How To Remove Bottom Paint On Boats

If you keep your boat in a marina or water slip, you're going to need to know how to remove the bottom paint on boats and repaint with a fresh layer of marine paint. Learning to remove the bottom paint on boats is not difficult, but it can be tedious and very expensive.

To remove the bottom paint on boats, you will need:

  • A pressure washer
  • An electric sander and sandpaper (Make sure you rent or purchase a sander that that captures the dust. Not only will it help keep all of the dust out of the air, but most marinas will fine you for covering other peoples boats with the dust.)
  • Sandpaper
  • Metal putty knife
  • Stainless steel
  • Respirator
  • Protective eye goggles
  1. Protect yourself from flying barnacles or paint chips by putting on protective eye goggles and a respirator. The eye safety equipment is crucial as barnacles will be blasted off and their shells will go flying. Put on a respirator to protect your nose from the horrible smell emitted from most barnacles.
  2. Start to remove the bottom paint on your boat by cleaning the hull with a pressure washer the moment the boat is pulled from the water. This way the barnacles haven't hardened to their hardest form yet. Do not allow a boat hull with barnacles to dry or you'll really be fighting to get the little buggers off. Using a pressure washer will, hopefully, detach any barnacles or algae clinging to the boat bottom. Use a strong, wide spray and stand back about sixteen inches. Spray the entire hull to rid as much gunk as you can.
  3. Use a metal putty knife to get any remaining barnacles off the hull. You must do this step before you sand as even small barnacles will eat right through sandpaper.
  4. Clear the remaining bottom of debris with the electric sander and sandpaper. The sander should remove any larger barnacles attached to the existing bottom paint on the boat. This will be tedious and tiring, so grab a beer.
  5. Run your hand over the entire hull and use the metal putty knife or some sandpaper to remove any remaining barnacle pieces. Your hand will detect any high spots or rough areas on the bottom of the boat, so simply sand the spots or use the metal putty knife to clear the spots.


  • The sanding should be used to remove just the previous year's paint. Most boats have a "barrier coat" which protects the boat's hull under the first layer of paint. This layer should not be removed.
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