Gelcoat Restoration, Refinishing & Repairs


Good yacht/boat maintenance is reflected in the appearance of your boat, which is almost totally determined by the condition of the gelcoat. A badly maintained gelcoat can lead to light, medium, or heavy oxidation, a dull, chalk-like finish that diminishes the aesthetics of your boat’s finish over time. Yolo Yacht Services prides itself in quality Gelcoat Restoration and Maintenance for our clients. Large or small every yacht/boat needs to be looking its best!

Before Gelcoat Restoration

After Gelcoat Restoration

Signs of Light Gelcoat Oxidation

If your boat’s gelcoat is slightly oxidized, most of the surface will be shiny with a few patches of dullness or cloudiness. At this stage of oxidation, a simple oxidation removing compound applied to the hull will remove oxidation and restore the shine.

Signs of Medium Gelcoat Oxidation

The entire surface of the boat will be dull with little reflectivity, and there will be signs of pitting. To remove the oxidation and smooth the pitting, you will need to apply a polishing compound using a circular motion with a machine buffer. The polish, similar to fine sandpaper, removes the pitted surface rather than coating it.

Signs of Heavy Gelcoat Oxidation

The entire surface of the boat will have no reflectivity and may be chalky to the touch – pitting is obvious. At this stage of oxidation, washing, sanding and polishing are required. In most cases though, restoration will mean intense work to restore the shine and may require the attention of a professional. In the worst oxidation cases, the gelcoat may be beyond restoration and painting the boat may be the only option.

Protecting Your Boat’s Gelcoat

After thoroughly cleaning the gelcoat with a fiberglass cleaner the next step to protecting your boat’s gelcoat is waxing. At this stage of the game, experts vary on the type of wax, but most generally agree that applying wax is essential to maintaining the integrity and shine of your boat’s gelcoat.

Most fiberglass boat waxes are beeswax based, carnuba wax, silicone or a combination of the waxes. All of the products are designed to protect the gelcoat from ultraviolet rays and the marine environment. For a glossy shine, according to Boating magazine, you should apply two coats of a beeswax-based paste which provides a protective barrier coat. Follow the beeswax with a carnuba-based liquid wax to bring out the gloss. You will need to wash with a carnuba-based soap every week. Sound like too much work? The folks at Boating magazine suggest using a marine polish instead, although you will sacrifice the shine that comes from carnuba wax.

Like cleaners, protectants are plentiful on the shelves of boating supply stores. The most important advice to keep in mind is apply the wax or polish to protect the gelcoat according to the directions on the package.

Other ways to protect your boat’s gelcoat is to use fenders with washable covers to ward off accidental dings and scrapes. Since ultraviolet rays do the most damage, covering your boat or keeping it in a boathouse will also preserve the life of the gelcoat and keep it beautiful for many years to come.

Teak Care/Refinishing for your Yacht or Boat

In clean air untreated teak weathers to an attractive ash gray, but where most boats live, the assault of modern-day air pollutants quickly turns bare teak nearly black. Scrubbing tends to leave behind an unattractive mottled look, neither golden nor gray. Most boatowners eventually find themselves unhappy with either look and decide that some treatment is essential.

Cleaning and Maintaning Teak finishing

Before teak can be given any coating, it must be completely clean. Your expensive teak is literally dissolved by strong cleaners, so always use the mildest cleaner that does the job. A 75/25 mixture of liquid laundry detergent (such as Wisk) and chlorine bleach may be adequate, perhaps boosted with TSP (trisodium phosphate). Apply this mixture with a stiff brush, scrubbing lightly with the grain. Leave it on the wood for several minutes to give the detergent time to suspend the dirt and the bleach time to lighten the wood, then rinse the wood thoroughly, brushing it to clear the grain.

If the teak is still dark or stained when it dries, a cleaner with oxalic acid is required. This is the active ingredient in most single-part teak cleaners. Wet the teak and sprinkle on the cleaner. Spread it evenly with a Scotchbrite or bronze wool pad, then give it a few minutes to work. While the wood is still wet, scrub it with the Scotchbrite pad or bronze wool. (Never, ever, ever use steel wool aboard your boat–it will leave a trail of rust freckles that will be impossible to remove.) Oxalic acid will dull paint and fiberglass and damage anodized aluminum, so wet down surrounding surfaces before you start and keep them free of the cleaner. Rinse the scrubbed wood thoroughly–brushing is required–and let it dry completely.

Sealers

Sealers don’t feed the wood but, as the name suggests, they seal out moisture and dirt, and seal in natural oils and resins. Unfortunately, the oils and resins may already be lost, so the first step in applying a sealer to old teak is to restore the oil content with a thorough application of teak oil. Clean and bleach the wood to a uniform color, then oil it until it refuses to accept more. Now wait at least two weeks to let the resins dry before you apply the sealer.

After two weeks, wash the wood and let it dry completely. Sealers need an oil-free surface to attach to, so wipe the wood heavily with a rag soaked in acetone to remove all oil from the surface. The oil the wood has absorbed will be unaffected by this quick-flashing solvent. Unless the can instructs you otherwise, apply sealer exactly like oil. A throw-away brush is adequate for the job, and brushing technique is not a concern. Wipe away all excess with a cloth. Apply additional coats until the surface shows a uniform matte finish.

Maintain sealed wood by washing it and applying a fresh coat of sealer every two to three months. Yolo Yacht Services is here for you, when you need them! Our Teak Sealing services and teak refinishing will keep your teak looking good year around.