Protective yacht paint for the British waters

As a British boat owner you probably are continuously seeking the best coating solution to protect your vessel, and to achieve or retain the wished looks. In an ideal situation, all the maintenance is done before the new season starts; however, in practice it often does not go according to the plan. One of the reasons for this is the fact that many boat owners tend to underestimate the work. Especially when it comes to choosing and applying boat or yacht paint which are the main contributor to boat protection and looks.

There are numerous types of yacht paint and coatings which are applicable on different types of boats; on the deck, topside or under the waterline. Almost every application and boat type requires a different coating system. Therefore, we have collected all you need to know about yacht paints available in the UK in this article. Here you will find everything from wood boat protection paint to fibreglass boat foul release coatings.

Overview of yacht paints per application

Yacht paints in general, include every coating you might apply on (or in) your boat. The main yacht paints solutions are:

  • Topside coatings for above the waterline
  • Foul release and antifouling for protecting the under-water boat hull from microorganisms
  • Deck coatings to protect the surface and increase safety

Let’s start from the top…

Protection for above the waterline

The body of the boat, the hull requires protection from natural factors such as UV radiation and (salt)water. Impact resistant is furthermore, a crucial characteristic of a yacht paint system. In general a yacht coating system consists of:

  • Primers
  • Undercoats
  • Finishes (topcoats)

Attention fibreglass boat owners!

Fibreglass is a material more vulnerable to osmosis than other boat materials. Therefore, these boats require a coating system that prevents osmosis.

Create the basis with primers and undercoats

The first coating layer applied on a boat or yacht  is a primer, which purpose is to guarantee optimal adhesion of the coming layers. Primers naturally also adhere well to to the substrate. Be sure to choose a primer that is suitable for your boat type and compatible with the other coatings you wish to apply.

After having applied the primer, it is time for an undercoat which prepares the substrate for the topcoat. The undercoat paint helps create a smooth surface for the finish contributing to flawless end results. It is important to choose an undercoat which is compatible with the topcoat or finish you have chosen. Note that there are different undercoats for single- and two component systems. We’ll soon take look into the topcoat options.

glossy yacht paint on boat hull

Glossy yacht paint finish on boat hull

Topcoats for the finishing touch

To determine the final look of the yacht and give it the last bit of protection, a topcoat is applied. Not only does it define the gloss and colour but also provides protection from bangs and cracks as well as the natural hazards in and around the UK; wind, rain, sun and sea.

So’ let’s look at the topcoat options.

Single and two component systems

1 part systems

The one pot yacht paints are usually durable alkyd enamels which harden through solvent evaporation or reacting with oxygen. These systems are user friendly, easy to apply and weather resistant. They do not require diluting but can be applied straight from the can after stirring well.

Alkyd enamels are still the most popular type of finish mainly due to the fact that they provide an excellent, hard wearing surface and require the least effort.

2K coatings

As the name implies the two component systems consist of two parts which are mixed together prior to application. The coating cures through a chemical reaction between the two components. In general, 2K systems dry faster than alkyd enamels; however, they can also dry too fast: once you mix the component, you can use the coating only for a certain amount of time.

The two component coatings however, often have better gloss, colour retention, hardness, chemical- and abrasion resistance; they also in general more durable than 1 pot systems. If the primer and undercoat layers are compatible, almost any yacht topcoat is suitable for aluminium, fibreglass, steel and galvanized steel boats.

However, a wooden boat is a different story.

Variety of varnishes for wooden boats

A yacht varnish is a considerable option as a protective topcoat for any wooden boat or yacht. The varnishes are also suitable for wooden parts in other boats including doors and window frames.

There are three types of yacht varnishes:

  • Conventional
  • Two part polyurethane
  • Oil modified

Well known yacht paint brands in the UK for varnish are for example International, Hempel, Epifanes and Dulux:

Epifanes Clear Gloss VarnishA high gloss marine varnish for use on wood. This is a true spar varnish containing and high percentage of solids and UV filters. Recommended for interior and exterior use on new or bare wood above the waterline as well as a maintenance finish on existing varnish systems. Also ideal for application including doors, trim and exterior furniture.
Hempel Classic VarnishThis is a single pack, traditional varnish produced from high quality materials, including tung oil. Excellent flow at application, also a flexible finish and long term UV filters will ensure you a finish that will last for many years. For internal and external use above the waterline.
Dulux Trade Yacht VarnishA highly durable and flexible solvent-based coating for the decoration and protection of exterior woodwork. Also it contains UV filters which protect against strong sunlight. Furthermore, its high build full gloss finish lasts for up to 3 years if used in accordance with instructions. Suitable for hardwoods and softwoods.
International Original VarnishTraditional yacht varnish for with high UV resistance. Features include excellent flexibility, ease of application, good gloss retention and furthermore a high clarity finish suited to most colour timbers.

Antifouling and foul release boat and yacht coatings

Waterline is where the hull meets the water and faces new factors the hull needs protection from. These include so-called fouling which refers to under water microorganisms attaching to the hull and so slowing down the speed, increasing fuel consumption and decreasing durability.

Hull protection under the waterline can be taken care of in two ways:

  • Antifouling coatings
  • Foul release paint

Here we will focus on foul release paint, but if you are curious for more information on antifouling paints, we have a dedicated article. Foul release yacht paint is the newest innovation in the area of yacht paints; it is to replace the traditional antifouling products, being more environmentally friendly.

Here are some examples…

Hempel Silic One

A silicone hydrogel product which provides water-like properties to the surface. The surface has extremely low friction and it is easy to clean. The product does not contain any copper or biocides and it contributes to fuel saving.

International Intersleek 700

This boat hull foul release system creates such a smooth surface that the fouling organisms cannot or have difficulties to attach to the surface. This foul release paint is suitable for over coating also antifouling systems if a suitable link cote is applied.

Ship deck anti slip systems

Non slip coatings are critical in providing safe working conditions for surfaces that are easy to get slippery. For example; with splashed seawater and spilled oil frequently happen on yacht and ship decks – the deck surfaces can become very slippery and sometimes very dangerous.

To minimize safety risks, high performance and specially designed anti-slip paints are required. Both Hempel and International have ready to use non slip deck coatings as well as additives.

Hempel Non Slip Deck CoatingThe Non-Slip Deck Coating from Hempel is suitable for all types of leisure craft and has become popular among a variety of owners. One of the main reasons for this is the new formulation. It mainly reduces preparation time due to the inclusion of anti-slip granules. This quick-drying acrylic paint is suitable for use on fibreglass, steel and wood. It also has excellent ‘brushability’ and secondly has a good resistance to sunlight, saltwater and spillages of mineral oil.
Hempel Anti Slip PearlsHempels Anti-Slip Pearls can be added to all types of paint where a non-slip surface is required. This allows for colour matching and also co-ordinating with other glossed areas. Blend 80 g of the Anti-Slip Pearls carefully in 750ml of paint until uniformly mixed.
International yacht paint Interdeck – Slip Resistant Deck Paint Interdeck is a tough polyurethane low sheen deck coating containing a fine mineral aggregate providing a hard wearing and slip resistant surface. It is easy to apply, by brush or roller, on all substrates.
International Non Slip AdditiveNon slip additive which allows colour matching and also coordinating with other glossed areas.

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