Restoring The Gelcoat On A Yacht – Your Step-By-Step Guide!

Gelcoat is a great way to protect the paint finish on your yacht. But even durable gelcoats must be restored every few years. The saltwater, UV rays, and wear and tear that your yacht goes through takes its toll, even on the toughest gelcoats.

In this yacht restoration guide, we’ll discuss the steps you’ll have to take for gelcoat restoration. Following this guide, you’ll be able to easily understand what you need to do in order to get your boat back to a factory-finish shine!


  1. Spray It Down 

The goal of gelcoat restoration is to preserve as much of the original gelcoat as possible, and protect it from further damage. The first step of doing so is to simply spray down your vessel, using a moderate-powered stream of water from a hose.

The majority of dirt, grime, and other detritus will be washed away by a simple hose-down. Now, it’s time to roll up those sleeves and get to work on peskier stains and dirt!


  1. Get Scrubbing

Next, you’re going to need to scrub your boat clean to remove stains, streaks, and unwanted marks from your gelcoat. There’s no way around this – it’s time for some good, old-fashioned elbow grease!

You should try to use the mildest possible cleaning products when cleaning your gelcoat. For example, many stains can be removed by a simple water/vinegar solution, or household products like Windex. Ideally, you’ll want to avoid the use of scrub pads and solvents such as acetone, as these can prematurely “cut” into your gelcoat, and damage it.

The best type of brush to use depends on the age of your gelcoat. Usually, new boats are best cleaned with a soft-bristle brush. You should use a medium-bristle brush to clean a 3-5 year old gelcoat. If you’re dealing with an older, oxidized gelcoat, find a stiff brush that can handle the job.

If you have serious stains that aren’t coming out with milder products, you can consider industrial-strength stain removers, such as oxalic acid, or other marine cleaning products.


  1. Compounding (Cutting & Buffing)

If you have a highly oxidized gelcoat, you may need to “compound” it. This is also known as “cutting & buffing” in the yacht polishing industry. Essentially, this process uses a specialized power buffer and a grit paste/polish to remove the upper layer of a gelcoat, and remove any oxidation or surface stains, while still preserving its overall integrity.

Using a variable-speed power buffer, you’ll use a variety of specialized polishing compounds to remove the very top layer of the clear coat. This is a difficult process if you’ve never done it before. You will need to move the buffer regularly, and avoid applying too much pressure.
Use a soft touch and don’t over-buff a single area. You can always remove more material – but you can’t add it back.


  1. Polish & Wax

After you’ve compounded your gelcoat, it’s time to protect it from the elements with a waxing and polishing, or a clear coat.

Clear coats are usually liquid-based, and built to chemically-adhere to the surface of your gelcoat. This reduces porosity, and protects the underlying paint.
Synthetic or natural paste waxes can also be used, and offer similar protection. Regardless of what you choose to use, ensure that you cover every area of your boat with a generous coat, to ensure your gelcoat restoration is protected.

That’s it! Your gelcoat has been restored, and it’s now protected from the elements.


Need Professional Gelcoat Restoration? Contact Chi Yacht Refinishing Now!

Restoring your gelcoat is intensive, time-consuming work – and if you do it wrong, you risk damaging the expensive gelcoat of your yacht.

So if you’re not interested in DIY gelcoat restoration, contact Chi Yacht Refinishing. We offer the best yacht restoration services in Fort Lauderdale! With professional service technicians and a dedication to customer satisfaction, we’re the #1 choice in the area.

Learn more about our services on our website today!