Wax On, Wax Off: Waxing Your Boat in 7 Steps

So you thought that only your car, floors and wooden furniture needed waxing. Well, think again. Because if you own a boat, it needs regular waxing, too.

So do your fancy dress shoes so they remain shiny—but that is another topic! We’re going to focus on keeping your boat looking elegant.

The Purpose of Waxing of a Boat

Most of us think that since the boat is in the water, it gets cleaned on its own. But the fact is that over time, all boats collect grime (those barnacles can be sharp too!; but for smaller boats you do not have to worry about that for the most part). Moreover, constant exposure to strong sunlight makes it prone to UV damage, which may cause it to rust (it will not rust as fast as Iron Hide did in “Transformers 3,” when the misguided and immoral Sentinel murdered him with a metal destroying round) or decompose faster. The principal purpose of waxing, therefore, is to preserve the boat and ensure its good looks persists for many years to come.

Your do not want your boat looking like the eyesore on the pier do you?

The gelcoat of your boat only maintains its high gloss for longer periods of time if you keep it perpetually clean and waxed. If your boat’s surface has started discoloring or is getting dull, proper waxing would breathe new life into it. The process is simple and doesn’t differ much from buffing an automobile.

Before you start waxing your vessel, you need to completely clear out any surface dirt, debris and organic materials that may have piled up during your boating trips. Even if the boat hasn’t hit the water, dust tends to compound over time, in spite of dust covers being used. This does not happen all the time but it can.

How to Choose the Right Boat Wax?

Before applying the wax, you first need to ask yourself that inevitable and important question: What wax do I use? LifeWax and PolyShine are two of the market leaders in this segment and combining both in the waxing procedure generally guarantees protection for at least 3 years if the boat is moderately used.

Choose Your Waxing Method: Power Buffing or Manual Buffing

Next comes power buffing. The wax has to be applied in circular motions (that is right, just like in the movie The Karate Kid!) in sections with time for each section to dry at a time. The buffing of each section comes next before the wax hardens.

Here, two options are available to you: Either you use a power-operated buffer to save on labor; or use some elbow grease for buffing the wax. Power buffing of course, offers you the additional advantage of a quicker and smoother finish, not to mention aching arms, every time.

On the flip side, using elbow grease saves you a whole lot of cash for buying or renting the power-operated buffer. Moreover, the power buffer may damage a fiberglass boat if handled by an inexperienced person. The choice ultimately, is yours. Some boaters simply prefer using a towel or rag to buff evenly. With larger boats, however, this could be extremely labor-intensive.

Waxing a Boat in 7 Steps

1. Securing

The waxing process begins on dry surface land, away from water. Begin by securing the boat to its trailer so that unexpected movement can be avoided. Since cleaning agents will be sprayed all over and you will be moving around the vessel, you need ample space. Also keep a cover to protect the boat’s interiors.

2. Cleaning

Take a rubber hose pipe, preferably with a jet nozzle and spray the vessel top down with water first. This pre-rinse helps loosen up the debris. In case of a fiberglass boat, it makes sense to apply a quality and non-abrasive cleaner. These tend to be better also for new vessels.

Once the initial debris has been washed away, scrub the boat all over with a brush thoroughly. Once this is done, rinse again with fresh water and dry completely. In addition, you could also take a clean sponge and scrub off the grime gently. A squeegee also speeds up drying. No, do not use a hair dryer to dry off your boat either! That is pretty silly!

For stubborn spots, fine-grained 220 sandpaper may be used to scrape the gunk off. Generally power washers are not recommended since these may damage the gelcoat’s finish and durability. A gentle spray is appropriate enough.

3. Elimination of Old Wax

Any old wax now needs to be removed. Use toluene-soaked rags to remove the wax used previously. These usually prevent the fresh polish and other rubbing compounds from spreading and working effectively across the boat’s surface. Apply light pressure while sweeping the rag in one specific direction and let the de-waxing solvent evaporate before you start buffing.

4. Washing

Use a gentle detergent to wash the boat’s exteriors. Finish the washing process with a sponge and soap made especially for boats or even dishwashing detergent and lukewarm water.

5. Removing Stains

If the boat’s surface is stained, a miniscule dose of bleach may be used to clean and disinfect thoroughly. Lacquer thinner, special degreasers and Varsol, are also suitable alternatives for removing greasy buildup or stubborn adhesive spots. However, bleach is not the way to go for unstained or untreated wooden boats.

6. Buffing the Boat Surface

Before selecting the buffing compound or polish, you need to bear one thing in mind: polish should be used if the boat needs only light refinishing. A stronger buffing compound is necessary when the boat’s exterior is excessively chalky or pitted, which suggests that the surface requires more extensive cleaning. Be careful with rubbing compounds as these can be abrasive and corrosive and may burn through the boat surface quickly.

You begin with the transom, moving gradually towards the bow. Apply the polish or compound in two-feet sections. When working manually, a soft cloth should be used or a buffer may be fitted with a foam pad. Apply the polish on the pad or cloth, rubbing it on the surface in steady and even circular motions. Keep buffing until the surface resembles glass.

When using power tools, press the button for low-speed buffers instead of high-speed sanders as the latter are likely to leave behind swirling streaks (and you do not want your boat looking like an ice cream cone!). When using buffers, start at a very slow speed. Before you start the buffer, lightly touch the pad to its surface so that the compound or polish doesn’t go spraying all over.

7. The Grand Finale: Waxing

The process of waxing is similar to the process of applying buffing compounds. It can be done either manually or by using an electric buffer. The same circular motions may be resorted to, to prevent streaking.

Take care while waxing fittings as also with tight spaces. It’s also imperative that you work manually around fittings that are non-removable to prevent the buffer from damaging them. The same principle applies to tight crevices as well. It’s also advisable to remove fittings before you start waxing and keep their screws and fixtures closely, so that they don’t get misplaced.

Once the wax starts looking slightly hazy, it’s time for second buffing. It usually takes about five to ten minutes for the wax to start drying. Take a soft terrycloth bonnet or towel and start buffing, working in circles (that is right, wax on, wax off; you will soon be ready for a karate tournament as well!). The shine appears as the wax’s cloudiness disappears.

Waxing your vessel is not something you need to do once a month and may be done according to the boat’s usage. It is, however, an integral and inextricable part of boat maintenance that not only gives your boat a new look but increases its lifespan considerably. You want your boat to take care of you right? Well, you need to take care of it!

Since water is known to have corrosive properties, the wax acts as a natural guard, particularly in rough maritime conditions. It is also a time consuming and laborious process and is best done by at least two people working simultaneously to save time. But if you cannot find anyone to help you out, put the radio on and listen to some pro-business, low tax, pro American, less regulations so jobs can be created political talk, some sports, or some music. If you have a flat screen on wheels or in your garage you can listen/watch that as well.

You can wax your boat during Monday Night Football, sports highlights, a baseball game (hopefully one where the Yankees are losing!), and so on.

This fundamental chore leaves you with a vessel you’d certainly be proud of – one that is squeaky clean, well-polished, and looking majestic!

The post Wax On, Wax Off: Waxing Your Boat in 7 Steps first appeared on BetterBoat Boating Blog.