Do You Need Special Paint for a Boat?

Last Updated on August 31, 2021

Do you need special paint for a boat? The short answer is yes!

Finding the right paint for your boat is like finding the right car oil. Your boat needs a balanced formula of synthetic or semi-synthetic paint and additives to create a product that will protect your investment against harsh weathering conditions.

In this article, we’ll learn why do you need special paint for a boat and what makes painting your boat with those special paints any different from using those ordinary paints.

The Difference Between Standard and Special Paint

As a boat owner, you need to know that using ordinary paints on your boat will only result in disappointment. Typically, the difference between standard paint and special paint for boats is that they have varying degrees of flexibility or hardness.

Standard paints are made with short synthetic polymers which are very clear but susceptible to UV damage – just like window glass. Special marine paints, on the other hand, are made with high-grade polymers and slower drying catalysts.

These two attributes allow them to remain flexible for a longer period of time and repel water better than standard house paint. This is how they can “protect” your boat’s finish against harsh weathering conditions. 

If you want your paint job to last longer than a few re-paints, use high-quality boat paints and always apply two coats.  

What Does “Special” Painting Mean?

Special paints have several things in common. For one, they are easy to apply. Secondly, they contain excellent UV protection which prevents fading and cracking due to the sun’s rays.

Also, when buying such paint, make sure it’s suitable for use on an outdoor surface like a boat or metal fence so it can withstand all sorts of weather conditions – wind, rain, and snow… And finally, make sure the paint you choose is resistant to saltwater as it will be exposed to it during normal use.

Why Do You Need Special Paint For a Boat?

Boats are constantly exposed to all sorts of weather conditions. When you’re at sea, the wind will blow your boat around and expose it to direct sunlight. On top of that, saltwater from waves splashes against the hull and slowly eats away most normal types of paint (and finishes).

What you need is a special type of paint that’s specially made for use on boats in order to withstand all sorts of weather conditions. If you don’t apply such paint and a little bit of rust develops on your boat, it will rapidly spread until most of the paint is gone.

If that happens, not only the aesthetics of your boat are affected, but also its structural integrity – especially if the bare metal is exposed under pressure. 

You might think that your boat would never fall apart because you patched and painted over every little hole when they appeared after rough sea. But believe me: what looks like one big solid lump from the outside isn’t as solid as it seems if there is rust eating away at it!

What Kind of Special Paints Do You Need?

Well, first of all, you need to make sure your paint is suitable for outdoor use as boats are constantly exposed to all sorts of weather conditions. It should be UV-resistant (all paints will lose some of their resistance after a time through exposure). And finally, it must be resistant to saltwater.

There are two formulas for boat paints made by the same company: Intumescent and Epoxy.

Intumescent paints are the most common type used on boats. They can repel water while expanding in size when it hits them. 

As such, they prevent rust from spreading once it develops under the surface of the paint layer – or even keep it at bay in some cases! This makes intumescent paintworks for boats the best choice for your boat’s exterior.

The only thing to watch out for is that some paints will start shrinking when they are still wet and may get cracks in them. As the water gets inside, this can cause the paint to flake off so be sure you’re getting good quality paint or you’ll regret it!

In recent years, a new kind of special boat paint has been developed called Epoxy Paint. It looks and works almost exactly like Intumescent Paints except that it uses heat (instead of expansion) to form a barrier between your boat’s hull and saltwater, thus preventing corrosion from taking place. 

Some Epoxy paints have chemicals added to prevent algae growth on your sailboat – which makes them an excellent choice for sailboats. Intumescent boat paint uses a different formula which is not as effective in preventing algal growth (if you don’t use it on time).

Resistance to cracking or flaking is not as great in Epoxy Paints, however (if you get a bad batch). They are also more difficult to apply and cure much slower than Intumescent paints. But if you can live with that plus the additional cost, then go ahead with using it instead of intumescent paint.

How Do You Apply Special Paint to Your Boat?

Painting your boat with this kind of special paint isn’t any different than using regular paints: you just need some brushes and rollers and know how to apply the stuff.

In fact, most types of these paints are very easy to apply: just like ordinary house paints where you can touch up small nicks here and there once the coat has dried.

The thing that’s different about painting your boat with one of these special paint formulas versus conventional paints is mainly two things: price per quantity involved, and durability. 

Some paints are simply more expensive because they’re made with higher quality ingredients which make them more efficient. 

And then there is the durability of them: you will have to reapply paint on certain parts of your boat from time to time (around every 2 years), and some types of these special paints may cost you a bit more than other types as well, but it’s definitely worth it if you want to protect your boat!

Do You Need Special Paint for a Boat – Conclusion

The answer to why do you need special paint for a boat is pretty clear: conventional paints just won’t do! The reason goes beyond just preventing rust or algae growth. The layer of protection that these special paint formulas provide can affect the performance and enjoyment you’ll get out of your boat.