Fiberglass Hull Gouge Repair

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There’s nothing more disheartening for a boat owner than to
see their carefully-maintained hull suddenly suffer a gouge. Gouges aren’t only
unsightly, but can lead to more substantial problems such as leakage and
long-term hull damage. We’ve put together a few tips for the best practices in
fiberglass hull gouge repair to help you maintain your craft.

It Gets Worse Before
It Gets Better

Many boat owners look for the quick fix solution—a simple
putty they can put in their hull, the equivalent of duct tape for boats. But a
fiberglass hull is more subtle than that. Like cleaning out the kitchen
cabinets—it will look worse before it looks better. That’s because one of the
best ways to repair a gouge is to use a high-speed die grinder or rotary tool
featuring a burr nose. This gives you a chance to smooth out the edges a bit,
which in turn makes it possible to add the gel coat more effectively.

Understand What
You’ve Lost

A fiberglass hull gouge is so serious because it gets right
through the layers of your hull’s protectant. It’s important to understand what
you’ve lost with a gouge like that. One of the most important layers is the gel
coat—the outer layer that creates a de facto seal between your boat’s hull and
the aquatic environment. When this gel coat is damaged, your hull is
susceptible to all sorts of problems.

FamilyHandyMan.com recommends
using the following to repair the various layers of your hull:

  • Powdered fiberglass filler
  • Gel Coat
  • Gel Coat reducer

To order the proper gel coat, you should have a look at your
make and serial number and contact the manufacturer of your boat to get as
close a match as possible to your color. The gel coat reducer will thin out the
coat so it’s capable of spraying, which will provide you with an even coating.

Safety First

Handling something as challenging as gel coat will require
focus and attention. So pay a good bit of that attention on safety, wearing
goggles and chemical-resistant gloves to keep yourself out of harm’s way.

Once you’ve mixed the gel coat properly—shoot for a consistency
like peanut butter—you can then apply the batches to the boat with a tool.
Don’t be afraid to work in small batches to ensure that you handle each one
properly, but keep in mind that the gel coat tends to cure quickly.

Caulking &
Sealing

What if your hull gouge didn’t come in the fiberglass, but
you find areas of your boat that you need to caulk and seal? We have a range of
boat caulking and
sealing products
available for quick repairs. The key, as always, is to
match the proper sealant with the material getting sealed. It’s critical that
you shop from a qualified boating store like BoatLIFE to ensure that all the
products you use are marine-grade and designed for boats.

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