How To Restore That New Shine to a Fiberglass Boat

If you’ve had your boat for a few years, it may not have the glistening shine it had when you first purchased it. The elements can cause your fiberglass to become dull, faded and even chalky looking.

Most fiberglass boats are coated with a special material called gelcoat. Gelcoat is applied for various reasons, it will protect the hull of your boat, but it also gives the boat it’s shine and color.

The first step in trying to restore any surface is usually to clean it throughly and your boats surface is no different. You can add a cup of any detergent to about a gallon of warm water and use a sponge to clean the surface.

If there is any mildew on the boat, you can simply add a cup of bleach to the soapy water to remove it. If there’s a lot of water scum deposits on the boat body, you’ll need to purchase a special cleaner to remove them without damaging the surface.

You won’t get the desired results with waxing your boat if the gelcoat surface isn’t completely clean. Detergents won’t always remove the grease and oil and wax won’t adhere well.

To safely remove any grease or oil on the boat, wipe the surface with a old rag soaked in acetone. Keep turning the rag over to clean areas as you wipe and when the rag is really dirty get a different one. You will want to wear some rubber gloves when cleaning with the acetone.

The best way to keep your boat shiny is to keep it waxed from the time you buy it new. The gelcoat can shine like new for over 15 years if a good coat of wax is regularly used to protect it.

Follow the manufacturers directions on the wax that you plan to use. Generally the wax is applied with a soft cloth or sponge in a circular motion. The wax is then left to dry and buffed with a soft cloth or towel.

Polishing will remove any pitted spots in the gelcoat. It works like a fine grit sandpaper and is abrasive. Polish should be applied to small areas and rubbed in a circular motion just like the wax.

Keep polishing the area until it becomes shiny and glassy looking. Then apply a good coat of wax to give it more shine and added protection. You can purchase polishing compounds that have wax already in them for added convenience.

If you’ve tried to polish the shine back to the fiberglass and it’s still dull, you will have to use a rubbing compound. There are many types of rubbing compounds, so you need to make sure that you purchase one specially made for fiberglass.

Rubbing compounds are even more abrasive than polishes and any wax will need to be removed before you use one. Just like before you’re going to apply the rubbing compound in small circular motions until the surface is shiny again.

Since rubbing compounds are very abrasive you shouldn’t rub one particular spot for too long or you may remove the gelcoat. The gelcoat on your boat is normally about ten times as thick as the paint applied to a car, but it can still be damaged if you keep rubbing the same area for a long time.

After you have gone over the entire boat with the rubbing compound, polish it throughly and then apply a coat of good quality wax. Then use a soft cloth to buff out the shine. This process has been known to restore even the most damaged fiberglass surfaces.