Types of Topside boat Paint

Different Types of Topside boat Paint

Topside boat paint is very essential for increasing the longevity of your boat. To paint the topside of your boat you have to choose the perfect one. If you fail to select the right kind of paint, your performance will be poor. you should know the Different Types of Topside boat Paint.

However, if you choose the right paint, that is, the suitable paint, you will find your painting task quite easy.

To help you painting task, we are going to provide you with some useful information regarding the features of some types of paints and when to use them. We are also going to write about different types of paints so that you can identify which one to choose for your specific painting.  

What is topside boat paint?

Topside boat paint refers to the painting used on a boat's upper shell and deck areas that always remain above the waterline. You should apply topside painting to protect your boat from the sea, sun, and sand. If you keep your boat under the direct sunshine for a long time, it will get worse gradually either it is made of wood and even fiberglass.

There are typically three kinds of topside coating: one part polyurethanes, two part polyurethanes, and enamel paints. In case of using, each type of paint has advantages and disadvantages.

Depending on the size of your boat, and your expectation, you have to decide which would be right for you. Generally, enamel paints are the best for traditional wooden boats.

Enamel coating has a special quality that suits with wood as wood swells and contracts, depending on temperature, and dampening condition. However, enamels are not as durable and it needs maintenance almost every year.

Why should you use topside boat paint?  

We have to use a lot of painting in the nautical arena because the sea, the sun, and the sand take a toll on everything they touch. In fact, we need to make painting more than we naturally think. Basically, there are two distinct types of boat painting, bottom painting and topside painting.

They serve two different purposes greatly. Topside painting typically means the painting above the waterline to protect the boat from the sun and to keep it good looking.

If you use your boat for pleasure, you won’t want it looking tattered. In the same manner, if it is your working boat, you will try to keep it glossy as it is a reflection of your business. In either case, you should not expose the underlying materials of the vessel directly to the sun, that may deteriorate wood extremely and, fiberglass to a lesser degree.

Different types of Topside boat Paint

A topside paint is any paint you apply above the waterline on your boat. The area of topside includes the hull, deck, and interiors. We can apply one of the following types of topside paints in case of marine: one-part polyurethane, two-part polyurethane, and alkyd marine enamel.

There are also buffable, two-part acrylic urethanes and so on for topside paint.  Here’s some quality what they all have in common:

  • They’re resistant to moisture and abrasion, and are highly durable.
  • They all have the flexibility to withstand shell expansion and contraction.
  • They’re designed to resist exposure to both direct and reflected sun-beam, maintaining color and finish.

One-Part Polyurethane

It is very easy to apply this popular high-solids topside One-part Polyurethane and produces beautiful finishing. It is almost as glossy as two-part polyurethanes. Besides being significantly more affordable than two-part polyurethane, one-part polyurethane is also much safer to mix and apply. Also, it is easier to touch up if scratched or dinged.

It’s a DIYer’s dream paint because it is very easy to paint. Even one-part polyurethane is more durable than one-part alkyd enamels.

Simplicity is one of the best advantages in using one-part polyurethane. It’s very simple and easy to apply to interior and exterior surfaces above the waterline. You don’t need any converter to measure and mix, and no induction times.

You have to just stir simply to blend any solids that remain to the bottom of the can, then paint. For making a gorgeous and long-lasting finish, simply you need a brush and a roller. You don’t require any special (expensive!) equipment.

Two-Part Polyurethane

Two-part polyurethanes are better than one-part poly in terms of hardness, scratch resistance, DOI (distinctness of image, or gloss), gloss retention, color retention, and UV resistance. But you have to expend a little more in this case.

Here you need to buy costly paint, painting equipment, additional personal safety equipment, and time–for surface prep, mixing, application, and curing. Also, they’re not as flexible as one-part polyurethane, and so you may need to repair it time and again.

Although you can paint most of the two-part paints by brush or roller, you have to spray some of them to get the best results.

Moreover, some of the formulas are so noxious and therefore we need the help of professionals as well as special protective equipment.

However, if you decide to use a two-part polyurethane, you must know some important thing like precise mix ratios of converter, paint, and reducer.

You should apply it when temperature and humidity conditions are exactly as specified by the manufacturer. Otherwise, cure times and finish quality will be affected drastically.

Alkyd Marine Enamel

Alkyd is the combination of acid and alcohol. It is prepared from the distillation response connecting dibasic acids, polyols and fatty acids. Some of the fatty acids contain coconut, linseed, safflower, soybean, sunflower and tall oils (which is made from vegetable material oil). Since you can make Alkyd partly from a renewable source, it takes you a affordable cost.

People around the world use one-part alkyd enamels as they’re glossy, affordable, and easy to apply by brush. They also have good adhesion and build, and so they require fewer coats than two-part polyurethanes. Two-part polyurethanes require multiple thin coats.

Because of being oil based, alkyd enamels are good at handling the expansion and contraction of wood. Besides, they are usually compatible with wood’s natural oils. Moreover, enamels are easier to touch up scratch or ding as like as one-part polyurethanes.

On the downside, one-part enamels are not as durable as topside. It requires an annual maintenance coat, and they don’t have the higher gloss and color retention of the polyurethane paints.

Figuring Out How Much Topside Paint You’ll Need

The quantity of paint depends on how heavily you will apply the topside. The amounts recommended below are the assumption of maximum film thickness without causing runs and sags, and the application of two coats.

Note: Due to many variables (for example, topside height and excessive beam) the quantities of paint listed above may vary. For specific quantities and film thicknesses, you should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Best Conditions for Topside Painting

You have to make a schedule when you want to paint your boat. Besides, you need to decide how many times you will coat the topside of your boat. At the same time, you should keep in mind how long it will take to dry up between coats. Watch the weather and make sure if the humidity and the temperatures are in favor of painting.

Also, you should remember whether the substrate and ambient air match the paint manufacturer’s recommendations, which is very important during spraying, or rolling & tipping a two-part polyurethane topcoat.

Set up your scaffold in a suitable time to make your painting easier. You should start painting in the morning on a clear and dry day. You must avoid painting in windy conditions or in direct sunlight. Typically, you can start painting in the late morning so that dew cannot affect your performance.

You should complete the final coat earlier so that it dry before falling temperatures and nighttime dew set in. Any kind of condensation on the uncured surface may decrease the glossiness of the finish.

To achieve best finish results, you should choose perfect weather so that rain cannot affect full cure.


How long does topside paint last?

Topside paint naturally last for five to ten years.

Professionally sprayed two-part standard urethane topside paint coat usually last five to ten years, but the gloss fades gradually.

What is the difference between marine paint and regular paint?

Any paint with logo for using on a boat will automatically become more expensive. The main difference between marine paint and regular paint are; regular paint used mostly in houses or exterior uses are latex based whereas marine paints are oil based.

What is the best paint for fiberglass?

A basic spray paint or latex-acrylic paint is just fine on a decorative piece or a door. Polyurethane or epoxy paint is better for uses on heavy surfaces such as boats, bathtubs, and sinks. In terms of durability and gloss retention, the two-part polyurethane type paint is the best. These paints are usually very thin, so it needs multiple coats.

Can you use oil-based paint on a boat?

Topside paint contains an oil-based formula that we can apply above the waterline on metal and wood surfaces. You can also use it as fiberglass boat paint. These paints are really great for repairing scratches or minor dents to improve the appearance of your boat.


We know that there are a lot of people who are looking for the best topside boat paint. That is why, I would like to provide you with all the necessary information to make a good choice. Whatever your purpose is, you should choose the right type of paint that can provide you with full satisfaction in painting activities.

They come up with different quality and action. But remember that all type of paints do not equally suit for your expected purposes.

However, I have reviewed some of the best paints available on the market, and we hope you will find the information useful. If you ever decide to purchase one of these paints, it will help you to decide which one would be suitable for you.

If you find this information helpful, please spread the good news with your family and friends in making a perfect choice.

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