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Why are Most Sailing Boats White? (Complete Guide)

Sailboats have such elegant and glossy looks. The color & the polish is quite marvelous to look at but why are they always white.

The sailboat, the cruise ship, always uses white paint on the top side of the boat and red paint on the bottom, ever wondered why is that? Let’s demystify this and find out more about the color of the boat.

Why are most sailing boats white?

The color white has the ability to reflect almost 78% to 87% of the light. Coloring a sailboat white makes it able to reflect the majority of the light and prevents the deck and the metal body from frequently heating up. The white color coating also prevents the metal body from getting rusty.  

“4” reason why most sailing boats are white

Preventing from overheating:

The sunlight transmits a lot of heat energy, a boat sailing in the open sea will have to deal with this and spend a lot on keeping the boat at a lower temperature.

The white color reflects almost up to 78% to 88% of sunlight. So painting a boat white will make it reflect all the light as a result the boat will be at a comfortable low temperature without putting too much toll on the air conditioners.

Easy to spot rust:

In a White color boat it’s easier to spot any rust and other defects. 

More convenient:

Nowadays, most ships are made with epoxy and fiberglass. Epoxy has a natural white appearance so it’s more convenient to varnish and maintain the white paint.

Giving a luxurious appearance:

Oil stains on white paint is a sore eye. Molds, dirt, oil stains, rust, etc will be easily visible when the boat is painted in white so workers will have to keep it clean all the time.

So if you are enjoying your journey on a shiny white boat then you can appreciate the workforce and their efforts.

What colors are boats?


It’s the most popular color for any luxurious cruise or sailboat. Reflect most light and heat. It can be an effective measure of energy-saving as the boat won’t have to solely rely on air conditioning equipment.


Mostly used on cargo ships. Has the most heat absorption capacity not suitable for personal or luxury boats sailing in tropical climates.


After white, the color red has the most light reflecting capacity. Hence make it a suitable choice for keeping the heat down on the boat.


This color can easily reflect more than 60% light and making it a convenient choice for boat paint.


A beautiful color, it will be really a pleasant site to sail on a blue boat in the vast blue ocean. 


Most life jackets, life tubes, lifeboats are painted in Orange. It’s easy to spot and mostly used in rescue boats. 


The human eye can easily detect the green color. Although the green absorbs a lot of light making the boat a little bit hotter.


Most warships are painted grey. This color makes it hard to detect and works great on the battlefield.

What is the most popular boat color?

White is the most popular boat color. Due to the ability to reflect the most light & heat, white is the most suitable for heat control. A white boat will be able to take the burden off from the air conditioning equipment and provide satisfactory results.

Nowadays, most ships & boats are made with epoxy and fiberglass so maintaining a white varnish is pretty easy when you are already dealing with white epoxy.  

What’s the best paint for a boat?

A new boat will have an elegant gel coat on it. It will have a shiny glossy look but when you are thinking about repainting your boat getting that elegant fresh-out factory look is pretty hard to achieve.

Gel coats are going be expensive as well as difficult to apply without proper equipment and skill. 

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative you can apply Polyurethane. There are 2 types of Polyurethane paint available on the market, they are known as a single part and double part Polyurethane paints.

Single part Polyurethane is inexpensive and pretty easy to apply on boats but you will have to compromise on the longevity of the paint.  The double part Polyurethane paint will cost you a little bit more but will give long-time service as well as an elegant and glossy finish.

How much does it cost to have a boat painted?

The cost of the painting will depend on what kind of paint you are using and which part of the boat needs to be painted and the boat length.

For the top side of the boat, you can use single or double-part Polyurethane paints. For the bottom painting, you will have to choose a paint with a high-density copper oxide mixture. 

So painting the topside of the boat will cost you from $90 to $450 per foot. If you do it yourself then you would have to buy or rent the painting equipment so add that to your budget. Painting the bottom line of the boat it’s gonna cost you $20 to $90 per foot.

Keep in mind that after you remove the old paint, you might have to do some rust removal and other bodywork on your boat so it’s gonna increase your expenditures.

Are black boats hotter?

Black color absorbs almost 99.9% of light. So a black color boat will absorb almost all of the sunlight. The sunlight transmits a lot of heat so sailing a black color boat in a tropical climate is going be pretty troublesome. 

Most cargo ships are painted black and these boats are equipped with a pretty well heat isolation system. Painting a cruise ship or sailboat in black will be impractical or it will be costly due to additional heat isolation installation.

Are black boats hard to keep clean?

Most of the cargo boats are painted black. In a black boat the oil stains, mold, and other dirt are hardly visible. A black boat may look clean but in an in-depth inspection, one might find a lot of dirt and stain.

It’s as hard as cleaning the white boat but a black boat may have an advantage when it comes to hiding the smudges and dirt.

Why do boats need bottom paint?

If you are sailing with a wooden boat then there is a high chance you will have to deal with wood-eating worms and other threats.

Even if you are not sailing with a wooden boat, let’s say you have a boat with a metal body, the barnacles, sponge, seaweeds, and other sea life will get stuck on the bottom of your boat and slow your boat down.

So the solution to your problem would be to apply a protective layer to your boat so that it can preserve its condition and get utmost performance.

The copper oxide solution can fight off the wood-eating worms and other threats. The barnacles, seaweeds and other sea life also stay away from the boat when there is copper oxide present in the bottom paint.

The bottom paint also gives you an approximate measurement of how much of your boat is underwater.

Why are boats painted red below the waterline?

The red paint below the waterline in a boat is not any regular red paint. The red appearance of that paint is due to the presence of a high-density copper oxide mixture. The copper oxide helps to keep away the barnacles and wood-eating worms from the boat.

The wooden sailboat had to deal with lots of wood-eating worms while sailing in the water so the copper oxide coating remedy was introduced, the copper oxide also helps the boat from any leeches, weeds, and other sea life from getting attached to the bottom and creating drag or slowing down the boat speed.

Why are ships constantly painted?

Luxurious cruise ship, sailboat, or a cargo ship, no matter what type of boat you are thinking about, the constant paint job is always visible.

The paint helps the ship from fighting against oxidation and other deformation. Without a proper layer of paint, the boat has a high chance of developing rust and other damage.

Ships sailing in seawater will have to deal with constant exposure to highly reactive minerals, a paint job will help preserve the ship’s external bodies.

There is a high chance that the ship will be affected by leeches, sponges, seaweeds, and other threats. A paint mixed with copper oxide will help prevent any substantial amount of damage.

At this point, I hope you got an overview of the color of the boat and other related inquiries. Painting isn’t just for making the boat visually appealing it has various important roles to play. A good pain will help your boat fight against rust and molds.

A decent paint job will also keep away the barnacles, seaweeds, and other freeloaders from creating any extra drag to slow down the boat. Happy sailing.

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