While often overlooked, performing routine fiberglass hull maintenance is necessary to maintain and restore fiberglass shine. Regularly cleaning and protecting your boat’s exterior will keep your investment looking newer longer. But, when you look across the marine industry, there are so many boat wax and boat polish options – which ones are the best?
However, before you start, we like to share some recommended steps.
5 Steps for Polishing and Waxing Fiberglass Boats
1. Secure Boat Out of the Water
Boats should be polished and/or waxed when they are out of the water, so you’ll likely be conducting the job when your boat in on a trailer or storage pad. Additionally, make sure you can freely move around all sides of the boat.
2. Wash Your Boat
Before you do anything to your boat’s exterior, you need to first clean it. We recommend using lots of fresh water and a soap intended for marine use. If you are in a saltwater environment, you will want to be sure that all salt is removed as it can interfere and break down boat wax and boat polish products.
Also, be aware that salt is good at hiding in any cracks and crevices as well as overhangs such as T-Tops and/or hardtops. After a good lathering, make sure to give a thorough rinse using clean fresh water and a reasonable amount of water pressure. After you’ve finished cleaning off the salt and surface dirt, you can begin the compounding and waxing process.
We’ve created an article to help you to select the most effective boat cleaning and protecting products.
3. Remove Fittings
If your boat has any removable fittings, remove them. Removing fittings will help to prevent your buffer from getting caught. It can also be pretty tedious trying to hand wax around fittings. Of course, when you remove fitting make sure that you organize your hardware effectively so that reassembly is easy.
4. Polish Your Boat
It is not necessary to polish your boat every time you wax it, but you will want to polish it anytime the finish looks dull, faded, pitted, or scratched. When polishing your boat, start at the back and work your way towards the bow.
When polishing your boat:
- You have the option to apply the polish using a buffer or by hand
- Use circular motions to avoid streaks
- Work in 2-foot sections
- Buff until the surface looks glassy
- Before waxing, rinse the boat to remove dust
5. Wax Your Boat
Apply the wax either by hand or electric buffer using circular motions much in the same way you applied the polish. Wait until the wax is hazy, indicating that it is dry. Then buff the wax until it shines using a soft towel.
An Electric Polisher Makes the Job Easier
When you’re ready to begin compounding, you will need to use a variable speed polisher to obtain the best results. Wax can be applied by hand or by using a variable speed polisher on the lowest possible speed. Check out the Shurhold Polisher and Polisher Starter Kit below to help with all of your polishing and waxing needs.
Shurhold Dual Action Polisher – This polishing tool can be used for buffing and waxing. It’s especially useful if you’re fighting heavy oxidation, and it allows for a more even application of wax.
Shurhold Dual Action Polisher Starter Kit- This convenient starter kit comes with the above polisher as well as the polish, pad, and towel.
Recommended Compounding and Boat Polish Products
Star Brite’s Liquid Rubbing Compound for Medium Oxidation
The convenient liquid formula removes stains, medium oxidation and scratches. It does not set up like most rubbing compounds so removal is quick and easy. For fiberglass, metal, and painted surfaces – great for hand or buffer application. We recommend using Premium Marine Polish with PTEF (part# 85716) as the perfect follow-up to maintain the restored finish.
Star Brite’s Liquid Rubbing Compound for Heavy Oxidation
This product is a great go-to if you have stains, heavy oxidation, and scratches. Like the medium oxidation formula, it does not set up like most rubbing compounds, so removal is quick and easy. For fiberglass, metal, and painted surfaces and is great for hand or buffer application. We recommend using Premium Marine Polish with PTEF (part# 85716) as the perfect follow up to maintain the restored finish.
Star Brite Premium Marine Polish
The special polymer coating provides unmatched protection against UV rays, seal the surface to repel stains and deliver a deep, long-lasting gloss. Application is simple, whether by hand or with a buffer. Just apply, let dry to a haze and wipe off. Use once per year to keep new and restored boats looking their best. Ideal for all fiberglass, metal, glass or painted surfaces. Note: if the surface is oxidized or hazy, use One Step Heavy Duty Cleaner Wax.
3M Perfect It- This rubbing compound is fast cutting and removes heavy oxidation. This is a flagship 3M product, and it leaves a fine finish.
3M Finesse It- This glaze removes minor scratches and light oxidation while producing a high gloss finish. It is an excellent product to use after 3M Perfect It to restore a showroom-like shine and luster
Meguiar’s Premium Paint Polish – This is a flagship Meguiar’s product intended specifically for marine use. It rejuvenates marine paint, removes mild oxidation, water spots, and delivers depth and high gloss.
Meguiar’s One-Step Compound – This compound removes moderate to heavy oxidation and is fast cutting. It restores neglected surfaces, producing a great shine and luster.
Recommended Boat Wax Products
Star Brite Premium Cleaner Wax – One Step Heavy Duty Cleaner Wax is formulated specifically to remove oxidation and hazing from fiberglass or painted surfaces. The special polymers seal the restored finish to keep it looking its best while providing unmatched protection against UV rays and a deep, long-lasting gloss. Application is simple, whether by hand or with a buffer; apply, let dry to a haze and wipe off. For best results, protect the restored finish with a coat of Premium Marine Polish.
Star Brite Pre-softened Boat Wax – This easy-to-use pre-softened formula can even be applied in sunlight. It provides a deep shine and long-lasting protection against fading, chalking, oxidation, and UV rays.
3M Marine Liquid Wax – This wax is designed for the marine environment and is safe for use on gel coat, topside paints, as well as marine metals.
3M Perfect It Gelcoat Light Cutting Polish + Wax Light Cutting Polish + Wax – This all-in-one formula combines a rubbing compound with a blend of waxes, so you can accomplish two tasks in just one step. If the gel coat is highly oxidized (faded) we recommend using a stronger compound first then a wax.
3M Perfect It Gelcoat Medium Cutting Compound + Wax – This product uses the same concept as the previous one, except it’s designed for heavier oxidation and blemishes.
Meguiar’s Premium Marine Wax- This wax works best to enrich color and shine when used with the Premium Paint Polish.
Meguiar’s Spray Quik Wax – This easy-to-use spray bottle product enables you to maintain gloss between waxings. This is PartsVu’s recommended quick touch-up after a weekend of boating.
Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax – This one-step liquid cleans your paint while you wax, removing light oxidation and haze.
By using the right products, your boat’s gel coat will retain its look and luster over a longer period, it will be easier to wash, and better protected from exposure to the elements. If you maintain your boat with regular polishing and waxing, you’ll avoid unattractive discoloration and dulling. This all keeps your investment in excellent condition.