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How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Boat?

Is the exterior of your boat looking a little worse for wear? Or do you simply fancy a change? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions, then this article is for you.

A high-quality paint JOB can be an excellent investment for your boat. And, in addition to aesthetic benefits, covering your boat with this particular type of paint can also be a very practical decision that could reap rewards for months – or even years – to come.

How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Boat

But exactly how much does it cost to paint a boat? Can you do it yourself? And is it truly worth it?

Painting a boat is a job that requires a keen eye and a professional skillset, so the overall cost will vary according to several key factors. This includes the size of your boat and any additional labor costs on top.

We’ve created this article as a guide if you are intending to paint your boat.

Types Of Boat Painting

Painting a boat can be far more complex than it seems. It can also be very tiresome if you don’t have a grasp of the fundamental basics. This process can consist of topside or bottom painting, or a mixture of the two.

Topside Painting

This mainly consists of adding a layer of paint to furnish your vessel from the water level and anywhere above.One of the main reasons this is necessary is to protect your boat against excessive exposure to sunlight and water.

There are a variety of topside paints to choose from, although premium brand types will undoubtedly cost you more. This is because they do a far better job of sealing your boat and protecting it from damage.

As this area is always visible, you might also want to add a lick of your favorite color paint (of high quality) to personalize your vessel and make it stand out from the crowd!

The topside painting also concerns itself with any repairs to the body of your boat, preparing its surface, and then adding primer. Sometimes, topside painting also covers the interior of your boat, the hull, and the deck.

Bottom Painting

Bottom painting pertains to adding paint to areas that are usually below the water level. Unlike topside painting, many boat owners do not believe that bottom painting adds any practical value to their vessel. But that isn’t the case.

If your boat is docked or in the water for a large majority of the boating season, painting the underside with antifouling paint will help to protect against excessive water exposure. 

Because of the copper and biocides present in the chemical mixture, antifouling paint acts as an effective, protective layer to your vessel. It will also maintain the condition and integrity of your hull.

In terms of the bottom of your boat, antifouling paint is also an effective way of reducing microorganism growth.

But if the bottom of the watercraft doesn’t require anti-fouling properties, nothing is stopping you from using topside paint instead. These paints provide excellent water and abrasion resistance. However, this coat will not have the same properties as antifouling paint.

Deck Painting

Boats that feature a deck can opt to have it professionally repainted and refurbished as many times as it is needed. The deck is notorious for being slippery, so frequent repainting is an absolute necessity to ensure the safety of everyone who may come aboard.

One of the best parts about this is that it can be done as a stand-alone painting job, so you won’t need to fork out large sums of money every time it needs to be redone.

Just remember: topside paints can be used on the bottom of a boat and on the deck, but antifouling paints cannot be used on the topside!

DIY Boat Painting

DIY Boat Painting

DIY can be a tedious task, but it could save you a little bit of money when compared to having a professional in to do the job. No rules are stopping you from painting areas of your boat by yourself.

This may even be a more convenient way of getting the job done as you are in complete control of every little aspect. But, despite how great this may seem, you need to possess a vast knowledge of painting and preparation to successfully get the job done.

Specifically, you need to be knowledgeable about several key steps, including:

  • how to properly prep your boat before the paint job
  • how to de-stain the surface
  • how much paint to use

One gallon of bottom paint can cost you anywhere in the region of $15 to $200, depending on the type and brand, whereas a single gallon of topside paint can cost anywhere from around $16 to over $200.

Again, this depends on the brand and type that you choose to use. Even just considering these figures it’s very clever that a DIY painting job will be much more cost-effective.

So, How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Boat?

As we have already established, hiring a professional will cost a lot more than doing the job yourself. But this is to be expected. In addition to the cost of materials, you’re also paying for a high-quality finish and the knowledge and experience that the professional painter possesses.

Though DIY painting is fundamentally cheaper, you need to possess the right skills and knowledge to do the job properly. So it becomes far more difficult and a lot more tedious in many ways.


Professional topside painting can land anywhere in the range of $100 to $400. On average, it tends to stick around the $200 mark which isn’t a bad price for the job being carried out.

Additionally, professional bottom painting ranges from $15 to $100 per linear foot (with an average of $20). While we can’t give you an exact cost for professional painting jobs, we can give you the following figures for a 20-foot boat as a guide:

  • Bottom painting – anywhere from $300 to $2,000, with an average range between $300 and $400.
  • Topside painting – anywhere in the range of $2,000 to $8,000, with an average price between $4,000 and $5,000.


With everything considered including supplies, paint, and tools – you’ll probably be looking at somewhere within the following ranges:

  • Bottom: $50 to $500 or more, with an average of $100
  • Topside: $150 to $1,000 or more, with an average of $200 to $400
  • Total: $200 to $1,500 or more, with an average of around $300 to $500

Personally, we’d recommend working with a professional and letting them do their job. Not only will it ensure a better paint job for your boat, but it’ll also save you a lot of hassle!

If you want a specific overall figure for how much it will cost to paint your entire boat there are calculators available online that will guide you.

These will typically reveal how much paint you will need to use to cover the intended area, which is entirely dependent on the size of your boat.

Other Factors You Need To Consider

The overall cost of professional boat painting depends on a variety of factors. Here are some of the most important factors that might affect the cost of painting your boat:


If it’s harder to access, the painting job will be more expensive. So if your ship is still on the water, on a trailer, or just in the storage area, this will be reflected in the overall price. And a boat that needs to be hauled may cost you even more on top of the painting costs.

Surface Area

The bigger the boat, the larger the surface area. This means there’s a larger space that you or a professional painter needs to cover with paint. As a result, more paint is required – upping the cost significantly.

Boat Type

The material used for your boat is also among the deciding factors that will decide the overall cost of painting. For instance, there are extreme differences in the painting process of an aluminum boat compared to fiberglass. The various techniques needed in between will increase the price.

Boat Condition

The amount of preparation needed to paint the boat can sometimes take more time than the actual painting job. If the ship is slightly wrecked, it may need more refurbishing. This preparation may include sanding, filling, and other possible repairs.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional, painting your boat can set you back quite a bit of money. But it’s worth it to have a fully functioning boat that is neat, tidy, and stands out from the crowd.

Be prepared to spend between a couple hundred and a few thousand dollars painting your entire boat. Of course, this is heavily dependent on its size and location.

Lucas Jones