Best Paint for Aluminum Boat: Top Choices and Expert Tips 2024

Reviewed by Tim West

Updated:

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best paint for aluminum boat

Looking for the best paint for an aluminum boat? With the number of options in the market, it can be tricky to choose the right one. As a seasoned boater with over 20 years of experience in boat maintenance and repairs, I’m here to help you make an informed decision.

The best paint for aluminum boats does more than just improve its look; it protects against corrosion, increases durability, and adds a personal flair. So, you might be wondering, which paint should you choose for your boat?

In this guide, we’ll explore various choices for the best aluminum boat paint, considering different conditions and preferences. 

Let’s get started on finding the perfect paint that not only beautifies but also protects your boat for years to come.

Best Paint for Aluminum Boat Reviews – Top 3 At A Glance


Best Overall Aluminum Boat Paint for Above Waterline

Rust-Oleum 207005 Marine Topside Paint

Rust-Oleum 207005 Marine Topside Paint

Rust-Oleum 207005 Marine Topside Paint is a high-performance paint that delivers a glossy and durable The for your aluminum boat. It is specially formulated to resist UV rays, abrasion, saltwater, and weathering. It is also easy to apply and dry, and can be used on wood and fiberglass boats too.

Pros

  • High gloss finish that enhances the appearance and value of your boat
  • UV rays and abrasion-resistant that protect your boat’s paint from fading or peeling
  • Easy to apply and dry, it saves you time and effort
  • Suitable for wood and fiberglass as well, giving you more versatility and options

Cons

  • Not for use below the waterline
  • May require primer and thinner, adding to the cost and complexity
  • Slightly pricey, but the superior performance makes it a wise investment

This product is a great choice for painting your aluminum boat above the waterline. The high-quality finish of this paint and the excellent protection from UV rays, mean the paint is less likely to peel or degrade even when you leave your boat under the sun for an extended period.

However, this paint is not suitable for below the waterline. For these areas, there are specific products that are more appropriate and better equipped to handle the unique conditions below the water’s surface, as we’ll explore in the next section of the article.

If your boat is bare aluminum, you will need to apply a coat of Rust-Oleum Marine Coatings Primer for Metal, and let it dry for 24 hours. 

As this is an oil-based paint, I’d also recommend you avoid applying it late afternoon or on very humid days. For best results allow each coat of paint to dry overnight before recoating. Always check the manufacturer’s specs for specific scenarios and boat conditions.  

When painting the interior of your boat, consider enhancing safety by creating a non-skid coating with Rust-Oleum Marine Coatings Anti-Slip Additive mixed into the paint. This additive provides extra traction, reducing the risk of slips and falls, especially in wet conditions. 

For optimal effectiveness, apply at least two coats of this mixture, making sure not to sand between coats. After painting, it’s crucial to let the paint dry and set properly. Avoid using the boat for at least 24 hours, though waiting for three days is ideal for the best results. This extra step ensures a non-skid and more durable finish for the interior surfaces of your boat. I used this paint on my boat, and the result was amazing.

Remember, when working on your aluminum boat paint project, it is crucial to select the right paint that provides durability and protection while being suitable for your specific boat’s needs. Rust-Oleum’s Marine Topside Paint is one of the best primers for aluminum boats and is definitely worth considering for your above waterline painting needs.

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Best Overall Aluminum Boat Paint for Below the Waterline

TotalBoat Krypton Copper-Free Ablative Antifouling

TotalBoat Krypton Copper-Free Ablative Antifouling

TotalBoat Krypton Copper-Free Ablative Antifouling is a premium paint that prevents the growth of barnacles, algae, and other marine organisms on your boat. 

It is a copper-free and eco-friendly formula that does not harm the environment or your boat. It is also a self-polishing and long-lasting bottom paint for aluminum boats that wears away gradually and evenly, eliminating the need for sanding and reducing the buildup of paint layers.

Pros

  • Ablative formula that prevents buildup and maintains a smooth surface
  • Copper-free and eco-friendly that doesn’t pollute the water or damage your boat
  • Effective against barnacles and algae that keep your boat clean and fast
  • Quick drying time for overcoating, enabling the job to be completed within the same day
  • Self-polishing and long-lasting that reduces maintenance and frequency of painting

Cons

  • Might be a bit pricey. But well worth the investment
  • Requires surface preparation that increases the time and effort involved
  • Not recommended for trailered boats, limiting its suitability and convenience

TotalBoat Krypton Copper-Free Ablative Antifouling paint is an excellent choice for painting your aluminum boat below the waterline. It offers superior performance, environmental protection, and durability.

A feature of this product that I particularly appreciate is its quick drying time, allowing you to apply this paint and overcoat a boat in just 1-2 hours.  Do note that on colder days this paint won’t dry as fast. This feature enables you to complete the boat painting project within the same day. 

However, using TotalBoat Krypton paint requires careful preparation of the aluminum hull, including the application of the TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Barrier Coat primer, specifically made for use on aluminum.

While the price point of this paint may not be within everyone’s budget, its exceptional qualities stand out, making it one of the best marine paints for aluminum boat hulls and a valuable investment.

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Best Paint for Aluminum Boat Alternative Contenders

When looking for an affordable yet effective paint for your aluminum boat, two options stand out: TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Paint and Sea Hawk Paints Aluma Hawk Aluminum Boat Paint. These paints offer reliable performance and longevity without breaking the bank.

TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Topside Paint

TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Paint

If you’re seeking an affordable and straightforward paint for your aluminum boat, consider TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Paint. 

Pros

  • Require no etching or priming (unless working on bare aluminum)
  • Low VOC and low odor, making it safer and more pleasant to use
  • Dries to a hard, smooth, and low-sheen finish that resists fading and chalking
  • Suitable for use above or below the waterline, in fresh or salt water for added flexibility (no antifouling)
  • 8 different colors including camouflage options, ideal for discreetly blending the boat’s bottom with its aquatic surroundings
  • Easy to apply, you can use a brush, roller, or spray, providing flexibility and convenience

Cons

  • Requires preparation of bare aluminum, increasing cost and complexity
  • Not recommended for antifouling protection

This product is an excellent selection for those in search of a user-friendly and efficient paint solution for their aluminum boat. 

It requires no etching or priming, except on bare aluminum, and boasts a low VOC and odor formulation, enhancing the safety and comfort of your painting experience. It dries to a hard, smooth finish with low sheen, proficiently resistant to chemicals, fading, and chalking. 

Suitable for use both above and below the waterline in fresh or seawater, this paint is versatile, though it does not offer antifouling properties. For those in need of antifouling protection, the manufacturer recommends TotalBoat AlumiPaint AF, a specialized option to keep your boat free from marine growth. 

This paint is also available in 8 attractive colors, including camouflage options, ideal for blending the bottom of your aluminum boat with various marine environments. 

To apply this paint you can use a brush, roller, or spray, which makes it a convenient choice, though some additional boat prep is required for bare aluminum surfaces.

Considering a high-quality paint for your aluminum boat? TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Paint stands out as one of the best to paint aluminum boats. Consider this top-rated paint to enhance your boat’s aesthetic and durability effectively.

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Sea Hawk Paints Aluma Hawk Aluminum Boat Paint

Sea Hawk Aluma Hawk Aluminum Boat Paint

Another budget-friendly option worth considering is Sea Hawk Paints Aluma Hawk Aluminum Boat Paint. 

Pros

  • Self-priming and fast-drying, saving you time and money
  • High build and high hide properties, covering imperfections and defects
  • Suitable for fresh and sea water, protecting your boat from damage and deterioration
  • Can be used above or below the waterline

Cons

  • May require a paint reducer for spray application, adding to costs and complexity
  • Multiple coats might be needed for full coverage, increasing the time and effort involved

This is a versatile and effective solution for aluminum boats, combining the ease of a quick-dry, high-solids formula with robust protection. Its unique feature as a self-priming and high-hide coating allows direct application on aluminum without needing to apply a primer, making it ideal for a range of boats including Pontoons, Jon boats, and House Boats.

This paint works well in inhibiting corrosion, thanks to its dual-purpose phenolic resin that works as both a primer and a topcoat. It offers excellent adhesion on aluminum and fiberglass, and its rapid air-dry feature speeds up the painting process. While it’s safe for submersion in both fresh and saltwater environments, it’s important to note that Sea Hawk Aluminum Boat Paint lacks antifouling properties.

Aluma Hawk’s chromate-free formulation is environmentally conscious and resistant to water and oil hydrocarbons, adding to its durability.

Use this paint for both above and below the waterline applications, provided antifouling isn’t a requirement. It offers flexibility and reliability, effectively protecting your boat from seawater damage and corrosion.

Best Camo Paint for Aluminum Boat

Rust-Oleum 379560 Specialty Camouflage Paint

Rust-Oleum 379560 Specialty Camouflage Paint

Rust-Oleum 379560 Specialty Camouflage Paint is a spray paint that creates a non-reflective and ultra-flat finish for your aluminum boat. It is ideal for hunting and fishing boats, as it blends in with the natural surroundings and conceals the boat from the prey. It is also a durable and fast-drying paint that bonds to metal, wood, and plastic surfaces.

Pros

  • Ultra-flat and non-reflective that creates a stealthy and realistic camouflage effect
  • Ideal for hunting and fishing boats that need to hide from prey and predators
  • Bonds to metal, wood, and plastic, giving you more options and versatility
  • Fast-drying and durable, saving you time and effort

Cons

  • Not for below waterline use, limiting its application and effectiveness

Rust-Oleum 379560 Specialty Camouflage Paint is an excellent option for painting your aluminum boat, including Jon boats and other types of fishing and hunting vessels, in a camo style. This paint offers a unique and effective finish that suits the aesthetic and functional needs of outdoor watercraft.

Its formulation ensures a strong bond and easy application process, making it one of the best products for beginners and experienced boat owners alike. Furthermore, its wide compatibility means it can be used on various surfaces, ensuring that whether you’re refurbishing a trusty Jon boat for a fishing trip or updating a larger hunting boat, this paint delivers the durability and style you need.

However, it is not suitable for below waterline use and may need some additional products and steps to achieve the best results.

 Remember to enjoy the process and admire the impressive camo paint job you’ve given your boat.

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Choosing the Best Paint for Your Aluminum Boat: What to Consider

aluminum boat paint

When selecting the best paint for your boat, it is important to consider several factors like durability, etching and priming requirements, color, application method, and maintenance. Let’s discuss each of them in more detail:

  • Durability: Choose a paint that lasts a long time and can handle water well. This will prevent the paint from peeling off and make your boat look for a long time.
  • Primer Compatibility: When you need to use paint on bare aluminum, it’s important to prepare the surface properly first. Choose a paint that can double as a primer, or ensure you have a compatible primer specifically designed to work with the paint you’re using.
  • Ease of Application: Pick a paint that’s easy to use with brushes or rollers, and doesn’t need you to be an expert to apply it well.
  • Type of Paint: The kind of paint you pick can make the paint job easy or very difficult. There are different types like polyurethane, enamel, antifouling, and camouflage. Each has its own good and bad points. Choose the one that is effective on aluminum and matches the specific part of the boat you’re painting, your desired results, and your budget.
  • Spray painting: If you decide to spray paint your boat, prioritize safety. You will need to use protective gear like gloves, goggles, and masks to shield yourself from paint and fumes. Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling harmful chemicals, and cover nearby surfaces to protect them from overspray.
  • Color: The color of the paint also changes how your boat looks and works. There are lots of different colors to choose from. Pick a color that you like and that fits your boat’s current look. Think about safety too; some colors are easier to see and might be safer. 
  • Application Method: There are different ways to put the paint on your boat, like spraying, rolling, or brushing. Each way has its own good and bad points, like how fast it is, how easy it is, how well it covers, and how it looks in the end. Pick the way that’s best for you and follow the paint maker’s directions for getting ready, using primer, how many coats to put on, and how long to let it dry.
  • Non-Skid Properties: If you need paint for inside aluminum boat, think about using non-skid paint. This kind of paint helps prevent slipping and accidents, especially when the surface is wet. It’s great for safety and adds extra grip underfoot. It’s not just safer, but also durable and can handle a lot of foot traffic. Choose non-skid coating to make your boat safer and more comfortable to move around on.
  • Ongoing Maintenance: Taking care of the paint on your boat is important to keep it looking good and lasting long. The paint can be affected by water, weather, how you use the boat, and where you keep it. To stop the paint from peeling or getting damaged, take good care of it. Fix any small damages right away with the same kind of paint you used before.

Steps for Painting Your Aluminum Boat: Expert Tips for Optimal Results

marine paint for aluminum boat

Preparing Your Boat for Painting

Start with a Clean Slate: Begin by thoroughly washing your boat to remove dirt, grime, and existing paint. A mix of mild detergent and water usually does the trick. Allow the boat to dry completely before moving to the next step.

Pro Tip: For tough stains or residues, a specialized aluminum cleaner can provide a deeper clean.

Sand the Surface: Use medium-grit sandpaper to sand the boat evenly. This step is crucial for removing the existing paint and ensuring that the new paint adheres properly.

Pro Tip: A dual-action sander can speed up this process and provide a more uniform finish.

Dust Off: After sanding, thoroughly remove all dust with a vacuum or air blower. Finish the cleaning process by wiping the surface with a tack cloth to pick up any remaining dust.

Pro Tip: A tack cloth is more effective than a regular rag as it is designed to trap and hold dust particles.

Applying Primer and Paint

  • Primer Application: Find the best high-quality primer that’s compatible with aluminum. Apply it evenly across the surface. Let it dry as per the manufacturer’s instructions before painting.
    Pro Tip: A sprayer can be used for a more even and efficient primer application.
  • Paint Process: Select a high-quality marine paint suitable for aluminum. Apply the first coat of paint thinly and evenly, allowing it to dry completely before applying a second coat. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal drying times.
    Pro Tip: For the best finish, apply the paint in thin layers, use consistent strokes and avoid painting in extreme weather conditions.

Ongoing Care: Ensuring Longevity of Your Boat’s Paint Job

  • Regular Cleaning: Frequently clean your boat to prevent the build-up of salts and contaminants. Use gentle, boat-friendly cleaning agents and avoid abrasive materials that could scratch the paint. After each outing, especially in saltwater, rinse the boat with fresh water to prevent salt accumulation, which can damage the paint over time.
  • Immediate Touch-Ups: If you notice chips or scratches, address them immediately. This prevents the exposed areas from corroding or deteriorating further. Use the same type of paint used in the original job for consistency.
    Pro Tip: Keep a small amount of the original paint in a sealed container for easy access for touch-ups.
  • Routine Inspections: Frequently check your boat for wear or damage, especially after using trailers, piers, or boat ramps, as these can cause more harm. Focus on the hull and other damage-prone areas. It’s best to inspect after cleaning for easier problem detection.
  • Waxing: For the best protection apply a coat of quality boat wax periodically to protect the paint from UV rays and to maintain its gloss.
    Pro Tip: Waxing also helps in creating a smooth surface that improves the performance of your boat by reducing drag and increasing fuel efficiency.

Final Words

Choosing the best paint for an aluminum boat can make all the difference in its appearance, durability, and performance. Key considerations include ease of application, longevity, and resistance to harsh environmental conditions.

Before you proceed, ensure your work area is well-prepared and all necessary tools and materials are at hand. Take time to evaluate appropriate paint options to find the one that best suits your specific needs.  

For additional guidance, explore our comprehensive boat maintenance guides, where we cover various topics related to maintaining and improving your boat.

With the right paint and a little elbow grease, you’ll have your boat looking fresh and new in no time! Happy painting!

FAQ

What kind of paint should I use on an aluminum boat?

Use a high-quality marine-grade paint designed specifically for aluminum boats. Look for paints that offer corrosion resistance, UV rays protection, and are suitable for the marine environment. Options include acrylic, urethane, and epoxy-based paints.

What paint will stay on aluminum?

Paints that adhere well to aluminum and offer long-lasting results are typically two-part epoxy or polyurethane paints. These paints are known for their durability and resistance to harsh marine conditions.

Is painting an aluminum boat a good idea?

Yes, painting a boat made from aluminum is a good idea as it provides an extra layer of protection against corrosion, wear, and damage from UV rays. It also enhances the boat’s appearance and can increase its resale value.

Do you need primer to paint an aluminum boat?

While some modern paints are designed to adhere directly to aluminum, using a primer specifically formulated for aluminum surfaces is generally recommended. Primer ensures better adhesion of the paint and increases the longevity of the paint job.

How do you get paint to stick to an aluminum boat?

To ensure paint sticks to your boat, start by cleaning the surface thoroughly to remove any dirt, grease, or oxidation. Sand the surface lightly to create a rough texture for better adhesion. Apply a suitable primer before painting for optimal results.

Can you paint over old paint on an aluminum boat?

Yes, you can paint over existing paint on aluminum, but it requires proper preparation. Remove any loose or flaking paint, clean the surface thoroughly, and sand it to ensure the new paint adheres well. If you are dealing with and old boat or the existing paint is in poor condition, it’s better to strip it completely before repainting.

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AUTHOR

Hello there, I'm Shaun! As your go-to enthusiast for pontoons, fishing, and all things watersport, I live for the thrill of a good catch and a smooth sail. When I'm not making waves, you can find me swapping my life jacket for a captivating book, soothing tunes, and a robust laugh. Because hey, humor is the life preserver in the sea of life, right? So come on, dive into my world, and prepare for quite the splash!