Total ignoranus here, warning in advance this is definitely not my field. I have a 17 year old fibreglass boat. Surface is getting a bit rough. Wanted to give it a fresh look and hopefully make a bit more strong and waterproof. So plan is to sand it down and put a layer of polyester white gelcoat with wax additive as this would be top coat, then polish like mad. Good idea? Am I bonkers? Is a layer of gel-coat unnecessary? Is there a substitute ? Maybe put something else instead of re-gelcoat. This is being done in winter under a roof , but is cold… Im usually handy enough and most things and will have a go at anything…

I would suggest wet sanding the existing gelcoat and then giving it a good buff and polish and see if that gets it back to an appearance that is satisfactory. Re-gelcoating the whole boat can be done, but it’s a lot of work, won’t make the boat any stronger and will very likely make it heavier. If the existing finish is too far gone than painting it would be a better DIY option.

I have a 20 year old Kevlar Mirage 580 that looks pretty good for its age until I put it next to my 2 year old Tiderace. But sometimes it’s nice to have a kayak that you don’t need to be super careful with!


Hi. what would you paint it with ?

Check some of @PaddleDog52 's posts. He has restored a lot of older kayaks. Any good one or two part marine paint would be suitable. But really, try wet sanding it first. You might be pleasantly surprised.


You’ll be amazed what wet sanding will do. Go slow and go fine on grits when sanding. Find some tutorials on YouTube. Gecoat is not really waterproof or does it add strength.
Think about two part paint if you’re not satisfied. Gel coat is a big process and out of the capabilities of people who have no experience of doing and entire kayak. Small spots or patches many can do. Spray the whole boat you need a ton of equipment and knowledge.


Post pictures of you hull.

I am a fan of Petit’s Brightside polyurethane paint. I have bounced it off of rocks, trees and other stuff and it barely scuffs. It is expensive and hard to find, it might also be over-kill. Even Krylon spray will seal if be pretty scratch resistant.

Every time I have tried to use GelCoat I end up with it kicking off (activating) before I get done.

Temp is critical and amount of hardener.

I’ve got tutorials on gelcoat repair and gelcoat restoration here:

While restoring your boat’s gelcoat may be possible, it will depend a lot on how thick it is. Some British boats have heavy gelcoat that allows you to get pretty aggressive, but many boats have thin gelcoat that’s easy to sand through if you’re not careful. It would be helpful to know what make and model of kayak we’re talking about.

As for re-applying gelcoat, it’s fine for repairs, but unless you have the equipment for spraying it and a facility to do it in, it’s going to be a lot of work to smooth and polish it. You would essentially have to sand your entire boat, coat it, then sand it smooth and polish it. Gelcoat tends to flow, so even if applied as thin and even as possible, you’re unlikely to get an even thickness, as it will flow down on vertical areas and pool in more horizontal ones. If you sand through anywhere, you’re going to have all kinds of fun doing spot repairs.

IMO, it’s not worth it. I only did the gelcoat restoration to see what was possible, without any real regard for the amount of work involved. I knew the gelcoat was thick enough that I could be pretty aggressive without getting into trouble. While I loved the result, I’ll probably never do that again!

I agree with the others who suggested painting as the better alternative. Single-part paints like Brightside can be applied using the “roll and tip” method, which is simple and will produce a beautiful finish. You can find information on doing this on boat building sites like

Whatever you do, have fun!

Hairytomatoe, appologize for off topic question, but I’m curious about your name and whether you know canoeswithduckheads.

haha i dont,

Just curious. Not sure that person exists. Sometimes messages come in, like that airliner that disappeared then reappeared 37 years later, and the people hadn’t aged a bit. I saw it on the internet, or that movie the Final Countdown.

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Apologize for going off topic, but does anyone really know CWDH?

And 3M makes a product for refinishing degraded gelcoat that might be worth trying. 3M 09009 works well for lighter oxidation but they make a product for gelcoat that’s in worse shape too.

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This is my Cal 40 painted two coats one part epoxy (polyurethane?) with a brush. Lightly sanded between coats only.