How to Paint the Bottom of a Pontoon Boat[ DIY Easy Guide]

Your pontoon boat spends most of the year in salt water exposed to the elements. It is crucial that the bottom hull cleaned and painted. This prevents things like barnacles from accumulating and reduce the fuel economy of a vessel by up to 40 per cent.

In this easy How to DIY guide we will lay out the 11 steps on how to paint the bottom of a pontoon boat.

How to Paint the Bottom of a Pontoon Boat

At A Glance:How to Paint the Bottom of a Pontoon Boat

  1. Remove pontoon boat from water
  2. Clean the bottom of the hull.
  3. Chip and Scrape previous paint 
  4. Sand the bottom of the hull
  5. Apply Primer
  6. Sand down the primer 
  7. Apply Antifouling Paint
  8. Sand down the boat[Optional]
  9. Apply second coat of antifouling paint
  10. Allow paint to dry
  11. Maintenance

Items You Will Need

Priming the Hull

  • Hose
  • Clean rags
  • Dewaxing solvent
  • Chemical paint stripper
  • Hook scraper
  • 80 grit sandpaper
  • Boat paint primer
  • Roller brush
  • Paint brush
  • Fine grit sandpaper

Painting the hull

  • Antifouling paint
  • Paint stirrer
  • Roller brush
  • Paint brush
  • Paint tray
  • Fine grit sandpaper

What kind of paint do you use on the bottom of a boat?

Many different types of paint can be used on the bottom of a boat. The type of paint that you use will depend on the type of boat that you have and the conditions that it will be used in. Here are some of the most common types of paint that are used on boats:

Epoxy Paint: This type of paint is very durable and is resistant to both salt water and fresh water. It is often used on boats that are kept in salt water, as it will not corrode or peel as other paints can.

-Alkyd Paint: This type of paint is also very durable and is resistant to both salt water and fresh water. However, it is not as resistant to UV rays as epoxy paint, so it is not often used on boats that are kept in saltwater.

-Polyurethane Paint: This type of paint is very durable and is resistant to both salt water and fresh water. It is also resistant to UV rays, making it a good choice for boats that are kept in saltwater.

-Acrylic Paint: This type of paint is less durable than other types of paint, but it is still resistant to salt water and fresh water. It is also resistant to UV rays, making it a good choice for boats that are kept in saltwater. However, it can fade over time if exposed to direct sunlight.

No matter what type of paint you use on your boat, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and care. This will ensure that your boat looks great and lasts for many years to come.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

How to Paint the Bottom of a Pontoon Boat

1. Taking your boat out of the water

The can be the most challenging part of this entire process and may require more than one person. You will also need the use of a boat lift. There are 3 types of boats lifts; freestanding, floating lift and air/water replacement lifts. Alternatively, you could hire a marina or boatyard to haul up the boat for you.

2. Clean the bottom of the boat

You can use a water hose or a pressure washer to remove hard barnacles, algae or dirt from the hull. It is only necessary to clean the bottom of the boat beneath the waterline. You do not need to use any soap when washing the bottom of the boat.

3. Chip and Scrape previous paint 

Depending on how long your pontoon boat has been in the water some of the paint may have already started to chip up. If the old paint job is still smooth, you don’t need to strip the paint. First, brush on a chemical paint stripper over the old paint job. Use a 2 inch (5 cm) hook scraper to scrape off the paint.

If you are stripping the paint, place a tarp underneath the boat to pick up the debris. Only strip paint beneath the waterline of the boat. Do not scrape paint from the topsides of the boat If you keep your boat at a boatyard, ask the management if anyone there can use a power blaster on the boat.

This tool should only be handled by professionals, but it can strip the paint much faster than doing it by hand. Ask for soda blasting on a fiberglass boat or sand blasting on an aluminum or steel boat.

4. Sand the bottom of the hull

How to Paint the Bottom of a Pontoon Boat

Now that the bottom is entirely clean you can scrub the outside of the keel with 80 grit sand paper(check out these electric sanders). When the sanding is done it should have a “dusty” like finish.

5. Apply Primer

When applying the primer, you want to make sure that it’s stirred up in the can with a paint stick. Prime the edges with a paint brush before filling in the middle with the roller. Make sure that there is an even coating of primer over the keel. You can buy good boat primer here on Amazon for a reasonable price.

6. Sand down the primer 

Before applying your bottom paint, make sure the primer is dry(should take anywhere from 1-2 hours). Use a fine grit sand paper to sand down the surface.

7. Apply Antifouling Paint

Antifouling paint contains a chemical called a biocide, which will kill barnacles, algae, or other growth before it can develop on your boat’s keel. There are 3 types of antifouling paint that you can buy: ablative, hard bottom, and hybrid.

  • Ablative paint is good for slower boats that are in constant use, such as fishing boats or pontoon boats. Ablative paint wears away on its own, which prevents you from having to remove the paint later on.
  • Hard bottom paint is ideal for fast boats or boats that may not be used as often, such as speed boats. These paints don’t wear away very easily, but it is more difficult to remove them when you need to apply a new coating.
  • There are “hybrid” or “semi-hard” paints that combine the benefits of ablative paint and hard paint. These are good for powerboats or frequently used boats.

 Fill about half of a paint tray with the paint. Dip the roller into the paint and roll it against the edge of the tray to distribute it evenly. Start painting at one end of the keel and move slowly towards the other. Use a paint brush to fill in small or awkward areas.

Do not paint above the waterline. The topsides of the boat require a different type of paint than the bottom. If you need to add more paint to the tray, make sure to stir it in the can first.

8. Apply a second coat

Go back to the beginning and use the roller to give a second coat of paint. This second coat will double the lifespan of the paint job.

  • Some brands of paint may recommend that you do 3-4 coats total. If you do this, just remember to sand the keel in between each one.
  • If you want, the top coat can be a different color than the bottom coats. This will help you realize when the paint is wearing thin

9. Allow the paint to dry for several hours

Drying times can vary based on the brand of paint you are using. Read the can of paint to see how long you need to wait before putting the boat back in the water. In general, it may take several hours or overnight

10. Clean the hull every 4 to 6 weeks

While your antifouling paint will do most of the job of preventing barnacles and marine life from growing, it may not stop all of it. You will still need to scrub and wash away any grime or growth that may become evident on your brand new paint job. You can schedule a project every 4 to 6 weeks.

11. Use your pontoon boat as much as possible

Antifouling paints are designed to work better while the boat is moving. The more you use your boat, the more effective the paint will be. If you’re not planning on using your boat very often, you may want to store it on land

Copy code snippet


After you’ve given your pontoon boat a fresh paint job, it’s important to take steps to keep it looking its best. One of the most important things you can do is to protect the exposed metal surfaces from corrosion. This can be done by regularly applying a marine-grade sealant or wax. In addition, it’s important to keep the bottom of the boat clean and free of debris. This can be done by scrubbing it with a mild detergent and rinsing it with fresh water after each use. By taking these simple steps, you can help ensure that your pontoon boat will continue to look great for years to come.

Recent Posts