Antifouling Paint UK

antifouling paint being applied on ship

Antifouling paint for higher durability and efficiency

Antifouling paint is a special kind of coating or paint mostly present in the maritime industry on ship hulls. The ship bottoms are most of the time under water. Therefore the design of the coating repels microorganisms, shells and plants. The antifouling products are also available for consumers.

The most important arguments in favour of using antifouling coatings are:

  • significantly lower fuel consumption, important not only for economic reasons, but also for lower impact on the environment.
  • lowering the transfer of living microorganisms into foreign water territories (for instance the appearance of Chinese crabs outside their natural habitat).
  • increase in durability of ships and yachts.

The best antifouling paint in the UK – 20 paints tested!

Practical Boat Owner did a research in 2016 to see what is the best antifouling paint with ideal price- quality ratio. They primed 26 test panels with International’s Interprotect Epoxy Primer and used a tie-coat primer, where required, before applying each of the antifoulings with the recommended number of coats. That was two coats in most cases.

The PBO researchers applied the paints in strips with an 11 mm unpainted strip between each paint, this acted as a control surface. They left the backs of the 26 test boards as bare primer to act as a control. The good news is that every antifouling paint showed a marked improvement compared to the bare panels.

The verdict and result

Seajet 033 antifouling paint

Fouling differed in a big way between the 13 locations they tested the antifouling paints. From Dunstaffnage, which had almost no growth of fouling, to Hamble, which showed by far the most fouling. Lowestoft and Waldringfield, on the East Coast, were also bad according to the researchers.

Not a single coating kept everything fouling-free in all areas, what particularly surprised the researchers was the dominance of one paint, Seajet’s 033 Shogun. This turned out to be the best antifouling paint in eight of the areas tested.

These paints shed slime and other fouling so effectively in many places that when pulled out of the water, they appeared clear.

Other paints also performed reasonably well.

  • International’s Micron Extra was comfortably one of the top paints all around the country;
  • Teamac Antifouling D plus, made by an independent family business located in the North East also performed above the average;
  • Precision Premium, (also made by Teamac), and Nautix’s A3 scored also closer to the top;
  • Seago High Performance also performed well in several test places;
  • Hempel’s Cruising Performer and Jotun’s NonStop did well in some areas of the country;
  • Boero’s Mistral NF had some reasonable results;
  • Flag Performance Extra did well on the East Coast.

Average antifouling cost

Antifouling coating comes in different variations. The offering and cost of antifouling paints for ships is rich and diverse. The range starts with soft ablating coating and ends at hard epoxy antifouling coating. The litre price of antifouling starts from £18.

Antifouling paint Brand Coating type Price (RRP)
International  Trilux 33, Antifoul  £55.00 per litre
Hempel  Hard racing  £45.00 per litre
Coppercoat*  Antifouling kit (2K epoxy mix and a bag of copper powder)  £66.00 per litre
Seajet  Self polishing antifouling  £35.00 per litre

*Below you will find more detailed information on Coppercoat price in the UK

Additionally, for boat and yacht owners who are willing to have the coating applied by professionals, there are many companies providing this service for a cost of approx. £50 per sq. feet.

Available antifouling coatings in the UK

The UK is surrounded by water and has lakes, canals and rivers ideal for boating. Many domestic holidays include boating activities and there are more than a million boat owners in the country. Therefore, also many exceptional antifouling coatings for various surfaces are available in the UK.

To mention some of these: Vivid, Trilux 33, PropSpeed – special coating for propellers, Alumaspray Plus and Trilux 33 Aerosol for aluminium and many more. Also the international antifouling (and other) coating producer Jotun’s products are available. Anti-fouling paints are also present at the annual London Boatshow together with boats, yachts, maritime accessories etc.

Most maritime shops have antifouling paint for sale either online or in their physical shops.

More than 10 years durability with Coppercoat Antifoul

Coppercoat is an award-winning, sustainable antifouling paint. It is developed on basis of solvent free epoxy resin and nearly 100% pure fine copper powder. The product contains the maximum allowed amount of copper, which makes it extremely strong. No other antifouling coating contains as much copper as Coppercoat. However, Coppercoat is classified as non-leaching and it is significantly more environmentally friendly than many other antifouling products. It complies with EU and UK chemical safety laws and regulations. It also is in line with International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) regulations.

Coppercoat antifouling paint cost and availabilitytwo bottles of coppercoat antifouling

Coppercoat is available for professionals and general public. Nevertheless, the application requires knowledge about painting and epoxy products. Therefore, professional painters often carry out the application. Only one type of Coppercoat is available and it is suitable for most boat types.

Boat length (feet) Price* for coating yacht Price* for coating motorboat
25 £300 £350
35 £560 £630
45 £840 £900
55 £1200 £1400
65 £1700 £2000

*These prices are merely indications and exclude VAT and application costs. The indications are based on the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MRSP) in the UK.

The costs of product and application are remarkably higher than for an ordinary antifouling paint. However, on a long-run Coppercoat is more price efficient due to the fact that, properly maintained it takes more than 10 years before renewing the coat is necessary.

Choosing the right type of antifouling

Antifouling paint exists in many forms and compositions. There are many types of antifouling paint for fiberglass boats; however, the suitability of a coating is also dependent on the use of the ship/boat. Therefore, when searching for the best antifouling paint for your boat, it is important to consider the material of the boat bottom, the type of water it is in and the usage purposes.

Man applies antifouling coating on boat wearing protective clothing

Applying antifouling paint on underwater hull.

  • Hard antifouling: a hard finish where biocides slowly dissolve in water. This is a coating for race yachts and power boats.
  • Eroding antifouling: very slightly soluble in water: tiny fragments are constantly falling off revealing new biocides. Especially suitable for cruising yachts and displacement motor boats
  • Freshwater: when a boat is exposed to both salty and sweet waters, the advice is to apply antifouling suitable for the water type where the boat spends most of the time.
  • Metal boats: high content of copper in antifouling products may cause trouble when on underwater metal surface. Therefore, the best antifouling paint is compatible with metal. A general recommendation is to apply a primer.

7 steps to apply antifouling

If you decide to apply antifouling coating yourself, you will find some tips below to ensure success:

  1. the surface has to be perfectly clean and without remnants of old coating, grease or dirt
  2. do not apply antifouling paint on already exfoliating old paint
  3. coating has to be fully rigid
  4. a high quality primer as recommendation 
  5. never apply a hard coating over a soft coating
  6. pay also attention to quality
  7. wear gloves, mask and coveralls for protection (the coatings often have high VOC content)

The following shows how to prepare your boat before you apply antifouling paint.

3 ways to remove antifouling paint

Many boat owners are renewing the anti fouling paint of their boat every year. This means that they also remove the old coating annually. There are three ways to remove worn-out antifouling paint from the bottom of a boat.

1. Dry scraping

Scraping is a quick but laborious manner of removing antifouling paint. It is also the cheapest available option. Scraping refers to removing the product by scraping it off when the surface is dry. Common scraping tools are flat bladed-, triangular-, bacho and hi-tech (electric) scrapers.

2. Chemical stripping

Stripping the paint off with help of chemicals is less troublesome than scraping. You can use any paint stripper which is suitable for fiberglass. Apply the chemical on the surface where you want to remove antifouling. Let the product work for several hours, depending on the product you use. Afterwards, you can easily scrape off the paint.

3. Soda blasting

Many people hire experts to carry out blasting of old antifouling. However, a DIY soda blasting is available and rather easy to carry out.

Copper based biocides

Nowadays 95% of antifouling coatings are based on copper-based biocides. However, frequent protests arise against copper-based antifouling due to the fact that the coating releases copper and other chemicals into the water. Unfortunately, there are not yet many alternatives, besides Coppercoat, for effective repelling of sea-weeds and microorganisms from the hulls of ships.

However, yacht fouling release coatings are the new, more environmentally friendly option for fighting fouling under water. In the future, it is likely to replace the copper biocide antifouling paint.