Polishing your boat has less to do with aesthetics and much more to do with protection.
Because of consistently being exposed to the harsh environment, the shiny gel coat on fibreglass boats begins to oxidise, so polishing is necessary as it adds an extra layer of protection.
Along with that, polishing restores the shine of your boat by removing discolouration, marks and scratches, and any other imperfections. Now, if you add wax on top of the polish, you have a boat looking brand new!
While we’ve covered the importance of polishing your boat, we want to emphasise cleaning and polishing a boat is a week’s worth of arm workout in itself and will be time-consuming, but we promise the result will be worth it!
You can also hire a commercial cleaning service to do this job; however, if you’re looking for a guide on how to polish a boat yourself, read on.
- Microfibre cloth
- Latex gloves
- Protective glasses and mask
- Foam pads
- Foam applicator
- Spray bottle
- Cleaning and disinfecting solution (all-purpose)
- Soft bristle brush
- Vacuum cleaner
- Clean water
- Orbital polisher (Preferably one with a variable speed setting)
- Polish (Aluminium, non-skid, all-purpose)
- Vinyl cleaner
The Best Way to Polish A Boat
A boat, by default, has different components and is made from a couple of different materials, most notably fibreglass and aluminium. Then there is the deck, the hull, the propeller, and the gel coat that may be damaged if cleaned with the wrong products—so what is the best way to polish a boat? We’ve listed different steps that will guide you to answer that exact question, so let’s get right to it.
1. Clean with detergent & warm water
The first step is to hose the boat with clean, warm water to remove any build-up of dirt and grime.
Next, divide the boat into columns, apply the all-purpose cleaning solution or detergent to each column, and scrub it with the microfibre cloth or soft-bristled brush.
Repeat this step for each column till the entire boat is clean.
2. Rinse the surface
Use a hose or a bucket to rinse the detergent/cleaning solution off the boat.
3. Dry with a microfibre cloth
Take a microfibre cloth and start drying the boat. Divide it into columns, as mentioned in the first step, to make it easier.
Don’t use the same cloth if it becomes damp. Leave it out to dry and switch it out for a new one.
4. Remove grease with a rag
Use a clean cloth to remove all the grease to prepare it for the next step. This is important because the hull cleaner won’t work if there is grease, as it’ll act as a barrier between the hull and the cleaner.
You can also use acetone to clean the stains and grease from a gel coat. Keep wiping it to ensure it doesn’t sit, which can cause damage. Also, acetone can cause irritation, so wear protective gear when working with the solution.
5. Use hull cleaner on stains
To remove the oxidisation, weathering, and water-line stains, use a hull cleaner specific for fibreglass with a gel coating.
You can use a brush or a cloth to apply and scrub the hull cleaner on the stains. Let it rest for a while, and after that, rinse it off with water and repeat this process to remove all the stains, scum and algae.
6. Use sandpaper to help lift oxidisation
This step requires extra attention and care—using the wrong sandpaper or too much can cause harm. After cleaning the hull, you can skip this step if there is little to no oxidation.
However, if there is still some left, grab a 2000-grit sandpaper and soak it in warm water.
Then, remove the excess water, wet the oxidised portions and gently scrub with horizontal movements. Keeping the sandpaper moist is essential, so give it another dip if it’s getting dry.
Keep cleaning the previous portions with a clean, soft cloth as you go along. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as you could remove the gel coating.
As soon as you feel movements become smooth, that means the oxidation has been removed – that’s your cue to move to the next part.
7. Wear gloves, glasses and a safety mask
Many products, such as acetone, boat polish, and aluminium hull cleaner, have chemicals that give off fumes that irritate the skin, eyes, lungs, and nose.
So safety is of the utmost importance, and to ensure it–wear protective gloves, glasses and a mask to avoid any unfortunate accidents.
8. Apply polish and water in sections
Divide the boat into small areas, and use a heavy compound for more significant scratches or an all-purpose polishing compound if the wear and tear aren’t too much.
Use a clean cloth or a soft brush to apply the polish in sections and wait for it to settle.
9.Buff the polish
Spray the polish with clean water and start your orbital buffer on the slowest settings with a wool buffing pad. Then, slowly make horizontal passes over the polish. Repeat this process till the polish is clear and gives a nice shiny look.
Do not use the buffer on the fastest setting from the get-go or apply too much pressure, as you could risk burning off the gel coat. Instead, slowly increase the speed and apply more pressure.
10. Wipe off the excess
Once done with buffering the polish, grab a clean rag or a microfibre cloth and wipe away the excess polishing compound.
11. Polish & buff again
Apply the polish and buff it again. Repeat this step for the entire boat, and if any sections look like they need more than one coating–feel free to do so.
You can also use the all-purpose or fine polish after the heavy polish to cater to minor scratches and damage.
12. Apply boat wax with a foam pad
Apply the boat wax using a foam pad onto the sections using circular motions. Do not cover large areas with the wax, as some will dry while you’re working on the other side.
Instead, it’s better to apply it in smaller areas–it will take longer, but the result will be worth it.
13. Let the wax dry
Once you’ve applied the wax, leave it to air dry for a few minutes. Feel free to grab a refreshing drink while you wait.
Check-in after 5-10 minutes; the wax should have a dull glaze. That’s your sign to begin buffing it.
14. Buff the wax
Use a clean cotton or a microfibre cloth to buff the wax. Rub it off using the same circular movements used while applying it. You should see a difference before and after buffing the wax. It’ll be shiny and smooth.
Use a new cloth part for each section, and switch it out for a new one when it gets too dirty. You don’t want your hard work messed up by a dirty cloth at the last stage.
We Offer Commercial Boat Cleaning Services
Cleaning the interior and exterior of a boat can be tiring, expensive, and demanding, with multiple rounds of polishing required.
If you don’t have the time, tools, or know-how to polish your boat, why not leave it to the professionals?
Perfect Clean has the perfect team and means to care for your boat. Reach out now to get a quote.