Your boat's fiberglass gelcoat will maintain its shine for a long time if you keep it clean, waxed, and protected from the sun. If the surface has begun to discolor or fade, or if the coating has suffered wear or scratches, you will need to learn how to polish the button. While the process is fairly simple and not much different from waxing a car, each owner has his or her own style. This article explains the basic steps for polishing a boat.
Part 1 of 3: Wash the pot
Step 1. Place the boat on the trailer firmly
Boats should be waxed out of the water and secured on a trailer, preferably parked on a flat, even surface. Since you will be spraying products and moving the boat, the trailer will likely need to be connected to the car.
Depending on the type of pot, you may need to cover it before you start waxing and cleaning it. To keep the interior safe, keep the cover on
Step 2. Hose the outside of the canister first
It's important to only wax a freshly washed boat to remove all dirt and grime, as well as algae and other dirt buildups, especially if the boat got stuck in the water.
- Start with plain water, spraying evenly across the entire exterior surface that needs to be cleaned. Use a clean, wet sponge to gently begin scrubbing and loosening the grime.
- If there are any spots with serious build-up, you can use 220-grit sandpaper to clean them up. Do not use a pressure washing machine with the can, as it can damage the finish and affect the effectiveness of the gel coat. Use a mild spray instead of a powerful one.
Step 3. Clean the old wax from the surface
Use rags soaked in toluene or another wax solvent to remove traces of old wax, which can prevent polishing and polishing compounds from working evenly over the entire surface of the pot.
Rub the rag in one direction with light pressure. Generally, there is nothing that requires very hard rubbing to remove. Let the solvent evaporate before polishing
Step 4. Wash with a suitable detergent
Finish washing the surface with a sponge and special canning soap or a mild dishwasher solution and warm water.
- If the surface of the pot is stained, it is sometimes common to use a little bleach to disinfect and clean it completely. Also, shellac thinner, Varsol, or a degreaser is sometimes used to remove sticky spots or greasy build-ups. Don't use bleach on untreated or unstained wooden jars.
- Rinse the jar completely with clean water and allow it to dry. You can use a squeegee to speed up the drying process if necessary.
Part 2 of 3: Polish the surface of the boat
Step 1. Consider using a polishing or polishing compound, which restores the shine of the fiberglass gel coat by removing surface blemishes, discolorations and scratches to increase shine
- Choose a polish if the boat needs only a little restoration. Use a stronger polishing compound if the surface is too pitted or whitish, which is a sign that it needs a much more substantial cleaning.
- Be very careful when using a polishing compound. The gel coat is very thin and an aggressive compound can pass through it quickly. A lengthy and expensive repair will be necessary if it happens.
Step 2. Start at the transom and work toward the bow
Work in 2 ft. (60 cm) sections to apply the polishing compound or polishing compound. Use a soft cloth if you work by hand, or install a foam pad on the electric polisher. Apply a circle of polishing compound or polishing compound to the cloth or pad and rub it into the surface in an even circular motion. Buff until the surface is shiny. If you can see through the gel coating, you overdid it.
- Some purists put their hands on fire for hand polishing, while others argue that using a tool saves effort and removes smudges and swirls. Choose a low speed polisher instead of a high speed one for more control. Orbital motion tools are less likely to leave spiral marks.
- If you are using an electric polisher, start at the lowest speed. Touch the pad lightly to the surface before you start polishing so that the polishing liquid doesn't splatter all over the place.
Step 3. Next, apply a polishing compound
If necessary, apply a polish using the same method. Use circular motions and move in the same direction as when applying the polishing compound. Rinse the can and work area with a hose to remove accumulated dust from polishing and applying the products.
Part 3 of 3: wax the pot
Step 1. Choose an appropriate variety of pot wax, depending on the style and surface of the gel coat
Keeping the coating protected with wax helps to maintain the shine longer, offering a protective layer between the coating and the water.
Collinite 885 is a commonly used and recommended fence, also used on surfboards and for other purposes
Step 2. Use the same motion that you used when applying the polishing compound
In addition to polishing, you can apply wax by hand or with an electric polisher. Use the same circular motion to avoid leaving marks.
Different varieties of wax may come with specific instructions, so refer to the ones for the product you buy
Step 3. Be careful with accessories and enclosed spaces
Regardless of whether you polish by hand or machine, work hand-in-hand near accessories that cannot be removed to prevent the power polisher from reaching or damaging them. Do the same in small corners.
Remove the accessories beforehand if possible, leaving the screws near the respective accessory so you don't get confused later
Step 4. Let the wax dry
After a little time, the wax will start to look a bit fuzzy, which means it is ready for the second coat. It is important to let the wax dry enough to protect the gel coat. This only takes 5-10 minutes in the sun.
Step 5. Buff the wax until it shines
Use a soft towel or terry cloth sponge, if you choose to use an electric polisher, or a clean hand polish. Work in circles. The shine should really start to show when you buff the cloudiness out of the wax.
- Save time and energy by sending the pot to be polished. You can find this service in most marinas. Don't expect auto specialists to have the experience to work with a can, as the gel coat has a different thickness and consistency.
- Some boat owners recommend several rounds of wet sanding with an increasingly finer grit before applying the polish or polishing compound.