Boating’s Best Selection of Marine Paint
The shelves of West Marine stores are stocked with a wide assortment of marine paint. Our comprehensive selection includes topside paints, bottom paints, boat engine paints, non-skid paints and primers, plus thinners and solvents. Given our tremendous selection, boaters would be hard pressed to not find what they need to complete every conceivable marine painting project.
Each type of marine paint serves a specific function. Colorful topside paint, in addition to its aesthetic appeal, protects surfaces against damage due to UV light, salt and spray. Bottom paint, also called antifouling paint, prevents the growth of hard and soft fouling organisms—which makes a boat’s hull faster and more fuel efficient. Boat engine paint protects metal surfaces against rust and corrosion. Non-skid deck paint, apart from protecting the underlying surface, helps to prevent crew from taking an unwanted slide into the drink. Most topside paints and some bottom paints require a marine primer to ensure proper adhesion. Along with choosing a specific primer, many paints require a thinner or solvent—either for cleaning up, or to modify its properties when brushed, sprayed or rolled.
Getting Ready to Paint
Today’s paint formulations have become more sophisticated compared to the past when they were not much more than ground up pigment mixed with oil and thinner. Marine paints are now brighter, tougher and more durable than ever before. To get the most out of the paint you select, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for surface preparation, which you will find on the paint can’s label. To ensure that your project goes off without a hitch, make sure you have everything you need to complete the job. This includes the correct thinners and/or solvents, sandpaper sheets or discs, a supply of rags and protective apparel. Caution: Beware of boatyard “know-it-alls” who will tell you to take shortcuts, like substituting materials or painting when it is colder or hotter than recommended. Our advice is to stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
West Advisor articles are your enduring source for help.
West Advisor articles have been a trusted source for technical boating information since 1987. For more help with selecting the best antifouling paint for your boat, see Top Ten Antifouling Paint Buying Questions. For an overview of the entire bottom painting process that includes a helpful video, see Bottom Painting. For topcoat application, see Do-it-Yourself Topside Painting. We also suggest you read Safety Gear for Boat Maintenance.