Working on a glass kayak

I recently purchased a 93’ Solstice SS 17’7" FB kayak. There are many scratches that are mostly superficial but some go thru the paint. There is some cracking of the gel coat as well. The kayak is structurally sound and otherwise in good shape.

I would like to take off the gelcoat, repaint and refinish it over the winter.

Anyone ever do this? I am comfortable with paints and stains but have never worked with fiberglass coating.

Would love some advice.



You might fill in the more serious
scratches, and get a good buffing gel-coat restore product to smooth the rest. But removing the gelcoat entirely is difficult, and applying new gelcoat is no picnic either.

The thing about removal is control, getting it off without cutting into the cloth layers underneath.

On the fine cracks in the gelcoat, I don’t believe they are of any functional significance. One of my first canoes developed quite a few such cracks, and I left them alone, and nothing happened.

I suggest spending part of the winter on really good outfitting, so you are comfortable, locked in for rolling, and able to exit and re-enter smoothly. Or, maybe drive to a warmer area and just paddle your kayak.

Agree with g2d
I agree with g2d that it would be unwise to try to remove and replace the entire gelcoat layer. I worked in a fiberglass boat factory for a year when I was younger and have lots of experience in fiberglass layup. Just apply new gelcoat to the bad areas and then sand and polish.

Try wet sanding the boat
I would wet sand the entire hull with fine grade paper starting with something like 220 grit and working down to 1500 grit or finer. Then apply a good wax.

Gel coat repair kits are available to fill deep scratches and this will smooth out the boat, but it would be very difficult to get an accurate color match.

Working on a glass kayak
Thank you for the advice. I will heed the suggestions and enjoy some work on it that has a reasonable chance of success.


Working Woman’s Solution to Kayak Maint
You can drive yourself nuts trying to smooth out every little crack & scratch. Many gelcoat cracks are caused by the hull flexing around rigid points like bulkheads, hatch rims & cockpit coamings, and will reappear no matter how many times you try to fix them.

I fix the scratches that go down to the composite, but tend to ignore the superficial stuff. It’s amazing how just compounding & polishing to remove oxidation & restore luster will minimize surface cracks & scratches. I get great results with 3M Imperial Polishing Compound followed by 3M Finesse It II, followed by marine wax. I use a power polisher with wool bonnets (change them if your deck is a different color than your hull, and again when going from compound to polish to wax). Compounded my hubby’s boat after work tonight in about an hour, will polish & wax tomorrow night, then we’ll be surfing swells from Maria on Thurs eve!

There’s a pretty good selection of
zero gelcoat canoes, and of course ww slalom kayaks and c-1/c-2s never have gelcoat. Are there many upper-end, superlight sea kayaks that are offered without gelcoat?