How to Wax a Boat: The Cosmetic Guide to Boat Maintenance

April 6th, 2019 by

There are over 12 million registered boats in Canada and the U.S. Holy cow, that’s a lot of boats! 

And there’s only one way to avoid having to wax your boat: don’t own a boat.

Like it or not, waxing your boat is as important as winterizing your boat, it is actually that important.

Read on for a guide on how to wax a boat and learn how to make your old boat look brand spanking new!


Why Is It Important to Wax Your Boat?

Well, my friends, boats spend their time in a pretty harsh environment. 

When your boat isn’t wet (sometimes from corrosive salt water), then it’s dry from the sun beating down on it. And if you skip waxing your boat, the gel coat can – and will – oxidize over time.

So what does waxing do? It forms a barrier between your gel coat and the harsh environment that it interacts with. It acts as a protector.

The wax wears away over time, which is why it’s important to wax your boat regularly and keep it in tip-top shape.

Waxing your boat also means that there will be less drag in the water, so if you’re a speed demon, you’ll be able to go just that much faster. And what’s not to like about that?

This step should definitely be a part of your spring boating maintenance checklist.


How to Wax a Boat: Step-By-Step Guide

Now that you know why you’re doing it, let’s take a look at how to wax a boat. Here are the five steps you need to follow to get that perfect wax every single time.


1. Buy the Right Products

This one might seem obvious, but it bears repeating. Why? To make sure you don’t do something like try to wax your boat with car wax.

A boat and a car are different in many ways, including that when you wax a car you’re trying to protect a paint finish. When you wax a boat, you’re trying to protect a gel coat.

Can car wax work on a boat? Marginally. But it will just gum up and be a royal pain in the butt to use.

So stick with the right products. When you’re picking a wax brand, make sure you choose something that will offer as long a life as possible to get as much protection as you can. 


2. Start with a Clean Boat

Start by getting your boat out of the water and securing it to the trailer. This will ensure that you’re not surprised by any movements or anything like that.

Then? Hose that sucker down.

You want your boat to be completely clear of any surface debris, dirt, and other materials that tend to build up when you’ve had it out on the water for a while. And even if your boat has been sitting in storage, dust and debris can accumulate over time.

Why is it so important to clean your boat well before waxing? If you don’t, that debris will basically act like sandpaper and end up scratching your boat’s gel coat.

A power washer is a good way to go. Start by hosing the boat down first, then using a non-abrasive cleaner and a boat brush to cover as much area as you can.

Rinse it off and dry it completely. If it’s not dry, the wax won’t work.


3. Wax Well

You’ve got two ways you can go here. You can either do it manually or invest in a good old rotary polisher. 

If you’re doing it by hand, then you’re sure gonna have some muscles. If you’re using the rotary polisher, you’ll be able to use the machine to guide the work. You’ll still have to put some back into it — but it won’t be quite as hard on your body as doing everything by hand.

How do you use the rotary polisher?

Put a small amount of wax on the pad and lay it on the surface of the boat. Then start the rotary polisher.

If you turn the rotary polisher on with the pad still in the air… Well, you’ll end up with wax everywhere except where you want it to be.


4. Get Buff

You can use your rotary polisher for this as well (or do it by hand, that works too)

How do you get the most out of it?

For starters, fit the rotary polisher with a foam polishing pad. A lot of people argue that using a tool helps to save you from things like streaks and swirls — it will give you a nice smooth finish, which is what you want!

Use a circular motion to avoid streaking and go in one direction. Make sure you hand buff around non-removable fittings to keep the buffer from catching on or damaging them.


5. Admire

Waxing and buffing your boat is hard work, so you’ve earned it. 

Before you stick that puppy in the water, stand back and admire everything you’ve just done. You can even take photos to remind yourself later what a great job you did. 

You deserve it!


Ahoy, Sailor!

That’s it, you’re good and ready to go now that you know how to wax a boat. And make sure that you keep your boat healthy on the inside and outside by following our instructions on how to clean its upholstery.

If you’re looking for a boat that doesn’t just look new (thanks to the waxing!) but is new, then check out our inventory.