Choosing Bottom Paint : Ablative Vs. Non-Ablative

Choosing Bottom Paint Choosing Bottom Paint

Anti-fouling Bottom Paint

Antifouling paint is a coating that repels the unwanted attachment of barnacles, plants, and other organism’s to the bottom of your boat. The paint is able to repel these things with the help of “biocide”, and the more biocide contained in the paint the more effective it is. For years, this biocide was Tin, which has now been replaced by copper due to the harmful environmental effects of the tin. Now with more environmental concerns towards copper, you are finding more bottom paints claiming to have less, little, or no copper.

Ablative or Non-Ablative

A customer recently asked which type of bottom paint is better: ablative or non-ablative? To answer that question for everyone, we wanted to first define the difference between the two.

Ablative paint can be defined as self- polishing paint, meaning that it gradually wears away a little at a time to expose a fresh layer of biocide underneath as your boat is moving through the water.

Non-Ablative is opposite in the sense that the paint gives the bottom a hard coating that doesn’t wear easily and remains there until all the biocide has been used up.

Because Ablative bottom paint wears away with more movement through the water, it doesn’t leave a buildup of bottom paint on your hull, but it is not recommended for racers who move quickly and often through the water.

Non-ablative will remain on the boat no matter the amount of movement through water, but will need to be re-applied on top of the previous layer in order to replenish the anti-fouling qualities of the paint.

Which one is for you?

The best thing to do is call Norton’s Marine Service Center, and discuss your method of boating with our Service Manager. Depending on whether you are power or sail, racer or cruiser, he will help you figure out the best type of anti-fouling paint for your boat. We offer the best brands and best service in the business. Call 804-776-9211 or email