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Over the years, the gelcoat of GRP boat hulls often becomes dull and faded as a result of oxidation and small scratches that no longer reflect the light well. Environmental influences, such as UV rays, dirt and salt water, can damage paint, especially dark colours. In addition, fenders striking the side of the boat can leave unattractive streaks and signs of wear on the hull. This makes it vulnerable to dirt. By properly polishing your boat you will create a smooth surface on which dirt and debris simply runs off. Your boat will shine in full splendour and stay clean for a long time. The polish protects your gelcoat and maintains the value of your boat for a long time.
Polishing the motorboat at the right time is crucial for achieving a good result. The temperature is especially important when polishing. Under no circumstances should it be carried out in cold or hot conditions. Rain or blazing sun should also be avoided when polishing the boat. One option is to polish in the autumn. At best it will be relatively warm during the day at this time of year, but the sun will not have as much power as it does in the summer. If you are wintering outdoors, polishing and then sealing your boat in the autumn provides good protection against the winter weather. In this case you should clean and polish the hull again in the spring. If wintering in a hall, you can still polish your boat there. Please be aware, however, of the work that is being done on surrounding boats. If your neighbour is sanding you should not polish at the same time.
The correct preparation is important for polishing your boat properly. This includes using the right equipment, the appropriate polish and a dry, clean working environment with the right temperature for polishing. Before you start polishing the gelcoat, it is important that the surface is really clean. Otherwise, dirt particles will be polished deeper into the surface. Cleaning with a detergent and then rinsing with fresh water should be done immediately before polishing! This makes the surfaces even more absorbent for polishing. Mask plastic parts, such as decorative strips, so that they do not become polished. First test the selected polish on a small, out of sight area for its effectiveness.
First take a close look at the surface to be polished: If the surface is aged and correspondingly dull and worn or has scratches and damage deeper than 1.5 mm, you should use an abrasive paste before polishing. Our SVB specialists recommend choosing a paste that is as fine as possible to preserve the gelcoat and to remove as little as possible before changing to a coarser paste if this is not sufficient.
If the gelcoat does not exhibit any serious damage, you can apply the polish directly once the gelcoat has dried after cleaning. After applying the polish, wait until streaks appear and then start polishing. It is much easier to work in pairs: one person applies the polish, the other person polishes. This will help you move faster and prevent the polish from drying on the hull.
When polishing your sailboat, this can generally be done manually or with a polishing machine. An old T-shirt is often used for manual polishing, as its material is very suitable. However, special disc hand pads are more energy-saving, because the pressure can be distributed much better on the surface to be polished. Polish with the hand pad in a circular motion and 2-3 minutes per area in the crosscoat.
If you decide to polish your boat with a machine, you should choose one that is slow but still powerful. The polishing machine should not exceed 1500 revolutions per minute to avoid overheating the surface. Overheating can also occur if too much pressure is applied. This can happen quickly, especially when using special lambswool polishing heads for a high-gloss finish. Move the polisher in a circular motion and replace the polishing head with a clean one every 15 to 20 minutes. These heads are usually washable. Look against the light to see where the polishing paste is or which areas you may have missed. At the end simply wipe these areas with polishing wool and rework.