How to restore gelcoat on a boat? 5 Top tips on restore and upkeep gel coat on a boat

Are you in the process of restoring an old boat and want to know how to restore gelcoat on a boat? Does it need a facelift and a few repairs to make it seaworthy again? If so, this post is for you!

How to restore gelcoat on a boat? 5 Top tips on restore and upkeep gel coat on a boat

How to restore gelcoat on a boat? 5 Top tips on restore and upkeep gel coat on a boat

In this post, Scott Ewart will list how to restore gel coat on a boat in detail, step-by-step. Besides, we also discuss 5 top tips on restore and upkeep gel coat on a boat. With this knowledge, realizing your dream of restoring your beloved watercraft will be easier than ever! Don’t miss out on this important step when rejuvenating your craft and read our guide now.

How to restore gelcoat on a boat?

How do you restore gelcoat on a boat? Here are steps to help you to do that:

Step 1: Prepare the tools

Step 1: Prepare the tools 

Step 1: Prepare the tools

There are some tools to use for restoring gelcoat on a boat, including:

  • Electric drill
  • Wire brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Gelcoat repair kit
  • Masking tape

Step 2: Purifying the dirt from your boat’s exterior

Step 2: Purifying the dirt from your boat's exterior

Step 2: Purifying the dirt from your boat’s exterior

Before beginning to restore the gelcoat on a boat, the surface must be cleaned. Use a mild detergent and water to scrub away any dirt or grime from the boat’s surface.

Start cleaning the surface of your boat quickly to make the rest of the work easier and faster.

To defend your boat from the harm of cracking, apply a generous layer of gel coat paste to fill in any crevices.

To get a smooth finish, use sandpaper to carefully remove any flaws from the surface.

Finally, simply use acetone to erase the remnants of sanding, and then you can progress with the next step.

Acetone is a colorless, highly flammable liquid chemical that can be natural or man-made. Acetone has a strong taste and smell, which is commonly associated with nail polish remover.


Step 3: Removing the yellow and rust stains

Step 3: Removing the yellow and rust stains

Step 3: Removing the yellow and rust stains

To remove yellow and rust stains, you should use a good-quality gelcoat polish.

Instead, you might use a rust stain remover that is approved to make the task easier.

Important reminder: Despite this, it’s critical to handle these acid-based chemicals with care and caution. To ensure your safety when dealing with them, make sure you wear water-resistant gloves and goggles at all times.

Apply the polish to the affected area with a scouring pad or clean cloth. After your boat has been thoroughly washed, it should be polished.

Step 4: Get rid of the oxidation from the boat to bring back the luster

Step 4: Get rid of the oxidation from the boat to bring back the luster

Step 4: Get rid of the oxidation from the boat to bring back the luster

You can get rid of the oxidation layer in a number of ways, such as by sanding with medium- or fine-grit sandpaper, polishing with rubbing compound, or buffing with a rotary buffer. You may need to use multiple methods to achieve the desired results.

Use the gelcoat restorer. This is an acid-based solution that will chemically remove the oxidation layer. Simply apply it to the oxidized surface and wait for it to take effect.

Gelcoat restorer: should we use it?

Advantages: By utilizing restorers, you can get a glossy and smooth surface without the need to indulge in polishing. The effects achieved are often quite amazing. However, such products contain acrylic coatings like urethane varnish, which may become worn out or discolored. Along with this, most restorers come with an initial wash and polish for further convenience.

The suggested application is clean, polish, and coat, with some modifications. Acrylic sealer, unlike paste wax, is water-thin and easy to apply to the hull. It hardens without polishing.

Disadvantages: A multicoat treatment may shine worn gelcoat for a year. But when it’s time to renew it, you’ll need to use the kit’s stripper to remove the previous sealer (or one available separately).

Sand/Wet Sanding technique

In cases of extreme oxidation, sanding may need to be done with both wet and dry techniques for optimal results.

Rub the surface in circular motions until the stain is removed. Be sure to rinse off all of the residue once completed.

Step 5: Polish the boat by polishing compound

Step 5: Polish the boat by polishing compound

Step 5: Polish the boat by polishing compound

Use a strong abrasive to polish the gelcoat. For example, rubbing or polishing compound is good for fiberglass. You can polish by hand or spin for a smooth, glass-like surface.

Rubbing and polishing compounds are used to facilitate polishing such cut surfaces. These compounds incorporate a powdered abrasive material for leveling and smoothing the surface.


Ways to polish boat by rubbing compound:

You rub in a circular motion until the surface becomes glassy. Remember that the gel polish on your boat is thin, so carefully massage just one spot at a time. This prevents the polish from cutting into the gelcoat. After it shines, stop rubbing and continue to do the same in other spots until the gelcoat is shiny.

Electric buffer: Is it necessary?

Polishing: Hand polishing is possible, but if given the option, a machine-powered option is preferred. This machine will undoubtedly be much more efficient.

Don’t rush when using the power buffer; it works slowly! Even if you’re tempted to speed up, avoid using the polishing bonnet on your disc sander or sanding pad of the drill. Otherwise, the surface may be disturbed and the tool damaged. Instead, opt for an orbital moving buffer that will leave fewer vortex trails.

Boat polishing: How often?

Boat polishing is an essential part of boat maintenance and should be done regularly to keep your boat looking its best. To keep your boat looking its best, regular cleaning of the gelcoat may be necessary if you live in a hot climate or if it gets lots of sun exposure. However, keeping your boat stored away from direct sunlight and cold temperatures can help extend its life. Besides, it also decreases the need for polishing.

To keep your gel coat looking its best, it is essential to polish it every 3-6 months. However, this timeline may vary depending on the climate you live in.

Step 6: Wax the Gelcoat

Step 5: Wax the Gelcoat

Step 5: Wax the Gelcoat

Use a coat of wax to protect and improve the look of your newly fixed gelcoat. Waxing can also make it easier to clean in the future. Make sure to choose a marine-grade wax that is specifically designed for boats and follow the directions on the container.

For a perfect finish, use a rotary buffer with a pad of the right grade to spread wax all over the gelcoat in a circular motion.

Repeat this process until you are sure that you have covered the boat well enough. Don’t put on too much wax, and if, by chance, it happens to be applied in excess amounts, take a buffing pad and remove any extra residue.

After letting it get a little cloudy, you can take it off with a polisher that has a pad made just for wax sealants. The final result ought to be a fresh finish that is smooth and see-through.

Depending on where the boat is stored, the environment, and the quantity of UV exposure, the wax coat should preserve your boat for a good number of months, maybe even up to a whole year.

Here are six simple steps to help you how to restore gelcoat on a fiberglass boat easily. You can apply to do it yourself and make your boat glossy. If you want to know how to gel coat a boat in a simple way, we’ll show you how in detail here!

5 Top tips on restore and upkeep gel coat on a boat

5 Top tips on restore and upkeep gel coat on a boat

5 Top tips on restore and upkeep gel coat on a boat

Consider polishing molded-in non-skid areas

Outside of regular cleaning, most people are content to leave their molded-in, non-skid surfaces as is. Many are concerned that cleaning and waxing non-skid surfaces will make them dangerously slippery. While this may be accurate for aged, worn-out non-skid surfaces, newer surfaces can actually benefit from a good cleanse and wax.

Several individuals don’t mind mold on their non-skids. It is easy to see how polishing a non-skid area might cause it to become slippery, defeating the original intent of the non-skid surface.

Repair any cracks, lacerations, gouges

If you notice chips or scratches, use a gel coat repair kit to fill in the damaged area and restore the finish to its original condition. For example, you recognize some cracks on the bottom of a boat, here is way to help you how to repair gelcoat on bottom of boat easily. 

Polish all of the less important parts

We recommend starting your restoration project with the less important sections of your boat, such as the black rubber, chrome, and stainless steel. By doing this, you can get a better feel for how long the process will take and how much time and effort you’ll need to put in.

Maintain the gelcoat of the boat

After a saltwater outing, you should rinse your boat in freshwater, as salt crystal buildup can be very damaging to your boat’s gelcoat. It is also important to make sure that you keep the boat clean and free of dirt, algae, or other contaminants on a regular basis.

Put your boat in the shade to protect it from UV rays, which can damage the gelcoat. Park beneath a shade tree if your boat is stored in the trailer. UV radiation degrades wax. Parking close to a towering tree or other structure extends the longevity of your boat’s gelcoat. It will help you save time and effort.

Know the longevity of your gelcoat

If the gelcoat has been used for too long and you know something is wrong, you should take steps to fix it and protect it. This way, the gelcoat will never be able to return to an acceptable state, so you can proceed with a full repaint. Here’s information on how to easily gelcoat your boat.

FAQs: How to restore gelcoat on a boat?

Is it possible to restore the fading gelcoat?

Yes, it is. Gelcoat’s comparatively soft surface is gradually eroded by time and exposure, leaving it drab and chalky. Thankfully, the gloss is typically recoverable.

How can I restore the color of my gelcoat?

Revitalize the appearance, sheen, and hue of your boat with a specialized gelcoat restorer. Gelcoat restorers are the perfect product to bring out a dazzling, polished shine on fiberglass (GRP) gelcoats. Due to their powerful formula, they can bond with the color of your boat and provide long-lasting effects.

Can you recoat gelcoat?

Yes, you can recoat gelcoat. With some buffing and waxing, fading gelcoat can often be brought back to its former glory. However, when the damage is too severe, we must start with a sequence of increasingly fine sandpapers. Then you continue using compound polish and wax for optimal results.

How durable is gelcoat on a boat?

Gel coat paint on boats can stay in good shape for up to 20 years before they need major repairs. Marine paint, on the other hand, will probably need one or more major repairs within 10 years.


How to restore gelcoat on a boat? Restoring gelcoat on a boat may seem like an intimidating task. However, as long as you properly prepare the surface and use a quality epoxy resin, you can achieve a professional-looking result. After your hard work is complete, you will have a beautiful boat exterior that everyone in the marina will be jealous of! So don’t be afraid to take on this ambitious project. So what are you waiting for? Grab your supplies and get started on restoring your boat’s gelcoat today! Thank you for visiting and reading our post!

Leave a Reply