Preserve Fiberglass with Proper Maintenance

On many boats, molded fiberglass with a gel coat finish makes up the structure of the hull, deck and some interior parts.  The gel coat is the outer surface, often colored, that presents the shiny, smooth appearance associated with fiberglass products.  In some areas, this gel coat surface is painted or taped for styling purposes.  To protect these delicate areas, regular maintenance is critical.

First, fiberglass should be washed regularly with a quality boat soap, such as Shurhold’s Brite Wash, and fresh water.  Shurhold’s Pro Polish also can be used on gel coat to maintain its luster.  In northern climates, a semi-annual polishing may suffice for the season, while in southern climates, a quarterly application of polish is required for adequate protection.

If the gel coat surface gloss cannot be restored by polish alone, owners should power buff with a compound, such as Shurhold’s Buff Magic followed with Pro Polish.  Care should be utilized in waxing commonly walked upon areas of the boat to ensure that they are not dangerously slippery.  If gel coat is not maintained and becomes heavily oxidized, light sanding may be required before buffing.

Gel coated and painted surfaces are very resistant to deep stains, but common surface stains can be easily removed with Shurhold’s Serious Marine Cleaner.  Unlike abrasive, porcelain-cleaning powders, it does not contain ammonia or chlorine, which can permanently discolor the gel coat and paint.  Minor scratches and deeper stains that do not penetrate the gel coat may be removed by light sanding and buffing with the prescribed products.