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Restore Your Boat’s Finish

Use our tips to bring your boat's finish back to life.

December 4, 2010
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Getting Started
Finish Time: 8 hours
Skill Level: 2/5

Tools and Supplies
*Variable-speed orbital buffer
*Foam application pads
*No. 2 cutting compound
*Fine polishing compound
*Wax, or in this case, A-Glaze Surface Sealant
*Microfiber towels
*Spray bottle with water

A shine is a terrible thing to lose. Restoring it can seem impossible and surrender means a paint job. But, as a few hours with a buffer and some new cleaning products by a company called A-Glaze proved, you can often bring your boat’s finish back to an amazing luster. While the A-Glaze finishing kit is available to do-it-yourselfers, A-Glaze shah of shine David Wiggins is also marketing a finishing service that can save boaters hours of labor and disappointing results.

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The A-Glaze system involves proprietary cutting compounds and a nanotech polymer sealant that Wiggins claims, once properly applied, will protect a northern boat from ultraviolet damage and fading for a year, and a southern boat for six months. The service costs about $40 per foot.

If you opt for wax, the steps are about the same, but if the A-Glaze promise is true, you won’t need to reapply the sealant as often. We plan to monitor the hull luster on this new-to- America, Europe-based product and report on the shine’s longevity. For now, the Fin Reaper is shinier than new.

Step 1
Wash: Wash the boat thoroughly to remove grime, salt and grease. Dry it as well.

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Step 2
Cutting: A heavily faded boat needs a heavier cutting compound to remove oxidation completely. This also minimizes minor scratches to help restore the original shine. Squirt the compound on the gelcoat and buff quickly with horizontal, then vertical, sweeps of the buffer. Be careful not to overdo it; most gelcoat colors are only 20 mils deep. Always work out of direct sunlight or on the shady side of the boat. Tip: Use a foam pad for best results and start the buffer before you touch the hull.

Step 3
Remove Buffer Swirling: Next, A-Glaze’s medium-duty polishing compound removes any swirl marks, preps the surface for the sealant and adds the final shine. Again, work the buffer first in horizontal, then vertical patterns. Note: When sealing a new boat, cutting and buffing are not necessary. Just use the polishing compound and application cloth to remove grease and restore luster.

Step 4
On White Gel: White and light colors fade the least and are less likely to need more than buffing with a medium polishing compound or the A-Glaze surface prep.

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Step 5
Finish the Outboards: Don’t overlook outboard cowls. Polish first, then apply sealant just as you would on the hull. If you choose to use wax, skip the polishing step and use a cleaner wax such as Star brite with PTEF. Reapply frequently. Sealing the cowling will help protect the finish from oxidation, oil and water spots, as well as salt erosion.

Step 6
Seal the Finish: With wax, you buff on with a soft bonnet on the buffer and remove it with a soft, dry cloth after it dries to a haze. The A-Glaze sealant is applied in a fine mist from a spray bottle. Wipe into the finish with a microfiber towel and allow to cure for 30 minutes. It takes only a few ounces to treat the entire hull. As long as you can see the misting, it’s enough.

Step 7
Remove the Haze: After the A-Glaze cures for 30 minutes to a thin haze, spray it with water (Wiggins says this activates the polymers, binding them to the gelcoat) and wipe it off. If this is a first-time application, repeat.

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Step 8
Reapplication: After six to 12 months, reapply A-Glaze after wiping prep polish on the surface without a buffer — though any new scratches may need a buffer and medium cutting compound.

Restore Your Boat's Finish
Restore Your Boat’s Finish Boating Magazine

Wax or A-Glaze?
Consider this a test. A dark-color hull can be beautiful but requires the most maintenance to prevent oxidation. Frequent, even monthly, reapplication of wax is necessary to stave off UV damage. A-Glaze claims its product will protect the hull for six months in the subtropics and up to a year in the North. The brand, commonly known in Europe, is only recently arriving in America. It includes a sealant-friendly shampoo, polishing compound, two bottles of the sealant and two application cloths. It is designed to treat boats to 30 feet. $175; marineaglazeflorida.com

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