A fiber-reinforced plastic (fiberglass) describes a plastic that has been strengthened using a fiber cloth. In addition to boats, the material is commonly used to make bathtubs, motorhomes, and pickup truck caps among others. Gelcoat is normally applied on its surface to give it a smooth and shiny surface. It is normal for the users and the sellers alike to refer to the gelcoat as fiberglass and thus the term may be used interchangeably.
Gelcoat is widely available is several assortments of colors. It is very durable but will eventually weather and become dull. Processes like waxing may slow the rate at which it weathers. The dull surface is as a result of oxidation effects of the sunlight and air. The result is a rusted surface, and the solution is waxing, and use of the sealers.
After this, consider waxing the fiberglass. Normally, a new surface is waxed. The best way to maintain it is to always have it waxed. This is the sure way of prolonging the life of the gelcoat. Regular waxing can help keep it gloss for up to fifteen years or more. The wax also comes with the added benefit of restorative property, particularly if the gelcoat is not badly weathered.
Polish is an abrasive and not a coating. It works like a very fine sandpaper and is used to remove pitted surface. The procedure involves applying polish to a small area at a time using a soft cloth, then rubbing in a circular motion. This should leave a glassy surface. Polish does not offer any protection, and sealers or any other protective coating needs to be applied after polishing to prevent future oxidation.
For this reason, the fiberglass sealers are often used as alternatives. They tend to penetrate into the gelcoat surface so that the microscopic holes and crevices are filled thereby preventing any further oxidation. This results to a brighter shine as compared to the use of wax and polish. They also offer a harder surface that is long-lasting and less need for maintenance.
However, sometimes, the fiberglass is so faded that the normal polishing and waxing may not restore its shiny look. In this case, a stronger abrasive rubbing compound is required. The rubbing compounds are available in many varieties, from mild compounds to heavy-duty.
Unlike the wax, the polish products have a small amount of abrasive to help rub off the oxidation giving a brighter shine. As such, they offer a good solution to boats that have a high degree of fading. They do not offer any protection afterward and wax should be applied soon after polishing.
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