Waxing your boat is one of those necessary evils. Nobody likes to do it but it is critical to protect the finish and keep your boat looking nice. But what wax should you use? To answer this question, we surveyed boaters to identify the best boat wax brands. We also discuss some of the different types of waxes and when to use each.
Is Your Boat Ready to Wax?
Waxing your fiberglass boat is really about applying a protective layer to shield the gelcoat from harmful UV rays and other elements. Left untreated, the gelcoat will breakdown or “oxidize” resulting in a dull or chalky finish. If your boat has some degree of oxidation or other imperfections, then it is important to treat those before adding the wax. Alternatively, “Cleaner Waxes” or “Restorer Waxes” could address these problems and add a protective layer in one step. However, these are only appropriate if the issues are fairly minor. To see a description of the types of cleaning and waxing products and when to use them, see “Washing and Waxing: How to Detail a Boat“.
Best Boat Wax Brands
In our survey, we asked boaters which brand(s) they use for waxing and how effective is each. The table below lists the most popular brands used by our 250 respondents. The average effectiveness rating is also provided.
- Collinite: Though far from the most popular brand in our survey (only 9% use it), Collinite received the highest rating of all brands used for waxing. The specific variety used varied between the 885 Fleetwax paste, the 925 Fiberglass Boat Wax (liquid) and the 845 Insulator Wax (liquid). The latter two appear to be the same and are recommended if ease of use is important.However, if you don’t mind a little elbow grease, then the 885 Fleetwax paste will give you a longer lasting shine. Collinite has developed this handy chart to help find the product that is right for you.
- Lucas Oil: The Lucas Oil Slick Mist is a spray wax (polymer) that is popular with bass boaters to touch up between full waxes. As with Collinite, this product also received high ratings and several favorable comments:
- “Excellent. I just use it between paste waxes to maintain surfaces.”
- “Slick Mist works great for cleaning up your boat when you come off of the water. On some California lakes you are required to clean and dry your boat before leaving.”
- “Very easy to use and can wipe surface clean after pulling from water, go wash off and reapply, quick and easy.”
- Meguiar’s: This extremely popular automotive brand is also widely used among boaters. Nearly 1 in 3 survey participants reported using Meguiar’s on their boat. The most popular variety, by far, is their Flagship Premium Marine Wax. Like many brands, Meguiar’s also offers a “Cleaner Wax”. However, this should only be used if you have slight to moderate stains or oxidation. This is because it contains abrasives to remove some of the gelcoat. See “Washing and Waxing: How to Detail a Boat” for a description of the different product types and when to use them.
- Star brite: Another popular brand worth noting is Star brite. They offer a wide array of products specifically for boating. One particular item of interest is their “Premium Marine Polish“. This is not a traditional wax but rather a polymer sealant. And, this individual item receives very high marks on Amazon.The advantage of a polymer sealant is that it bonds better and protects longer than a regular wax (8-10 months vs. 2-3 months). Also, don’t confuse this with a traditional polish that contains abrasives. The Star brite Premium Marine Polish has very little abrasives and is not intended to remove oxidation.
So what is the best boat wax to use? Part of the answer depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you want the best shine possible, then a good Carnauba wax such as the Collinite Fleetwax is tough to beat. On the other hand, if you are looking for the longest lasting protection, a polymer sealant such as the Star brite Premium Marine Polish might be right for you. But if you are just looking to touch up your boat between trips, then give the Lucas Oil Slick Mist a try.
Let me know your experience with boat wax brands in the comments section below. And, check out my Boat Cleaning 101 article for an overview of the key steps and products to use to clean your boat from bow to stern.