Fiberglass Boat Restoration
Now Even Beginners Can Have Success!
Back before the current boat polishers were introduced, fiberglass boat restoration was a task left only to professionals with years of experience.
Now due to advancements in tools and products, it is possible for beginners to achieve results that were commonly reserved for veteran boat and car detailers. There has always been a great divide between true beginners looking to polish their car's or boat's, and the skills necessary to perform this level of polishing that required the use a high-speed polisher.
The industry has responded with professional grade equipment by introducing high-speed polishers with soft start speed trigger controls, as well as ultra low RPM speeds settings that can be maintained with speed set dials.
Calling All Beginners!
Now any true beginner can pick up one of these latest offerings and
expect to safely perform advanced levels of paint correction on cars, or
fiberglass boat restoration; both of which require the higher speeds and friction that can only be produced through one of the few quality
rotary (high-speed) buffers currently on the market.
The (3) rotary polishers above are basically your choices when it comes to high-speed buffers. While there are entry level steps to restore your fiberglass boat by using a boat cleaner wax, if you are looking for professional grade results, you will require the use of a high-speed polisher.
If you are strictly looking for the best in an auto polisher do perform remove the oxidation from your boat and restore the shine, you can go to my review page of boat polishers.
"Like many areas of life, people will often over-simplify a subject. Boat polishing and car polishing just so happens to be one of these areas. By becoming an informed consumer you will be in a better position to make a more informed decision...that is where my experience can work for you."
Fiberglass Boat Restoration Made Simple
Admittedly, that headline just above is a little misleading. Removing and restoring the shine to the gelcoat of your boat is not something to be taken lightly as there is much work involved.
I believe that far more people are put off by the "unknown" of the process, rather than the amount of work required for the process. Just like the area of car paint correction, most people do not know of the latest in tools and products that make the user experience much more friendly for everyone, but also much more doable for true beginners.
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.
Gel Coat/Fiberglass Restoration Kits
Often what happens is a boat owner goes in search of a top rated boat polisher and quickly realizes that the very next problem is trying to figure out which gel coat or fiberglass polish is the best polish to use.
For this reason I am going to lay out complete fiberglass boat restoration kits and then offer my professional tips at the bottom.
FLEX PE14-2-150 Marine 31 Boat Oxidation Removal Kit
- The Mercedes of rotary polisher; German engineering at its best.
- If you demand only the best, then this is it!
- Suitable for any of your polishing needs for auto, boat, RV.
- My first choice in rotary polishers whether I am polishing on a car, boat, or RV.
- Quieter and lighter than the DeWalt below.
DeWalt DWP-849X Marine 31 Boat Oxidation Removal Kit
- One of the buffers I use professionally whether I am working on cars, boats, or RV's.
- You will not be disappointed.
- The included bale handle is ideal for polishing the boat sides.
- I have used this DeWalt buffer for years before switching to the "Mercedes" above.
- If you are on a tighter budget than the DeWalt is going to be your pick.
Additional Gel Coat Restoration Tools
Along with the complete kits above, the following tools will also be extremely helpful if you plan on tackling the job of gel coat restoration.
TCP Global Brand Polishing and Buffing Pad Cleaning Spur Tool for Revitalizing Polisher Compound Pads and Bonnets
- You will need this to clean the wool pad; none of the above kits include this useful tool.
- I use this after every 2' x 2' section of polishing I do. Simply hold the polisher against your leg and press the spur into the pad as the buffer is spinning.
- Releases the build-up of polish and oxidation.
- Keeps wool pad fibers separated during use.
Grit Guard Universal Pad Washer
- I am a huge fan of this wondrous tool.
- Was skeptical at first, but then I tried it!
- Keeps the pad damp with water which helps in the actual polishing.
- Can also be used dry if somehow you prefer to keep a dry polishing pad. As a rule, I prefer to use a damp polish pad regardless of the pad material, eg. wool, foam, micro-fiber.
- Expensive tool, but if you are serious about results and understand exactly how the right (or wrong) tool can make or break your world.
- Very useful when using wool cutting pads to remove excess wool fibers and used compound/polishes; especially useful on any brand new pad to remove the excess wool fibers before first use.
Pack of 3 - 8" 100% Wool Hook & Loop Grip Buffing Pad for Compound Cutting & Polishing
- If you are serious about fiberglass boat restoration you are going to need more than a single wool pad that each of these kits come with.
- These are the type of wool cutting pads I prefer and exactly the kind of cutting pad you will need first when doing fiberglass boat restoration.
- I have tried other "wool" pads that are blends, but find they do not perform as well as these 100% wool pads.
- If you are cheap, you can force your way through your entire boat with a single wool pad to remove the initial oxidation, but don't underestimate how nice a brand new pad will outperform an overly used wool pad.
- Only you will decide when you need to change the pads out. Much of this depends on whetehr you use the pad washer or the spur to keep your pad clean in between compound applications.
- I actually use both the pad washer and the spur.
- After compounding a 2' x 2' section of your boat, I take the polishing pad to the pad washer, then I use the spur to remove any extra water and to further separate and loosen the wool fibers.
Darren's Professional Tips for Fiberglass boat Restoration
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.
Darren's Extra Tips for Success:
- It is common for people to make a comparison between car paint and working on gelcoat/fiberglass; fiberglass boat restoration will be far more aggressive and time consuming.
- Gelcoat/fiberglass is a very tough and durable material that is able to handle far more friction, heat, and aggressiveness than car paints.
- If you have ever polished on your car before, restoring gel coat or fiberglass will require far more product, pressure, and speeds for true professional results when it comes to heavy layers of oxidation.
- Use common blue painters tape to mask off any areas to protect from the buffer pad and sling from polish.
- For heavy levels of oxidation, it will not be uncommon for me to go over the same section 2-3 times before desired results are achieved.
- I use an RPM range between 12-1400 RPM's when polishing on boats. Many guys will go as high as 1800-2100 RPM's.
- I apply approximately 10-15 pounds of pressure onto the buffer as I am working. (this is my best guess. The point is I apply substantial pressure as compared to that of car paint)
How To Section
Fiberglass Boat Restoration