Boat Details: Bring Back the Color and Shine

Boat Details: Bring Back the Color and Shine

At Wave to Wave, we talk quite a bit about restorations, used boats and various performance boating tips. In this article, we are going to talk about how to care for your gelcoat or paint and how you can bring back a scratched and faded boat, as well as protect it going forward. This is really important as protecting your boat from the elements is vital to making it last and looking like new. 

We teamed up with our friends at Precision Marine Detailing in South Carolina to show us the work they did on a faded yellow 2004 Donzi 22 Classic Anniversary edition. This is a common problem on brightly colored boats but it is equally important on any colored hull. Nathan from Precision Marine walks us through his approach to restoring the color and talks about the specialty coating called Ceramic Pro Marine he used to protect the Donzi’s fresh correction.

Preparing the Boat

When preparing the boat for paint or gelcoat correction, we start with washing the entire boat to remove as many surface contaminants as possible. If you will be sanding or compounding, the type of soap that you use is not extremely important since you will be removing all the waxes off the boat by sanding, compounding. When completing a paint or gel coat restoration on a boat it is always best to remove as much hardware and possible, cleats, cover snaps, engine vents, hinges. The less you have to work around the easier it will be to sand and buff and the better the finish. For pieces that are not easily removed, windshields, gas caps, and rub rails, 2 inch painters tape works great to prevent damage to them. 

 You can easily see the fading of this almost 15 year old boat with the hardware removed. 

You can easily see the fading of this almost 15 year old boat with the hardware removed. 

The Process

Quality products are the key to achieving the best finish. From the sandpaper to the sealant, the type of products you use will play a major part in how smoothly the restoration goes and the final outcome of the boats finish. Using the yellow Donzi as an example, since it was a boat that had significant fading, I will take you through the steps used to restore this boat's gelcoat.

As always we started by washing the entire boat.  After assessing the gelcoat and trying test spots in different areas of the boat, we determined that 3 stages of sanding, followed by compound and polish would be needed to bring this boat back. The first stage of wet sanding was completed by hand, using a flexible foam sanding block with 1500 grit SharXkin sandpaper.  Stage 2 was also completed by hand, using SharXkin 2000 grit sandpaper. 

 Along with bringing the color back, the wet sanding and polishing will remove swirls and scratches. Nathan tested areas first to find the best course of action. 

Along with bringing the color back, the wet sanding and polishing will remove swirls and scratches. Nathan tested areas first to find the best course of action. 

After the first to steps in sanding most of the oxidation had been removed, at this time we moved to using a porter cable Dual Action Polisher with a 6 inch Velcro backing and a 6 inch 3M 3000 grit trizact sanding disc. When using the 3000 grit discs on a polisher, work in small 2' by 2' areas, keep the area wet by using a spray bottle with water and a couple drops of dawn dish soap, making overlapping passes. Once you have sanded a small area, wipe it dry and inspect it to see ensure all scratched from previous grit sand papers have been removed. 

For compounding we use a Makita rotary polisher with a 9 inch 3M double sided wool pad. Working in a 2' by 2' area apply one bead of Menzurna 400 compound around the entire perimeter of the wool pad. before pressing the trigger of the polisher, smear the product onto the boat to avoid slinging it everywhere. Run the polisher on the lowest speed and keep the pad flat on the boat, working it in using overlapping passes. For polishing we used a Rupes LHR 21 Mark 2 with a 6 inch yellow Rupes foam pad and Menzurna 3500.

Protect the Finish

After your paint or gelcoat has been restored, you have a few options when it comes to preserving the finish that you have achieved. There are many types of waxes and sealants on the market to choose from but nothing will protect your investment better and longer than a ceramic coating. Popular in the car scene, ceramic coatings offer hydrophobic qualities to make it easy to maintain, with UV protection and chemical resistance. Ceramic Pro is the only boat specific ceramic coating on the market that offers a manufacturer warranty and can only be applied by trained installers. 

 You can see the gloss and color return after the correction process. The coating is the next phase.

You can see the gloss and color return after the correction process. The coating is the next phase.

Maintenance 

Caring for a boat that has been waxed or had a sealant applied is mostly dependent on where your boat is stored and how much sun it sees. A boat that is garage kept may only need to be waxed or sealed 2 times a year while a boat that is kept on a lift or in an uncovered slip made need up to 6 times per year to protect its finish. If you start to notice any discoloration or fading again, you have waited too long between coats of wax or sealant. Caring for a Ceramic coated boat is extremely easy. No waxes or sealants are needed, just the occasional wash with a mild soap and your annual inspection by the installer. 

 Swirls and scratches are gone and the deep shine of the ceramic coating shows. 

Swirls and scratches are gone and the deep shine of the ceramic coating shows. 

Whether you are doing it yourself or seeking a professional, it is amazing how good an old boat can look again, restoring the color and removing scratches and swirls will make you fall in love all over again. Do it right and protect the investment. 

Find Precision Marine Detailing on Instagram and Facebook, or drop them a line if you’re in South Carolina. Thanks to Nathan for sharing. 

Ceramic Pro Marine

Donzi 22 Classic interior
Donzi 22 Classic Ceramic Pro Marine

Ceramic

There are many coatings and waxes but professionally installed ceramic coatings are superior in their protection, ease of maintenance and shine.

 This Donzi was faded and unfortunately had a few gouges and nicks as well. A good correction though can make almost any old boat look far better than before. 

This Donzi was faded and unfortunately had a few gouges and nicks as well. A good correction though can make almost any old boat look far better than before. 

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