How To Get Gelcoat Restoration On Your Boat


Part of doing your boat maintenance is gel coat restoration. This is an important process and ensures that the boat is looking shiny and brand new even with time. What’s more, when you want to sell the boat, you are going to find it easier to get a buyer and fetching a great price.

Note that it is a good idea to make use of boat covers whenever you are not using your boat.

With a new boat, all you will need to do to keep that shiny look is to apply a good coating of wax. This will save you quite a lot of maintenance costs and when you finally decide to sell your boat, the process will be quick. This is how to restore Gelcoat on a boat.

Understanding Gelcoat

Gelcoat is a coat that is added on top of a polished mold at the first stages of laying the fiberglass. It results in a mirror-like and highly smooth and glossy finish making the boat look brand new.

This is not something you will need to worry about if you use an inflatable boat.

As time goes by, however, the gel-coat will oxidize which makes the surface of the boat appear chalky. It will then become porous and the longer it stays this way the easier it is to stain. As long as the gelcoat isn’t all worn out the great thing is that it can always be restored to its former glory.

How to restore Gelcoat

If you are wondering how to restore Gelcoat on a boat, the first thing to do is going to be cleaning the Gelcoat. With half a cup of detergent, add this to a gallon of water. Make sure you are wearing rubber gloves. Take a sponge and use this to clean the surface of the boat. It is even better to use warm water.

If there is mildew on the boat, you can also add half a cup of bleach to the water and then use this mixture to clean the boat. Sometimes you may need to deal with more difficult stains such as the waterline scum or fish blood. In this case, it is best to use a cleaner that is designed for fiberglass.

Degreasing Gelcoat

If you want to get the best results from your polish or your wax, you want to make sure that the boat’s surface is completely free of any grease and oils. If the gel coat is porous, you may fail to get a complete and thoroughly clean just from using detergents alone.

Ake sure you only use the best quality boat polish.

Another great solution is to take a rag and dip it in MEK. Also, you can use acetone. Always make sure that you are wearing rubber gloves and use the rag to wipe the entire surface of the boat.

Waxing the boat

If you want to prolong the life of the gel coat, then it’s a good idea to keep it waxed. Once you wax the gelcoat, it can maintain its glossy look for well over 15 years. While wax will keep the gelcoat protected, it will also ensure a nice Gelcoat restoration in case it is badly worn off.

Only use high-grade boat waxes for the job.

Different brands have different application procedures but generally, you will need foam, cloth, or pad to apply the wax. Also, make sure that you apply using a circular motion. Give it some time to dry and then buff it with a cloth. What remains is a smooth glossy look.

How to buff

You will need polish to buff the surface of the boat. Note that polish is not an application but an abrasive. Think of it like very fine sandpaper. You will use a cloth, apply the polish, and buff the surface of the boat resulting in a very smooth surface. Do this in a circular motion.

Like with the other materials, make sure to use the best boat buffers.

After this process, it is also a good idea to add another layer of protection and improve the shine. Also, keep in mind that some of the polish products from some manufacturers will already include wax in their formulations.

The rubbing compound

Sometimes the Gelcoat could be worn so badly that no amount of polish will restore its shine. In this case, you will require a much stronger abrasive. You can find this in the rubbing compounds.

If there is wax on the surface of the boat, you may fail to achieve an even look after using the rubbing compound. Because of this, make sure you completely take out the wax by using a rag that has been dipped in dewax solvent or even toluene.

Use the same motion with the rubbing compound as you would use with polish. You must pick one that is specially designed for fiberglass. Use it until you notice that the surface of the boat is starting to get glossy.

Part of ensuring the Gelcoat does not wear out to fats is by knowing how to de-winterize your boat.

Note that the gel coat is quite thick and is often up to 10 times thicker than the car paint. This makes it hard for the compound to run through the gelcoat. However, you must ensure that you don’t rub onto one place too long. If you notice that the gelcoat is becoming transparent then stop using the rubbing compound and move over to another section of the boat.

Once you are done with the Gelcoat, go ahead and polish it. Add wax and then buff. As long as the gelcoat is thick enough it should provide that glossy look.

Using the electric buffer


While you can compound, polish, and buffer by hand, imagine how long it would take to work on the entire boat. Even working on a smaller sized boat is enough to tire your hands. An electric buffer takes away all that. It is a fast, efficient way to work on the boat.

As you do this keep in mind the coast guard requirements for boats over 16 feet.

A point to note is that even while electric buffers are fast, they rotate at relatively low speeds. Do not use a pad fitted to a drill or a disc sander as this will almost certainly ruin the surface of the boat or even ruin the tool itself.

Using a Gelcoat restorer

There is also the option of using Gelcoat restorers. These function the same way as wax by resulting in a smooth glossy surface. However, there will not be any need for buffing. Results can be great but the downside is that over time, restorers can flake off, crack and sometimes discolor.

Different companies will offer different application procedures. Mostly, however, all you will need to do is to clean and polish the surface then add the restorer. To get the best shine, however, keep in mind that you will have to apply several coats sometimes up to five.

And don’t forget to check out the coast guard requirements for boats under 16 feet.

The great thing is that restorers typically dry fast so you can apply a new coat shortly after finishing the last coat. You will be able to maintain your Gelcoat restoration for up to one year. When you want to renew it, you will need to take out the old restorers. Then after applying the new restorer, the boat will shine again for one more year. This is how to restore Gelcoat on a boat.

Globo Surf Overview

It’s important to ensure that your boat is in the best condition and the best way to maintain the exterior of the boat is to restore the Gelcoat. With the right tools, the process is simple and fast and ensures that the boat is always shining.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!