Restore and revive faded gelcoat: Three different methods to try

Few things irk me more than dirty, chalky and stained gelcoat. Like an engine that is corroded – or lines that are chafed – worn gelcoat is a sure sign of neglect. Fortunately there are multiple ways to restore aged, stained, dirty and faded gelcoat. With a bit of care and a lot of elbow grease, the methods here are guaranteed to drastically improve the appearance of your craft. 1. Cleaner wax/polish Tools and materials Microfibre towels: 4-8 Shurhold Pro Polish: £20 bottle Non-slip deck cleaner: £12 bottle This is the simplest and least laborious of the three methods, but only applies to newer boats with surface stains, minor fading and discolouration of the gelcoat, and little to no oxidation. To determine if gelcoat is oxidised, wipe your hand across the surface. If any ‘chalk’ wipes off on your fingers, the gelcoat is oxidised and will need to be washed and buffed before polishing. If you are lucky and all your boat requires is a light polish, here’s what you need to do: Step 1: Gather your supplies: you’ll need a pack of high quality microfibre towels and a polish. Low quality towels will shed fibres and leave streaks and residue. For boats with slightly more deteriorated or faded gelcoat, a cleaner or restorer wax may be chosen – 3M and other brands make a good quality product that can be used for this purpose. For boats that have only minor gelcoat defects or staining, a polish such as Shurhold’s Pro Polish can be used. I’ve found that polymer polishes work much better than carnuba waxes at sealing the pores in gelcoat and producing a durable high gloss finish. Polymer polishes can last up to a year, while even the best boat waxes generally only last for a few months at a time. Step 2: Wet the microfibre rag, wring it out and then apply a tablespoon of polish to the rag. This amount of polish will work for a few square feet. Before buffing, spread the polish evenly across the boat’s gelcoat. It’s best to work in small areas and work the polish into the surface with a circular motion and lots of leverage. A buffer with wool pad may be used at low speed, but I prefer to buff by hand as it’s much more precise and easy to get into nooks and crannies. Step 3: When the polish dries into a haze, remove it with a clean, dry microfibre rag. Be sure to apply adequate force or a film of swirl marks will remain. Be sure to get in all the nooks and crannies or they’ll be an eyesore. Note: In the past I’ve cleaned and polished non-skid decks with polymer polishes, which made my deck highly reflective. It did, however, make the deck a bit more slippery so I’d advise using a product made especially for this part of the boat. The best way to polish non-skid is with a wetted bristle brush. Simply scrub the … Continue reading Restore and revive faded gelcoat: Three different methods to try