Choosing a Bottom Paint

0

This month’s report on freshwater bottom paints is another reminder that the most effective paint in our testing might not always be the best for your circumstances or location.

Unless you’re prepared for more prep work than a light sanding, the first step in selecting a bottom paint is finding one that’s compatible with what’s on your hull now. All of the manufacturers in our test will provide guidance on this, either over the phone or on the company website.

Generally, you can repaint a hard paint with either a hard or soft paint, while a soft ablative paint will need more sanding or a tie-coat primer when being coated with a hard paint. Bare fiberglass or metal will require a primer, and aluminum components like saildrives need a special copper-free paint that won’t induce potentially disastrous galvanic corrosion.

Before plunking down nearly $250 or more a gallon, consider where your priorities lie.

Simple application: With no unpleasant solvents, water-based paints are easy and safe to apply.

The environment: Driven by legislation regulating copper loading in sensitive waters, this is a fast-growing field. In recent tests the copper-free blends from Epaint have proven the most effective in marine environments. This is good news for owners of aluminum boats, which are incompatible with most copper-laced paints. Freshwater boats will be pleased with some of the less expensive paints featured in this months report.

No paint buildup: Over time, ablative paints wear away; hard paints generally form thick layer cakes.

Quick recoating: Hard paints can take a second coat sooner than ablatives, although some of the newer copolymer ablatives can be recoated after four hours or less. Thin-film Teflon paints for racing boats can dry in a matter of minutes.

Haulout schedules: Some paints (typically hard paints) lose their effectiveness if not launched within a certain time frame, or if the boat is hauled out and then relaunched without painting. Some paints you need to lightly sand or scuff to reactivate before relaunching.

Trailerability: Some ablative paints are designed to resist abrasion from trailering. Most hard paints will trailer well, but not all are meant to dry out.

Color: Pettit Vivid, Interlux Trilux, and Blue Water Kolor offer broad palette choices. Typically, the low-copper paints (Epaint being an exception) offer more color choices. If potency is what you’re after, some makers suggest black, although our panel studies are inconclusive regarding this. Some brands (such as Pettit) put a little more copper in some of their red paints.

Want to be a part of our bottom paint testing program? Fill out this quick survey at https://goo.gl/qTbu6p so we can share your experience with other sailors.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here