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Gelcoat Maintenance

| Maintenance | April 22, 2014

Sgelcoat maintenance & reconditioningpring time is when most people are getting their boats ready for the season. If you haven’t already you maybe considering buffing and polishing the hulls gelcoat. This is a very popular spring activity and walking around the boatyard the other day, I could see many buffing machines at work both by professional and by Boat Owners.

Buffing can be a simple maintenance task using a light grade compound or a complete restoration using a heavy compound and even wet sanding to bring back a heavily oxidized Gelcoat. You can wipe your hand over a badly oxidized hull and see the results on your hand.

By buffing and adding layers of protection you not only make the boat look nice and shiny you are keeping those UV rays at bay and adding longevity to the hull.

So how do you bring back your gelcoat. Hand buffing can be extremely time consuming and exhausting. So a buffing machine is in order. Next is the choice of pad and buffing compound.

Gelcoat Oxidization

Hull and Deck Gelcoat surfaces suffer from oxidation due to the sun’s UV rays. This is especially the case for colored hullSabre 42 dark blues. Oxidation on Gelcoat leaves a chalky residue.

The picture of a dark blue Sabre 42 shows a typical situation for a dark hull. The transom which has more direct exposure to the sun has dramatic fading and oxidization while the topsides are only slightly faded. The good news is that this is not irreversible. The color can be brought back but it is time consuming.

Looking at the Sabre 42 pictured I would say the transom needs fully restoring, while the topsides just routine maintenance.

I would use a milder compound on the hull as its only slightly faded. I would then try it on the transom, but If the color does not come all the way back you should try a coarser compound. This transom is just faded and chalky due to the sun so it does not need wet sanding.

If you have a scratched and very heavily oxidized Gelcoat you might have to resort to wet sanding. This can be delicate as gelcoat is only so thick. Sanding should be a last resort only when buffing alone wont remove the scratches.

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