Restore The Gelcoat On Your Yacht Like A Pro With This Simple Guide!

Whether you’ve got a large yacht or just a smaller fishing vessel, the gelcoat on your watercraft goes through quite a bit of abuse. From dings and scratches during docking, to oxidization and corrosion caused by seawater, UV damage from the sun, and much more.

So if you’ve got a boat with a damaged or unsightly gelcoat, you’re not alone. The good news is that it’s quite easy to restore your gelcoat – and with this step-by-step guide from Chi Yacht Refinishing, you’ll be able to learn how! Let’s get started.


Step 1 – Cleaning 

The first step of gelcoat restoration is cleaning. If you don’t clean your boat thoroughly, you’ll drive debris and dirt deeply into your gelcoat when compounding or sanding, so don’t forget this step.

Start by hosing down your entire boat to remove debris and detritus. Then, get to cleaning! For minor surface stains, you should be able to use a household cleaner like Windex or Formula 409, or a vinegar/water solution. Use a clean rag to wipe them away.

Peskier stains can be addressed with a soft or medium-bristled brush, and a specialized boat soap. For stains caused by soot or engine grease, you can use a degreasing compound. Mildew can be removed with chlorine bleach.

Once your boat is clean, it’s time to move onto the next step!


Step 2 – Compounding (Or Sanding) 

Usually, the next step in the restoration process is compounding. Compounding uses specialized liquid/gel abrasive cleaners to buff away scratches and minor corrosion, restoring your gelcoat.

However, if your gelcoat is heavily corroded or damaged, you may need to sand it first. Usually, an 800-grit sandpaper is recommended for severe gelcoat damage, followed up with several higher-grit sandpapers. Take care when sanding your gelcoat. Use a light touch and keep your sander moving, and try to maintain a low RPM level. You can always remove more material – but you can’t put it back on again.

After sanding – or if sanding wasn’t required – it’s time for compounding. Apply your selected compound to a soft microfiber waxing pad. As with waxing, it’s best to use a light touch here, and keep the pad moving, to avoid damaging the integrity of your gelcoat.

Compounding will remove most oxidation, but it won’t restore your gelcoat to its shiny, factory condition. For that, you’ll need to finish up with polishing.


Step 3 – Polishing 

Polishing is quite similar to compounding, but polishes use much finer-grit abrasives, which restore your gelcoat and make it shiny and beautiful.

The process is identical to compounding. Using gentle pressure and regular, circular motions, use your power buffer to work the polishing compound into your hull, until you see a bright shine.


Step 4 – Spot Repairs 

If you have some serious scratches or dings in your gelcoat, you may need to use a topical gelcoat repair paste to restore them. Start by sanding these areas with a low-grit sandpaper, such as a 220-grit paper. Progress to finer sandpapers until there are no rough areas.

Then, use a gelcoat repair compound to fill in the damaged area. This is simple for white boats – but if you have a colored boat, you may need to buy a product that’s the right color for your boat, from a company like Fibreglast. Sand the area again to ensure an even application, and then finish it with compounding and polishing.


Step 5 – Waxing

You’ll need to re-apply wax to ensure that you protect your gelcoat restoration. The choice of what product you use is totally up to you. Use a clean cloth to apply an even coat of wax to your boat, and repeat the process as many times as desired, or until you’re sure that you’ve obtained even coverage.


Come To Chi Yacht Refinishing For Professional Yacht Polishing And Restoration

At Chi Yacht Refinishing, we specialize in serving boats of all types, shapes, and sizes. From the biggest superyachts to smaller leisure vessels, we can handle it all.

If you’re interested in yacht restoration in Fort Lauderdale, we’re the best choice. We can restore your paint and gelcoat, and ensure that your boat looks like it just came out of the factory!

So contact us today to learn more about our rates, or take a look at our services online. We look forward to hearing from you!