How To Polish A Boat: 10 Steps Guide


Exposure to marine water and the sun erodes the gel coat on fiberglass boats, leaving them both chalky and dull. Additionally, over time, the gel coat ages, losing its oils and drying out, giving the boat a weather-beaten and worn-out look. 

If you know how to polish the boat hull, restoring the boat’s shine and color should be possible for you. While polishing a boat at home might seem like a daunting task, it is not – with improvements in both polishing products and tools, beginners can achieve results that were normally reserved for veteran boat detailers. In this guide, you will learn how to polish a fiberglass boat hull. 

A Step by Step Guide on How to Polish Boat

1. Secure Your Boat to the Trailer 

Boats should be polished when they are out of the water. Hence, you will most likely be accomplishing the task while on the boat trailer. 

Make sure that the boat is secure on the trailer and parked on flat ground. Since you will be moving around the boat, you should ensure that there is nothing too close to the boat. 

Be sure to polish the fiberglass boat hull outside, in the open air. This will help you avoid cleaning up the mess resulting from the polish spray. 

2. Scrub Your Boat with a Solution of Warm Water and Detergent 

Combine 240 ml of boat detergent with 3.8 Liters (1 gallon) of warm water. Dip a sponge or a piece of microfiber towel in the solution and clean the entire boat. When scrubbing the boat, apply firm pressure to lift the debris or dirt stuck on the surface. 

3. Rinse and Dry the Surface

Using a damp microfiber cloth, remove any detergent left on your boat’s surface. Ensure that no cleaner is left on your fiberglass boat since it may dry and create a residue that is tough to remove. Using a soft microfiber towel, wipe in circular motions until the boat’s surface is dry to the touch. 

4. Use Acetone to Remove Grease 

Dip a cleaning rag in a container holding acetone and then wring it out completely. Rub the cleaning rag in circular patterns against the greasy oils. When your rag gets dirty, fold it so that you have a clean surface to use. Replace it when it gets too dirty. 

Note: Acetone can cause nose and eye irritation if you inhale its fumes. Wear safety glasses and a facemask when using it. 

5. Brush Hull Cleaner on the Stains 

Dip a paintbrush in the hull cleaner and be sure to wipe off the excess on the cleaner’s can. Spread your hull cleaner directly on the boat’s hull wherever you can see scum or stains. Allow the hull cleaner to sit for about ten minutes before rinsing it off using clean water. 

6. Use a Wet 2,000-Grit Sandpaper on Your Boat If It is Heavily Oxidized 

If you do not use a boat cover, chances are, your boat is heavily oxidized. If you can still notice a cloudy appearance or heavy discoloration even after following the above steps, soak 2,000-grit sandpaper in warm water and then wing out the excess water.

Spray the boat’s surface with water from your spray water bottle to lubricate it. Apply light pressure while rubbing the sandpaper in horizontal strokes against the boat’s hull to lift the oxidation. Work in 30 cm x 91 cm (1-foot x 3 feet) sections – be sure to wipe the boat clean as you go. 

You might also like: How To Remove Paint From Aluminum Boat

7. Select an Ideal Polish and Wax 

Before we show you how to polish the boat hull, we need to make sure that you have selected the right boat polish and boat wax. You will need to make special considerations based on the material used to make your boat. 

You will also need to get enough for your boat. Consider the size of the boat to determine the amount of product you will need. 

If the surface of the boat is pitted, you will need to use a strong rubbing compound to combat this. If you decide to go this route, you will need to be extra careful since the Gelcoat is usually thin and an extremely aggressive compound can burn through it quickly. 

8. Polish the Boat 

When you polish the fiberglass boat hull, start at the back and then work your way towards the boat’s bow. These tips should make the polishing much easier: 

  • Apply the polish using an electric boat buffer or by hand. 
  • To avoid streaks, use circular motions. 
  • Work in sections of approximately two feet. 
  • Buff your boat until its surface appears glassy. 
  • If you can see through your Gelcoat, stop, you have already gone too far. 
  • When using the electric buffer, start at its lowest speed, ensuring the pad is on the boat’s surface before you start it – this will help you avoid splatter. 
  • Before waxing, rinse your boat to get rid of dust raised by polishing. 

9. Wax the Boat 

After following the tips on how to polish the boat hull, you will need to wax the boat. Apply the wax either using an electric buffer or by hand. Use circular motions in the same way you applied the polish. After applying the wax, wait for it to dry. 

10. Buff the Wax 

When the wax dries, it will appear hazy. The final step on how to polish the boat hull is to buff the wax until it starts shining. You can accomplish this by making use of a terrycloth or a soft towel. When buffing your wax, be sure to pay attention to the special instructions listed on your brand of wax. 



Q: What Can I Use to Polish My Boat?


To polish your boat hull, you will need warm water, boat detergent, acetone, a microfiber towel, sandpaper, paintbrush, and hull cleaner for cleaning the boat. You will need an electric buffer, a good polish, and good boat wax for polishing and waxing the boat hull.

Q: How Do I Make My Boat Shine Again?


To make your boat shine, you will need to polish and wax it. However, before the polishing and waxing, clean the boat to get rid of the oxidized coating. Our guide shows you how to clean, polish, and wax the boat.

Q: How Do You Cut and Polish a Boat?


To polish your boat, you will need to secure it on a trailer outside. Then, clean it to get rid of the oxidized Gelcoat layer. Once the damaged layer is gone, use your electric buffer to apply both polish and wax – this should give your boat a new look.

Q: How Do You Shine Gelcoat on A Boat?


To make your Gelcoat shine, you will need to clean the boat’s surface to remove stains and oxidation. Next, apply an ideal polish to restore the shine and then apply wax to protect this shine. Our Gelcoat restoration guide offers more information on how to make a Gelcoat hull shine.

Q: Can You Use Car Wax on Boat?


Yes, you can use a car wax product on your boat. However, car wax is generally desirable for situations where oxidation is non-existent. If your boat features oxidation, consider using a specialized boat wax product.

Globo Surf Overview 

If your boat’s Gelcoat is looking unattractive, polishing it can help you restore its shine. With the right products and instructions on how to polish the boat hull, you won’t need to pay a professional to help you with the polishing. In this guide, we have shown you how to polish your boat – use the above steps to make your boat look new again.

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