There are many reasons why most of the boats are white, and some of them are logical (fair), and some are a bit silly. After filtering all those, we will see some of the most common reasons (five reasons) why most boats are white in color and its benefits.
The first and most important purpose of white color on most of the boats is because it reflects (100%) the sunlight without absorbing it much by keeping the boat interior cool. And some other reasons are it cuts some manufacturing costs, and it’s easy to spot any rust or damage on the hull.
Still, there are some more reasons, but the above three are the essential reasons why most of the boats are white. We will see all those three and the rest of the reasons in detail. Some other reasons why boats are white are listed below.
- White color reflects 100% of the sunlight by keeping the boat interior cool.
- Easy to spot any damage on the white hull and won’t show scratches and fading.
- White color reduces boat manufacturing cost and latency (decreases time taken to manufacture a single boat).
- White color has high visibility.
- White color hull will not show any small imperfections on the hull.
Those five are some of the main (fundamental) reasons why boats are colored white. That being said, let’s see those five reasons in detail one by one.
Myth – White-colored boats can be found easily or quickly in radars. It is not true because the color will not reflect any radio signals. Metal (steel) does that. If the hull is made up of fiberglass, then there will be some metal part in them to reflect the radio signals. That means the color has absolutely no impact on any kind of detection of the boat in radars in the water.
1. White reflects 100% of the sunlight by keeping the boat interior cool
You might think of how color will affect the temperature inside the boat. The white color will reflect 100% of the sunlight that falls on the surface, and it will only absorb significantly a very less percentage of heat (around 10% – 20%) compared to the rest of all the colors.
Whereas on the opposite side, the black color will reflect 0% of sunlight, meaning it will absorb all the sunlight that falls on the surface of the boat, and it will heat more. And similarly, all the colors will absorb some percentage of sunlight and transfers it in the form of heat.
That absorbed sunlight by the color will transfers energy in the form of heat; more heat is produced if it absorbs more light. Since white color surfaces will reflect most of the sunlight, it will create less heat and keep the boat interior a bit cooler than other colored boats such as red, black, and grey.
|Color||% of the sunlight reflected from that colored surface|
|White||100% (close to 90%)|
Since all the colors will absorb some amount of sunlight, it creates more heat inside the boat as sunlight transfers energy in the form of heat; more heat is produced if it absorbs more sunlight. As white color reflects most of the sunlight and absorbs very little heat, that is one reason why most of the boats are colored white.
Since the temperature inside the boat is crucial, most of the boat manufacturing companies chose simply the white color since it reflects most of the sunlight compared to other colors. The temperature inside the boat is one of the essential reasons to choose light colors for boats.
For a sailboat or small & big cruise ships will often be white because they will go in the middle of the sea where temperature can be high. If the boat is black, it will be like a sauna inside the boat, and even the air conditioner will not be sufficient even though if they work at full capacity, they just waste a lot of energy and power for nothing.
For this reason, most of the sailboats, yachts, and small & big cruises are colored white to avoid that heat inside the boat and to save some energy and power from air conditioners.
2. Easy to spot any damage on the white hull and won’t show scratches and fading
Not only due to the temperature, but there are also some other reasons that will benefit the user (buyer) in many ways. One among them is if a boat is a colored white, it is easy to spot any rust formation on the hull, hull damage, and any growth of algae, barnacles, etc. on the hull easily quickly.
If the boat is colored with other bright or dark colors such as black, red, dark colors, etc., it is hard to spot any rust formation on the hull, hull damage, and algae growth barnacles, etc. on the boat hull. If no one spots them on time, it can damage the hull eventually overtime.
If those damages are left for a long period of time without any treatment, it can easily damage the boat and quickly, which will be expensive to repair them later on time. So, by painting a boat with light colors such as white and very light colors, it is easy to spot anything on the boat hull.
If the boat hull is black or dark blue in color, it is very hard to spot any rust of barnacles or any growth on the hull unless if you inspect the boat thoroughly. And light colors will make it easier, and it is easy to spot anything below the waterline as well (up to some extent only, not till the keel of the boat).
Along with that, the white color will not show the scratches, fading, and that oxidation process. White color can’t fade into a color lighter than white. So, the white color will not show any fading on the hull (like other colors do); instead, it gives warning signals about the rust and any damage on the hull, which saves a lot of money if you treat them quickly.
If the boat is colored in any other color other than white, any scratch or color fade can be seen easily by the viewers. So, painting a boat white will keep the viewer’s eye out of those bad spots (scratches and fading) since they can’t be seen on the white surface easily unless they stare at the hull.
3. White color reduces boat manufacturing cost and latency
Painting a boat with a regular or standard color (white mostly), what the boat manufacturer uses regularly, will cut some manufacturing costs. It will benefit the boat manufacturer most rather than the end-user (buyer). Let’s see how it reduces manufacturing costs and latency.
Reduces manufacturing cost
Let’s assume that the boat manufacturer will use white color regularly for all the boats he manufactures. The consumer (buyer) can order what color boat he wants, and the boat manufacturer will give the same color what the buyer has asked. If the buyer asks for a different color other than white, the process listed below happens
Most of the boats are made using molds, and to produce a colored hull (other than what the manufacturer produces regularly), the mold must be taped off first. It looks easy, but it’s not, and then they have to start the whole process.
It requires additional and more expensive spray equipment because if they use the same equipment, it can mix up with the standard color that has already been used in the past. Otherwise, cleaning the whole spray equipment is hard, and it takes more time.
Either the boat manufacture needs to clean the whole spray equipment by dismantling the unit OR need to use other equipment; in both cases, it will take time, and they will charge more because they are manufacturing a single boat in a big period of time.
And another thing to consider is mixing the color with the gel coat, and generally, a white gel coat is cheaper than a colored one, and repairing/finishing white Gelcoat is easy. The usual color that the boat manufacturer uses will buy that color in bulk amount, which costs less.
But buying and adding a different color to the gel coat is expensive because they need to buy the color separately, which charges more, and as a buyer, you need to pay for that. So, it takes more effort for all this extra process than a usual one, and you need to pay the manufacturer for that.
Overall, the whole process will take time because tapping off the mold and buying the other colors and mixing it up with a gel coat, which will eventually slow the manufacturing process of other boats in the queue, so for all that; time taken to manufacture you boat will increase.
Meaning they can manufacture three standard color boats (the usual color the boat manufacturer uses, in this case, it is white) in the time of making two different colored boats.
Using a regular (standard) color used by the boat manufacturer will not take all those steps and reduce money and time. So, manufacturing cost and latency (time taken) are more for manufacturing a different colored boat other than a regular colored boat (white in general).
Finally, by painting a boat with a regular color, what the manufacturer regularly uses (generally, white in most cases) will reduce all those the manufacturing costs and latency. And that benefits the end-user most rather than the manufacturer because the buyer does not need to pay that extra money for the extra work and latency for the colored boat.
4. White color has high visibility
High visibility is one of the reasons why most of the boats are white, along with all those other four reasons. A white color boat is easy to spot easily and quickly in the water or by anyone in the coastal areas. But there are some debates on the visibility, and it’s not entirely true sometimes.
Because in many port areas, you may buoy (A type of an object that floats in water and is used in the middle of the seas as locators or as warning points for the ships), and generally, buoys are either in red or orange mostly. And byos, life rings, and life jacks are used to spot easily in the water, which is in red or orange.
Then you might think about why many boats are painted in colors other than red or orange since these colors (red and orange) are highly visible because that would just be horrible to the eyes. That is one of the reasons why most of the boats are white, which symbolizes luxury and cleanliness.
Since it doesn’t look right (good) to see a boat with dark colors such as red or orange, they have used other light colors such as white, gray, blue, etc. for boats. Still, many cargo or container ships used red color as well, mixed along with some other colors.
There is this old saying about painting a boat, white or black. “There are only two colors to paint a boat, black or white, and only a fool would paint a boat black.”Nathanael Greene
However, nowadays, most luxury and costly yachts are coming in black colors as well. And white color symbolizes luxury and cleanliness, and often, it is the preferred color for most of the boats and yachts and big & small cruise ships.
5. White color hull will not show any small imperfections on the hull
Often while manufacturing a boat in the mold, a small imperfection happens, such as irregularities in the mold, which can show up if any dark color is used. Dark colors show up imperfections (flaws) on the boat hull much more than white and other light colors.
Boat hulls will often have minor imperfections on their surfaces. Because of a glossy gel coat, these imperfections would stand out on a dark boat. White does not show low mold quality. And colored gel coats go chalky (the formation of white, chalky powder on the surface of the paint film).
As I mentioned earlier, the white color will not show the scratches, fading, and that oxidation process. White color can’t fade into a color lighter than white. Having a white color on the boat will hide all these things and pretend to be in good condition for the viewers.
So, the white color will not show any scratches and fading on the hull; instead, it gives warning signals about the rust and any damage on the hull, which can be treated in prior and saves a lot of money if you treat them quickly.
If the boat is colored in any other color other than white, any scratch or color fade or imperfections can be seen easily by the viewers. So, painting a boat white will keep the viewer’s eye out of those bad spots (scratches and fading) since they can’t be seen on the white surface easily unless they stare at the hull.
FINALLY, those five are the main reasons why most of the boats are colored white instead of any other dark colors. And there is no rule like most of the yachts or ships should be colored white, the buyer can choose what color they want.
The essential reason why the boat is white is it reflects most of the light by not absorbing much heat as other colors do, thereby making the boat interior cooler than other colored boats. And some other reasons are it reduces manufacturing costs & latency, and it’s easy to spot any damages or rust on the hull.
And one more reason is it has high visibility, and the boat can be seen from a far distance, which helps the boat from identifying it from others to help in any emergency situations. High visible colors such as orange or red will not be liked by many people, so white color is used as a safer side.
And there is no rule like most of the yachts or ships should be colored white, the buyer can choose what color they want. Since white color symbolizes luxury and cleanliness, it is often the preferred color for most of the boats (mostly sailboats) and yachts, and big & small cruise ships.