The Ultimate Guide To Antifouling a Boat

While owning a boat can be rewarding and luxurious, it doesn’t come without important responsibilities like maintenance. In this article, we answer all your questions about boat antifouling so you can enjoy your boat for years to come. 

What is antifouling?

Marine fouling occurs when microorganisms, plants, or animals attach and accumulate on underwater surfaces, including the hull of boats. Boat antifouling methods aim to minimise and prevent damage caused by marine fouling, usually through paints and coatings. Antifouling paints contain toxic substances so it’s important to follow the right steps to stay safe. 

What happens if you don’t antifoul your boat?

Whether a boat needs antifouling can depend on its size and location, as well as how often it’s being used. For example, if your boat is stored out of the water for long periods of time, you may not need antifouling

However, if your boat is often kept in the water, failing to protect your boat can lead to a build up of slime and other organisms like seaweed and tubeworms. Not only can this cause damage to your boat, but it can also impact speed and lead to higher fuel consumption. 

How often do you need to antifoul a boat?

While the frequency that your boat requires antifouling can depend on a number of factors, we generally recommend antifouling every 12 months. This may differ based on the temperature of the water that you sail and store your boat in. For example, marine growth tends to build up faster in warmer waters. 

A thick layer of slime developing on the bottom of your boat is a sign that it’s time to replace the antifoul paint. Some paints also indicate their lifetime on the can. 

What do you use to antifoul a boat?

While antifouling costs can add up, investing in the right equipment will ensure that you stay safe and the paint adheres well. Here’s a list of materials and equipment you’ll need to antifoul your boat: 

    • Antifouling paint for boats – the type of paint you need will depend on factors like the hull material of your boat and how often you use it. It’s always best to check the recommendation of your boat manufacturer and local environmental regulations.
    • Protective equipment – including disposable gloves, mask, goggles and coveralls
    • Sandpaper
    • Scraper
    • Masking tape 
    • Plastic sheeting – to catch washings or scrapings 
    • Brushes or rollers (and paint tray)
    • Stirring stick – for the paint
    • Pressure washer

How do you prepare a boat for antifouling?

You’ll want to follow a few steps of preparation before learning how to antifoul a boat:

  1. Select the right antifouling paint, tools and materials – See the What do you use to antifoul a boat section above. 
  2. Sand and clean the hull – This involves pressure washing, removing old antifouling paint with a scraper or chemical remover, and wet-sanding. Following these steps will ensure the new layer of antifoul will adhere effectively to the hull. 
  3. Mask off areas that shouldn’t be painted – Use a waterproof masking tape to protect parts of the boat like hull fittings and propellers.
  4. Apply a primer – Refer to the instructions on your paint can to see if the manufacturer recommends using a primer. 

How do you antifoul a boat?

Now you’re ready to follow the steps on how to antifoul a boat:

  1. Stir the paint – Make sure all the ingredients are evenly mixed together and pour into a paint tray. 
  2. Apply the antifouling paint – Apply the first coat of paint using a roller or paintbrush and work from top to bottom. Follow the instructions on the paint can for the recommended thickness, number of layers and drying times. 
  3. Clean up – Remove the masking tape and safely dispose of any chemicals and equipment according to your local government regulations for hazardous waste. 

As part of your membership at Pacific Boating, we handle all of the antifouling maintenance for you! Pacific Boating offers freedom and flexibility without the costs and hassles of boat ownership. Learn more about boat sharing and how it works



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