Features May 1, 2005 Issue

White Paint Match-up

White bottom paints look good, but can they do the job?

This starboard side of our test boat was sectioned off and painted with E Paint’s EP2000 and Pettit's Vivid. Both performed flawlessly after a month, warding off both hard and soft growth. However, the E Paint took on a brownish tint, as shown above. E Paint's representatives couldn't explain this reaction. PS has opted to simply keep a close eye on it.

One of the long-standing complaints about bottom paint—besides its cost and laborious, monotonous application on an annual basis—is the way it looks. Some sailors feel that it often spoils the nice clean white shade of the topsides. So, when a new white bottom paint from Pettit hit the market last year, we took notice.

This new paint, called Vivid, is a hard paint, recommended for the perfomance-minded boat owner. Pettit calls it a "multi-season, dual biocide antifouling" product, and touts its brilliant colors. (It also comes in blue, green, yellow, red, and black.)

We thought we'd match it up against the environmentally friendly E Paint, which is also a hard paint and has been in production for several years. So, we painted the two hulls on our 22-foot powerboat with each paint. E Paint's EP2000 went on the bow section of the starboard hull and the stern section of the port hull, while the Vivid was painted on the stern section of the starboard hull and the bow section of the port hull.

After a month in the water, we hauled the boat to install a transducer. Neither paint allowed even a speck of growth. But the E Paint had discolored, changing to a light brown.

"The active ingredient in EP2000 will react with iron in the water, which results in film discoloration," said E Paint's president Alex Walsh. "I've never seen such a severe case of staining."

Despite those words, we actually have seen similar staining of EP2000-coated panels in several of our bottom paint tests. But, to give E-Paint the benefit of the doubt, we put the boat back into service and will continue to monitor the status of the paints as time goes on.

• Pettit Paints, 800/221-4466, www.pettitpaint.com
• E Paint Co., 800-258-5998, www.epaint.net

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