Finding the best boat wax will be like trying to hit a moving target for most of you! In a vast sea of endless opinions combined with an industry that is less than transparent, finding a quality marine wax for your boat will prove to be a frustrating and confusing chore for most of you reading this.
The problem is that very few boats exist in the world that can simply be washed and waxed due to the nature of fiberglass/gelcoat material that boats are constructed with. Unlike modern day car paints that have a clear coat as the top layer of paint, boats do not, and therefore have different requirements of care. By taking a few minutes to understand the nature of the beast, you will be a more informed boat owner and be in a position to make informed decisions that will help you get the kind of results you likely are looking for, including finding the best boat wax for you and your boat.
"Darren, I hear endless opinions when it comes to finding the best wax for my boat. Marine grade waxes, boat wax, RV wax?? Is there really a difference and can you simplify this subject for me!"
Trust me when I say, "you are not alone!"
The entire area of car care and boat care is a confusing and complicated area for most people; even the majority of professional detailers don't understand the nature of boats, gelcoats, and fiberglass.
Can I use car wax on my boat?
Yes! But with that said, most boats are not currently in the condition to simply wash and wax your boat. Unless it is brand new and in pristine condition, the gelcoat on your boat will have some form of oxidation on it and will require the use of products that have some form of chemical or abrasive cleaners/polishes to them.
What exactly do you mean when you say most boats are not in a condition to be waxed?
This is true. The reality is that cars are hard enough to keep clean and most cars are relatively small compared to boats. Due to the size of boats means that not only do they not get the consistent cleaning and detailing they actually require, but most people are forced to keep them outdoors where they are assaulted daily by weather conditions. For this reason, even boats that many people would consider in good condition, have some form of oxidation on them and therefore traditional car waxes, boat waxes, marine waxes, sealants, etc. will not work when trying to apply them to your oxidized boat or RV.
So what should I do about waxing my boat if it has some oxidation on it?
You will need to shop for either a dedicated boat polish, or a One-step boat wax with cleaner; simply shopping for the best boat wax will not be the appropriate course of action if some oxidation is present. These types of one-step waxes allow you to remove light oxidation while leaving a layer of protection.
So if I can use car wax on my boat, would you recommend buying a separate and dedicated boat wax?
Yes. Sine gelcoat (which is the top layer of material of you boat despite that many people refer to the material as fiberglass) is not only different than car paint, it is also not finished with a layer of clear coat like cars are. Clear coat is what gives car paint actual UV protection from the sun. So professionally I would recommend choosing a quality marine wax or simply labeled as a boat wax. Since RV's and boat are often constructed using the same gelcoat/fiberglass material, these specialty waxes will often be labeled as RV and marine grade wax.
I am a little confused between the differences of marine sealants and boat waxes, can you explain?
Whether we are talking about cars, boats, rv's, or airplanes; the difference between waxes and sealants can be simplified by the difference in ingredients. As a rule, any product that is made using mostly or entirely of synthetic ingredients, will be labeled as a sealant and will be in liquid form. Most products today represent a combination of both synthetic and natural wax ingredients. But ultimately the way a product is labeled is not always entirely correct and is in the hands of the manufacturer; which means you will always be required to read product labeling in order to determine what you are getting.
So which do think is better; shopping for the best boat wax or the best boat sealant?
Hard to say. I am not a chemical engineer and just like you I am limited to what is told by the manufacturers. I have read endless studies and reports and I find compelling evidence to suggest that due to the nature of gelcaot/fiberglass boats, that a synthetic sealant will offer the better alternative for protection. Since most people are looking to wax their boats as little as possible, it would make sense to find a product that will last the longest. And since gelcoat/fiberglass is very porous unlike that of clear coat car paint, it also stands to reason that we need to think differently than we would when trying to find the best wax for your car.
Some people simply believe that the ultimate, and therefore the best boat wax is a paste wax. These dedicated followers seem to be made up of what we might label as veteran boat owners. For those of you out there who follow this line of thinking, I am listing my recommendations when it comes to the best in paste wax for your boat:
Darren's Professional Tip: If your boat has any form of oxidation to it (virtually every boat will unless it is kept in-doors and in pristine condition), I recommend you shop among the many cleaner waxes available that offer a one-step cleaning and protecting solution. If you are looking to take your boat to the highest level possible and consider yourself an industrious person, I recommend seeing how the industry has responded with professional grade polishers and boat polishes that can produce professional results from even true beginners. You can find that at fiberglass boat restoration kits.
Due to the porous nature of gelcoat, I am a believer in synthetic sealants over natural carnauba based boat waxes. As I have stated, most boat owners are looking for ways to wax less often, not more.
With that said, a liquid synthetic sealant is your ticket to durability and protection against the elements your boat will be up against. Any of the liquid sealants below will offer this unique level of protection I believe cannot be had when it comes to carnauba based boat waxes that might be advertised as the best boat wax.
Darren's Note: If your boat has any form of oxidation to it (virtually every boat will unless it is kept in doors and in pristine condition), I recommend you shop amongst the many cleaner waxes available that offer a one-step cleaning and protecting solution. If you know your boat has moderate to heavy levels fo oxidation and are looking to take it to the next level, then instead of shopping for the best boat wax, I recommend you get a fiberglass boat restoration kit that includes truly professional grade equipment and products.
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