Do Pontoon Boats Need Bottom Paint?

Bottom paint (also called antifouling paint) is one of many recommendations for maintaining recreational and commercial boats. So do pontoon boats need it? The short answer: It depends on where and how you use the pontoon.

In Freshwater:

Pontoons that are moored in freshwater for the season will benefit from bottom painting. Without it, the hull is susceptible to algae buildup, which can inhibit the boat’s speed and performance over time.

For pontoons moored in freshwater for shorter spans, or stored on a lift, trailer, or in dry storage between freshwater uses, bottom paint is not necessary as long as the pontoons are pressure washed thoroughly after each trip to remove any potential hitchhikers.

In Saltwater:

If the pontoon will be used in seawater or in brackish water like estuaries, bottom paint is absolutely necessary to protect the aluminum pontoons from corrosion below the waterline.

How Bottom Paint Works

When bottom paint is applied to a boat’s hull, it discourages salt, algae, barnacles, and other aquatic organisms from attaching to the surface. The paint includes a biocide as the “active ingredient,” which intentionally wears off over time and through activity in the water, thereby keeping organisms and deposits from collecting on the hull over time.

Once bottom paint has been applied to a boat, it must be maintained and reapplied as recommended by the manufacturer to keep the pontoons protected.

Antifouling Paint for Aluminum Pontoons

Different antifouling paints are recommended for saltwater and freshwater, and for various types of boats. Whether you apply it yourself or have your dealer or a boat service technician do the work, make sure that only paint created specifically for aluminum hulls is used.

Many bottom paints contain a copper oxide, but pontoon owners should avoid these. Unlike metals do not react well with each other, and a bottom paint that contains copper will end up eating away at the aluminum – similar to how salt would pit or corrode the hull over time if it hadn’t been protected in the first place. An alternative to copper is a metal-free biocide called Econea. 

Protect your investment from the hull up with a bottom paint that’s designed specifically for pontoons.

Source: Top Ten Antifouling Paint Buying Questions from West Marine