Raritan Marine Water Heater Distributors Talk About Cheap Ways to Keep Your Gelcoat Looking Great

Raritan Engineering your marine water heaters experts would like to share with you this week some amazing suggestions regarding how to restore your gelcoat. 

We’ve just wrapped up a test of aggressive rubbing compounds for heavily oxidized fiberglass hulls—now available to subscribers in the April 2014 online issue—and this also gave us an opportunity to look at the tools and techniques involved in resuscitating a neglected hull. Although this can be tedious work, it is one of those jobs, like varnishing, that offers instant gratification. 

Restoring old gelcoat is a matter of degrees. You’ll need to inspect the health of your gelcoat and decide which solution is best for you. If restoring the hull requires wet-sanding or rubbing compound, the general rule is to start with the least aggressive approach. 

If the gelcoat is deeply scratched, gouged, or looking thin in some areas, it may be time to sand and paint the hull (PS, December 2012, February 2011, August 2009). Remember that gelcoat is only a thin layer to begin with—it varies from boat to boat, and it’s thinnest at the bow, corners, and curves—and an aggressive buffing compound may take that layer down to fiberglass. 

Marine Water Heater Suppliers at Raritan Give Good Reasons to Invest In A Great Looking Gelcoat

Your marine water heaters specialists explain how if oxidation and minor scratches are your problems, a rubbing compound system (followed by a wax) should be enough to restore shine. However, if the rubbing compound is getting you nowhere (try a test patch), and after washing the rubbed area, the oxidation is still visible, it’s time to wet-sand the hull. Assuming, of course, you’ve got enough gelcoat to sand.

Follow the wet sand with a fast-cut, coarse-grit rubbing compound. This can be followed by a medium- or fine-grit compound; if the boat is less than three years old or the oxidation is only mild, you can go straight to a medium- or fine-grit compound.  

Boat Buffing Techniques and Tips

Wet sanding: Start with 600- to 800-grit wet-dry sandpaper. Pros we talked with prefer Sunmight (www.sunmightusa.com), 3M (www.3m.com), and Mirka (www.mirka.com) sandpapers; they don’t load up as quickly and last longer. While you can wet-sand by hand using a rubber block, we suggest using a pneumatic or electric, dual-action (DA) orbital sander to make the job faster. Nelson Roberts of Atlantis Boatworks (www.atlantisboatworks.com) in Sarasota, Fla., showed us his coveted sander, a pricey device made by Mirka, which has developed an alternative to pneumatic and heavy electric tools. 

Compounds: Apply the compound generously to the buffing pad, keep it wet, and go slowly. If you don’t feel any drag on the pad, and it’s sliding around during application, it’s time to clean or change the pad. 

Compounding Tools

A successful refinishing job is the result of using the right products and the right tools. We recommend using a machine polisher for applying rubbing compound. In PS Editor Darrell Nicholson’s previous blog post, “Waxing and Polishing Your Boat,” he talked about a few tools, including the one he uses for big jobs: the DeWalt DW849, a Dewalt variable-speed polisher. 

Wool buffing pads are better than foam or cotton because they hold the rubbing compound better. Quality pads can last years. To reuse a buffing pad, wash it in a clothes washing machine using warm water; we suggest doing this at the laundromat. 

Click here for more information from Raritan Engineering regarding your marine water heater needs.

via The Pro’s Guide to Restoring Gelcoat