Ask any boat owner if they prefer more shine or less shine to their boat and there will be zero surprise at the answer you get.
But the thought of removing the oxidation from a boat is a task that will melt the brain of most boat owners. The good news is that advances in tools and products makes fiberglass boat restoration is a task that can be achieved by a true beginner.
Buffers with trigger speed control and very low operating speeds, to compounds and polishes that are formulated to produce results with far less time and effort.
Now a boat owner like yourself with no experience has a fighting chance at polishing your boat to remove oxidation and imperfections, while restoring the gloss and shine to the gelcoat of your boat.
Like every other area of life, the industry of auto detailing and boat detailing would bury you with information that is ultimately trying to separate you from as much of your money a possible.
As a boat owner you basically have 3 choices:
While it is possible to polish your boat with one of the very popular dual-action, random orbital car buffers, if your goal is to produce professional results that also last, you will require the use of what is most commonly referred to as a high-speed polisher.
While there are entry level products to restore your
fiberglass boat by using a boat cleaner wax and trying to remove the oxidation by hand, nothing compares to the results only achievable with a rotary polisher (high-speed polisher)
One thing I have learned along the way in my professional career is that virtually every boat owner severely underestimates what is required to actually remove the oxidation from a boat. Most boat owners think that a lot of rubbing with some top rated boat cleaner wax is going to be the fix.
While this will have the ability to make a visual difference, in most cases the results will not last and are simply insufficient for what is actually required to make a lasting difference.
Which side wold you rather have your boat look like? This is a before and after shot after the gel coat was restored to original shine and luster using a high-speed buffer. I taped off the section at the right so it would go untouched during the restoration process that I did on the section on left. The rub-rail is still covered with blue painters tape I recommend for protection during the process. You would never get these kinds of results simply rubbing your boat out by hand!
Let's start out with your necessary tools and products you will need to polish your boat.
Most compounds or polishes offered at the retail level are simply too "mild" to prove effective for removing any level of boat oxidation.
The countless retail products in the form of compounds and polishes are "watered" down to make them "safe". Unfortunately this also makes them safe from producing desired results!
Once again...polishing a boat to remove oxidation is nothing like polishing car paint. Two completely different animals!
Most retail compounds and polishes labeled for marine use will not have the necessary abrasive particles needed to remove oxidation.
These retail products will create some degree of shine, but this shine will be temporary at best. After a few weeks the shine will have begun to fade since you didn't use a product that was truly effective.
Removing oxidation from gelcoat/fiberglass is very difficult and requires a lot of friction that only a rotary polisher, a wool pad, and the right type of compound can produce.
Darren's Note: If you know your boat has heavy oxidation, I would definitely recommend getting the "Heavy Cutting Compound" by 3M and then accept you will need to apply a separate boat wax after you have finished all the oxidation removal.
This Medium Cut version contains a wax so you accomplish both polishing and waxing at the same time.
After you have performed your fiberglass boat restoration, you will naturally be faced with a quest to find the best boat wax for your fiberglass boat.
"The best marine wax will be the wax that makes it onto your boat more often rather than less often"
If you choose a wax that is so difficult to apply and remove, you will find that your "best boat wax" never makes it onto your boat and remains in the bottle.
This will do your boat no good!
For this reason I tell people that the best wax for your boat will be the wax you are willing to use more often.
And when it comes to fiberglass boat restoration, the last thing you want to have to do is go through all those polishing steps and then default to an inferior wax or sealant.
With that said....regardless of what you read or hear, no wax in the world is going to prevent your boat from oxidizing moving forward.
But a quality boat or marine wax will prevent the oxidation problem from happening sooner.
Darren's Tips: One thing I have learned is that most boat owners do not understand just how quickly and easily your boat will oxidized (even boats kept in indoor storage) and underestimate how important it is to keep wax on your boat, and how important it is to apply this wax on a very frequent and consistent basis. You literally could NOT wax your boat too often or too much!!
The picture at the right showing my 16 year old son using a high-speed buffer for the first time as he polishes the fender of the boat trailer. These buffers are so much more user friendly than previous generation polishers.