Help with Scratches


Eventually, all boats sustain scratches in the hull and topsides, some more serious than others. Scratches that don’t penetrate down into the layers of fiberglass often can be wet-sanded flat and buffed back to a shine with no need for gelcoat at all, and this is what we address today.


Start out by dry-sanding with 180-grit sandpaper. When you begin to see the scratch disappear, bump up to 320 grit. When 90 percent of the scratch is gone, move up to 400 or 600 grit and begin wet-sanding, working your way up to 1000-grit. When you use 400 grit or higher, be sure to wet sand. Always keep the sandpaper clean with fresh water, and be cautious not to remove too much gelcoat. It is possible to sand through the color. Believe it or not, 1000-grit has more cutting power than 180. When you sand, wet or dry, be sure you sand in an X pattern, not in a circular motion like you would if you were waxing. This keeps the sanded area flat so you don’t end up with “divot” in your hull or deck.


When the scratch is gone, or at least removed to your satisfaction, it’s time to buff. Start with 3M Super Duty Rubbing Compound 05954 with a rotary polisher and a wool pad, then switch to 3M Perfect It II 05973 Rubbing Compound, then top that with Perfect It III 05941 Finishing Glaze. Use light pressure on the polisher and let the material do the work. Afterward, use a good synthetic wax to protect the finish.


If you don't have the time to tackle this project on your own, and would like a free estimate on light gelcoat scratch removal on your vessel, call us today at (239)776-4253!


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