- Trained on our vast library of engineering resources.

Marine Coatings Information

AntifoulingMarine coatings are waterproof, protective layers that are applied to surfaces exposed to or immersed in fresh, brackish, and/or salt water. They are used with boats, ships, ferries and other watercraft, as well as with marine structures such as offshore oil rigs.

Types of Marine Coatings

Marine coatings include:

  • base coats, top coats, and clear coats
  • paints, primers, varnishes, and stains
  • inks, marking materials, and sealers or surface sealants

Like other types of protective coatings, marine coatings differ in terms of performance, properties, and chemistries. Marine paints include epoxy fairing compounds, epoxy primers and sealers, and wood finishing systems. Anti-fouling coatings are also available. 


Marine coatings can be categorized according to technology and are usually designed for specific substrate materials. Technologies include film drying and air setting, laser fusing and laser marking, multi-component systems, reactive or moisture curing, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Thermoplastic marine coatings melt repeatedly when heated and solidify when cooled. Thermoset marine coatings undergo a chemical reaction during the cure cycle when heated. Depending on the technology, marine coatings may be used with substrates made of aluminum, steel, or other metals; fibers or fabrics; asphalt, bitumen, or coal tar; plastics, rubber, or elastomers; and concrete or masonry. 


Marine coatings differ in terms of performance parameters and processing specifications. Performance parameters cover conductivity, resistivity, dielectric strength, index of refraction, transmission, and operating or use temperature. Specialty marine coatings for saltwater or freshwater applications may carry additional specifications. With regard to processing, marine coatings are specified according to coverage, dry thickness and wet thickness, cure time and cure temperature, viscosity, volatile organic chemical (VOC) content, specific gravity, and particle size. Pot-life time, an additional parameter for marine coatings, is the time between the mixing stage and the gel stage at which a coating remains usable in the pot at 77o F. 


Product form, method of application, color, finish, and additional features are important to consider when selecting marine coatings. Some are provided as:

  • aerosols
  • crayons
  • films
  • liquids
  • markers
  • pastes
  • powders

Other products are available as inks, solids, and transfer tapes. In terms of application method, marine coatings may require electrostatic, electrocoating, or powder coating techniques. Rollers, screens, and spin or spray coating equipment are also used. Although color choices vary, there are four basic finishes for marine coatings: flat, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. In terms of features, anti-fog and anti-reflective marine coatings are available.

Related Information

CR4 Community—Explosive Gas Produced by Rust in Confined Spaces

Engineering360—A Nontoxic Alternative to Ship Antifouling Paint?

IEEE Spectrum—Beetles, Cacti, and Killer Plants Inspire Energy Efficiency

Image credit:

Pieters7 / CC BY-SA 3.0


Already a GlobalSpec user? Log in.

This is embarrasing...

An error occurred while processing the form. Please try again in a few minutes.

Customize Your GlobalSpec Experience

Category: Marine Coatings
Privacy Policy

This is embarrasing...

An error occurred while processing the form. Please try again in a few minutes.