Badly oxidized red gel coat on .....

my Sawyer Shockwave. I am thinking about painting it with a Marine paint. Does anybody know how much weight that will add? Thanks.

Rubbing compound
Some gel coats can be brought somewhat back to their origional luster with rubbing compound and a buffing wheel on an electric drill or hand held buffing machine. Otherwise it might be a couple of pounds with paint as you most likely will need to factor in primer paint as well.

rubbing compound preferable
I’d recommend against the paint option as well. Depending on how old the boat is, you can probably restore a fair portion of the original color with rubbing compound, but it will take time and plenty of elbow grease to get there. If your boat is fairly old, and has been exposed to the weather for a good portion of its life, than you’d have an uphill battle, but simple age oxidation responds reasonably well to restorative treatment.

If you did go to the paint option, surface prep will be key to getting a good adhesion, and it’s really not worth considerng at all unless you have access to air spraying tools and a place to spray. Slathering paint on with a brush or roller generally doesn’t give a great result.

Rubbing compound - by hand
Machine can cut down too much too fast unless you’re pretty handy with them.

I restored a very faded deck using Starbrite rubbing compound an some rags. These products are made specifically for glass/gelcoat. Comes in different grades. One I used was for light to medium oxidization - and it was enough. I was pretty amazed wow well it brought the luster back to the gelcoat.

If severe, use the product for heavy oxidation, then repeat with one for medium (going from larger to smaller grit as you would with sandpaper). If the lighter duty stuff works, better to use that and and repeat then rough it up with bigger grit than it needs. May take a few applications. Use their marine polish with Teflon last. That will give it an even finer grit pass and seal and shine it.

You’ll know after the first go if this stuff will do it or not - and can always bring in the electric buffer if the hand work isn’t getting it.

How bad is it? How thick is it?

– Last Updated: Dec-27-04 1:24 PM EST –

If the gelcoat is thick enough, it can definitely be brought back to as good, or even better than new condition. There are pics of this on the second page of my Gelcoat Repair and Restoration album on Webshots at:

However, getting this aggressive is not possible on most boats.

If your gelcoat is relatively thin and so badly damaged that light sanding (no coarser than 400 grit) and/or rubbing compound won't do the trick, you're right that painting it is your best option. Marine paint goes on very thin and it won't add any appreciable weight (perhaps a pound or so). Prior to painting, you'll want to apply a high-build primer and sand the boat until it's smooth. Paints like Interlux Britesides are reasonably priced and produce excellent results when applied by hand using the "roll and tip" method. The CLC site ( has good roll and tip instructions. The results are truly impressive if done right. The paint is surprisingly durable and easy to touch up.

color restoration
MLost aukto stores carry colored liquid wax in small plastic bottles. The color selection is somewhat limited, but they do have a very nice red which I use to cover up scratches which show up as white in the gel coat of my red canoe.

For a large area, like an entire canoe, you might try buffing with a mild abrasive used to get rid of oxidation of auto lacquers, and then apply a good coat of ordinary auto polish, which should give you a pretty shiny finish. Of course, you will have to re apply it from time to time, but that would not be too much of a chore as auto polish nowadays is pretty easy to put on and lasts a long time.


Really does depend on condition.

On the boat I mentioned above - the decks were baldy faded (chalky, dull) but not worn - so responded well to the rubbing compound. The hull was another story. Gel coat 80% gone (as in lots of exposed laminate).

To refinish the hull I had to clean, sand, prime, sand, prime coat 2, sand, paint coat 1, sand, paint coat 2, sand, paint coat 3, sand, paint coat 4 (all hand sanding).

A lot of work. Came out well for a first time doing this (with just mini foam rollers and foam brushes).

Paint is a very good option - but should be your last option. Very serviceable finish, but unless you love to sand for hours on end, and have a clean shop with professional spray equipment, it will not be a perfect finish. More than good enough though. Just gets banged up again anyway, right?

Interlux Britesides is indeed good stuff. Worth the price. BTW, those sandpapers that cost 3x as much are also worth it. The cheap stuff clogs way to fast sanding paint. Soft sanding pads/sponges that contour also proved useful.

Colored wax doesn’t hide much…
…nor does it last very long. I played with it a bit on the boat in the album, but I wasn’t impressed with the results. It would be good for a quickee touch up before selling a boat, if that’s the way you like to do business.

Easier fix
If you want your shine back, here is an easy fix.

Use Poliglow. I sail and have a glass canoe. I use Poliglow on both. It really brings out the shine, and it is very easy to apply. I do one or two coats per year on the canoe since it takes some abuse on the rivers.

Many sail boat owners use Poliglow with great success. I re-do the hull on the sailboat every other year.

You can purchase direct here.

…55 bucks???

I read the instructions and they make a strong point that oxidation must be removed and the color must be even before applying PoliGlow, but they don’t tell you how effective their PoliPrep pre-cleaner is at rmoving oxidation and evening out the surface color. I suspect that if the boat’s really oxidized, sanding and/or compounding is still going to be necessary.

It does a good job
The PolyPrep does a great job of getting the surface ready. If you wonder what it will look like. Rub some of the oxidation off with your finger. Rub a tiny bit of clear oil on that spot. What you see is pretty much what it will look like after applying the polyglow.(yes it will be that shiny).

The $55 is a bit steep but there is enough of both to do the boat many, many times. I did my 21’ sailboat and used less than 1/2 a bottle.

Thanks for the info
It looks like it may be worth checking out.