Clear coat is to cars as gel coat is to boats. This is the tough but thin layer of protection that sits on top of the paint and protects it from water, wind, dust, dirt, and debris. Because the gel coat is subjected to great strain every time you go out for a water adventure, it’s important for every boat owner to know how to maintain and restore the gel coat throughout the boat’s lifetime. With good boat maintenance, your gel coat will last for several years and keep your vessel looking incredible.
When you touch your boat’s hull, you’re not actually getting through the paint itself—you’re touching the gel coat finish. Gel coats keep water out of your hull by creating a strong shield over the porous fiberglass. It is made out of pigmented resin that acts as both a water repellent and an aesthetic accessory for your boat.
The harsh marine environment acts on your boat on a daily basis, and the sun’s ultraviolet rays only compound the damage. Too many nicks, scrapes, and gouges against the dock, another boat, or a piling will ultimately compromise the integrity of your gel coat. If left untreated, a damaged gel coat will allow water into your boat’s interior and affect your boat’s seaworthiness.
You can ask a professional boat detailer or a marina staff to assess your boat’s gel coat and perform the necessary fix, but what’s the fun in that? As a boat owner, you should have firsthand knowledge of how to care for your boat’s gel coat on your own.
Before anything else, you have to make sure that your boat’s hull is prepped and ready for a new layer of gel coat. Haul the boat out of the water so you can work on the hull for as long as you need to. Next, carry out these preliminary measures:
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