Gelcoat Needs Semi-Annual Waxing - 04/08/2009

We bet you thought the great thing about fiberglass boats is that they don’t need any maintenance -- right? We are sorry to be the bearers of bad news but while the fiberglass doesn’t need much maintenance, the gelcoat on top of it does. Believe us when we say we have tried as hard as you to avoid coming to this conclusion, but if you want to keep your new boat looking new you must wax it from two to three times a year. There are several reasons, among them dirt and soot which will get into the porous gelcoat, oxidation which will make it chalky, and ultraviolet rays will fade the pigment in it.

Shurhold Gelcoat
Pro Polish liquid goes on easy and protects your gelcoat.


What Professional Captains Do

Wax is the lowest cost and most practical way to protect your boat's gelcoat from dirt and soot, ultraviolet light, and oxidation. Virtually every expert recommends applying wax. If you have ever wondered why the gelcoat on fiberglass megayachts always looks so good, the answer is that its crew waxes the whole boat every four months. That’s right, not once a year but every four months.

Some megayacht crews in Florida wax their boat every three months. And the gelcoat on the megayachts is the same gelcoat that is on your 20-foot bowrider.

Environmental Protection

Obviously boats in the south take more of a beating than those in the north, but soot and oxygen is almost everywhere. The best time to wax your boat is in the spring, and if you want to keep that lovely luster, do it again in July to protect it from the harsh summer sun.


Engine and generator exhaust, particularly diesel, can have more soot in it than you realize and once it has time to soak into the pores of your gelcoat, it is very difficult to get out. Again, regular waxing will keep that from happening.


Staff members of keep their boats in marinas not far from I-95 and they are convinced that rubber particles in the air find their way to their boats. They need constant washing, and that, together with a good coat of wax will keep the gelcoat from getting dingy.


The Professional Solution


There are many waxes on the market, but the coating we like is the one most builders apply to their boats before they ship them out the door – it is Yacht Brite’s “Pro Polish.” It is gel coat cleaner, sealant, and polish with UV inhibitors that produces an ultra high gloss finish in one easy step. (That’s one reason why the builders like it.)


We think that it’s better than a wax, because Pro Polish is formulated with cosmetic grade ingredients and contains no fillers or talc, protecting the gelcoat against sun, salt, acid rain, and other harsh environmental elements such as soot and tire rubber.


The Cost


“Pro Polish” sells for $22.98 for a 16 oz bottle, or $109.98 per gallon. We’d go for the gallon and save a lot of money and be sure we have enough for mid-season polishing. The appearance of your boat is almost totally determined by the condition of the gelcoat and the vinyl seat coverings. Poorly maintained gelcoat can knock thousands of dollars in value off an otherwise fine boat. We think it makes good economic sense to invest a few bucks in protecting the big investment. Caution: Never wax steps and the decks where you walk. Waxing will only make those surfaces more slippery.

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