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How to give your boat that glossy new, superior shine!

How to give your boat that glossy new, superior shine! How to give your boat that glossy new, superior shine!

This guide will give you the basic essentials on how to keep and maintain that glossy shine for years to come.

If you are trying to sell your boat, the first thing you must remember is, when you have a new or used boat for sale, the first impression is everything!

Washing your boat:

The first part of the maintenance process that most boaters will start with is, washing the boat itself. I recommend washing the boat with a good high-quality marine soap, simply because some household cleaner soaps have very high alkaline levels in them and will strip the wax off your boat's hull a lot faster than marine boat soaps will. They also may etch the gelcoat if they are not removed before drying.

I recommend using Orpine boat soap due to the fact that it is a concentrate, works great, and goes a very, very long way! It also has a very pleasant pine scent and can be used in a plastic spray bottle for your interior cabin area, live wells, fish boxes etc.

When washing your boat, you will need some essential cleaning accessories; a bucket, boat soap, a washing tool and water are all you really need to get started.

First, give your boat a good rinse job, starting from the top working your way to the bottom getting all the dust particles off the canvas, glass, plastic, brightwork, gelcoat, deck areas etc. This will ensure that you do not scratch anything with small, but damaging dust particles.

Helpful tip: Rinse your boat and rinse it often. Just by rinsing your boat with freshwater, you will drastically reduce the amount of time needed to wash and wax your boat. It does not take that much time at all to do at the end of a day and is very good preventative maintenance.

You should use a Soft-medium bristled deck brush for cleaning cushions, canvas, bimini and sail areas. Do not use a brush on any plastic curtains, enclosures or windows. I recommend using Swobbits® Soft Fleece Washing Pad to clean these areas. This tool will allow you to use on both your deck and hull areas, as well as your enclosures and plastics, saving you more space on your boat that you will find quickly filling up with all your boating toys.

So you now have finished washing the boat, now it's time to get that boat dry. I have heard of just about every type of drying method there is, from using plain old rags to leaf blowers. Yes, I did say leaf blowers. Although the leaf blower idea sounds good, it may not be the most practical method at times. Not to mention, you do not want to fall in the water with one of those strapped to your back!

I suggest a drying product called the Quik-Dry® 12" Water Blade. This blade is designed to move water from the hull, top decks, plastics and/or enclosure areas very quickly and is far quicker than using any chamois alone. When using the Quik-Dry® Water Blade and a drying chamois together, the results are absolutely phenomenal! Whatever drying method you may choose, just be sure to get the water off before the water spots appear.

Waxing your boats hull and topsides:

The number one question a new or intermediate boater asks is "what is the best wax to use" and if they bought an older used boat, the other question is "how do I get that dull look on my hull to disappear?"

Well first let's start off by saying that one of the most important parts of the waxing process is to properly prep the surface first. When starting, most veteran boaters will use a fiberglass hull cleaner to get all the barnacles, algae and scum present on the hull's surface. I recommend using Marykate's On & Off Hull Cleaner to do this job. This product is very easy to apply, simply roll or brush on, let sit and rinse away! There is no scrubbing necessary and it will not harm your gelcoat.

The On & Off is primarily used to clean your hull's bottom, however it can be used on your topsides and non-skid areas as well as long as you reapply a wax or polish after use. Some other very good fiberglass cleaners worth mentioning are FSR, Collinite's 920 fiberglass cleaner and Y-10's Absorbent Gel.

Helpful tips: With the On & Off, this stuff is a pretty powerful acid cleaner so you need to avoid breathing the fumes. Also protect your skin, and the surroundings when applying. Be careful not get on any metal, as it will corrode it. Have a water supply nearby and try to find an area to apply where you can wash away and dilute the run off right away and you should be fine. Just remember you must reapply a wax or polish everytime you use the On & Off hull cleaner, as with most hull cleaners.

One more helpful tip, if you ask any detail shop, what is one of their most important tools for detailing, they will all probably give you the same answer, clean rags and lot's of them. This is one of the most over looked tools when it comes to detailing. I personally recommend terry cloth towels, but you can also use a 100% cotton rag as well. Just make sure the rag is clean, that is the key to doing a good job.

Oxidized gelcoats:

How bad is the oxidized gelcoat? Is it mild, moderate, or severe?

When your gelcoat is oxidized, try to judge how bad it is and start with the least aggressive rubbing compound available. I suggest you start with Collinite's 920 fiberglass cleaner first, which contains a microscopic abrasive formula..

If your boat's gelcoat is oxidized but not too severely (mild, moderate-dull look) then first go with a fine rubbing compound such as - 3M Finesse-IT 11 finishing material or 3M's one-step cleaner and wax, but that's not until you try Collinite's 920 fiberglass cleaner, you may be very pleasantly surprised and if you can get away without using a rubbing compound - then by all means do so. Remember, when using abrasives (rubbing compounds), they will actually cut into and remove the gelcoat.

You will want to use the least abrasive product as possible. Start with a mild or medium oxidation remover and work your way up to the most severe abrasives.

If your gelcoat is really severely oxidized, and when you rub your finger across the gelcoat and it leaves a chalky white substance, then try 3M's Restorer and Wax or 3M's Super-Duty Rubbing Compound. It works well and it is not too aggressive on the gelcoat. Then make sure to follow up with a good wax or polish. If it is really bad and at the point of no return, you may need to talk to your local boat yard and have it done professionally.

This leads us to the second part of the two-step waxing process, which is the actual waxing and buffing itself. This is where I will recommend the wax I think (and a lot of other marine professionals and boaters do as well) is "hands down" the best natural wax on the market today and that is Collinite's 885 Fleetwax paste.

If using Collinite's 885 fleetwax paste, it is highly recommended to apply the 920 fiberglass cleaner first to work the oxidation, dirt and stains using a power/rotary buffer or by hand (elbow grease).

If you are using a compound with a power buffer to remove oxidation from the fiberglass, I suggest you go with the white 100% lambswool pads using around 1700 rpm's to get the job done. You should check with the manufactures recommendation for the justified RPM's needed, as all products are different. Just be very careful not to burn or go through the gelcoat with these types of pads. You will not want to leave the pad on any one spot too long. The lambswool pad has a lot of bite, however it will make the job go a lot quicker for you. When using an power buffer for waxing, you should use much lower rpm's of around 700.

When using a polish or cleaner, work these with a 100% yellow lambswool pad for this application. When you finish working the product into the surface, be sure to spur the pad and remove from the surface completely.

Collinite 885 Fleetwax paste is made of rare carnauba waxes that will outlast and protect your boat better than any other paste wax out there.. It is again highly recommended using the 920 Collinite fiberglass cleaner before applying the 885 Fleetwax paste, they chemically bond very well together. The 920 fiberglass cleaner is very easy to apply. It simply rubs on with a clean Micro-fiber terrycloth or an power/orbital buffer (yellow lambswool pad) and then you can buff out by hand or with the power/orbital buffer.

If you choose to go with Collinite 885 fleetwax paste, you will want to apply it in very small sections at a time and DO NOT LET DRY before buffing out the area. It is very difficult to remove once dry. We strongly recommend applying and buffing out by hand and when using this paste. The power/orbital buffer will make it just too hard to do small sections at a time. This requires a little more "elbow grease" but it's well worth the effort.

If this is not for you, then Collinite has the 870 Liquid Fleetwax available that is a very good wax as well and can be easily applied with a power buffer. It however will not last as long as the paste version. Some other very good waxes to mention are Meguiar's Flagship wax, Trewax Boat paste wax and 3M Ultra Performance paste wax.

You should take the time to clean, polish and wax your boat every two months and even more frequently when in tropical and warm sunny climates.

You will not want use these waxes on your non-skid areas, for your non-skid decks go with either Woody Wax® or Aurora's Sure-Step™ wax. These are both great products and highly recommended.

Here is a little secret: No liquid wax will last as long as the paste waxes, no matter what brand you choose. They may be easier to apply, but certainly are not as efficient for outlasting performance. This is where you will have to make the choice as to whether you want apply a quality paste that takes a little more elbow grease or apply a high quality liquid wax that you will need to apply more often.

Powerboat Reports®, which is the equivalent of Consumer Reports® but for the boating world, gave the Collinite 885 Fleetwax paste an excellent review all around for the longest lasting paste wax and the best superior protection for your boat.

Well that pretty much covers the basics here on how to wash your boat, products recommended to remove oxidation and what type of waxes/polishes that are recommended and used by many professionals and boaters in the boating community. The best overall maintenance for your boat is preventative maintenance itself, if you just take the time to rinse, clean and wax your boat often, your boat should have that glossy shine for many years to come.


Damion Newton

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