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Learn How To Wax A Boat Properly

Ever wonder how to wax a boat properly? To get that beautiful gloss that you can see from the other end of the dock as you walk towards your boat.

Look no further, this simple guide will take you from newbie to pro when it comes to waxing your boat. Before we start waxing there are a few things you need to know.

First, what kind of waxes/sealants exist and which is the best one for you to use?

You can ask 100 different people and get 100 different answers for which wax they prefer to use.

Types of Waxes/Sealants

1. Cleaner Waxes

Probably one of the most common types of waxes you will hear referred to. A cleaner wax does what its name states, cleans the surface. It does this by either using some type of strong chemicals or minor abrasives. If you’re looking for a quick one-step solution, this would be the choice for you. 

They come in either liquid or a cream/paste style. As with anything the liquid waxes are much easier on/off than a thicker paste.

As with anything, you get out what you put into a project. Using solely a cleaner wax may make the boat look good for a fleeting moment but once the wax washes away, you’ll have to start from square one again. The finish will dull once the wax is gone because you didn’t truly correct the surface.

You can apply a cleaner wax to your boat either by hand or machine and remove by either method as well.

When to use a cleaner wax

If the boats gelcoat is in relatively good shape and you’re looking to minimize the work on your end this is the way to go. 

Another time to use a cleaner wax would be if you have recently polished your boat and are looking to clean up the gelcoat before applying a premium wax, which we’ll dive into shortly. 

A good cleaner wax that is easy to use would be Meguiars M5032 Marine/RV One Step Cleaner Wax. Its an easy on, easy off liquid cleaner wax.

2. Paste Waxes

Paste waxes are a bit old school and if you talk to a show car enthusiast I bet you’ll hear them rave about it. That’s because many contain high amounts of petroleum or carnauba which give you that extra pop and just make the surface look super wet! 

Although they offer a great shine, applying a paste wax can be back-breaking work. This is because they must be applied and removed by hand. Also, you need to work smaller sections because they tend to harden up rather quickly and become extremely difficult to remove if left on too long.

There are still plenty of people out there who love using paste wax. Most do not have cleaners in them so you will need to use either a cleaner wax or some type of polish before applying a paste wax to your boat.

Two of the biggest names you’ll see in the paste wax game for marine purposes are Collinite Fleet Wax and 3m’s ultra-performance marine paste wax.

Some of these paste waxes will give you some longevity to help save your shoulders from having to constantly wax your boat. But also be warned these paste waxes tend to hold a lot of dirt in them.

3. Polymer Sealants

Polymer sealants are where our hearts lie. These will give you the most durability out of your wax choices for your boat. But you will need to correct the surface before applying to ensure the best results. 

Polymer sealants are comprised of completely synthetic materials that will bond to the gelcoat. This is why you may see a warning to state that you shouldn’t get the boat wet for some time after applying. 

We love to use polymer sealants as part of our quarterly wax regiment for boat owners. This way by the time the wax is starting to fail we give the boat a fine polish and reapply. Saving back-breaking time with heavy correction work.

Polymer sealants can be applied by hand or machine and can remove them either way as well. 

Our goto polymer sealant is our very own Sunscreen which we love. We love it because it goes on easy and comes off easy. It provides good hydrophobic water beading and lasts.

4. Spray Waxes

Looking for a great little pick me up, a spray wax is a great way to go. Many new advanced spray waxes can clean, shine protect and even remove water spots all in one shot. 

When is a good time to use a spray wax? When you’re looking to maintain a boat that has a good coat of wax or polymer on it. It’s great to go around after washing the boat down to freshen it up and add some extra gloss to her! 

5. Ceramic Waxes

Ceramic waxes are a new trend in the world of waxes, sealants and ceramic coatings. They are a bit of a hybrid as they contain some wax and some silica. Silica is typically a maintenance product used for vessels which are ceramic coated. The benefit of silica is it helps to illustrate the properties a ceramic portrays. 

They come in paste and liquid form. Many companies including chemical guys, mothers, and others offer these unique ceramic waxes. 

When would you use a ceramic wax? When looking to get some great durable protection without having the hassle of going full-blown ceramic. Typically they apply easy and give good longevity.

A good boat wax has hydrophobic properties and will have great beading properties.

Now that we have our standard wax types out of the way, its time to learn how to properly wax our boat. When it comes to waxing a boat there are a few different ways to apply and remove the wax depending on the type of wax.

Paste Waxes

There’s only one way to apply a paste wax adequately and that’s by hand. Applying this style of wax to your boat is a labor of love because it has to be done by hand. Paste wax is a hard wax and must be worked in small sections at a time to ensure that you don’t let the product harden onto the surface before removing it. 

Start by taking your microfiber applicator pad and getting some of the wax onto it. Then work a small 2’x2’ section in overlapping circles to ensure even and thorough coverage. After you have a good coat on, you’ll want to start removing the wax.

Warning these paste waxes tend to harden up quickly on the surface especially in direct sunlight and humid conditions. This is why smaller sections are ideal.

Taking a clean microfiber towel folded into fours and start removing all of the wax completely. Inspect the area to ensure you have removed it all. Look side to side, up and down and from every angle possible to make sure you removed all the wax from the surface of the boat.

Then I like to have a second clean microfiber towel and follow behind with that. The point with this towel is to make sure all of the “oily’” residue left behind from the wax is removed from the boat and the surface is smooth and perfectly wiped down.

After you’ve finished that 2’x2’ section on the boat move on to the next 2’x2’ section and keep going until you have the entire boat waxed to perfection! Using paste waxes will give your shoulders a good workout, you’ll be feeling the results for sure!

Sunscreen is a durable boat wax or polymer sealant that is easy to apply and remove from your boats gelcoat.

Polymer Sealants, Cream and Cleaner Waxes

These polymer sealants and liquid waxes can be applied to your boat a few different ways, depending on your presence. Ill help highlight them and tell you which way I prefer.

Machine application & machine removal – one-step correction or boat waxing

Typically when performing one-step process boaters will wax their boat this way. While using a typical one-step cleaner wax many boat owners or detailers will go with this method. What they will do in most cases is apply a few beads to the surface of the boat or directly to the pad with a rotary machine. 

They like to get the surface hot with a wool pad of some kind either white or yellow to try and help correct the surface slightly.

You want to work the machine in a larger surface area usually a 5’x5’ area. After working the wax in that section of the boat follow behind with a clean microfiber towel to remove any excess product you left behind. 

I’m not a fan of this method or one-step processes for a variety of reasons. Typically taking a high-speed machine to wax the boat will leave swirls or holograms behind and when the sun hits the gelcoat it’s not gonna look good! 

Another reason I don’t like this method is, you haven’t done true correction work. Meaning once the wax washes away in a month or two, your boat will look like it did before putting in all this effort. So now you have swirls and a job that has to be repeated frequently. 

Dual-action polisher, hand removal

This is my preferred method of waxing a boat and I do it after fully correcting the gelcoat. I take a porter cable or another type of dual action polisher with a soft foam waxing pad. Apply several drops or a circle of wax or polymer sealant to the pad and work a good section at a time. 

I work the machine in a crosshatch pattern to ensure I evenly covered the section.

After allowing the product to haze up, I remove the wax or sealant from the boat with a clean microfiber towel. Taking a second towel to follow behind and remove all residue thoroughly from the surface. 

I then like to inspect the surface from every angle possible to make sure all the wax is completely removed from the boat. Leaving behind nothing a brilliant gloss and dazzling protection.

This method is the easiest and effortless way to wax a boat in my opinion. The dual action polisher allows you to put a thin even coat on the boat. Thus making it easier to wipe off.

A good boat wax will provide a brilliant shine and durable protection to your boats gelcoat.

Wax on Wax off-hand application

This application process is similar to the one mentioned above with paste wax. You’ll want to squeeze some wax onto an applicator pad. Work the wax in a 4’x4’ section in overlapping circles. 

Allow the product to haze up and then buff off with a clean microfiber towel. Follow behind with a second microfiber towel to ensure all wax and residue are removed from the boats gelcoat. 

Now you’re armed with the knowledge to easily and professionally wax your boat. When you’re feeling up for the challenge be sure to check out Sunscreen our durable polymer sealant to wax your boat like a real YACHTE.

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