How to Fix a Faded Gel Coat on a Boat

Written by tami parrington
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How to Fix a Faded Gel Coat on a Boat
A well-kept boat is a thing of beauty (

Boats are big-ticket items that need to be maintained to look and perform their best. One of the most common cosmetic solutions for restoring a boat to its original lustre is to fix its faded gel coat. The gel coat is both paint for colour, and epoxy for protection of the fibreglass hull of a boat. Keeping your boat looking fresh also helps to keep its value and will make reselling it easier when the time comes. While repairing the gel coat on a boat takes some practice, it is something that anyone can learn to do.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wax remover (Acetone or Automotive Silicone remover)
  • Waxing compound
  • Buffer

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    Restoring that shine

  1. 1

    Apply a little elbow grease and see if a good buff and wax won't solve the problem. In many cases, that's all that's needed to restore a boat's original lustre. It should be done at least once a month during boating season, and once before storing and removing the boat from storage.

  2. 2

    Decide if the fading is more pronounced and won't be solved with a general wax and buff. If not, use a waxing product designed to clean and deoxidize damaged gel coats. Apply in the same manner as a normal wax.

  3. 3

    Remove any existing wax build-up on the boat's surface. Apply acetone to remove the wax unless the gel coat is treated with silicone. Use automotive silicone remover if that is the case.

  4. 4

    Apply compound wax. Using compound wax with a gritty composition scrubs particles from the gel coat to restore it. Select the proper grit by applying a small amount of compound to a limited area to see if it restores the original colour. Use a progressively stronger grit until you are satisfied with the results.

  5. 5

    Buff as usual when finished and prepare to admire your lovely revived boat.

Tips and warnings

  • Keeping up with waxing and general maintenance is much easier than stripping and applying a new wax coat. Well-maintained boats typically maintain their gel coat for 20 years or more before a complete refinishing is needed.

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