How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Boat? (2020 Estimates)

Are you wondering how much it costs to paint a boat?

You’ve come to the right place!

In this ProPaintCorner.com guide, you’ll learn

  • The typical cost of DIY painting a boat
  • How to save money when painting a boat
  • How much it usually costs to hire a professional vs do it yourself for painting a boat
  • Estimated cost of labor and supplies to paint a boat

And much more!

How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Boat? (2020 Estimates)

So, if you want to learn how much you should plan on spending to get your boat painted, then keep reading for all our tips and insights below!

How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Boat?

Painting your boat is about as easy as writing HTML code, and will cost anywhere from low hundreds to $1000+  all the way up to prices like $5-$10k when considering that some boats(like houseboats and yachts) are huge.

Here are some different types of paint that are used on boats:

  • Anti-fouling paint
  • Polyurethane
  • Epoxy
  • Gel coat(for the outer layer)
  • Oil-based(for top side)
  • Tar paints (for bottom painting)

Painting your boat(or getting it painted) might be one of the more enjoyable paint projects because boats have slightly more creative paint jobs that include the boat name, stripes, and other entertaining factors. 

Oh, and let's not forget that you(or a professional) might have to do some fiberglass patching on old boats, which isn't necessarily expensive but it will add to the overall cost and time to get the job done.

In this article, we try to give you a ballpark idea of how much this is going to cost, but you'll have to pull out the measuring tape and do some research to get a price that is accurate to your specific project.

Whether you are painting the entire boat, the bottom side, or the deck, we've done some research to give you some ballpark facts. Scroll down for more facts and advice.

Read More >> What Are The Best Automotive Spray Guns For Beginners?

Did you know: Anti-fouling paint prevents the growth of algae and other sea life, but it only works as intended when it's touched up every year!

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Average Cost To Paint A Boat If You Do It Yourself?

DIYing Saves You Money

Does your old boat have water lines? Painting a boat doesn't have to cost so much when it comes to price, but the paint does cost more than your average latex wall paint.

The type of paint that can be used varies on the outside/inside of a boat, and it really depends on what your boat is made out of.

For example, you can get away with a cheap antifouling paint for old wood boats, but when it comes to that speedboat made from IMG composites, you are going to want the best of the best in all materials.

It's a lot of work, and although you will be spending some extra time painting it yourself, painting the boat is a perfect way to make it look unique and attractive. 

So get prepping! And don't forget to give your boat a name before applying the gel coat.

Average Cost To Paint a Boat If You Hire a Professional Company?

Hiring a professional company like a body shop will cost anywhere from $1000-$5000+ depending on the size of the boat.

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

How To Estimate The Cost To Paint A Boat?

Pro Estimates

Boats are measured by the linear foot just like RVs, so giving the linear footage will help get you an accurate estimate over the phone when doing an advanced search for the right contractor.

DIY Estimate

Measuring your boat is pretty simple; run a tape measure along the length of the boat for the length, across the back of the boat for the width, and the body from top to bottom for the height. 

Or maybe you are painting the deck of the boat(topside). 

In this case, you might be able to get away with a paint that isn't quite as expensive, but we say buy the best paint you can get to protect your floating investment, especially on the bottom paint. 

Tip: When measuring the height, run the tape measure along the curves of the boat from top to bottom somewhere in the middle of the boat. 

Finding the area: say your boat is 17-feet long, and 6 feet from top to bottom. 

That means each side is approximately  102 feet. And if the back of the boat is 8 feet wide and 3 feet tall, you'll have an area of 18 square feet.

Left side(102 square feet) + right side(102 sq ft) + back of oat (18 square feet) = 222 square feet for painting your boat. 

Purchasing the paint 

We're going to want a really solid polyurethane paint or even an ablative paint that will hold up in the water for older boats. 

We did a rough estimate from Amazon products and spent about $400 on paint and supplies.

Prep Work

You'll want to leave a budget of anywhere from $50-$200 for purchasing all the supplies needed to do the job right.

Roughly $2-$10+ Cost To Paint Per Square Foot?

It could cost well into the thousands for a quality paint job on a boat, but don't lose hope! 

You can still get away with a decent price by getting bids from multiple companies in your area.

Our 18-foot boat has a total painting area of 222 feet.

DIY COST

If you scroll down, you'll notice that we paid $360 for some high-quality paint. 

We also purchased some prep materials like tape, paper, film, and sandpaper/sanding materials for a total of $40.

$400 total cost /  222 square feet = $1.80 is a realistic estimate for painting it yourself.

PRO COST Ballpark Range

Professionals typically charge not per square foot but for linear foot when it comes to painting boats.

Say you have a 20-foot boat--that's how the painters will bid the job out. 

So you found a decent company that is going to charge you $2,000--a reasonable price for your 20-foot boat that might have a total surface area of 280 square feet.

PRO COST = $2,000 / 280 square feet = $7 per square foot

That's a very reasonable paint cost for a quality job. 

Just remember that some companies will give you an insanely high bid like $5,000 if they have a busy schedule or think your insurance might cover the cost.

It's your job to get the best bid from the painters.

Read More >> What Are The Best Paint Strippers For Metal?

Estimated Cost of Paint For Painting A Boat?

Our boat has about 200 square feet of surface to cover, and the two-part polyurethane paint we plan on using says it will cover 100 square feet per quart mixed.

You should apply something like 6 coats of paint when painting marine vehicles.

That means it will take 12 quarts to get 6 coats of paint on the boat.

You'll also want to apply a primer to ensure the paint sticks to the surface effectively.

We'll say two coats of primer or 4 quarts .

You'll also want 4 quarts of clear coat (boats typically have a 2-part gel coat that comes with a catalyst that forms a hard paint layer).

Or more simply, 1 gallon of primer, 1 gallon of base coat, and 1 gallon of clear coat for our specific boat.

So if we are buying our paint for $30/quart that means:

 12 quarts(3 gallons) X $30/quart = ~$360 for boat paint

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Estimated Cost of Labor For Painting A Boat?

Each shop will charge you in service hours for painting your boat, and the actual amount of hours it takes a professional probably isn't as much as they are charging you.

Believe us, pro painters work fast. 

We estimate it will take a pro anywhere from 10-40 hours to paint a boat. 

But it all depends on the boat. For example, you could paint a small boat in your driveway in just a couple of hours.

Read More >> How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Motorcycle?

How To Save Money When Painting Painting A Boat?

DIY

Repainting yourself is the best way to save money. 

You might spend some extra cash purchasing the tools necessary for this paint job, but you can keep them in your arsenal for repaints in the future.

Here are some tools and supplies you'll need for the job:

HVLP paint sprayer

HVLP sprayers are relatively inexpensive, and they do a great job on any type of exterior project. Consider picking one up if you haven't already.

  • Paintbrushes/paint trays

Keeping a paintbrush or two around the job site will help when you need to touch up or cut in some edges, and paint trays are a good place to easily access paint when in the middle of a painting job.

  • Body filler/filler spreaders

Body fillers like Bondo are a great option for filling in small imperfections before painting. 

You can mark your trouble spots with a piece of masking tape to make them easier to find when you go to apply the body filler or polyester putty.

  • Drop cloth

A drop cloth made especially for painting will help to keep work areas clean, and it will also make clean up go faster. 

Search Classifieds For Paint Materials

You may be able to find a cheap paint gun on the classifieds section or marketplace that will help you get the job done.

You could also sell your old paint and extra materials leftover from the project locally if you happen to have purchased too much paint.

Get Multiple Estimates

Don't go with the first bidder on your paint job without getting price estimates from other companies first for your new threads.

Ask Google/Ask Us Questions!

Be prepared to have your sailboat or yacht out of commission for about two weeks when sending it in for a fresh paint job.

We have a team of professional painters that have years of experience, and we are at your disposal at any time for quick painting questions. 

Just hit us up on our Pro Paint Corner.

And to all you boaters out there, good luck at avoiding the barnacles! 

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

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Got Paint Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

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