Gelcoat Maintenance – Maintaining Glossy Finish
There’s nothing like that “new boat” glossy finish. Keeping it that way for as long as possible is the challenge.
Washing and waxing is the obvious answer to keep that shine going. But, there are a couple things you should do to add to the gelcoats longevity.
Before we get into it though be aware that any abrasive, like dirt in your wash cloth or dirt on the surface of the boat, will leave micro scratches in the finish. And, those tiny, imperceptible scratches will degrade the finish over time.
Begin the washing process by thoroughly rinsing the surface of the boat to remove as much loose dirt as possible. Once you’ve done that fill your clean bucket with a lot of water and a good boat wash. Then, using a clean cloth or clean soft brush begin cleaning.
When your wash water gets dirty throw it out and refill with fresh, clean water. Thoroughly rinse your cloth or brush to remove any dirt and keep going. You get the idea.
Finally, dry the boat surface with a clean microfiber cloth or chamois. When the surface is dry apply a quality wax to replace the protective barrier that was removed by washing.
Waxing does not have to be done after every wash but is recommended after no more than a few washes or two or three months.
A rigorous washing and waxing routine will extend the life of your gelcoat. But no matter how good you are there will come a time when the glossy luster will require a bit more attention.
Gelcoat Maintenance – Restoring Glossy Finish
Mai Tai is over 30 years old now and her finish is beginning to show its age.
We have tried over the 18 years we’ve owned Mai Tai to maintain that shiny finish. But there have been times when we let up and allowed the finish to dull. To become oxidized.
When oxidation rears its ugly head it’s time to get more aggressive. Now we’re talking some serious work.
Once the surface of the gelcoat becomes chalky you will never see that “New Boat” shine again. No matter how much you polish and wax it. But, it can be made to shine and apply a barrier protect it from further deterioration.
Most people never heard of gelcoat if they never owned a boat. Everyone is familiar with paint. Because most people are unfamiliar with gelcoat they are afraid to mess with it. I certainly was.
So, in the beginning, I sought out professional help to perform the maintenance. I watched what they did and realized that the process was virtually the same as maintaining the paint on a car. The products used are also similar.
It’s easy to damage the gelcoat if you’re not trained and experienced. So, be sure to take the time to vet anyone you are considering for this type of work. I’ve had some bad experiences hiring people that really don’t know what they’re doing.
Do It Yourself
If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person buffing out your boat is a big job but can be very rewarding.
Consulting a professional before you get started is highly advised. A good place to start learning is at “BoatWorks Today“. Here’s an example of one of the many videos produced by this YT channel:
I highly recommend spending some time studying some of the videos available on the Boatworks Today website.
Depending on the size of your boat and the degree of deterioration the decision to do it yourself is a tough one. The cost of purchasing all the tools and materials, the time involved and your general skill level are the main considerations.
It can be a very rewarding endeavour but requires commitment and patience.
We’ll talk more about gelcoat in the coming weeks as we begin the monumental task of buffing out Mai Tai in preparation of the winter season.
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