I have some minor scratches in my gelcoat that I would like to try and remove. In the past when I wax the boat I can actually get some of them out by hand with just the wax. Can I use a motorized car type buffer? Should I use any buffing compound? Should I just buff with the boat wax that i’ve been using? This is not something I want to do all the time, maybe just an Annual maintenance thing to get the boat looking like new again.
"Buffing" is really something that is done with a buffing compound or a polish, NOT wax. Wax alone just temporarily fills the scratch at best.
For what it is worth, it you can run your fingernail across the scratch and it “catches” in the scratch it will NOT buff out, and it will have to be filled with new gelcoat, and wet sanded out then buffed out.
If you can buff it out, the best compounds are made by 3M specifically for use on gelcoat. You can find decent compounds in a good auto supply store though, and the general rule is that the darker the compound the more aggressive it is. You should be using a good serious buffing pad on a nice power buffer to get any worthwhile results, although you can slave over it forever by hand.
I use 3M #06025 fiberglass compound followed up by 3M #05928 “Finesse-it” Polish. Each product should have its own specialized pad, but if you clean the compound off the pad and then use it again for the polish you can fake it. Run the buffer at the slowest speed possible so as not to “burn” the compound and the boat.
Going over the area with wax afterwards just gives you a glossy look, but if you have not done the job right it will only enhance the visual imperfections.
I remove the deck rigging once a year and completely sand out and buff all the scratches, the replace the bungee parts of the rigging with new bungee.
Basically there is more to it than you think, but give it a try and see how it goes.
I just leave 'em alone if they don’t go through to the glass. Buffing the gelcoat just makes it thinner, and shortens the time before you have to do some SERIOUS gelcoat repair.
If you’re really stressed about it, fill the scratches with a one-part gelcoat scratch filler & have done with it.
If you paddle rock gardens, you get real cavalier about gelcoat…
careful with a
buffer (power) on any surface. Slowest setting is a good recommendation. Personally I would just wax it to cover up the scratches. That way your gelcoat isn’t getting thinner as mentioned above. You may end up putting swirl marks by using a power buffer.
100% with Roger. Use the 3M products that he specifies. They are the same compounds that I use in my repair business and provide an excellent finish. It is designed to be used on gelcoat surfaces unlike car based compounds.
I would perform this annually. Another added benefit, especially when performed on the deck, is that it reduces oxidation which leads to discoloring of the gelcoat.
I would not worry about reducing the gelcoat thickness from this process. It does not remove very much material and acts more as a polisher than a remover. Now, if you decided to sand your hull every year, than that would be an issue.
You wax your boat?!
Bill, we gotta’ talk…
I was told by a reliable source to "wax your boat often". I use a wax specifically for boats it's 3M Marine Protective Liquid Wax.
Should I be doing something else? 303? I also ocassionally wax my dolphin. ;)
British boats are much happier…
…when they’re scratched up. We gotta’ find you some rocks to play in!
Seriously, it’s obviously good for the finish to wax it, but no matter what you do, the boat’s going to get some scratches. I guess that as long as waxing doesn’t cut into your paddling time, it’s OK.
For hatch covers and such, 303 is the way to go.
where do you get the gel coat filler?