Boat polishing - the secrets of success

Dull, faded and worn fibreglass can easily be restored to original colour and a brilliant shine by using the right materials in just three simple steps

Exceeded expectations

"Your renovator and the wax was brilliant. Certainly exceeded my expectations."

An unsolicited comment from Geoff Goff of Bracknell.

  1. Hose down the boat to remove mud, sand, salt and bird droppings.
  2. Prepare with Pre-wax Colour Restorer or Clean Cut Compound.
  3. Apply good quality boat wax or polymer glaze to enhance and protect the shine.

Cool shadesThen there's the fourth step - step back and admire. Like Geoff Goff, you'll be delighted by the result.

Margaux after polishingMargaux before polishing

Here's an example

Margaux was thoroughly washed down, then a couple of areas that had been worn by rubbing fenders were hand treated with Clean Cut Compound.

Prewax Colour Restorer was applied with the orbital polisher, then the bonnet was changed and the restorer buffed off without allowing it to dry too much. A wipe over by hand removed the last traces.

A fresh bonnet on the orbital polisher and UltraGlaze was applied, then buffed off with a clean bonnet. The whole job on this 21 foot Etap was done in a couple of two hour sessions.

Works on dark colours

Laser dinghy restoredFaded Laser dinghy

Here's a faded laser dinghy that has been restored using Clean Cut Compound and Prewax Colour Restorer, finished with Performance Boat Wax.

Alan Dalziel was quoted £250 for a pro job, and did this himself for a third the cost, including purchasing a variable speed sander-polisher.

Thank you Alan for the photos. Read his comments here.

What you need

Restore shine and colour

If the gel coat is just dull and faded, bring it back to new condition with Pre-wax Colour Restorer. This lifts out dirt and impurities, removes fine scratches, salting, oxidation and gently polishes back to to restore the true colour. Its not aggressive, but the effect is dramatic even on old surfaces.

If the gel coat is scratched, you need something a bit more abrasive. To rub out those scratches, use BoatSheen Clean Cut Compound. This has a stronger cutting action, so we recommend that you use it only where necessary and prepare the rest of the boat with Pre-wax colour restorer.

Protect and deepen the shine

Once prepared, get some good protection on the surface or you'll be back to dull in a few weeks. Don't wast your effort with cheap car polish. Boatsheen specialised boat waxes with carnauba or PTFE last much longer and produce a deep, brilliant shine. Alternatively, use BoatSheen UltraGlaze which is a durable polymer finish.

Make it easy with a polishing machine

An efficient polishing machine can buff the topsides of a boat in minutes. For professional valeters, they are indispensable. An orbital polisher gives a fast brilliant finish, is easily controlled and can't damage the surface.

For compounding and general repair work, a rotary sander polisher is better. We've done a detailed comparison in our comparison of orbital and rotary machines.

Cloths and applicators

Deep pile mittApplicator padsMicrofibre clothsIf you are working by hand, don't skimp on quality microfibre cloths and applicators. They really do make a difference and can be a pleasure to use. Even if you are machine polishing, a good cloth or mitt will be handy when you step back and see that bit you missed...

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