Getting to the Bottom of Paint – Report 1 – August Results

Last winter we approached the Roger Williams University Marine & Natural Sciences Department asking them if they would be interested in supporting an Anti-Fouling Bottom Paint test.  Together we developed a plan to test 20+ bottom paints in 5 locations.  Now, halfway through the data collection, we are fascinated by the early results. As expected, the different locations have yielded very different results – and while there is not a stand-out leader, there are some early conclusions to recognize, as certain formulas of paint seem to be out-performing others. The big takeaway at this midpoint is: no one antifouling paint is at the top of the results in all testing locations. And location matters.

What we’ve learned so far:  

  • The control samples came in last!  (which makes good sense)
  • Fouling growth varies greatly from harbor to harbor. (See the control panel comparison)
  • None of the paints worked well in every location
  • Many paints worked well in some locations, but not all.  (We’ll share the results from each harbor when the testing is finished and the dust clears later this season)
  • These are results after 3 months in New England.  Some antifouling paints are designed to work for 6-12 months and their worth may not show after 3.

Key findings so far:

  • Harbors with the most current had the most growth.
  • Copper-free paints can work as well or better than those with copper
  • Water based paints can work as well or better than solvent based paints.

We’re investing in building the biggest database of marine geo-conditions in order to make the best line of bottom paints as well as be able to make accurate recommendations to customers about the type of bottom paint that will truly perform best for them. We’d love YOUR contribution to this effort in order to build the most comprehensive resource for boaters available. Get involved by taking the Post Season Survey and tell us how your choice of bottom paint performed this year. 

The RWU Preliminary Report below shows the average growth percentage when tallied for all locations and for hard and soft growth recorded in July and August. Top performing paints were interestingly not necessarily the most expensive, and copper-free, water based paints are leading the results thus far. We were pleased to see that our own copper-free paint, TotalBoat Krypton scored at the top of the chart, with copper-based TotalBoat Argo not falling far behind.

Control Panels:

The control panels provide important information about the type of growth in each of the areas we tested. As you will see in the report, each location varied greatly when anti-fouling properties were not present in the blue WetEdge Topside “control” paint. This information supports our thinking that even a top performing paint might not perform as expected in all areas. The growth depends largely on location, and other factors such as maintenance and boat use also factor heavily.

How they tested:

(watch the video and read blog post 1 and blog post 2 about the complete testing process)
Bottom paint samples were applied to individually numbered panels that were first painted with our TotalProtect Epoxy based barrier coat. Each panel got 2 coats of the sample paint applied following the manufacturer’s application guidelines. With 5 locations in SE New England, the 722 painted panels were divided into 5 identical groups, attached in random order to a 2-barge float system that was moored in each location. Every 2 weeks, the scientists went to each site and pulled every panel to record changes. A photo was taken of each panel showing the panel’s number, any present growth with notes and observations of marine life, the type of growth and any other changes. A grid pattern was overlaid on each panel allowing the students to note the percentage of the panel that had growth.Screenshot 2015-09-23 11.37.35

Panels were then swiped with a porous sponge to simulate boat use and kept in a bucket of salt water until they were re-attached to the barges in random order. Two control panels were placed on each barge, containing only the TotalProtect paint and blue WetEdge “topside” paint without any antifouling properties present. The growth on these control panels is key to understanding each area’s specific growth tendencies.Screenshot 2015-09-23 12.34.23

RWU Marine Biologists compiled the data into comparisons of:

  • The same paint in different location (how did the result change in other locations)
  • Control Panel data: what kind of growth is prominent in each of the 5 locations
  • Which paint is most effective in each of the locations in fighting that kind of growth
  • What is the coverage of the growth on the panel before swiping? (How many squares in the grid overlay have growth present? see photo above)
  • What are clear leaders or losers in each harbor and across all locations.  

Data collection will continue into the fall, with at least 1 more reading at each location in September and again in October. These results represent data and analysis from early season reports (July & August). Another report will follow with mid to late season data.

The results thus far indicate that experience with your own boat’s location and past season’s paint performance are as valuable to choosing a bottom paint as these test results. We will continue to compile the data as it is given to us and to use this knowledge to better advise you on choosing the right paint. But knowing as much as possible about the kind of growth you experience and how you maintain your bottom goes a long way to completing the big picture of what will work best for you.

We hope you will consider being a part of our Post Season Survey, putting your 2015 boating bottom paint story right on a map that will update in real time, showing us what has been the most effective and where.  

How did your bottom paint perform?
Please take the Post-Season Bottom Paint Survey now!

And check out the LIVE Interactive MAP, updating results with every customer entry!


26 thoughts on “Getting to the Bottom of Paint – Report 1 – August Results

  1. How were these numbers constructed? 20 different paints; 5 locations = multiples of 5 (e.g., 20 X 5 = 100). So, 5 locations X 20 paint types X 5 samples each = 500 cases. Where did 722 come from? Since 722 is not a multiple of 5, how was “the 722 painted panels were divided into 5 identical groups” accomplished?

    • RWU gave us the vital numbers for their project. We provided paint samples. The math is not working because they most likely had extra panels made to use for replacement if needed during construction or over the season. The point being that all the paints were represented in all the locations on multiple panels that were rotated.

  2. ok we use a multiseason abalative paint from total boat-it may be Spartan but I forgot the name-my question is how does a multiseason paint do the 2nd year and perhaps the 3rd year???This is important to us who try for a 2nd and 3rd year of protection.

    • We are looking into doing multi season paint research further south where it is more typical. It is difficult, if not impossible, however to replicate everyone’s scenario. There is plenty more research to be done! (forever!)

  3. Totally confused now. Do I really need a degree in marine biology to select a bottom paint for my boat? Maybe over thinking this issue!!

    • Wouldn’t hurt! RWU seems to have a stellar program! But not necessary. Have a look at the survey results map – that gives great info about customer input in real time and by location. That might be the most clear resolution for you. And mostly – how did your chosen paint perform this year? how about last year?

  4. Great study so far. So many variables to deal with …water temperature, salinity, currents, sunlight exposure, etc. Well thought out & rigorous science!!

    It is good to see that the non-copper paints seem to be holding their own as there needs to be an acceptable alternative as various harbors & other agencies restrict or even ban the use of copper in bottom paint.

    I would be curious to see how these paints hold up over a longer period. Most boat owners I know here in San Francisco (me included) don’t use their boats as often as we would like, keep their boats in the water year round, and only haul out every other year.

  5. Wouldn’t use factor into the equation? These samples are stationary (Current notwithstanding), Ablative anti fouling paints, I imagine, work better with frequent or at least somewhat consistent use.

    • I missed the part where they sponge the tile to simulate use. How well is this controlled (do the same testers use the same material, number of strokes, pressure, etc.)? I would this could drastically impact the results.

      • Each panel is swiped with minimal “hand” pressure once per panel at each check. The sponge used, hand pressure (as much as possible) and procedure are the exact same each time and for each panel. You can see this part of the testing in the video here:

    • Use absolutely factors into the equation. The samples are stationary but the bi-weekly swipe simulates occasional boat use. And there would be no proper way to represent all the different amounts of use every boat gets. Cleaning is also a major factor – as many boat owners give the bottom a clean on occasion over the summer months, and this is again very individual to the boat and boater and cannot be scientifically represented in this study more than a bi-weekly swipe with a sponge.

  6. Pingback: Bottom Paint – Bring on the Banter | TotalBoat Show

  7. I noticed that you tested Sea Hawk Cukote, but Sea Hawk’s Cukote Plus or its Cukote with a pinte of biocop per gallon are recommended as their best for antifouling. Sinnce you test Micron which is interlux’s best at antifouling, shouldn’t you compare it to Cukote with Biocop which is Sea Hawk’s best at antifouling.

  8. Good question. Our goal was to try some new potential formulas, and make sure that the TotalBoat paints performed to our expectations. We had a limited number of panels and we couldn’t test all of the paints. Sea Hawk has a bunch of very good bottompaints, but this season we just didn’t test them.

  9. i am missing the Jotun brand, I use it since Australia and done 3 bottom paint jobs since 2006, sailed from OZ till Miami in various sea conditions (warm and cold water), had the yacht moored for 3 years in Gibraltar and now I am due to redo the bottom. Its more the waterline which needs the job as barnacles started to like to set up home, however I have had satisfying results with Jotun. Last bottom job was in Greece 2009……..
    I am not sure which paint brand I would like to use here before heading of again to the Caribbean and than back to OZ…….My first brand in 2002 was INT. Micron which had poor results.
    Maybe someone can explain or help me further…

    • When you get to the Caribbean you can purchase paint with TBT in it and it really works, I had good results with Island Sea Hawk 44

  10. Do people find it at all Odd that Total boats performed best hmmmm. Since total boat is private labeled version of Aquaguard you may want to look at private reviews of that product, which have been less then stellar. In our real boat yard experience this test is not at all what we have found. eat this with a grain of salt people.

  11. Hi Gary, Good Point.

    1. The testing was done blindly by Roger Williams University Marine Sciences graduate students. They only had numbers, they didn’t even know what panel was what paint when they were observing and analyzing. After data was collected in august, their professor, Scott Rutherford then plugged in the paint names before they presented us the findings. We did it this way to ensure fairness.

    2. These are not the final results.

    3. We have a number of partners with our bottompaint. They are not all Aquagard paints.

    4. Our goal is to have good products, learn more about bottompaint, share our knowledge with our customers, and be transparent. Some paints aren’t doing that well, and we plan to use this info to improve our formulas.

    5. What we presented were averages of 5 different locations. But, each test area had very different results. (as you will see when we release the final report). It is very believable that wherever your yard you have 2-3 go to paints that work very well for your customers, and that your findings are completely different.

    Thanks for taking the time to chime in. I’d be interested in hearing more from you on what you find is working and why.

  12. Pingback: New Season, New Bottom Paint! | TotalBoat Show

  13. Based on your data, how frequently would a power boat stored at a slip in salt water (in Rhode Island) need to be hauled and cleaned in order to avoid barnacles or other fauna that cannot be removed with a power washer? Did you evaluate any alternatives to bottom-paint, such as ? This is not an ad and I have no experience with this product, although in principle it sounds like a clear ablative bottom paint. Reviews are suspiciously all 5-star ratings, but one reviewer said that their boat was left in salt water for 4 weeks with only a light slime buildup that was easily removed.

    It would be valuable (to me, at least) to augment your report with alternatives to conventional season-long bottom paints for owners interested in semi “dry sailing” their boat. This would consist of brushing the bottom between haul-outs, hauling it periodically to power wash it and reapply anti-algae products, and relaunching. I wonder: how frequently would the brushing and haul-outs need to be to not need a conventional bottom-paint?

    Can you notify me when your report is available? Thanks!

  14. p.s. or GTechniq C2V3, which is a so-called “nano coating” that is another alternative to traditional bottom paint. I have personally used this on my car and it performs very well. Reports are that it is also effective for boat hulls, and lasts for a period of a few months.

Leave a Reply