We can Restore Your Boat's Showroom Shine
Gelcoat has a lot going for it as a marine finish. It's thick, durable, relatively easy to repair, and can be tinted any color you want. It is not, though, maintenance-free. Far from it. The good news is that in most cases we can restore your gelcoat to a showroom shine.
Taken care of properly, good quality gelcoat can last for decades. But when it's neglected, the porous surface is highly susceptible to damage from UV rays, becoming dull, chalky, and gradually thinner.
Deteriorating gelcoat is more than a cosmetic issue. In addition to creating an attractive finish over fiberglass, gelcoat also seals the fiberglass laminate. As it breaks down, it becomes a less effective seal.
In many cases, deteriorated gelcoat can be restored to a clean shine with no more than a good polish and wax. After a certain point, though, we have to begin by wet-sanding with a series of extremely fine grits, then compound, then polish and wax.
It's a labor-intensive process that also requires substantial skill and experience. The results, though, are worth it. In all but the most extreme cases, your boat will leave looking as good as — and often better than — it did when it left the factory.
Scratch, Gouge, and Ding Repair
Tough as it is, gelcoat almost inevitably gets scratched, gouged, or chipped from contact with trailers, docks, rocks, and so on. Just like refinishing, repairing dings and gouges is more than just a cosmetic concern. Especially if your laminate is visible, not repairing gelcoat can lead to water intrusion and delimitation.
Fortunately, repairing it is relatively easy. On the other hand, repairing it so that the repair is invisible isn't easy at all.
On newer boats, it's sometimes possible to order gelcoat in an exact match from the factory. But all boats gradually change color over time, so in most situations getting a good color match means custom-tinting neutral colored gel — which takes experience to do well.
Likewise, blending the repair into the surrounding finish is something of an art form — a multi-step process of sanding, blocking, and buffing. When it's done right, the repair completely disappears.
Stress Crack Repair
Stress cracks, often called spider cracks, usually occur as a result of your boat flexing. The fiberglass laminate can flex to a certain degree with no damage, but gelcoat is less elastic and more prone to cracking.
Generally speaking, stress cracks aren't a sign of structural issues, but they should be addressed anyway. They only get
worse with time, and they can eventually allow water to reach the laminate.
Just like with scratches and gouges, we can make your stress cracks disappear but grinding away the damaged gelcoat, color-matching gelcoat for the repair, and then blending the new gelcoat into the surrounding finish.
Sometimes, gelcoat can break down so badly that there's simply not enough left to restore. When that happens, it's time to consider either painting or re-gelcoating. Gelcoating is more costly but offers the advantage of added thickness and toughness.
The additional cost is the result of the additional steps involved. Painting requires more prep work, but once the paint is sprayed, there's not much left to do. Gelcoat requires less prep work, but once it's sprayed there's still extensive sanding and buffing left to do.
When considering getting your boat re-sprayed with gelcoat, keep in mind that not all gelcoat is created equal. As with paint, there are different brands and grades with various qualities and varying pricepoints. We offer free estimates and would be happy to discuss your job.