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​Sailboat Gelcoat Repair Guide

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No sailboat should be without a quality gelcoat to maintain the durability and sheen of its fiberglass. But not every sailboat has the advantage of going through its journey completely scratch-free. That’s why we’ve put together a quick sailboat gelcoat repair guide. We hope these tips will help you understand how to handle a problem with your sailboat’s gelcoat and give you a few insights into handling the entire hull as well.

Start With The Right Materials

If you want your sailboat to look its best, you’ll have to keep the right materials handy. Anyone with a sailboat knows that proper ingredients can be the difference between an attractive sailboat and one that’s in need of dedicated work.

Here are a few materials you’ll want to keep handy if you want to maintain your sailboat’s gelcoat:

  • Equipment: Latex gloves, dust mask, rags for cleaning up, a putty knife, stir sticks, mixing cups, masking tape, a hand-held grinder with bits, wet and dry sandpaper.
  • Gelcoat repair materials: Think coloring agents, acetone, gelcoat resin (and its catalyst), PVA curing agents.
  • Long-term gelcoat maintenance: Think about investing in a great Fiberglass Rubbing Compound—and don’t forget to stock up on boat wax, either. We recommend using Life Wax to help prevent UV damage to your hull.

It sounds like a lot, but most of these materials are relatively inexpensive to procure—and the difference they can make in the quality of your gelcoat is immeasurable.

Prepare the Gelcoat Repair Area

To begin your sailboat gelcoat repair, the first step is to prepare the area. Think of this as “priming” your gelcoat. BoatingMag.com recommends filling in “deep gouges with resin and filler before applying finish.” If your gelcoat’s problems are this deep, you’ll have to use epoxy resin and fillers to give yourself something to work with before starting.

You should also work on color matching. Consult your dealer to see if they can offer you a precise matching gelcoat—if not, you may have to “wing” it, doing your best to get a match by eyeballing the difference.

Once you have that in place, smooth out the edges of the damaged area and get rid of any debris or loose gelcoat. This is where you may have to use the acetone to get rid of old sealant and clean the affected area first. Then, once you have it clean and dry, use the masking tape to seal off the area—make sure that you use painter’s tape here. Be precise. You only want to work on the damaged area specifically.

Applying the Gelcoat Repairs

Once you have those in place, you’re free to mix your color-matched gelcoat, adding the proper catalyst to harden the gelcoat. You’ll mix these both with specific stir sticks—and make sure you pay attention to the cure time listed on this gelcoat.

Now’s the time to apply before the gelcoat hardens. Apply it as evenly as possible, keeping in mind that you may have to work quickly before it hardens completely. If you spray with a PVA, wait for it to cure and then peel it off before sanding. You may also simply peel it off and apply the wax if the surface is smooth enough not to require sanding.

It might sound difficult and complicated, but when you properly repair your sailboat’s gelcoat, your reward will be a smooth hull that’s ready to sail again. Of course, it helps to have the right products in your corner, so keep browsing our BoatLIFE products to find the right materials for your boat’s repair today.

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Life Industries Corporation
4060 Bridge View Drive
N. Charleston, SC 29405
United States of America

toll free: (800) 382-9706
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