Fish Razr’s Ultimate Guide to Painting the Bottom of a Boat

May 27th 2022

Fish Razr’s Ultimate Guide to Painting the Bottom of a Boat

Painting the bottom of a boat is a necessity when you keep a gel-coated boat in the water. However, over time, paint naturally wears off. Follow manufacturer guidelines, along with our help, to make your boat seaworthy in any salt or freshwater environment.

In addition to giving your boat a fresh coating of paint, why not utilize the underside of your boat as a teaser? Images of baitfish are a fantastic way to attract pelagic fish to the surface. After all, serious anglers know that fishing is often a numbers game — more teasers naturally increase your odds. Learning how to paint the bottom of a boat is a fun DIY project that’s fairly straightforward and affordable, so why not give it a go? Here’s how!

1. Clean the Boat

Boat elevated for cleaning

Remove the boat from the water and elevate it on blocks. You may also be able to elevate it on your trailer. Once it’s in position, immediately pressure wash and clean it. Allow it to dry before proceeding to the next step.

2. Sand the Bottom

Using an electric sander to sand the boat’s hull

Before you start painting the bottom of a boat, you’ll need to sand the old paint. You don’t need to remove the paint completely — just rough it up and smooth it out. 36 grit sandpaper with an electric sander is ideal. Even if there is still paint on the boat, every square inch (of the painted surface) needs to be prepped with sandpaper. The same goes for props and running gear. Get them very clean. Any marine debris left on the exterior paint will not adhere long-term.

3. Tape the Lines

Boat with taped lines

Use blue painter’s tape to separate the hull of the boat from the rest of it. This ensures that the paint job will look professional with clean lines.

4. Mix the Paint

Mix the paint thoroughly. If you’re using an ablative paint, you may want to add a thinning agent for easier mixing. This is a very critical step. Take your time.

5. Paint the Hull

Removing the tape from the boat

Once the paint is ready, start painting the bottom of a boat with a smooth roller. Use a brush on the smaller and tighter areas. If necessary, apply two thin coats. Remove the blue tape when you’re finished, and allow it to dry overnight. That’s how to paint the bottom of a boat. The next step is to stencil the images of baitfish onto your boat.

6. Apply the Stencils

Applying a fish shaped stencil to a boat hull

Remove the backing from the stencils leaving the front. Use a squeegee to apply the yellow stencil to the hull, removing the attached semi-transparent material slowly and carefully to ensure the whole stencil is making solid contact. Rub the stencil firmly so it’s flush against the surface.

7. Paint the Fish or Squid

Painting a fish on a boat hull using a stencil

Now that you have your stencil in place, you can start painting the bottom of a boat with images of baitfish. Use a small roller or brush to apply a light, thin coat of paint — be sure to use a sharply contrasting color — over the stencil. Wait 10 minutes, and add a second coat. 

8. Remove the Stencil

Painted fish and squids on the hull of a boat

Before the paint dries hard, remove the stencil, and you’re done!

Shop High-Quality Under Hull Teasers & Stencils 

Now that you know how to paint the bottom of a boat, all you need are the right supplies. We offer ready-to-use under hull teasers and stencils to make the job easier. Before you check out, be sure to browse all of our tournament-grade fishing supplies. Painting the bottom of a boat is just one of many ways to bring more fish to the boat. Shop Fish Razr for more top-quality offshore angling products from the industry’s most respected brands.

About Author

Les Orr is a co-owner of Fish Razr and a native of the Gulf Coast of Texas. He grew up fishing the inshore waters of the Galveston Bay system and occasionally offshore. He moved to South Carolina for a job opportunity in 1994, and his love of the offshore grew in the Charleston area. He currently lives and works in Mt. Pleasant, SC, with a wife and two young kids, 12 and 13 years old. His son is becoming quite the angler and loves going offshore to catch dolphin, tuna, wahoo, and the occasional marlin or sailfish.