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Thread: Marine Paint vs House Paint

  1. #1
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    Default Marine Paint vs House Paint

    I recently read that regular exterior house paint works just as well as the specialized marine hull paints even though it can be a quarter of the price. Will someone please compare and contrast the differences between the two lines. Can I use house paint on a boat that will only be used in fresh water?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    It's too complex a question for an easy answer. "Marine" and "House" are pretty subjective labels. Both come in many formulas. It's also possible to pay 4x compared to either cheap house paint or cheap marine paint. The quality is the issue. As for "can you", the answer is yes. The difference would mainly be in durability--retaining gloss and finish, plus surface adhesion.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    A chemist might tell you that there can be huge differences. What kind of base, oil, alkyd, water, enamel, latex......? I have been using "exterior" paint on my last few projects, but paint sold in Sweden, does not have the same formula as some exterior paints sold in the UK, and the finish has lasted much longer. On a boat that might be day sailed or used for weekends, no reason why you could not use a quality exterior paint, not all of them like being submerged for long periods.

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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    i can only share my own experiences on this one

    for many years i have been using big box/discount store brands of PORCH & DECK PAINT(oil and latex) on boats i have built and have had good results

    i recently(the last 12-15 yrs) have been using LATEX HOUSE PAINT on my builds and so far it is holding up as well as the MARINE PAINT i have seen on other wooden boats

    mind you i am not one who is currently seeking a YACHT FINISH

    all my needs require is A GOOD UTILITY FINISH, one that holds onto & protects my wood

    at 50 yards from a galloping horse it looks great

    a btw, i am currently pondering/beginning to use RUSTOLEUM products which have some really amazing claims when it comes to durability and they do have a very glossy finish

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Like swoody126 I have used house paint - usually Sears Best Exterior Latex - as a topsides hull paint. I call it a "fifty foot" paint job but you get the idea.

    Advantages - Cheap. Easily applied to 'workboat' finish.
    Disadvantages - Not remotely as resistant to the stresses of weather and small hard objects. Looks "old" after one year. Not remotely stain resistant. Does not stand up to washing.

    The advantages of cheap and easy come to the fore if you don't mind repainting every year or two or if you don't mind the boat looking cruddy after a while. There's less work and cost to prep and paint with latex every year than to do a real quality marine job every five years or so.

    I find that the bigger the boat and the harder she's used, the more likely it is that a good exterior latex is the way to go. I hauled Graunaile (55', 20ton Marco Polo schooner) every year for a bottom "shave and a haircut" anyway. I could working alone sand the topsides (about 750 square feet) in a morning and paint after lunch. I was using semi-gloss white and found the look was better if I just rolled it on with a fine nap and did not tip out. In that size boat, the labor and material cost difference is huge and that particular boat did not really look enough better with a perfect paint job for that to be worth it to me.

    But it's a judgement call and anyone who says that house paint is "just as good" as marine paint is either a liar, delusional, or such a bad painter that he of she can't tell the difference.

    I might add that Meg is painted with Kirby's applied entirely by brush. That Morning Light (nee Pease) crew can put it on with a brush in open air about as well as the sprayers in their sealed bays can manage.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    I am also planning on using two coats of West System epoxy as a primer. Does it matter whether I use a latex or oil based paint over it?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Without knowing if the boat is plywood or dimensional wood, the question is meaningless.

    I would always use CPES on new plywood. With both dimensional and ply, there are utilities for using thickened (microbaloons) epoxy to build a perfectly fair surface. If you're going through all that much work on a small boat, then learn to paint well and use a top marine enamel. Remember, marine paint holds its color and shine better in sunlight. It's not the water, salt or fresh, that's your paint's enemy.

    G'luck

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    I have been using Benjamin Moore Porch and Patio latex base for years on all of my builds. Wears like iron. I literally sand off the dried lake scum with 120 grit at the beginning of each season with no noticeable damage to the paint. My boats both spend the summers in Lake Champlain from May to October and have done for years with no degradation of the paint. I know, it is not as sexy as two part very expensive "boat" paint, but I like it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    On steel the undercoats are all the usual suspects of epoxy type, however the top/color coat is rustoleum and cost/gal is near or less than cost/qt of fancy pants marine. +1 on Ians comments . . .shine does not last as long but recoating is cheap & easy. For the wood bits I tend to clear seal then varnish and when bright finish is no longer appropriate it's either /rustoleum or high quality exterior latex. CPES to seal bare wood is really truly life extender, however a very effective cheap version of life extension is painting with anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) as a pre-prime preservative, it is very helpful. Plywood endgrain is a particularly good place to use it. (see: Dave Carnell a forumite who transitioned to the non-physical, http://www.simplicityboats.com/chemorot.html, tom Colvin was also a big fan of antifreeze as a prepaint wood preservative )
    This is the first lesson ye should learn: There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, it doesn't behoove any of us to speak evil of the rest of us.
    E. Cayce

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    I have used Benjamin Moore synthetic alkyd enamel and one part polyurethane with good results.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    This PPG product has been a welcome surprise to me:




    It can be tinted to most any color. Zero surprises in the application. My exposure to Kirby's, Brightsides, EZ-poxy and Total Boat has been less satisfactory. The first gallon cost $59 (the store had to special order it). My last gallon was $55.

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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    When I bought Snoose, a 36' converted troller, everything was painted with latex house paint and it worked just fine. Lately I have started to convert most of it to oil base for the sole purpose of upping the gloss a bit. But the hull topsides are still Home Depot Behr ultra white and I'm amazed at how well it holds up. I repaint it about every two years and it takes 60 grit to even scratch it enough for a new coat. But either will work, just depends on what you want to deal with. These days I no longer clean brushes, I use cheap but decent throw-aways for everything. (Yes, I hear the gasps.)

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Might add that we have been using a locally-produced marine enamel (Kush) for years as a hull paint. There isn't really much of a market for boat paints, but the company doesn't really care. It is quite popular around here as a house paint. The discussion thus becomes whether you should use a marine paint on a house. We are using some in the living room today.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan McCosh View Post
    Might add that we have been using a locally-produced marine enamel (Kush) for years as a hull paint. There isn't really much of a market for boat paints, but the company doesn't really care. It is quite popular around here as a house paint. The discussion thus becomes whether you should use a marine paint on a house. We are using some in the living room today.
    gasp...

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    I have not used marine paint on any boat I have built. All have been sheathed with fiberglass all over and have held up fine for years with both oil based and water based house paints. Oil based paints have lasted better but I prefer water based because I always work outdoors in a maritime climate and my work always gets rain or condensation on it before the paint has fully cured. This seems to matter less with water based paints than with oil based paints. I feel like a broken record now but you can often buy partially used cans of housepaint for a dollar per liter or so and these have worked fine for me. All the best.

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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    I use marine paint because it is usually superior, in application, coverage, durability and longevity. My time is valuable and I would rather have a good looking boat that takes less work to maintain over the years. It simply works out cheaper in the long run. Professional work boats are a different animal, but I find that often those who espouse "workboat" finishes on pleasure craft are usually making excuses.
    whatever rocks your boat

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul G. View Post
    I use marine paint because it is usually superior, in application, coverage, durability and longevity. My time is valuable and I would rather have a good looking boat that takes less work to maintain over the years. It simply works out cheaper in the long run. Professional work boats are a different animal, but I find that often those who espouse "workboat" finishes on pleasure craft are usually making excuses.
    Yes. And the implied message is "workboat" is better.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Hi Everyone

    I have a pair of wooden kids training waterskis that I have torn the battered ugly old decals off of and want to repaint for my daughter to use. So nothing fancy, but something an 8-yr old can be h happy with. I stumbled onto this forum/thread and wonder if anyone has any updated recommendations as far as a good exterior housepaint to use, and whether I need to use primer (and which one if so).

    The skiis have a base of black paint that I have sanded down with 220, with some bare-wood sections mostly along the edges, which I suspect is a good enough surface for most modern paints. Any minor scratches/gouges are on the underside, which does not have to be as 'pretty' as the top. I have a Lowes, HomeDepot, & Ganahl Lumber close by, and would prefer to make this project as inexpensive and quick as appropriate for what is is. The skiis will be in the water for a short period at a time (<15 minutes), and will be kept out of the sun when not in use. Also, is it allowable to thin the paint to get a smoother look?

    Thanks in advance for any replies!

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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Quote Originally Posted by swoody126 View Post
    i can only share my own experiences on this one

    for many years i have been using big box/discount store brands of PORCH & DECK PAINT(oil and latex) on boats i have built and have had good results

    i recently(the last 12-15 yrs) have been using LATEX HOUSE PAINT on my builds and so far it is holding up as well as the MARINE PAINT i have seen on other wooden boats

    mind you i am not one who is currently seeking a YACHT FINISH

    all my needs require is A GOOD UTILITY FINISH, one that holds onto & protects my wood

    at 50 yards from a galloping horse it looks great

    a btw, i am currently pondering/beginning to use RUSTOLEUM products which have some really amazing claims when it comes to durability and they do have a very glossy finish

    sw
    RE: Rustoleum paint
    As I recall, their main line of paints - "Stops Rust" - specifically indicate on the label that they are intended for metal, and suitability for wood is not mentioned. See the Technical Data Sheet here: https://www.rustoleum.com/~/media/Di...Brush_TDS.ashx Notice there are no instructions for wood.

    However, I recently saw a line of Rustoleum paint labeled "Marine Coatings Topside Paint" which would probably be a better choice for wood ?

    I would guess that most paint manufacturers would try to make a more flexible coating for wood than for metal ?

    I just read the OP's additional information about using an 'epoxy primer' - so flexibility is probably not an issue for that application.
    Last edited by runswithsizzers; 07-02-2018 at 11:28 PM.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Quote Originally Posted by runswithsizzers View Post
    However, I recently saw a line of Rustoleum paint labeled "Marine Coatings Topside Paint" which would probably be a better choice for wood ?
    This was actually my first choice (yeah, I actually did some homework), but it is apparently not available in the Peoples Republic of California due to VOC issues.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    About the comments that latex house paints don't last well and start to look scruffy:

    This boat:

    DSCN3256.jpg

    was painted with inexpensive latex porch and floor enamel (Dutch Boy brand) in 2011. It has not been touched up or repainted since then. The photo above is from 2017. It still looks pretty much as good as it did the first year. This is very tough paint. Anything more than this for a trailer-based dry-sailed boat is overkill from a protection standpoint unless you want a high-gloss finish. I don't like that look anyway.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    About the comments that latex house paints don't last well and start to look scruffy:

    This boat:

    DSCN3256.jpg

    was painted with inexpensive latex porch and floor enamel (Dutch Boy brand) in 2011. It has not been touched up or repainted since then. The photo above is from 2017. It still looks pretty much as good as it did the first year. This is very tough paint. Anything more than this for a trailer-based dry-sailed boat is overkill from a protection standpoint unless you want a high-gloss finish. I don't like that look anyway.

    Tom
    and she hasn't been pampered

    Pamperin'd but knot pampered ;-)

    seen @ 50yds from the proverbial gallopin' horse(Wendy) during the Texas 200 which is no picnic and looked just as good

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Rust-oleum make a topsides paint that ranges for $15 to $20 bucks a quart, depening on color, from amazon.
    Steamboat

    I get by with the judicious use of serendipity.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Quote Originally Posted by swoody126 View Post
    and she hasn't been pampered

    Pamperin'd but knot pampered ;-)

    seen @ 50yds from the proverbial gallopin' horse(Wendy) during the Texas 200 which is no picnic and looked just as good

    sw
    Yep, it's seen some miles and some sun exposure:

    Lake Superior

    Lake Nipigon

    Lake Superior (again)

    The North Channel

    Georgian Bay

    And the Texas 200 and Everglades Challenge as well.

    "Pamerin'd but not pampered"--I like that. Cheers!

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Without an experienced eye, one can't really compare "marine" paints and "house" paints these days. Most states now have regulations prohibiting "high VOC" paints and varnishes (and some have even outlawed real paint thinner!) There are, however, exceptions to these regulations. The exceptions are generally based on the use of the coatings rather than their composition. There are exemptions from the bans for "marine paints" and for certain hard wear applications, such as "porch and deck paints." Rustoleum products are a good example. Rustoleum used to be just Rustoleum, a decent quality oil based enamel intended for painting metal lawn furniture and the like. The "marine" paints were similar, but better in terms of workability and gloss retention. When Rustoleum came under the general high-VOC paint bans, they began marketing it primarily as a "rust preventative primer," instead of simply an oil based enamel and packaging it only in pint and quart cans in order to qualify for the exemption on the bans. The same is true of "marine" Rustoleum. Often, they can sell what they used to before it was outlawed if they put a boat on the label and call it "marine." I've used Rustoleum for bilges (works well enough, although not as much "solids" as true purpose-made bilge paint) and for decks where chalking is desired. It will last well enough for topsides and other gloss applications, but, in my experience, won't hold up nearly as well as true marine-grade enamels like Petit, Interlux, and, of course, Kirby's.

    It's worth noting that the marine environment is a lot harder on paint than the environment is on houses. Houses have primarily vertical surfaces which get less direct UV exposure and are less susceptible to chafe and nicks and dings. Most significantly, houses aren't exposed to reflected UV, as are boats, and especially their topsides, when the sunlight reflects up from the water and down from the sky simultaneously all day long. "Marine enamel" isn't really all that different than any other paint, it's just made better and, consequently, costs more. You do get what you pay for.

    If you want the best, buy the best. If you don't care, you can slap anything you want on with a mop.
    Last edited by Bob Cleek; 07-03-2018 at 01:49 PM.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Cleek View Post
    "Marine enamel" isn't really all that different than any other paint, it's just made better and, consequently, costs more. You do get what you pay for.

    If you want the best, buy the best. If you don't care, you can slap anything you want on with a mop.
    I pretty much agree with everything you posted, but there is a lot of middle ground between "the best" and "slap anything you want on with a mop."

    Especially for a dry-sailed boat that will live on a trailer, paint is not a binary, black-and-white, if-it's-not-the-best-it's-crap issue. It is, however, an issue of spending $120+ per gallon for "the best" or $25 per gallon for latex porch and floor enamel, which I can tell you from experience has lasted for 7 years and counting.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Well said.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    I pretty much agree with everything you posted, but there is a lot of middle ground between "the best" and "slap anything you want on with a mop."

    Especially for a dry-sailed boat that will live on a trailer, paint is not a binary, black-and-white, if-it's-not-the-best-it's-crap issue. It is, however, an issue of spending $120+ per gallon for "the best" or $25 per gallon for latex porch and floor enamel, which I can tell you from experience has lasted for 7 years and counting.

    Tom
    Just so. Only one thing I'd add to the discussion. When a client's budget is tight - porch & deck paint is what I offer. While the water clean-up is tempting... I stick with oil - as I've found it to be a bit more long-lived, with better initial gloss... and sheen-retention. If the budgets are larger... we work our way up thru various options. The top-end for me is 2-part polyurethane (if appropriate for the application). But there are steps along the way... depending on budget and various other factors.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    I went the other route and used marine paint on my home. Twelve years ago, we had a farmer's porch added to our home in Massachusetts. The contractor installed and painted the trim. I built, painted, and installed the railings. The trim was pre-primed trim stock from a local lumber yard painted with latex house paint.

    The railings were a mix of clear cedar and mahogany. The railing was first coated with Smith's CPES, then Petit two-part epoxy primer followed by 2 coats of (white) Petit Easypoxy (a one-component polyurethane).

    After 12 years, both the railings and the trim need to be repainted. Neither looks better or worse than the other. Though the railing tends to collect a green mold that I have to wash off periodically. Some of the trim, however, shows early signs of rot. The wood in the railings seems great.

    My current plan is to remove the trim and replace it with Azek and repaint the railings with house paint (probably oil based). My experiment convinced me there was no benefit in using marine paint on a house.

    Regards,

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Good information.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Twelve years? Thats nothing to complain about. I repianted my house, clapboards and trim after eight years. Oil primed, Ben Moore exterior latex.

    Exactly what Id do to a boat. Good oil primer and good latex.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Oil based house paints are hard to find in mosts states now. Many of them are designed to sluff off and prestent a new surface to the weather as it ages. This is constantly presenting a new surface of the original color to the elements and so resists fading. By tradition, this is the kind of paint that is used on canvas decks as it never can build up enough to fill the weave of the fabric entirely. This, sluffing off, maintains the color and prevents the canvas from ending up cracking by becoming, "paint sick".
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 07-06-2018 at 02:24 PM.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    Oil based house paints are hard to find in most states now. Many of them are designed to sluff off and present a new surface to the weather as it ages. This is constantly presenting a new surface of the original color to the elements and so resists fading. By tradition, this is the kind of paint that is used on canvas decks as it never can build up enough to fill the weave of the fabric entirely. This, stuffing off, maintains the color and prevents the canvas from ending up cracking by becoming, "paint sick".
    Jay
    My local paint gurus agree. They do say, however, that the porch & deck paint is formulated not to slough off, but rather to hold up to being walked upon and having stuff dragged across. Abrasion resistance - just what a boat hull needs. And looks-wise, I like that they don't chalk nearly as much.

    A canvas deck, as you say, is a different critter than a boat hull.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    I used Ben Moore Super Spec Urethane Alkyd (Z22) on my last few builds. Topsides and deck. It's specd for steel but I have had no problems using over glass /epoxy or straight epoxy over solid fir/meranti ply for the last 10 years.
    Easy enough to work with,dries in a couple hours. I have applied it less than 24 hrs after epoxy coating (Sys 3 Silvertip) a fir flagpole with good result.
    Last years gallon cost $26.00.

    It also mixed well with my old half cans of Easypoxy / Epifanes/TotalBoat enamels.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Remain In Neutral And Move On To The Next Target

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Marine Paint vs House Paint

    I've used the same on solid wood with good results.

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