Nov 11, 2021

Fresh Acrylic Coatinga fresh acrylic coating

Fibreglass boats take a lot of maintenance. Their appeal, half a century ago was their ‘maintenance free’ nature when compared with wooden boats. Add in the ability to mass-produce, and the low coast of manufacturing made fiberglass and easy choice.

A revolutionary line of products aims to take fiberglass to the next level. But do gelcoat restorers live up to the hype?

Oxidized and Warn Gelcoat

 

 

 

 

oxidized and worn gelcoat on a boat’s hull

First, lets take a look at what gelcoat is, and the standard maintenance regimen that a fiberglass boat owner takes on each year:

A fiberglass boat is made up of a sandwich of layers – a core material surrounded by layers of woven, mat or strand hair-thin glass fibres that are soaked in a resin. The resin cures when a catalyst is added and after curing the glass-fibre infused layers become hard without being brittle, strong in each axis, and pound-for-pound exceeds the strength of comparable products available for boat building.

A great combination. But not at all pretty. And not terrible functional -the pretty and functional part comes from the gelcoat.

Gelcoat is in the fiberglass family: it’s a base coat (similar in consistency to paint), to which a catalyst is added to make it cure. Gelcoat can be brushed or rolled on, or thinned and sprayed using a paint gun. Gelcoat is a number of millimeters thick, on the surface of the fiberglass, and can be sanded and polished to a bright shine. Pigments can be added to a white base to create almost any colour. The hull of a fiberglass boat is typically left smooth and shiny, where the decks are molded to create a combination of smooth and non-skid areas. Manufacturers have combined curvature, symmetry, styling and colour permutations in innumerable ways.

Gelcoat is porous – it collects dirt and oxidation that dulls and changes the shine. UV exposure can also change the colour over time. Gelcoat requires maintenance in the form of polishing and waxing (and sometimes filling, sanding and fairing). Polish is a light abrasive (from 1000-2000grit) that can be applied by hand or using an orbital machine – it removes the dirt and oxidation through a very fine sanding process. The porous gelcoat is then coated in a liquid wax (often applied by hand or machine buffer) that fills the pores and leaves a smooth shine.

The polishing and waxing process is a lot of work. It can take a few hours to a day to complete the polish and wax on a boat’s hull – or if you want to hire a contractor to do the work for you, it can cost from $15-$25/ft of boat length. A 30 ft boat could cost from $450 - $750 for the hull alone. Polishing the deck is an added cost.

Worn Acrylic Coatinga worn acrylic coating

Beyond the cost in dollars, is the toll that this process takes on the hull: each time the hull is polished a very fine layer of the gelcoat is removed through the abrasive action of polishing. Over the course of 30 years, the gelcoat wears thin, and the fibrelgass can be seen peeking though.

In short, boaters are after a clean, shiny gelcoat surface, without the headache and effort of the maintenance. Needless to say, there is a wide open market for products and services to make this process easier and cheaper with the same or similar results. Enter the acrylic and ceramic gelcoat restorers. There are a number of brands readily available: Poli Glow, Vertglass, NuGlass2 (NewGlass2), Glidecoat, Presto Gelcoat Rejuvenator, Glass Cote, etc.

They each work in a similar way: prep the gelcoat surface and apply a number of coats (5-8 is recommended) of the restorer product. These restorers are designed to bond to the underlying gelcoat, filling its pores and leaving a smooth and shiny surface. No polishing or waxing required. Annual recoats are recommended (but skipping a year or two is possible without major adverse effects).

It sounds like the perfect solution, however:

The devil is in the details – applying the products according to the directions is imperative (including surface prep): not following the method of surface prep and application described is a recipe for a wavy or streaked surface, with any imperfections permanently locked in place.

No touchbacks: once it’s done, it’s done. A hardened, multi-layered acrylic or ceramic surface can’t easily (or cheaply) be undone, fixed or touched-up.

You’re committed: Common marine cleaners can’t be used on some of the restored surfaces without adverse effects. Each brand produces its own line of cleaners, preparation products and removers that aren’t compatible with each other, or other cleaners you may already have on board.

One of the other drawbacks that may not be considered at first is the long-term maintenance of your boat. Dings, nicks, accidents, cracks, etc will happen over time. A repair to straight gelcoat isn’t terribly difficult. But how does one go about repairing a hull, that’s been coated with 5-8 layers of acrylic or ceramic, leaving the completed repair uniform with the rest of the hull? The repair has now become significantly more costly and time-consuming.

I’ll have to admit my bias. But I feel with good reason; I’ve only ever seen an acrylic or ceramic hull job that has been botched. I’ve been called on-site a number of times when owners have asked to have the product completely removed. In each case, I’ve arrived to see the hull surface patchy, peeled and spotty. After exposure to weather, rubbing against lines, docks and fenders, the surface has looked more like dinged-up plastic rather than the shiny smooth hull that was advertised.

I’m sure that there are some success stories (and I’d love to be proven wrong over time) – the owners that I’ve met who have chosen to use ceramic and acrylic restorers do so because the underlying gelcoat was in such dreadful shape that this was their last option before investing in a gelcoat paint job. Until I’m proven wrong, I’m going to continue to recommend gelcoat being used to fix gelcoat, rather than applying a hard sealer on the surface.

Andrew McDonaldAndrew McDonald is the owner of Lakeside Marine Services – a boat repair/maintenance firm based in Toronto. Andrew has worked in the marine industry for 12 years and is a graduate of the Georgian College ‘Mechanical Techniques - Marine Engine Mechanic’ program.

Questions or comments for Andrew? Email him directly via: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Related Articles

Wednesday, 09 August 2017 02:52

The moment we all dread. It’s a warm sunny day and you’re out for a cruise. Suddenly the boat shudders beneath you, pings, dings and clangs are heard and you realize that you’ve hit something...

Monday, 28 January 2013 09:46

When it comes to making environmentally friendly choices, the tradeoff is not always paying more for something that doesn't work as well. Boat owners seeking a "greener" sacrificial anode have an...

Wednesday, 10 May 2017 00:43

Question: Can I buy generic automotive parts or products for my boat, or should they specify ‘marine’?

Monday, 24 March 2014 15:51

Understanding how systems really work – and degrade over the winter – can help you prepare your boat for a trouble-free season. Here’s a guide from a pro…Sometimes the most daunting thing about...

Tuesday, 11 July 2017 07:16

For most of us – this is the time to make the most of the boating season – launch and set up are done. Systems have been recommissioned. Let the fun begin!

Saturday, 09 July 2016 21:10

One of the largest, if not the largest,boatyard in Nova Scotia is South Shore Marine. Located around the corner from village of Chester, the yard, which began in the late 70s, now hauls about 500...

Boat Reviews

Video Gallery

 

 

Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54By Zuzana Prochazka

Beneteau saw an opportunity to add a little thrill to any cruising adventure, so they took the hull of the First 53 racer (introduced just last year), and with a few fashionable changes, created the Oceanis Yacht 54, the new entry-level of Beneteau’s swanky Oceanis Yacht line. The result is a performance cruiser that sails like a witch and looks like a grande dame.

Design

Roberto Biscontini is the naval architect and Lorenzo Argento created the details of the exterior and interior design. 

Read More

Destinations

  • Prev
Over the course of four days in September 1864, representatives from Prince Edward Island, Nova ...
The new owners of L’Orignal Marina offer boaters a new destination. Located in a charming ...
Commemorating 100 (+1) years of through-navigation on the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic ...
On Friday, April 2 at 7 pm ET on TVO and streaming anytime after that on tvo.org and the TVO ...
Salt Spring Island, the largest among the Gulf Islands, has a certain mystique—much of it having to ...
Located in Lake Huron, the internationally significant Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater ...
In Part I, Sheryl Shard ended the story at June and the start of Hurricane Season when they were ...
You likely aren’t quite ready to travel yet, but we have our fingers crossed that we can all fly ...

Riverest MarinaThe new owners of L’Orignal Marina offer boaters a new destination. Located in a charming francophone village in Eastern Ontario, this joined marina and restaurant venue is the ambitious initiative of long-time entrepreneur André Chabot and biologist Alexandra Quester, both residents of L’Orignal.

The purchase of the L’Orignal Marina was made official in November 2020. The new year was barely underway when all 50 available slips were already reserved. No wonder the addition of member and visitor slips is already planned for the 2022 season – the 2021 count is up to 62 power and sail already. At the moment, the Riverest Marina offers boaters a stop where they can launch their boat...

Read More

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Photograph taken on Sept 15 while drifting home after the last Wednesday evening race at Collins ...
On the afternoon of Sunday, October 3, fourteen exceptional sailors were inducted into the Canadian ...
My husband and I purchased this beauty in Gananoque two weeks ago and boated it from there across ...
Last issue we featured a story about the engagement proposal aboard Via-Mara, a 1969 Trojan 42 Aft ...
With thanks to Sail Canada, here’s a collection of photos that are Olympic quality. Clearly our ...
Wow. That was a lot of fun reading the collection of boat names that came in from all over the ...
No individual had a greater impact on the modern sport of sailing than Bruce Kirby. Known and ...
Just off The Ocean Race European Tour, Daniel is setting his sights on competing in The Ocean Race ...
After being our fearless leader and publisher since CYOB kicked off, Greg Nicoll, handed over the ...
Swim Drink Fish is spearheading the Vancouver Plastic Cleanup by installing, maintaining, and ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
The new Navigator Binoculars take Steiner's marine series to the next level with innovative product ...
The annual Canadian Yachting December issue is back and bursting with exciting stories, boat ...
When strolling the docks of almost any busy marina, a cruiser will see satellite domes atop boats ...
You can do all your holiday shopping at once – your boating friends will unwrap their nautical ...
Constant exposure to sunshine, rain, tree sap, bird droppings and dirt can make even the most ...
Vision Marine Technologies, Inc. announced on October 26th that it has executed a Manufacture and ...
Sharkbanz is the first wearable shark deterrent technology created by experienced ocean goers ...
The Super Air Nautique GS22E wakesurfing boat powered by Ingenity Electric will be at boat shows in ...
Let’s head south. As things open up, boaters are once again looking to sunnier climes. Perhaps you ...
The new ACR Electronics RCL-85 and RCL-95 ultra-bright remote-controlled LED searchlights have been ...

News

  • Prev
Bavaria Yachts is adding another model to its successful SR-LINE. The Bavaria SR36 will make its ...
On November 21 Canadian sailing sisters Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance from Chester, NS, took ...
Le Boat, leaders in European and Canadian private houseboating adventures, have announced their ...
There is always that moment of discovery when we step aboard a sailboat, whether it be a dinghy, a ...
The Rolex TP52 World Championship brought ten teams from seven countries in Palma de Mallorca, ...
The December issue of Canadian Yachting has a wide variety of nautical editorial to please the ...
In late October, the Royal Canadian Mint set pockets aflame by adding a new Bluenose dime to ...
Launching its twelfth school year, the GLCCSchool has become a premier source of practical training ...
Long standing full service marine repair and maintenance facility, Bristol Marine in Port Credit, ...
COVID cancelled last year’s Canadian Safe Boating Awards (CASBAs) event but we are back for ...

Mia and Caleb's EngagementOn July 23 last year, CYOB published a piece on a beautifully restored 1967 Trojan 42 Motor Yacht in Oromocto NB. (That piece was also expanded in CY magazine later in the year.)

One of our Canadian Yachting contributors, Denise Miller, had shared the article on my social media and a young man reached out and asked if she could connect him with the owners of the boat, Dave and Barb. Denise leapt into action and Dave and Barb were thrilled. They concocted a plan that the young lady, Mia, thought she was coming to model for a sales brochure for Dave to do charter tours.

Read More