Do Pontoon Boats Need Bottom Paint?

Owning a pontoon boat is a serious investment, and maintaining your boat guarantees its best performance. It also increases the boat’s value if you’re thinking about reselling or replacing it. With that being said,  a question that gets asked a lot in the pontoon community is “do pontoon boats need bottom paint?”

If you plan on keeping your pontoon boat moored in the water for extended periods of time, then yes, you absolutely need bottom paint! This is even more true if it happens to be saltwater or even brackish water.

The long-term effect of saltwater and freshwater can damage your pontoon boat if you’re not serious about inspecting and maintaining it. Let’s take a look at how to better protect your pontoons and your investment.

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Do Pontoon Boats Need Bottom Paint

Do All Pontoon Boats Need Bottom Paint?

Yes, however, some boats will need more frequent reapplication. There are several factors that affect the life of the bottom paint on your boat. The type of water you’re boating in will affect the quality of the paint.

Freshwater can damage the paint in the long run. However, saltwater will cause more damage in the same period.

You should also think about how long your boat has been moored. In general, pontoon boats that are taken out on the ocean need a good quality bottom paint to protect the boat’s body. It’s recommended to apply bottom paint to your pontoon boat even if you’re using it in freshwater. However, if you don’t keep it in the water for extended periods, the paint might not be that critical.

To sum it up, bottom paint is applied in the following cases.

  • If your pontoon boat is used in saltwater, you should apply bottom paint, regardless of how long you keep your boat in the water. The paint will protect the hull from algae buildup and will keep your boat in top condition.
  • If you use your pontoon boat in freshwater and keep it moored for extended periods, you should apply bottom paint to protect the body.
  • If you keep your boat in freshwater for short periods, the bottom paint might not be necessary. It’s still recommended, but it’s not a must.

However, you should clean the boat thoroughly using pressured water once you’ve removed it from the water. This will protect the hull from algae buildup and will keep the body in perfect condition.

How Does Paint Work?

Paint creates a protective layer that prevents the growth of bacteria, algae, and the accumulation of salt on the body of the boat. These fouling agents affect the speed and overall performance of your boat.

Most manufacturers recommend the use of antifouling paints that work for various types of boats. You can try to do the job yourself after buying the tools from a marine shop, or you can hire a professional to do the job on your behalf.

Which Paint Is Best For a Pontoon Boat Bottom?

You can always contact the manufacturer of your pontoon boat and ask about the most recommended paint type. Although there are several types of bottom paints on the market, some of them might actually harm the body of the boat.

Rust-Oleum Available 207012 Marine Flat Boat Bottom Antifouling Paint, 1-Quart, Black

You should look for a bottom paint that contains a biocide. This chemical is slowly released into the water and prevents algae, slime, plants, and other forms of aquatic life from attaching to the bottom of your boat and ruining it in the long run.

TotalBoat Krypton Copper Free Antifouling – Marine Ablative Boat Bottom Paint | for Fiberglass, Wood, Aluminum & Steel Boats | Ideal for Outdrives & Trim Tabs (Blue, Gallon)

Some bottom paints contain copper oxide, which is a common biocide. If your boat is made of aluminum, you should avoid this kind of paint. Copper and aluminum react together to cause corrosion, which damages the body of your pontoon boat. Make sure that you’re picking a copper-free paint.

Bottom Paint

How to Apply Bottom Paint to a Pontoon Boat

Painting the bottom of your boat isn’t a difficult task. As a matter of fact, it can be a fun DIY project that you can complete with your friends and family. You’ll need to shop for some tools at the marine shop to make sure that everything you’ll need will be available while you’re doing the job. You will need the following tools.

  • Air compressor.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Roller.
  • Primer.
  • Paint.

Step 1: Start by Prepping

Before you apply a new layer of paint, you need to remove the old layers of paint and primer. Use sandpaper to sand down the old layers until you are completely sure that there’s no paint left.

Step 2: Clean the Surface

Star brite Instant Hull Cleaner - Clean Stains & Scum Lines on Boat Hulls Easily & Effortlessly

Use a piece of cloth or an air compressor to clean the surface by removing all the particles, dust, debris, or residue. Applying the paint to a dirty surface will affect how the paint will look and its overall quality. If there’s algae or mud, use a chemical solvent to get rid of the grease and dirt.

Step 3: Apply the Primer

TotalBoat Topside Primer (White, Gallon)

Follow the instructions of the application when you’re applying the primer. In some cases, you should apply more than one layer to make sure that the body is perfectly protected before applying the paint.

Pay attention to the recoat window when the primer is still tacky but not completely wet as you plan to apply the next layer. Otherwise, the quality of the primer will be affected. Most of the primers that can be used on boats are made to dry fast, so the job won’t take much time. Use a brush or a roller to apply even coats or layers of the primer.

Step 4: Apply the Bottom Paint

While still paying attention to the recoat window, you should use the roller to apply a layer of the bottom paint. Start with the curved surfaces then go to the flat bottom part. After the paint has completely dried, you can inspect it and apply another layer if you feel like you’ve missed some areas.

Wrap Up

Bottom paint is a must if you’re using your boat in saltwater. It’s also recommended if your boat is usually used in freshwater.

Applying a layer of bottom paint goes a long way because it protects the bottom of the boat from the growth of algae and bacteria that can damage the metal in the long run. Luckily, there are several types of paint available, so you can easily do this job on your own.


Peter is a software developer who loves to take every opportunity to go outside that he can get. Peter grew up going on long backpacking excursions with his family every Summer and now enjoys staying at the beautiful Texas State Parks and swimming in the amazing Texas Rivers.

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