20 antifouling paints tested in 13 UK locations: which works best where you keep your boat?

The PBO verdict

Boards were submerged during the summer months

Boards were submerged during the summer months

This is the biggest test we’ve ever carried out at PBO, with a significant investment of time, money and effort involved in buying, priming, painting, delivering and installing the test boards.

We were careful to install the panels as similarly in orientation, location and tidal characteristics as possible – facing the sun, and aligned to the tide to simulate a boat’s mooring and occasional use.

We were fortunate that only one set of panels suffered damage (in Port Edgar, where a tyre fender was tied on in front of the board, damaging the paint and removing the fouling from a few of the panels).

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Our host locations kindly monitored the boards and their growth throughout the year. When we took them out, in early October, the water was at its warmest and the fouling greatest. Any later and the fouling would have begun to drop off as the water cooled.

Of course, our static panels represent a ‘worst-case’ scenario – that your boat doesn’t move all year. The more you use her, the better your antifouling will perform, and the less the fouling will adhere.

A board from Whitby as removed, showing how the slime ran off the two Seajet products, 038 and 033

A board from Whitby as removed, showing
how the slime ran off the two Seajet
products, 038 and 033

Some interesting results

With the results in, the 26 panels, 20 paints and 13 locations have generated a lot of data.

Sifting through has shown up some interesting results. The most telling of all is that every paint tested showed a big improvement in fouling when compared to the control areas, which had heavy weed, shell and kelp growth. None of the paints had any barnacles or other shell growth, or any long fronds of weed – except in some cases along the waterline.

While no single paint kept everything fouling-free in all areas, what particularly surprised us was the dominance of one paint – Seajet’s 033 Shogun was best in eight of our areas, with the company’s 038, due to be released in 2016, also doing well.

These paints shed slime and other fouling so effectively in many places that when pulled out of the water, they appeared clear.

Other paints also performed reasonably well. International’s Micron Extra was a comfortably one of the top paints all around the country. Other good performers included Teamac Antifouling D plus, made by an independent family business located in the north-east, Precision Premium, also made by Teamac, and Nautix’s A3. Seago High Performance also performed well in places. Hempel’s Cruising Performer and Jotun’s NonStop did well in some areas of the country. Boero’s Mistral NF had some reasonable results, and Flag Performance Extra did well on the East Coast.

Increased regulation

Of course, most boat owners won’t be interested in which brand is best all around the country: most boats stay put in their home port for most of the season, which is why it’s best to look at the results for your location, or the nearest port to your own.

It’s reassuring that the better paints on test proved mostly effective in keeping fouling at bay, as manufacturers have had to deal with increased regulation – especially the EU’s Biocidal Products Directive, which has led to tweaks and changes in antifouling products.

Cost is another interesting factor. Paints seem to split into two camps – around £40-50 per 2.5lt tin and around £100 per tin. The circa £100 camp tended to do better than the circa £50 camp – the more expensive bracket, which often has greater concentrations of copper and other biocides, is likely to be more effective.

As published in Practical Boat Owner magazine’s January 2016 issue. Prices correct at the time of going to press.

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  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. The results
  3. 3. The PBO verdict
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