Best Paint for Aluminum Boat – Reviews and Buying Guide

Last updated on May 10, 2021

Best Paint for Aluminum Boat

If you own a boat we bet there are many of your friends that wish they were you. Hours on the water simply to relax, or perhaps you often fish. For you, the resource to head out to sea or on the river is always available.

But if you own a boat you also understand how much work it takes. Apart from general maintenance, many boats need to be repainted from time to time. A huge task, but let’s help make it easier the next time. If you own an aluminum boat, we’ll share all you need to know to pick the right paint—simply read our reviews—and get painting right.

Here are our Top 5 best paints for aluminum boats you can buy:

1. TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Paint

TotalBoat Aluminum Boat Paint (Army Green, Quart)

Best overall

This paint was designed with all the important matters in mind: it shouldn’t chip, fade or peel for some time after application. You can use this one for a boat in fresh OR saltwater.

Users appreciate the many ways it makes application easy: there are no strong odors, you can use brushes, rollers or sprayers and you don’t really need a primer. Colors are functional, but a little limited. You can pick different shades from a palette of brown, green, gray and white.

This brand promises a refund if you’re not happy, so it’s worth a try.


Here is another brand that saves you a step in the painting process: you don’t necessarily have to lather on primer before getting to painting. Note that it’s not designed as an anti-fouling paint, but you can use it below the waterline if required. The brand focuses on giving you a paint that will prevent corrosion.

It’s not the cheapest around, but boaters appreciate that a little goes a long way, so it’s good value for money. Some find it a bit glossy, but that’s up to your personal taste. You can pick from the usual range of white, gray, brown and black, but you may fall in love with the lovely Jon Boat blue.

The company provides a 12-month warranty, but for specific situations, which you can view on their website.

3. Rust-Oleum 7715502 Protective Enamel Paint

If you want to brighten up your boat with color, this is probably the paint you’ll pick, because Rust-Oleum comes in stunning Gloss Carnival Red, Burgundy, and Dark-Hunter Green, apart from white, blue & brown. The brand has 40 colors in total and also gives you many options with gloss, semi-gloss & flat finishes available.

You’ll appreciate the short drying time of only four hours.

4. Diamond Brite Paint 46000 1-Gallon Aluminum Paint

Here’s a product that may not offer you much opportunity to be creative, but if you simply want your boat to have a stylish aluminum shine, it will work. The aluminum sheen has one specific advantage: your boat will look almost brand new.

It takes a little longer to dry than some of our other products—even up to eight hours—, but for a quality coating that’s a sacrifice, you should be willing to make. If you’re going to do two coats, be ready to wait a full day before using your boat again.

5. Majic Paints 8-0850-2 Camouflage Paint

If you want to give your boat a natural feel, or you use your boat in areas where you don’t want animals to notice you, this will probably be your chosen product. You’ll appreciate the Olive Drab, Earth Brown, Khaki and Desert Tan options. Of course, a simple black, blue or white can also work and the brand has that too.

You can use any application method, spray or brush, so anyone can try this paint. Simply be prepared for the long drying time. For best results, wait for a day or two for the layers to harden.

A dynamic option here is the brand’s spray paint options. They make for easy application in hard to reach places.

Buying Guide

When do You Need to Repaint Your Boat?

You may not have to paint your boat often, but we advise you do it even before you notice anything amiss. When you paint your boat while the previous coat is still in good condition, there’s no chance of your boat suffering any damage or rust.

How to Paint Your Boat

How to Paint Your Boat

The good news is that you don’t have to spend money on paying professionals to get your boat painted: if you have the space, do it yourself.

What do You Need?

Make sure you have everything before you start because you don’t want to ruin the project by not having an item on hand:

  • Paintbrushes or a sprayer, depending on your preference and paint type
  • Plastic sheets to protect the floor from dripping paint
  • A sander
  • Sponges, soap and a bucket
  • Power sprayer
  • A brush with hard bristles
  • Primer for metal surfaces and paint for aluminum boats
  • Paint thinner
  • Sawhorses
  • A fan if you want to speed up the drying process


As mentioned, space is important, because you’ll need a large enough area to prop your boat on sawhorses and have enough space to move around it while you work. If your garage or garden is big enough, do it there. The garage is better, so you know the rain won’t ruin your project—this is a long process, so plan for a day or two’s work.

Place the boat on top of the sawhorses and spread plastic underneath. Make sure you can easily reach everywhere, so position it near the floor or make sure you have a ladder on hand.

The boat itself also needs preparation:

  • In many cases, it’s not wise to paint over old paint layers. Sand them off with your electric sander or using sandpaper.
  • Next, you need your boat as clean as possible, so wash it thoroughly with soap and water. Use a hard bristled brush so you can remove all the leftover debris after the sanding. It’s also smart to use a power washer if you have one.
  • Let the boat surface dry thoroughly before painting any primer or paint layers.
  • Prepare your primer by mixing in some paint thinner. This ensures that the liquid flows into all small scratches, cracks, and holes, so the entire surface is covered.

Picking and Applying Paint

You determine the outcome of the boat painting even when picking out paint. The following characteristics determine how exceptional your boat will look:

  • Does it apply easily and ensure a smooth finish? Read reviews to determine how others have found working with the substance.
  • What is the method of application? Certain paints are meant to use with brushes, while others are more appropriate for sprayers. Pick according to your application preference and the tools you have on hand.
  • Is it durable? Read up on the product’s strength so you know it can withstand the elements, harsh sun, and some rough handling. It shouldn’t start chipping and peeling after only a few days.
  • How well will it protect? Your paint isn’t only for aesthetic reasons; it protects the boat against organisms in the sea that you don’t want to grow on your asset and start damaging the boat’s surface. Many boat owners will pick an anti-fouling paint for this exact reason.
  • What colors can you get? It’s your boat, so paint it the way you want it. Pick a brand that offers you multiple color options so you can get creative if you want to.

Note: if you have a fiberglass boat, check out our guide of the best paint for fiberglass boats

When you’ve decided on your paint, the process is simple:

  • Start with your primer and cover all the relevant surfaces. You can spray or paint it on. You then have to wait until the primer is dry, which can take up to 12 hours; read the label carefully. If you’re doing the inside first, wait until it’s dry before flipping it over on the sawhorses to do the outside. 
  • When the primer is dried completely, you’re ready for painting. Once again, you can paint or spray it on depending on the paint you picked and the tools you have on hand.
  • When using sawhorses, first do the one side, wait for it to dry and then flip it over to do the other side.
  • We suggest you paint two layers, ensuring a smooth finish with an attractive color.
  • Leave the boat to dry overnight and then add a clear coat.

When it’s dry, you’re ready to go boating again!

FAQ on Boat Paints

Do I need a clear coat?

Clear coats protect and help your boat to look its best. Your paint choice determines whether you need a clear coat because some quality brands will give you the appropriate protection and shine without adding an additional transparent layer. Research before you buy a boat paint.

Can I use anti-fouling paint?

It’s wise to pick an anti-fouling paint if you’re painting sections of your boat that will stay submerged most of the time. This will prevent the growth of organisms and protect your boat.

Final Thoughts

Make sure your boat is as fun to own in 10 years’ time as it is today: make sure you get maintenance right. And for that, you need the right paint. So, pick your favorite color, browse our list of options and look after your asset.

About the author  Robert Finn

Robert has over 20 years of experience boating and selling boat equipment. His passion for the latest and greatest gear helps our clients find what they need. His favorite boating place is the Florida Keys.