One of the most vital questions boat owners have is how much does it cost to paint a boat. It depends on numerous factors and can be $2 to even $400 per linear foot. So, painting may cost you a couple of hundred dollars to at least $5,000.
As you can see, the gap between those two values is vast, so you should check all relevant factors before starting with work. The first thing to decide is hiring a professional or organizing a DIY project. Then, overall costs will vary depending on the paint type and boat size. Let’s take a look.
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Why Should You Paint Your Boat?
Whether you have a boat made of fiberglass, wood, or aluminum, its painting is highly beneficial and can prolong its life. It will also increase the vessel value, which is crucial if you plan to sell it in the future.
Plus, specialized paint will protect it from water damage and prevent water plants from sticking. Be prepared that this action is not easy and requires excellent preparation and a lot of hard work. It is estimated that about 75% of the process is preparation work if you want to get the desired boat look.
Boat Painting Costs by Types
Before starting, you should determine if you need to paint the whole boat or only its parts. That will directly affect the amount of work and price.
Bottom (antifouling) painting
This painting type includes painting the vessel part below the water level. Most owners who use their boat regularly consider it unnecessary, but it is beneficial for vessels kept mainly on the dock.
Its primary purpose is to protect the hull from damage caused by barnacles and weeds. Remember that it is often unnecessary, but once you paint the boat bottom, it is necessary to regularly clean and re-paint it.
The first thing to do is to pick out the appropriate paint:
Ablative bottom paint – This self-polishing paint is an excellent option for slow-moving boats. It gradually wears away and releases biocides while sailing, making future re-painting effortless.
Hard bottom paint– This durable hard coating is an option for powerboats and other fast boats. The downside is that you need to remove it before re-painting your vessel.
Hybrid (semi-hard ablative) paint – This paint type is suitable for most boats and provides a smooth and hard surface resistant to buildup.
Besides the paint type, overall costs for professional bottom painting will depend on:
- Boat size
- Boat condition
- Way of keeping (in the water, a yard, or on a trailer)
If you decide on a DYI project, you will spend approximately $100 to $500 to complete painting your boat bottom.
Bottom (antifouling) painting prices
|Boat length||Min to max cost|
|20 feet (6 m)||$400 to $900|
|25 feet (7.6 m)||$500 to $1,125|
|30 feet (9 m)||$600 to $1,350|
|35 feet (10.5 m)||$700 to $1,575|
|40 feet (12 m)||$800 to $1,800|
|45 feet (13.7 m)||$900 to $2,000|
|50 feet (15.3 m)||$1,000 to $2,250|
Professional service implies the price of $15 to $100 per linear foot, but the average cost is about $20 to $45 per linear foot. That means you should set aside $300 to $800 for an average boat of 20 feet (6 m).
However, that number can reach $2,000, sometimes even $5,000, depending on the boat size, the company you choose, paint quality, and possible bottom damage.
Topside painting has an aesthetic purpose and will protect the boat from water and sunlight exposure. The process includes boat body re-pairs, surface preparation, and primer application.
Before starting, you should determine if you need to paint the whole boat or only its parts, including:
That will directly affect the amount of work and price. Remember that painting the boat topside requires a different procedure and paint type than bottom painting.
Overall topside boat painting costs can significantly vary, depending on:
- Paint type
- Boat size
- Boat condition
You can choose among three topside paint types:
Alkyd enamel – This oil-based, low gloss paint is easy-to-apply and cheap but has poor color retention and low gloss.
One-part polyurethane – This popular, cheap, and easy-to-apply option is perfect for DIY topside painting.
Two-part polyurethane – This hard, durable, and expensive high-gloss topside paint type is tricky to apply, so it is better to hire a professional to work with it.
Additionally, you should pay more for a sizable boat and plan more money if your vessel is damaged.
The average DIY topside painting price is approximately $350. In this case, you should calculate paint price and add costs for prep materials, like:
- Paintbrush and paint trays
- Masking tape and sandpaper
- Spray gun
The professional topside painting will cost you $100 to $400 per linear foot. However, the average price is often $200 to $250 per linear foot for an undamaged boat, particularly when choosing low-quality paint.
For instance, you need to set aside $4,000 to $5,000 for an average 20 feet (6 m) long vessel on average. However, the price range is from $2,000 to $8,000.
What Does Affect The Boat Painting Cost?
Bids you get for painting your boat can significantly vary, but you always need to pay for the same things:
Since different boat parts require specific paints, their price will vary from $100 to $300 per 1 gallon (3.8 l). So, you will get an approximate price after estimating your boat length and how much paint you need per 1 foot (0.3 m).
Paint amount per boat size
|Boat size||Paint amount|
|20 to 35 feet (6 – 10.5 m)||1.5 gallons (5.7 l) per coat|
|36 to 61 feet (11 – 18.6 m)||3 gallons (11.5 l) per coat|
|53 to 63 feet (16 – 19 m)||4.5 gallons (17 l) per coat|
Remember that most modified epoxy hull paints quire only one coat, but you should calculate two coats when using ablative hull paints. Most hull paints will cost you $20 to $200 per gallon, but the final price will depend on the paint brand and painting style you choose.
Professional hull painting price primarily depends on your boat size and is typical $25 to $125 per linear foot. Remember that this price can be higher when your vessel requires additional re-pairing and more work, while a first painting of the new boat will be charged lower.
Professional hull painting prices
|Boat length||Price per linear foot||Premium upgrades|
|29 feet (8.85 m)||$25||$155|
|30 to 36 feet (9 – 11 m)||$29||$190|
|37 to 43 feet (11.3 – 13 m)||$34||$250|
|44 to 49 feet (13.5 – 15 m)||$38||$330|
|50 to 54 feet (15.3 – 16.5 m)||$43||$400|
|55 to 59 feet (16.8 – 18 m)||$49||$490|
|60+ feet (18.3+ m)||$56||$555|
As you can expect, boat size will directly affect overall costs. However, professionals sometimes charge a higher rate per linear foot for small boats over bigger ones. The price will also depend on the place where you plan a painting. It is always more pricey when transportation is necessary.
Remember that marina quotes typically include all charges, except when later found problems require extra work. Plus, most professionals will quote for painting based on estimated rather than exact hours necessary to finish the job. They will let you know if some unexpected costs appear.
You should also pay for some tools and supplies, such as:
- Rubber gloves, goggles, and protective masks
- Tyvek suits
- Masking tape and sandpaper
- Paint stirrers
Always check whether the bill includes those things to prevent unpleasant surprises that count hundreds of dollars. Also, you will pay for everything bought, not only for what they have used.
For instance, you need to pay for an entire masking tape roll, although only a small piece has been used.
Paint stripping – As I have already mentioned, some paints will require stripping before applying a new paint layer, so you need to pay for this work. However, it will make it easier to notice any existing damage and allow better prime.
Customization – Simply said, you need to pay extra if you prefer to give your boat a unique and distinctive look. It is possible to add an application, your initials, or the company logo on the hull.
Professionals typically calculate this service cost by linear feet, so you should count on $100 and $400 for the customizing topside painting and approximately $15 to $100 for the bottom painting.
Insurance and disposal and environmental charges
Professionals will invariably include insurance costs in the final bill. Plus, many states charge environmental charges and marina fees because of paint’s inherent toxicity. So, you should also pay for that, regardless of whether it is a flat fee or a bill percentage. Finally, you need to add disposal charges to overall costs.
Sailing exposes your boat to numerous outdoor elements, making protective painting crucial for prolonging its life. Plus, a freshly coated boat will look more representative, and its price will be higher once you decide to sell it.
The planned budget will depend on the boat size, paint type, and the way of finishing that task. The DIY project will be more affordable, but hiring professionals often means a more appealing boat look.