Boat Painting Costs [All Types & Methods]

There are plenty of sayings out there about the high costs of owning a boat. Still, people who love the water find it to be a worthy investment. Whether you want to give your boat a new look or you’re dealing with a fixer-upper, you may be wondering how much it costs to paint a boat. 

Having your boat professionally painted typically costs between $1,000 and $5,000 or more, depending on the size. If extra work is needed, like repairing, patching, or sanding, you should expect the cost to go up. You can save some money with a DIY job, with materials costing $350 to $800.

boat painting cost

How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Boat?

Painting a boat is a big job that requires a good amount of labor. Many people choose to have their boats painted by a professional to ensure the job is done right. Plus, there are different types of paint jobs, so depending on which type you need the price can vary quite a bit. 

Bottom-side Paint Job$450 – $2,500
Top-side Paint Job$3,000 – $8,000+
Full Hull Paint Job$700 – $4,000+
DIY Paint Job$350 – $800+

There are many factors that impact how much the paint job will cost, such as the size of the boat, what area of the boat will be painted, the type and quantity of paint, hourly labor rates, and so on. 

Remember, bigger boats require more paint and supplies, and they take longer to paint. So, the price can go up significantly as the boat’s size increases. 

It typically costs between $50 and $125 per foot (on average) to paint a boat. 

Plus, boats need paint that will stand up to the severe environmental conditions. Sitting in water, especially salt water, combined with the exposure to sand, the sun’s powerful UV rays, and varying temperatures are all factors that impact your paint’s quality. 

Special paint formulated for use on marine vessels is typically more expensive than standard paint, so you’ll likely be paying a premium on materials, too. 

Whether your boat is made of aluminum, fiberglass, wood, or other materials will also affect the type of paint you need. 

How Much Does it Cost to Paint Underneath a Boat?

The cost to paint the underside of a boat mainly depends on the boat’s size and the kind of paint you use. It may cost anywhere from $400 for a very small boat to $2,500 or more for a larger vessel. 

Painting a boat’s underside is known as an antifouling paint job. This involves painting the part of your boat that sits beneath the water. Depending on your preferences and how you store your boat, you may not feel that it’s necessary to paint the underside. 

However, many people choose to paint the underside to keep the boat’s look consistent, especially if you park it above the water or haul it on a trailer often. 

Plus, having a quality paint job underneath the boat will help prevent damage and reduce harmful exposure to the elements. Paint adds a protective layer that helps slow down corrosion, rust, and other problems that commonly affect marine vessels. 

Bottom-side paint jobs can use either self-polishing ablative paint that eventually breaks down and wears off on its own over time or hard bottom paint that is durable and long-lasting. Ablative paint is ideal for slow-moving boats while hard-bottom paint is best for speed boats. 

How Much is a Top-Side Paint Job for a Boat? 

Painting the boat’s top-side can be a big investment if you have a large boat or if you want to paint all parts of the top-side. Most people spend anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 or more for a top-side paint job.

Unlike painting the boat’s underside which is mainly for function, painting the top-side is normally an aesthetic preference. This is where people choose the colors and designs they like and use paint to make a bold statement about their vessel.

Still, paint anywhere on the boat adds an extra layer of protection from the harsh conditions associated with water and sunlight exposure. 

When painting the top-side of the boat, it could include the boat’s hull, deck, trim, or interior. The areas you choose to have painted and how difficult they are to access will impact the price for the job. 

The paint’s quality is also a big price factor. The cheapest paints are typically less glossy, have less color saturation, and don’t hold up over time like better quality paints. Marine paint that’s more durable, has deep, rich color saturation, and high gloss levels is normally more expensive. 

Deck Painting Cost 

In some cases, you may just want to have your boat’s deck refinished or repainted. This area gets a lot of wear and tear and it can start to break down, become slippery, or just look worn out. 

Plus, you may find that your deck needs attention sooner than the rest of your boat’s paint job. In that case, you could just have the deck itself refurbished and repainted without painting the rest of the boat. 

This can save you a lot of money, since in some cases you can take care of deck problems for just a few hundred dollars. 

How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Boat’s Hull? 

Painting a boat’s hull mostly depends on the size. Many painters charge a rate per foot, and sometimes the rate is higher as the boat’s size increases. That’s because large boats are more work to paint and require a lot more materials. 

Painting a boat’s hull may cost anywhere between $1,000 to $8,000 or more depending on the size, paint, labor rates, and other factors like whether the boat has damage. Some boats may need more than one coat of paint which will also increase the price. 

Hull painting may cost around $50 per linear foot up to $125 per linear foot if you go with premium options or customizations. 

Boat’s ClassBoat’s SizeExamplesEstimated Cost
AUnder 16 ft. Small sailboat, fishing boat$800 – $2,000
116 – 25 ft.Inshore fishing, water sports boat$800 – $3,125
226 – 39 ft.Bay boating, pleasure boating$1,300 – $4,900
340 – 64 ft. Offshore fishing$2,000 – $8,000+

How Much Paint Do You Need to Paint a Boat?

If you decide to paint your own boat, you’ll need to know the amount of paint to buy. Marine paint can be expensive, (up to $200 per gallon) so you don’t want to get more than you need. 

You also don’t want to run out and have to make another trip and possibly have mismatched colors. 

Depending on your boat’s size, you may need anywhere from 1.5 gallons of paint per coat to 5 gallons of paint per coat. The number of coats will vary based on your paint’s quality, the color, and how thick you apply the paint. 

In most cases, you should plan for at least two coats, just like when you’re painting any other surface. 

Boat SizeHow Much Paint?Estimated Cost
20 – 35 ft. 1.5 – 2 gallons$20 – $400
35 – 61 ft. 2 – 3 gallons$40 – $600
50 – 65 ft.3 – 5 gallons$60 – $1,000

If you’re purchasing paint to do your own paint job, don’t forget about the other items you may need. You’ll need materials to prep the boat’s surface, sanding equipment, materials to make patches and repairs, and protective equipment like face masks and gloves. 

Plus, depending on your boat, you may need special primer or other chemicals to remove old paint or create a base layer for the new paint. You also may want to use a gel top coat to help protect the paint job after you’re done. This will be an additional cost, but could be worth it to help your paint job last longer. 

And, you’ll need a place to do the work. That means a clean location where you can apply paint to your boat’s surface without worrying about dirt, dust, and other contaminants getting into the paint. You’ll need to have the boat up and out of the water and away from the elements for a while. 

If you have to rent a space to do this work, that’s another added cost to account for. Plus, the time that you spend doing the job. In many cases it may be easier to hire a professional to do the work, especially if you’re not very experienced in thost types of jobs. 

The Bottom Line 

Putting a new coat of paint on your boat can make a huge difference in its appearance both on land and in the water. Some shiny new paint can be an instant boost to the vessel’s value, so if you’re planning on selling it in the near future it could be a worthy investment to repaint the hull.

Paint also provides another protective layer against the elements. As paint chips and fades away, it leaves your boat susceptible to damage from its harsh conditions. Water, salt, sand, and sunshine are all very hard on boats, but a quality paint job can help protect the boat’s integrity. 

So, while it seems like a paint job is mainly a cosmetic upgrade, it really can be a good investment in protecting your boat and keeping it in top-notch condition.

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