to prep the bottom of the paint which will require you to scrape bumps and barnacles. Then sand repeatedly using sandpaper. To scrape off barnacles, you will need a metallic putty knife or spatula and sandpaper to sand. The cost of buying these can be up to $50.
  • You might need to transport your boat from one location to the other and also rent tools that will help you elevate the boat so you can work underneath. Both will cost you well over $100 depending on your location.

That’s already a total price of over $300 and that’s without calculating the cost to repair damages, hire help, and store the boat if needed.

When you put the following into account, the total price can spike up to $500 and for a boat painting company, the final cost can be up to $1000. While painting the hull of a boat, do not spare any expense as this isn’t a task you would want to sacrifice quality for cost.

Should You Bottom Paint a Boat Yourself or Hire a Professional?

While I will advise you to paint walls, floors, and other objects by yourself, I wouldn’t advise you to paint the bottom part of your boat by yourself. This is because so much can go wrong if you are inexperienced not least the risk of suffering life-threatening injuries if the boat isn’t firmly elevated. If it’s your first time, you should hire a professional for the sake of safety and efficiency.

Inadequate experience with this type of task and the absence of the required tools and materials will result in a bad paint job and possible injuries.

So I would advise you to hire a professional or a boat-painting company. If you would like to have hands-on experience with painting the bottom part of your boat, then you can hire a professional to assist you.

That way you will gain some valuable experience and know-how to embark on such projects the next time you want to paint the bottom part of your boat.

If you have any questions or comments about bottom-painting your boat, you can leave them below and I will attend to them as soon as possible. Have a nice day.

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