Boat Deck Painting on a Budget Myths

A very common question among boat owners is whether or not a boat’s deck can actually be painted on a budget. It’s a simple enough question, but the answer may not be quite as simple as “yes or no”. 

Boat deck painting on a budget myths

When it comes to “budget,” some people only think about the upfront expense of the paint itself. However, there’s a little more to the budget than just buying the paint. It requires a lot preparation, which means you’ll need to spend many hours sanding and cleaning before you even open up one can of paint. You also need to factor in how much your time is worth. As the old saying goes: “time is money.” With that in mind, here are some “myths” (so to speak) about painting boat decks on a budget.

Boat deck painting budget

Myth #1 – Cheap Non-Marine Paint Will Do Just Fine

There are people out there who advocate for using non-marine paints because they’re cheaper than genuine marine paints. Boat paint can cost upwards of $100 a gallon, whereas oil-based deck paint from the hardware store leans closer in price to $30 a gallon, so why pay the extra dough?

Boat deck painting on a budget tips

Reality Check: Non-marine paints are not as durable, and don’t contain the UV inhibitors that polyurethane and alkyd enamel boat deck paints do. As a result, non-marine paint doesn’t last as long in a marine environment. You might save a couple of hundred dollars in upfront costs by buying standard paint, but you’ll have to repaint your boat deck more frequently, which means more time spent. When you think about it, cheap paint costs more in the long run.

Myth #2 – A Cheaper Paint Alternative Will Do Just Fine

Another proposed budget solution to painting a deck is to not use paint at all. A common suggestion as an alternative to boat deck paint is to use truck bed liner. Sounds like a great idea, since truck bed liner is super-tough and should last long, right?

Boat deck painting on a budget truck liner

Reality Check: Truck bed liner is not designed for marine use, and some are reported to become sticky and peel away from the deck when exposed to constant UV rays. In addition, bed liner is typically not much cheaper than marine paint. You really won’t save much money compared to boat paint, and the spray-on liners need to be done by professionals using special equipment anyway, which will cost you even more!

Myth #3 – You Can Just Skip the Prep Work

You can save money and time on a budget by skipping the preparation work that goes into painting a boat deck, right? Just slap on a couple of coats of cheap paint and you’re good to go. It’s not going to look too good up close, but considering the amount of time and money saved, surely it must be worth it!

Boat deck painting on a budget preparation time

Reality Check: Not only will it not look good up close, but eventually it won’t look good from afar either. Without proper prep work, the new deck paint won’t bond to the surface and will quickly start cracking and peeling. Water will also find its way into cracks and pinholes, causing the paint to bubble and peel off, and you’ll probably need to repaint the deck again within a year. Painting over deck surfaces without prepping them first will only make things worse. Soon you’ll be left with no choice but to remove every layer of paint and start over from scratch. 

Myth #4 – Marine Paint is Never Affordable

Marine paint is way too expensive, so why even bother with it? How can anybody paint a boat deck on a budget when marine paint is only affordable to rich people with fancy boats?

Boat deck painting on a budget marine paint

Reality Check: Marine paint can be more expensive, yes, but it exists for reasons already established. You have to buy marine paint if you want the job done right, period. But the good news is if you shop online, you’ll actually find boat deck paint at discount prices at (shameless plug)! We offer a variety of marine paints and painting supplies below suggested retail price, so you can afford to paint your boat deck on a budget after all.

The Bottom Line

The hours of prep work plus the use of genuine marine paint means the repainted deck will last much longer than the other methods. 

Painted boat deck

You won’t have to repaint your deck as often, which will save you money in painting supplies and reward you with time not wasted. Spending a bit extra on genuine marine paint is ultimately the most cost-effective option, so yes, you can paint a boat deck on a budget!



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