Scratches and gouges in the gelcoat that give your boat its shiny appearance can be repaired relatively easily. Gelcoat is an epoxy or polyester resin-based thermoset polymer.
Select a gelcoat repair kit, color-match the pigments (if necessary), add catalyst, and mix thoroughly. Allow to cure before filling. When filled, wet sand and polish, then wax to protect the repair. Visit Website to learn more.
The gelcoat on boats is subject to a lot of abuse, from impact damage caused by winch handles, downrigger weights, and 15-pound lobsters to the oxidation and UV damage that are a natural result of exposure to the sun. Scratches and dings aren’t just unsightly; they can cause the structure of the boat to be compromised. Fortunately, they’re quite easy to repair.
Start by determining whether you have surface or deep scratches (surface scratches can be buffed out using rubbing compound; deep ones need to be filled). Then choose your filler. Gelcoat paste is a good choice because it provides both filler and finish in a single application, and it can be mixed with MEKP catalyst to produce the same hardness as the original gel coat.
Mask off the area surrounding your scratch repair and clean it with acetone to remove any dirt or wax that might interfere with the bonding of the new gelcoat. Then gouge out narrow cracks and shallow gouges until they’re wide enough to accept gelcoat paste. A miniature grinding tool is ideal for this, but you can also use the sharp point of a can opener or a flexible plastic spreader.
When the cracks and gouges have been filled with gelcoat paste, sand them smooth (use wet sanding; it’s much faster than using a power sander and will result in a much smoother finish). Switch to 400- or 600-grit paper and work your way up to create a super-smooth surface.
Before applying your topcoat, mix a small amount of the same color-matched gel coat you used to repair the scratches (the kit may include sealing film; if not, a section of kitchen “zipper” tape will work just as well). Add a 2% addition of wax-in-styrene to improve its flow and help it cure faster.
Apply the gelcoat as you did with the previous layer, aiming for relatively uniform coverage and trying to avoid brush marks. When it has cured, apply clear Mylar film to the entire repair (it’s available at most marine stores). This will protect your repaired surface and make it easier to buff out the repairs and re-polish to a high gloss.
Even with the best care, gel coat is susceptible to cracks and chips that need to be repaired quickly to prevent more extensive damage. This protective coating is subjected to harsh weather conditions and continual use, so it’s no wonder that it sometimes suffers some wear and tear. The good news is that it’s very easy to repair gelcoat cracks as long as proper precautions are taken.
Having the right tools and a well-organized work area are the keys to a successful gelcoat repair job. It is also essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the gelcoat. A good-quality brush, sandpaper, and the correct catalyst for your job should be used. Keeping the workspace clean and free of contaminants is also important to keep your repair looking professional.
When working on a gelcoat repair, it is recommended to wear protective equipment, including rubber gloves, safety glasses, and a respirator. The chemical components in the gelcoat can be noxious and should always be handled carefully. The area being worked on should be masked off to avoid overspray and to protect nearby areas that may be damaged by the sanding and spraying processes. Masking can be done with tape or clear Mylar film purchased from a local office supply store.
Hairline cracks are caused by a number of factors. These include a faulty pilot hole being used when mounting hardware and the threads of the screw pushing against the gelcoat, causing it to crack. These can often be prevented by using a self-tapping screw or drilling a countersink hole.
Another common cause of cracks is crazing, which is the gradual wearing away of the thin layer of gelcoat. This can be caused by rubbing on the surface (such as dock lines or fenders), UV light, or just normal aging. Crazing is usually easy to repair by grinding off the crazed gelcoat and spraying it with a fresh layer of gel coat that’s then sanded down, wet-sanded, and polished.
Delamination is when the gel coat separates from the fiberglass substrate beneath it. This can occur for a number of reasons, including incorrect application, improper spraying technique, or contamination of the spray area and equipment. It can be extremely difficult to repair delamination and should only be attempted by a skilled professional.
Gelcoat is the shiny layer of resin that gives boats their beautiful appearance, but it can also be the victim of sun exposure and use. Gel coat damage can dull your boat’s shine and leave it vulnerable to dents, scratches, and other more extensive damage. If your gel coat is damaged, it is important to repair it as quickly as possible to protect your fiberglass and keep your boat looking its best.
To repair gelcoat damage, first choose a section of the hull that is identical in color to the damaged area and prepare it for color-matching. Use rubbing compound to smooth it and remove any waxes or other contaminants that might interfere with the bond between the damaged surface and the gelcoat. Next, sand the area with 220-grit sandpaper and wipe it down with acetone to remove sanding residue and any waxes or other contaminants that might cause the gelcoat to crack.
Once you have prepared the area, mix a small amount of the gelcoat paste to match the damaged section and fill in the crack or scratch. Be sure to overfill the area and force out air bubbles. Gelcoat sets more quickly than paint, so be ready to apply the next coat within 30 minutes.
If you are not satisfied with the consistency of your repair, add a little more catalyst to the mixture and try again. It is also helpful to work in warmer temperatures, as this will help the gelcoat cure more quickly and evenly.
While most gelcoat damage is caused by impact with hard objects such as winch handles or downrigger weights, it is a good idea to inspect any cracked areas more closely. If the cracks are centered around load-bearing equipment like cleats or stanchion bases, there may be a structural problem that requires attention before repairing the gelcoat.
Using a high-quality gelcoat will save you from having to do a repair every few years. A quality gelcoat will stand up to the Fort Lauderdale sun and unique environmental conditions and will continue to shine beautifully for many years to come.
The gel coat is a protective layer that is applied to the fiberglass of a boat’s hull. It can become damaged from everyday use, sun exposure, and the general aging of the boat. Regardless of the cause, gel coat damage is unsightly and needs to be repaired quickly.
The first step in restoring gelcoat is to clean the area thoroughly using acetone. Then, select a section of the hull identical in color to the damaged area. This will be the mixing palette for color-matching the gelcoat. It is also recommended that you go over the area with 1,000-grit sandpaper to remove any scratches and chalking. Once the area is sanded, use a rubbing compound to flatten it to the hull’s original color.
After the rubbing compound has been used, tape off the affected area to protect it from overspray. Use 2-inch 3M Scotchbrite Painter’s Tape to create a 1/16th-inch perimeter around the damaged area. It is also advised that you tape off any sensitive items or adjacent areas that may be damaged by gelcoat spatter or accidental sanding. Then, sand the area lightly with 80-grit paper to prepare it for the gelcoat restoration process. Finally, clean up the area with acetone to remove any dust and contaminants from the surface.
Gelcoat can only be restored on a glass or polyester resin surface, so the first step is to identify the type of finish on your boat. It is also important to make sure that any painted areas are free of wax and grease before beginning the repair.
Next, mix your gelcoat repair paste according to the instructions on the package. We recommend that you add a little more water than necessary to the mix because gelcoat has a tendency to shrink as it cures. Once mixed, apply the paste to the affected area with a putty knife. Force out any air holes and sand the repair smooth (wet sanding is best).
Be sure to seal the repair from the elements until it has fully cured. Once the gelcoat has cured, you can sand it again and buff it with a high-quality marine polish.