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How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Boat? – Average Cost

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how much does it cost to paint boat

Your boat’s skin got rotten after a few years, or you just bought a used boat with old paint, and it clearly needs something fresh for a change. Therefore, repainting the vessel is considered a routine task.

So, how much does it cost to paint a boat? This average price is usually around 500$ for DIY painting. A good coat of paint might be a wise investment. It not only protects your boat from harsh elements but also has aesthetic benefits.

You can save the cost by doing it by yourself; however, painting a boat is not simple and requires a lot of preparation. In this article, I will also provide some essential information for boat painting. Still, you should need to bring out the measuring tape and additional research to get an accurate price for your specific project.

Table of Contents

Cost to Paint a Boat


Topside painting

The majority of the boat painting prices are spent on the topside. One of the main aims of topside painting is to protect the boat from water and sunlight exposure. This painting not only enhances the look but also protects the boat from the weather and ensures good visibility to other boaters.

There are three main types of topside paint:

  • Alkyd Enamel: This is a traditional oil-based paint. Although it is simple to use and economical, the gloss does not stay long due to the influence of UV radiation. It must be reapplied more frequently than other types of paint.
  • Single-part Polyurethane paints: This type is a perfect choice for the DIY project. It is easy to apply, saves more than two-part polyurethane paints, and has a long-lasting gloss.
  • Two-part Polyurethane paints: This is the most lasting, as well as the most attractive, but it is also the most expensive. It should be applied by a professional because it requires expertise and can become toxic.

If you choose professional services, the topside painting costs $100 to $400 or more per linear foot. For a 20 feet boat, the average price is from $4000 to $5000. While the average price of the DIY topside painting is about $350.

Bottom painting

The bottom surface is usually easier to paint than the other parts because the shape is generally quite simple.

But not all boats have the bottoms painted. If your boat is only in the water for short periods of time, and is overall stored in dry storage. In this situation, bottom painting is not necessary. However, your boat is in the water most of the time, so bottom painting is a priority to do.

There are three types of bottom paints:

  • Ablative bottom paint: “Self-polishing” paint is another name for it. As it releases more biocides while the boat goes through the water. Thus, it suits slow-moving boats.
  • Hard bottom paint: fast boats and powerboats are suitable. The biocides gradually wear away until the biocide is depleted. And it must be removed before repainting.
  • Hybrid paint: this paint type is a combination of the two types above. We call it semi-hard ablative paint. Suitable for almost all boat types.

And if you hire a professional, the boat bottom paint cost is from $15 to $100 per linear foot. For a 20 feet boat, the average price is from $300 to $400. While the average price of the DIY bottom painting is about $100. However, costs also vary depending on the type of paint you choose.

Total: An approximate cost of around $5400 if you use professional services. And with DIY painting, the average cost is just $500.

Factors that Affect the Cost



In reality, we have all questioned how much the boat painting cost per foot. The price will vary depending on whether you hire a professional or do it yourself. If you choose professional services, boat bottom paint costs from 15$ to 100$ per linear foot, while the topside painting costs 100$ to 400$ or more per foot. The average price of DIY boat painting is about 2$ to 10$ per square foot. However, you should note the following before new coatings are applied:

  • The bigger the vessel, the larger the amount of surface area to cover.
  • Condition of the boat: new or serious damage.
  • The boat’s material also decides whether the prices are lower or higher. For example, the difference between an aluminum and a fiberglass boat painting technique will increase the price.
  • The cost is also affected by the selection of paints and colors used.

It may be true that professional boat painting may reduce time, but I prefer to do it myself because it will save money and give you more experience.

Below, I’m glad to share steps of repainting a boat:

How to Paint Your Boat

Step 1: Plan ahead and estimate costs before you start painting.

To measure the length, run the tape measure along the length of the boat. The width of the boat is measured horizontally, while the height is determined from top to bottom.

Say your boat is 20 feet long, 6 feet from top to bottom. The back of the boat is 8 feet wide and 5 feet tall. That means the area needs to cover :

Left side (120 square feet) + right side (120 square feet) + backside (40 square feet) = 280 square feet for painting your boat.

Thus, you can determine how much paint you may need by the number of layers.

Boat size Amount of paint
L 20 ft to 35 ft 1.5 gallon (single coat)
L 36 ft to 61 ft 3 gallon (single coat)
L 53 ft to 63 ft 4.5 gallon (single coat)

Typically, one gallon of topside and bottom paint can cost from $20 to over $200. In addition, you should purchase a primer for painting the topside. Topside boat primers cost around $10 to $90 per gallon.

As a result, you can calculate the cost of painting a boat.

Step 2: Surface preparation

Repair any surface imperfections.

Remove the old paint and wax coat with sandpaper. Be careful not to destroy the skin of the boat.

Use solvents, high-pressure water guns, and tools to remove impurities, and grease from the surface of the boat.

Step 3: Paint the boat

Prepare the necessary tools: paint brushes, rollers, and tray,… Wear a painter’s suit, goggles, and gloves before starting to paint.

If any parts of the paint need to be mixed, do so.

Apply the primer, then the paint.

Notice: Before applying the next layer, let the previous one dry completely. Reapply with a brush any parts that are difficult to paint or are painted unevenly.

After 8-12 hours, the paint will absolutely dry.

Step 4: To maintain the fresh new paint, wax the boat from stem to stern for long-term protection.

Wait at least 24 hours for the paint to dry completely before launching.

Tips for Painting a Boat

  • Choose a place where the work was performed that will be less impacted by the weather.
  • Remove all hardware while painting instead of using masking tape to cover the plastic and metal hardware.
  • To keep the paint looking better for longer, clean the boat after each trip.
  • Avoid using strong detergents to clean the boat.
  • Be careful when selecting paint colors. The fiberglass is actually plastic; dark tones will attract heat which can cause shrinkage and distortion. For the long term, light colors will be preferable.
  • In the step of painting the boat, we should use a standard “roll and tip” method for the best-finished layer. Two people are required. While the first person rolls on the paint, another follows behind with a brush and lightly strokes the roller pattern out.


Doing it yourself means cutting off on the budget. I hope the information and tips in the above article can help you know how much it costs to repaint a boat.

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