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Guide to boat gelcoat protection

Guide to boat gelcoat protection

No matter how big, small, old or new the vessel is, most boat owners desire to maintain the fresh from the showroom look. Detailing a boat on a regular basis is a sure way to ensure your vessel is not compromised by the elements, and continues to look in pristine condition.

Harbourforce Marine Detailing has been established for over 12 years, and can ensure your vessel is always looking in A1 condition with regular detailing services for both the interior and exterior of your boat.

Detailing your vessel can be a tricky and time-consuming task, and is sometimes better to leave it to a qualified boat maintenance worker who is educated in the correct applications and products.

The gelcoat on your boat is the outer ‘skin’ of the fibreglass hull, and is the very first layer that is sprayed onto the mould before the fibreglass hull is laid. During the construction, the boat builder meticulously prepares the surface of the gelcoat ensuring there is no dust, imperfections or scratches. The gelcoat protects against weakening of the fibreglass laminate from water intrusion. If you do notice any chips, scrapes or gouges in the gelcoat exterior of your boat, it is important to fix the damage as soon as you can, especially if the damage exposes the fibreglass matting underneath.

A gelcoat that is chalky, old, worn out or scratched can allow moisture to infiltrate the underlying fibreglass, which can result in serious damage. Extensive spider cracking common on older boats is due to aging of the gelcoat. This can often be heard cracking underfoot. In such cases, grinding off the gelcoat for wholesale refinishing is the best approach.

Proper boat gelcoat maintenance measures will increase the durability of this all-important layer, which can last up to two decades. Therefore, one of the foremost aspects of boat maintenance is the protection and proper care for its gelcoat.


  • Gives the boat a shiny wet look
  • Acts as a protective barrier between the boat’s hull and external forces
  • Protects against unexpected jetty bumps
  • Protects against the harsh UV light of the Australian sun
  • Protects the vessel from wind and dirt


  • Use ONLY fibreglass cleaners.
  • Compound the gelcoat first before waxing.
  • Apply a good gelcoat wax or polymer sealant.
  • Ensure you have regular wash-downs.
  • Wax protection regime every 4-6 months


Edited by Andy Kancachian


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