Good boat maintenance is reflected in the appearance of your boat, which is almost totally determined by the condition of the gelcoat. A badly maintained gelcoat can lead to oxidation, a dull, chalk-like finish that diminishes the aesthetics of your boat's finish. Oxidation also leads to greater damage through water intrusion. Restoring your boat's gelcoat and then following a gelcoat maintenance plan will increase the life and value of your boat.
Surface scratches can be buffed out of gelcoat with polishing compound, but deep scratches must be filled. When the gelcoat surrounding a scratch is in good condition, the filler of choice is gelcoat paste, which provides both filler and finish in a single application-but not a single step. Because the surface of the cured paste will be uneven, sanding and polishing are required to smooth the repair and blend it with the rest of the hull. Except for color matching, gelcoat repairs are easy and straightforward.
1. Determine the Level of Oxidation
In most cases, oxidated gelcoats are easily restored to their formal shine with cleaning, oxidation removers and waxing. Medium to heavy cases of oxidation require polishing compounds and possibly the handiwork of a professional. Once you determine the level of oxidation, follow the appropriate steps below.
2. For Light Oxidation
3. For Medium Oxidation
4. For Heavy Oxidation
Before beginning the project of restoring a boat with heavy oxidation, take into consideration how much time and effort you want to spend on it. In some cases, hiring a professional to do the work may be necessary, especially if the gelcoat is beyond hope and requires painting. If you determine to do the work yourself, fine-sand the gelcoat and then buff with a gelcoat restorer product, and follow that with a polish and a sealant.