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.
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.
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.
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!