yacht paint and antifouling paint

Yacht paint gives all over protection, above and below the waterline

New Zealand is a nation of boat lovers. Recreational boat owners have an estimated 400,000 power boats and sail boats between them, adding up to millions of boat trips a year – and that isn’t including all the canoes and kayaks. Naturally, boat owners of New Zealand want to look after the vessels they love, and want the best coating options available. Yacht paint (or boat paint) is a general term for all types of coatings that are applied on yachts, speedboats and other small and middle size vessels. The term yacht paint includes three sub-groups of coatings:

  1. Bottom paint – This category covers all the paint intended for below the waterline. It includes some primers but is mostly antifouling paint. Antifouling protects the boat hull from the growth of microorganisms such as algae, improving top speed, decreasing fuel consumption and protecting local marine life.
  2. Topside coatings – Decorate and protect above the waterline. For protection from corrosion, the weather, and UV radiation and for providing an attractive and durable finish.
  3. Deck coatings – For protecting decks from abrasion (traffic), chemicals and UV radiation while making them safe to walk on – most deck coatings increase the surface’s slip resistance.

In this article we will take a closer look at the different yacht paint categories and products as well as providing you with brand suggestions and local specialists throughout New Zealand.


1. ‘Above the water line’ boat paint for all types of vessels

Yacht paint that is meant for all surfaces above the waterline is known as topside paint. These coatings are subject to temperature fluctuation and changes in the weather – they must endure heavy rain and burning sunshine without deteriorating. Contact with saltwater means that the topside paint must also be resistant to splashes and corrosion.

Boat paint comes in a range of formulations, from epoxy primers to polyurethane top coats and many variations in between. The choice of topside paint is based on the boat type, substrate type, and the environment in which the boat is used. Each type of yacht or other vessel requires different preparation and coating application.

  • Wood – Dry sand the surface and apply a primer preserve the wood’s oils. Then apply a wood primer followed by a finishing topcoat. One pot systems are the most effective on wood.
  • Aluminium – Grind the surface and choose a suitable primer to apply. After applying the primer, bring on a 1 or 2 component top coat.
  • Steel – Prepare the surface by grinding it. Apply an epoxy systems primer followed by an undercoat application. Finally, bring on a one or two component finishing layer.
  • Fibreglass – Dry sand the surface, choose a primer, and apply either a 1 pot system or 2K paint. Finalise with topcoat.

2. Deck coating for protection and safety

Deck coating is another important yacht paint because it protects the decks from weather and traffic and also protects the deck users – these coatings are usually made anti slip textured so that they become safer to walk on even when wet.

Deck coatings are usually polyurethanes – either alone or as a topcoat over an epoxy – due to their good UV resistance and other properties such as chemical resistance and the ability to add anti slip grit into them.

3. Protect your hull with bottom paint

Bottom paints are probably the most important sub-group of yacht paint – they protect the hull from microorganisms, shells, sea life, and plants and keep the hull clean and smooth. This increases the surface’s durability and remarkably reduces the need for maintenance. By preventing the build up of biofouling, you reduce fuel consumption (less drag), increase your maximum speed, increase your boat’s durability, and prevent the transfer of harmful or invasive organisms into New Zealand’s protected waterways. For more information on how they work, visit our antifouling page.

Choosing an antifouling boat paint

Antifouling boat paint comes in three types: hard, eroding and non-toxic foul release coatings. Which antifouling boat paint you choose is dependent on the vessel type and top speed, the water (salt/fresh), frequency of use and whether you want to do the job yourself or leave it for a professional. Aluminium boats cannot be coated with cuprous oxide based antifoulings as there is a risk of corrosion, instead look for cuprous thiocyanate coatings and apply the right primer.

  1. Hard coating – An antifouling solution that can be polished extremely smooth. The biocide is released through contact with the water, and the ability is lost if the boat is hauled and relaunched.
    Use: Best option for fast boats, especially those used regularly. Good for racing boats because it can be burnished. Often used for freshwater moorings as eroding coatings may not erode sufficiently out of saltwater.
  2. Eroding coating – The biocide is released through erosion in these coatings – as the paint wears away the biocide is exposed and released. Can be hauled and relaunched without detriment.
    Use: Good for cruisers and sailing. Can be applied to all yacht and boat types  – so long as appropriate primers are applied.
  3. Foul release coating – The foul release action for these coatings is not biocide but instead having a surface too slippery for organisms to properly attach. Friction from the boat moving through the water is enough to dislodge the biofouling. The environmentally friendly option.
    Use: all yachts, boats and other vessels depending on the product

Where to find boat paint products and companies in NZ

There are many companies catering to the needs of the pleasure craft owners of New Zealand. Boat paint companies range from the world renowned AkzoNobel brand International to local companies like Altex. Below we have compiled a small selection of the boat and yacht paint available on the New Zealand market. To learn more about the rules and regulations for recreational boating, head to the Maritime New Zealand website.

If you would like more information about boat paint, or have a large project that needs coating, get in touch! Use the “Request a Quote” button beneath this article and tell us about your project to get things started. Our quotation service is 100% free and our experts will connect you with the right coating for your needs.

Boat Paint ProductDescriptionPrice/Coverage
Altex Epoxy PrimerA two-pack epoxy primer for steel, alloy, GRP, and wood$210 / 5L at 9m2 per litre
Altex Timbercote VarnishAn exterior gloss polyester varnish designed for use on all marine bright work. High gloss and UV reinforced$70 / L at 15m2 per litre
Hempel PolyEnamal / Hempathane EnamelA two-part, high gloss acrylic polyurethane enamel for steel, aluminium, GRP, wood $80 / 750mL at 10m2 per litre
Hempel Non Slip Deck CoatingA quick drying acrylic with a non slip aggregate$40 / 750mL at 9m2 per litre
International Goldspar SatinA polyurethane varnish for interior wood coating $70 / L at 10m2 per litre
International Micron Extra 2Self-polishing antifouling for the harshest fouling areas. For use on GRP, lead, steel, and wooden craft$280 / 4L at 11m2 per litre
International Perfection UndercoatTwo-part polyurethane undercoat for aluminium, GRP, steel, wood, and carbon fibre$110 / L at 13m2 per litre
KiwiGrip Non-Skid SystemWater-based acrylic for a non slip surface. Can be used on wood, fiberglass, epoxy, concrete, or metal$130 / 4L at 2m2 per litre
Pettit Vivid AntifoulingA hybrid with ablative and hard paint characteristics$240 / 4L at 5m2 per litre
Teak Wonder Dressing and SealerA sealer for teak which dries clear and protects from UV$60 / L at 6m2 per litre

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