How hard can be buying a can of paint for your boat’s deck? Surpsisdinginly hard. There are probably millions of types of paint and hundreds of the kinds of marine paint, but every possible situation may require you to apply a particular type of paint.

Painting the deck can be one of those scenarios. After all, you can’t paint the deck with any paint you can get your hands on. Technically it is a possibility, but I advise against doing so. Not every paint is suitable for painting the deck. After all, the deck is exposed to some of the harshest conditions in the world 24/7. The sea water can eat through a layer of poor quality paint like fire eats plywood, and good deck paint is laid to last at least a few seasons.

In my Buyer’s Guide, you will find a compilation of the most essential features deck paint must possess, depending on the deck itself and how you plan on using your boat.Even if you are armed with that knowledge, choosing the best deck paint for your boat can still be challenging. Fortunately, I have a way to help you out. In my review, you will find 5 best deck boat paints you can find on the market. For most people, one of those 5 paints will really be the best option. For some, none will be. But even they won’t have a problem getting the right paint for their unique boat after getting themselves familiarized with deck paints designed for more generic watercraft.

Top 5 Best Deck Paints⁠ in 2019

TotalBoat TotalTread Paint — Best for Any Surface

As expected from a marine grade paint, the TotalTread paint is UV-resistant and non-skid, which means it won’t fade or peel and offers a high-traction surface. Basic criteria met, congratulations. Now, to the features.

The TotalTread is a universal paint. You can lay it on fiberglass, wood, or even an old coat of paint. It’s going to stay, no matter how intensively you clean it. For metals, you have to have the surface primed for the paint. But if you do that, you will have no problems with it.

The grip is assured thanks to non-abrasive wax texturing agents. This premixed formula does not contain traditional silica abrasive additives. The more paint you lay on, the better grip you’re going to have. Also, the paint reduces the sun glare, which is a must for deck paint.

Unfortunately, you can’t spray paint this paint, but you can use either a brush or a roller. It also comes in only three colors.

  • UV-resistant
  • Non-skid
  • Won’t fade or peel
  • High-traction surface
  • For metals, you have to have the surface primed for the paint

TotalBoat Wet Edge Paint — Best Boat Paint Overall

If you want to have a great choice of color, then the Wet Edge paint is something that you should consider. On top of that, this deck paint is sprayable, so you can lay it in any way you wish.

Unfortunately, when it comes to seawater resistance, this boat paint is definitely not in the top 10. On the other hand, it’s a deck paint, and it performs excellent as such. The manufacturer advises against applying this paint on surfaces that are going to be submerged for more than 72 hours. Well, if your deck is submerged for that long, you can safely assume that you have a problem more prominent than a coat of paint that’s about to start peeling off because of the aggressive environment.

Otherwise, it’s an excellent polyurethane high-gloss paint/finish combo that will make your boat look like a dream ship.

You can add some non-skid additives for better traction. Also, I advise that you prime the surface with a primer paint before laying this one.

  • Sprayable
  • An excellent polyurethane high-gloss paint/finish combo that will make your boat look like a dream ship
  • Non-skid additives for better traction
  • When it comes to seawater resistance, this boat paint is definitely not in the top 10.

TotalBoat Aluminum Paint — Primer Paint for Metals

If you have a metal boat (doesn’t matter if it’s aluminum or galvanized metal), then this paint is definitely something you should consider and try. You will save your money on primer paint and also lots of time because you won’t have to wait for the primer to dry. The paint comes in 5 colors.

That said, it’s a far better paint for the hull than it is for the deck. You can lay it on the deck all right because the paint is designed to be applied both under the waterline and above it. However, it lacks a few key components when it comes to deck paints. It doesn’t have non-skid additives. You will have to mix them in by yourself, but if you do, there’s no telling how well this paint will perform.

On the other hand, if you combine this paint with a rubberized marine carpet, it’s going to give you all the traction you need. You can also use this paint as a primer and lay a coat of a non-skid paint over it. When it comes to bare metals and strong adhesion, you won’t find a better primer paint.

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  • Fast dry
  • Works on metals
  • Strong adhesion
  • A far better paint for the hull than it is for the deck
  • Doesn’t have non-skid additives


If you want to cover your boat with something that can withstand some really extraordinary circumstances, the gelcoat kit is definitely something you should try.

Technically, it is not considered a paint. But it might as well be one. It’s flexible, water-resistant, UV-resistant, and durable in every way you could think of.

Gel coat typically takes some time to dry, but this kit comes with a dedicated catalyst.

Is it suitable for your deck? If you have a fiberglass boat, then yes. That said, I advise using it as a prep job for the actual painting.

  • UV-resistant
  • Flexible
  • Water-resistant
  • Durable in every way you could think of
  • Comes with a dedicated catalyst
  • Not considered a paint

TotalBoat Marine Paint Primer — Best Primer Paint Overall

Remember how I said some of the paint products on my list need a good primer paint? Well, this is it. It is made for application on any surface, except for bare metals. For those purposes, it would be better to use the Aluminum Paint from TotalBoat.

The paint is not meant for being applied below the waterline, but since it’s all about decks, for now, that can hardly be called a disadvantage.

The paint is sprayable, but you can use a brush or roller if you want. Either way, this paint will deliver exceptional results. It dries fast, and it won’t peel off easily.

Also, since this is a primer paint, here’s one important tip: don’t be too generous applying it. One coat is enough, and you don’t need a second one.

The paint is available in 2 colors, but since this is a primer paint, even two colors are quite a choice.

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  • Sprayable
  • Won’t peel off easily
  • Dries fast
  • Not meant for being applied below the waterline

Buyer’s Guide

I’ve already said that deck paint must be durable in my intro. But why is that? Is seawater really that taxing?Yes, it is. Salt water is one of the most corrosive substances in the world barring acids. Did you know that the infamous Titanic’s remnants are set to disappear in a few decades? It’s already nearly gone, and in twenty or thirty years all we’ll have on the bottom of the Atlantic ocean is a lump of metal. Throw in a few more decades, and we won’t have even that much. How come? Seawater and marine life. 

Harmful Factors

You don’t have to worry about marine life when it comes to your deck, but it’s still going to be exposed to seawater. But sea water is but a single factor among many, although one of the most aggressive. Your deck will also be exposed to UV-radiation, harsh weather, foot traffic, and maybe chains and anchors as well. That’s a lot, and a good deck paint must withstand all that and more. Otherwise, there is no point in using a deck paint at all. You don’t want your freshly laid paint to flake away in a few months or even weeks. To avoid that, you need to find out as much about deck paints as possible.

Good Traction

If you think the top layer should be sleek and smooth, think again. A deck is a walking surface. More than that, it’s a walking surface that is used when you’re surrounded by water. The deck should be non-slipping, and they are usually made that way, but if you but a bucket of paint that lays a beautiful and sleek layer, then you need to use something else. Or at least treat that top layer in a way that would render it non-slipping, even if you change the way the deck looks for worse.

Ease of Application

You always need to do some prep work before you actually lay the paint. How much you need to do depends on what paint you choose. In some cases, you will have to turn to a boat detailer just to prepare your boat for applying the paint. And that’s not something you want unless it’s some sort of really luxurious paint.Sanding should be more than enough to prepare the surface for painting it. At best, you don’t have to do even that much. Sometimes, you will find that the surface must be polished before painting, that is also acceptable, although such paints are definitely less convenient than any paint that doesn’t require something equally extravagant.

Ease of Cleaning

That’s an important aspect, but also one of the less complicated factors to account for. Most of the time, deck paints are easy to clean. Since they are made to resist the corrosive effect of sea water, you can wipe it as much as you want.

The Time it Takes the Paint to Set

If there’s something you don’t want it’s to wait for weeks before the paint is finally dry. While that may be acceptable for some people in some situations, most of the time it is not.On the other hand, buying paint that takes moments to dry is even worse. At least, a slow cure paint can be removed and reapplied as much as you need as long as it’s not dry yet. Slow cure paints are very forgiving when it comes to misapplying them. But if the paint dries the moments it touches the surface, you have to make everything in your power to get it land on that surface exactly where you need. Otherwise, the patch job is going to be a nightmare.


When you buy the paint, you still need to lay it the way it’s meant to be set. Fortunately, none of the steps that you should take are too hard. With the help of my tips, painting the deck of your lovely boat will never be a problem again.

Preparing the Deck


Before laying the paint, you need to sand the surface. The desired result is a uniform even deck. If the deck has been painted before, you should peel off the old paint, unless it’s new enough. Otherwise, just sand it until the surface is reasonably uniform.

Removing Old Paint

It sounds simple, but it can be very tricky if you have a fiberglass boat. Using a paint remover can have disastrous consequences, as the gel coat and even the very structure of the boat are just as susceptible to paint removers as paint. If your boat is made of fiberglass and you know to have to remove the old paint from the deck, it is better to do that mechanically.

Preparing the Paint

You may also need to prepare the paint. Some of the boat paints come without the non-skid feature. It’s legal, but it’s not great. Thankfully, you can fix that by including some additives into the mix when preparing the paint. Just don’t forget to do that. Otherwise, your deck will be more like an ice field whenever it gets wet.

Cleaning the Deck

You need to clean the deck one last time before you finally lay the paint. You need to get rid of all the dust, but that’s quite easy to do. You also must degrease the surface before laying the paint. Otherwise, I can assure you that you’re going to be less than happy. You can use alcohol for that.

Painting the Deck

Primer Paint

You may be quite eager to paint the deck, but first, it’s better to lay the primer paint. Why? A primer paint serves two purposes. First, it is essentially an adhesive for the real paint. Second, it will make any imperfections stand out, and you will get a chance to fix them before you apply the actual paint.

Applying  Actual Paint

After the deck has been primed, you can finally administer the paint. You can do it in three ways, but whichever you choose, remember that you need at least two layers of paint. Don’t apply the second layer until the first one is dry.
The most efficient way to paint a deck, especially a vast deck or any large surface. It is easy to use, but it does not allow for exquisite detailing.
Unlike the roller, the brush is the best when it comes to subtle detailing. However, covering a large area with a brush requires a lot of time and patience. You also have to make sure you know your way with a brush, and it should be a good brush. Otherwise, you can introduce quite a few defects when painting.
Spray Painting
Very easy, very efficient, very fast and you simply don’t need fine detailing, the paint will be dispersed evenly across the surface regardless of its curves and details. However, spray painting has a major disadvantage: the paint can get on a surface you did not intend to paint. If you go for this option, you need some extra preparation: you have to cover any surfaces you don’t mean to paint. Be advised, sprayed paint can dry quite fast.

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