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RV, Motorcycle & Marine

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How to Detail Gel Coat on Boats and RVs

Gel coat is a type of epoxy coating sprayed over a molded composite surface such as fiberglass or carbon fiber. Many, if not most boats and RVs have gel coats. By its nature, a gelcoated surface is porous. Fresh coats look smooth and reflective, but tend to become oxidized with time and exposure to the elements. Even the most meticulously maintained boat or RV will start to look dull and chalky after a few years.

There are several steps that may be taken to restore the shine to porous gelcoat. It is important to use products specifically designed for RV or boat care. The first step is to remove the oxidation. Some people like to use a heavy duty rubbing compound with a rotary buffer such as the Rupes LH19E and a wool buffing pad. While this may be an effective method, it can be very time consuming and challenging to reach the topmost parts of an RV or the bottom-most areas of a boat. As an alternative, we recommend removing a significant amount of the oxidation while washing. with Meguiar's #771 Marine Heavy Oxidation Scrub. Simply squeeze some into a wash bucket and use a mop cover or truck wash brush with a telescoping fiberglass handle. Test it on a small area first to be sure it is producing the desired results. If some oxidation remains, go back over it with 3M Perfect-It Gelcoat Medium Cutting Compound using a polisher or buffing machine.

To achieve a high gloss, follow up with a marine cleaner wax or polish. Meguiar's M45 Polish & Gloss Enhancer produces a highly polished surface. Finish up with a coat of wax. Meguiar's #63 Flagship Premium Marine Wax will keep your grown-up toy looking shiny and new. Carnauba wax creates an eye-popping shine, but needs to be applied more frequently.


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