Maintaining and Restoring Your Gelcoat

Gelcoat Restoration Guide
Keep your gelcoat in good condition by using these 4 steps:

As you haul your boat out of storage you may want to get the gelcoat shining once again. Use the steps below as needed:

New Boats:

M09009A one step clean-and-wax products combine washing and waxing in one step, best used on new boats where the finish is in good condition with little or no oxidation, try 3M Marine Cleaner and Wax.

Light gel coat oxidation? Best to use the least aggressive method if possible to prolong the life of gelcoat  Clean with 3M Marine Boat Soap and buff with the 3M Imperial Compound. Avoid direct sunlight and room temperature is best. Use a tape, like 3M 471 available in different lengths.

Older Boats:

Step 1: Boats that need more aggressive cleaning just wash surface and remove loose contaminants: Use a non-abrasive light detergent to remove all surface dirt and all previously applied coatings,  3M Marine Boat Soap or Marine Clean are ideal.

Sometimes you need something stronger to remove surface rust, oil, tar, algae discoloration, black streaks caused from water runoff, exhaust and waterline scum or other stains before waxing or you’ll seal in the stain. Usually you will need an acid-based stain remover like Hammerhead Hull Cleaner or  Hull Cleaner, Extra Strong by Tip Top Teak (test in an inconspicuous area first) using gloves.

Step 2: If your boat is a bit more oxidized a rubbing compound (liquid abrasive which “sands” your hull) is needed but do so carefully as you can rub through the gelcoat. The more faded your hull the more compounding you’ll need. The 3M Imperial Compound, usually applied with a polisher if possible and compatible 3M pads, like the white 100% wool pad, is recommended by 3M. Keep product off bottom paint, if applicable, by taping off as it can spatter. If the compound isn’t strong enough for your level of oxidation and scratches then you may need to “pretreat” with a 1200 (or 800) grit as needed prior to the compound. 

M05928-2Step 3: 3M Finesse-It II, more aggressive, or the 3M Perfect-It Machine Polish, brightest finish, will help provide a nice finish to the gelcoat after compounding and bring it to a gloss. Apply with the yellow pad by 3M.

3M Clean and Shine can help remove any wax residue.


Step 4: The last step is a wax coat such as Scotchguard Marine Liquid Wax or 3M Ultra Performance wax.  These help seal  and protect all the work you’ve just completed.

m09033Maintaining Gloss: Revitalize your gelcoat gloss without going through all the work again by using  3M Marine Clean and Shine when you wash your boat and before it completely dries.