The Yacht Polishing Guide – What You Need To Know To Keep Your Yacht Looking Brand New!

If you’re a yacht owner, you’re probably interested in how you can keep your boat looking brand-new and brilliant. Your yacht goes through a lot in its day-to-day life. It has to contend with corrosive saltwater, any number of sea critters, damaging UV rays, and plenty of dings, scratches, and other damage.

That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly polish your yacht. Doing so helps keep your gelcoat intact and remove stains, and keep your boat in tip-top shape. Here’s a quick guide on how you can polish your yacht, and keep it looking brand new!


What You’ll Need 

If you plan on polishing your own yacht, you will need a few basic items:

  • Plenty of rags
  • Soft/medium-bristled brushes
  • Mild cleaning agents (vinegar/water, Windex, boat soap, multipurpose cleaners)
  • Chlorine/bleach
  • Goggles and a dust mask
  • A powered polisher
  • Wet-dry sandpaper (600-800 grit or higher)
  • Buffing pads
  • Buffing compound

If you’ve got everything you need, it’s time to move onto the next step.


Step 1 – Clean It Up!

The first step to polishing your boat has to be a thorough cleaning. If you don’t clean your boat before polishing, you’ll drive dirt, grease, and other stains more deeply into the gelcoat – which isn’t exactly what you want!

You need to wash your entire boat thoroughly, remove all oil and grease. If you use a wax to finish your yacht, it’s best to remove the old wax coating before polishing.

Most surface stains can be removed with multipurpose cleaning compounds like Formula 409 and Windex, or even just vinegar. Use rags and cloths to remove surface stains, and use a soft or medium-bristled brush to attack and remove more difficult-to-remove stains.

Chlorine bleach is also a useful compound for destroying and removing mildew. You may also need a degreasing agent if your yacht has a lot of grease or exhaust soot piling up near the engine or exhaust.

Most stains can be removed with one of the above techniques. However, if you have a serious stain that doesn’t respond to a more mild cleaner, acids can be used to destroy the stain and remove it. Oxalic and muriatic acids are the most common choices for marine purposes. Use a small amount of acid, and make sure that you remove all acid from the hull after the stain is removed.


Step 2 – Start Polishing! 

Once your boat is clean, you’re ready to start polishing. If you haven’t already removed all of the old wax, you’ll start by using a boat cleaner such as Collinite’s Boat Cleaner 920 to your power polisher. Remove any and all remaining wax.

Next, you’ll sand the hull of your boat, if any oxidation is present. A heavily-oxidized boat will require 800-grit wet-dry paper, followed up with a higher-grit paper and a polishing compound. If there is minimal oxidation, you can simply use a higher-grit sandpaper. If no oxidation is present, you can skip buffing and move on directly to polishing and waxing.

After sanding, you’ll use a buffing compound to remove any scratches that remain, and to abrade away any remaining stains or imperfections. The choice is yours when it comes to buffing compounds, though we are big fans of the 3M Imperial Compound and Finishing Material.

When buffing and polishing, it’s important to go slowly, use a low RPM, and use a light hand. Keep your RPM at about 1000-1,500, and keep your polisher moving to avoid heat buildup, or damaging your gelcoat.


Step 3 – Finish It With Wax Or A Clear Coat

After you’ve polished your boat, it’s time to re-apply wax or clear coat, in order to protect your gelcoat restoration. You can use your power buffer to do this, but usually a simple rag or cloth is enough for the application of a wax or clear coat.

Take your time and make sure you cover every area of your yacht. Your wax or clear coat is what’s going to protect your newly-polished yacht from the elements, so this step is critical.


Come To Chi Yacht Refinishing For Expert Yacht Restoration!

If the paint or gelcoat on your yacht has been seriously damaged or neglected, DIY polishing may not be enough to restore it. If that’s the case, contact Chi Yacht Refinishing right away!

Our professional service technicians can restore even the most heavily-worn boats and yachts. You can trust us to take great care of your vessel. With professional-grade products, years of experience, and a dedication to customer satisfaction, we’re the best in Fort Lauderdale – and all of Florida!

So don’t take yacht restoration into your own hands. Learn more about our services, and let us take great care of your boat!