A Guide to Boat Gelcoat Protection
May 28, 2015
One of the foremost aspects of boat maintenance is the protection of and proper care for its gelcoat. Think of it as the clear coat of car paint. In addition to giving the boat a shiny luster, it also acts as a protective barrier between your boat’s hull and external forces such as water, sunlight, wind, dirt, etc. Proper boat gelcoat maintenance measures will increase the durability of this all-important layer, which can last up to two decades!
The boat gelcoat is an epoxy or a polyester resin that can protect the fiberglass hull which can weaken due to water intrusion. Gelcoat is also designed to be UV-resistant. Because it is this layer that wards off all the threats to your boat’s paint and hull, it can over time weaken and become dull and oxidized, ruining the boat’s appearance and exposing the hull to all kinds of damage. Hence every boat owner should follow the measures listed below for a longer lasting gelcoat.
How to Protect Boat Gelcoat?
1. Use only fiberglass cleaners on your boat – Many of you will reach out for ordinary household cleaners when it comes to cleaning your boat, but this is a big NO! They contain harsh chemicals such as ammonia which will come handy in removing tough stains but scratch and damage the boat gelcoat in the process. A damaged gelcoat will oxidize faster, leaving the hull vulnerable. There are many reliable fiberglass cleaning products in the market that will do a very good job of cleaning the boat without damaging it, so make sure you keep some with you at all times. Additionally, you can also steam clean the boat, which is more effective that any cleaner when it comes to effectively removing all dirt and grime off the hull.
2. Polish the gelcoat – Polishing is an important step that comes before waxing the boat gelcoat because it prepares the surface for waxing. It smooths the surface by removing the dust, dirt, scratches and other imperfections that gelcoat cleaners won’t take care of. It is this smooth and glossy surface that needs to be protected by a layer of wax or sealant. The gloss will reflect UV rays away from the boat resulting in less damage.
3. Apply a good boat gelcoat wax or polymer sealant – It is extremely important to select a wax or a sealant that is specifically made for marine gelcoats. Unless the product says that it can be safely used on both cars and boats, don’t use it on your boat. You can either select a natural carnauba wax or a polymer sealant made from synthetic substances. Carnauba wax will give your boat a better shine but a polymer sealant will last longer. Use a restorer formulation if your boat gelcoat is heavily oxidized.
4. Make sure the hull is fully clean before applying any waxes or sealants – Boat gelcoat is very porous and these pores are filled with contaminants such as dust, dirt, grime, oil, salt, etc. Applying a layer of wax to a boat hull that is not properly cleaned results in the trapping of the said contaminants, accelerating the process of boat gelcoat oxidation.
5. Cover the boat or keep it in a boathouse when it is not in use – You can maintain the beautiful, shiny appearance of your boat for a longer period of time by taking this additional measure to protect it from UV rays and other elements. Use a boat cover or a tarp or keep it inside a boathouse.
Proper boat gelcoat care is key to maintaining the appearance and expanding the lifespan of your boat, so take time to adopt these protective measures. Check out DetailXPerts’ boat detailing services if you are in need of professional assistance to take care of your boat.
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