Abstract The fouling of a range of antifouling paints is reported; these include soluble matrix, insoluble matrix and self-polishing antifouling paints. The antifouling paints were exposed for 12 months in Langstone Harbour, England. Colonization of samples taken after 1, 2, 4, 6 and 12 months was examined using a scanning electron microscope. Fouling film thicknesses, measured a light section microscope, after 6 and 12 months exposure are presented. Fouling films of various thickness and composition are illustrated by scanning electron micrographs. The performance of the different paints is compared and related to a non-toxic panel exposed for the same time period. Colonization was initially by bacteria, this developed to include diatoms and protozoa, further progression depended upon the antifouling paint concerned.