Choosing the Paint
Most "tips and tricks" articles about painting the bottom of your boat will begin with advice on proper bottom preparation such as power washing and sanding, and we'll get to that too. But the most important consideration for any boat bottom painting project is which paint to choose. That's why we're addressing that critical choice right here at the top.
All of the other steps involved in the bottom painting process, no matter how carefully they are done, can be a waste of time and effort if an inexpensive low-quality bottom paint is used.
Interlux Micron Extra With Biolux
You'll be investing a lot of time and elbow grease, and choosing the right bottom paint can make it all worthwhile. If you use the best available paint, you'll end up with a durable, ablative (more on that in a moment) antifouling surface which can last for multiple seasons. Interlux Micron Extra bottom paint has all of these characteristics.
In his article at Live Outdoors, Captain Brett Taylor recommends Interlux as "one of the best boat bottom paints out there."
Ablative Antifouling Paint
The term "ablative" refers to a paint's self-polishing properties. As your boat moves through the water a thin film is continuously exposed, much like the surface on a bar of soap. This means that the biocides which fight shell, weed, and slime fouling on the boat bottom are constantly present at the surface where they are needed most.
Multiple coats with Interlux Micron Extra can endure for multiple seasons, and your boat can be hauled and relaunched without reducing its effectiveness. This is why buying the best paint available is the most cost-effective choice. The boat bottom paint job done well this year won't need to be repeated next year. Interlux Micron Extra is suitable for all hull types whether wood, fiberglass, or steel, and it's fine for trailered boats as well.
Best of all Interlux Micron Extra can be applied over existing conventional antifouling paint as long as it is still tightly adhered to the hull. Now that we've chosen the best paint for your boat bottom, let's go through the steps to a durable paint job.
Suit Up For Safety
Goggles, gloves, a good dust mask, protective clothing and good ventilation will allow you to work safely as you deal with dust, flakes, and fumes. A little common sense and following the manufacturer's product safety protocols for paints and solvents is always the best practice for tackling any paint job.
A little planning ahead of time can save a lot of effort later on. Plan on a good power washing as soon as the boat is pulled from the water, or at least on the same day. Slime and accumulated grime can be blasted clear more easily when they are still moist. If they are allowed to dry, you can count on putting in some serious effort scraping the hardened mess off of the hull bottom later.
Any flaking in the old paint which wasn't blasted clear after the power wash should be removed with a scraper or soft wire brush. Even the best quality paint won't help if the underlying surface isn't tightly adhered to the hull, so any loose material has to go.
Most of the prep work will involve sanding off the outermost surface of the old paint, especially if it is the ablative type. This can be accomplished with 80-100 grit sandpaper. Be prepared to devote some time to the sanding stage. You'll need to sand some hard to reach areas and be thorough but bear in mind that only the top layer needs to be removed.
Masking and Taping
You'll want to spend a few bucks for a quality painter's masking tape such as 3M. Here again, the time saved by using a quality tape makes sense. There is nothing more frustrating than having to do the job twice because the cheaper tape has allowed paint to bleed under the edge, resulting in a sloppy waterline. You'll also want to avoid tape which rips too easily when it's pulled off after painting. You'll want to pull the tape before the paint dries, so it's important to use a tape which comes off in one strip, as easily as it goes on.
3M blue painter's tape can avoid both of these time-consuming frustrations. You don't want to spend extra time scraping cheap tape from the hull with a single edge razor blade or cleaning up drips at the time when you should be enjoying the results of all of your hard work. A good quality tape lets you get the job done right the first time.
Painting For the Future
Finally, you're ready to lay on the bottom paint. Now is the time to think about the future. Interlux Micron Extra comes in a variety of colors including black, blue, green, red, shark, and dark blue. If you contrast the colors between the bottom and top coats, you'll know when it's time to recoat in a few seasons. You'll be able to see the different color of the undercoat showing through after the top coat has ablated over time.
After all of your careful preparation, you've now come to the fun part. (Finally!) You can use a semi-smooth or smooth roller to easily apply the paint. You'll want to keep a couple of good quality brushes handy for "cutting in" at tight spots where the roller can't reach.
Interlux Micron Extra dries to the touch in 1-3 hours. You can overcoat in 16 hours, and after the final coat, another 16 hours curing time is required before launch. You'll want to consider these curing times when "touching in" those uncoated spots which were blocked where the boat sits on the trailer or cradle.
That's it! You've just saved yourself the expense and effort of doing the job all over again next year. More importantly, you've got a boat bottom with a smooth durable finish with superior resistance to marine growth. You'll enjoy increased performance and maximized fuel efficiency as the return on your investment of your time and money for the best bottom paint job a boat can get.
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