Saturday, January 9, 2016

How To Restore Faded Fiberglass: Care And Maintenance

By Jennifer Cook

Today, almost every pleasure boat on the water is made from fiberglass and gelcoat. This is not a coincidence. The fiberglass boats are much easier to make in comparison to the metal boats and the wooden boats. They also weigh less and are long-lasting. With all this said, you cannot buy one until you know how to restore faded fiberglass. This is the main maintenance procedure.

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.

The second step it to clear gelcoat or the glass surface of any oil or grease. Given that the gelcoat may be porous, the detergent often fails to clear all grease and oil. The ideal solutions to use include acetone or MEK. Just soak a rag in the chosen solution and use it to clear any grease. When doing this, it is advisable to always protect yourself using skin rubber gloves.

The first step is often to start by cleaning the surface with the aim of removing tiny particles and any other substances that may affect a good quality finish. This can be done by adding detergent into warm water to form a washing solution. This is followed with a thorough scrubbing of the surface. In order to remove grease and oil, acetone and similar solutions may be used. It is then allowed to dry before the next step can begin.

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.

After waxing, the next step is polishing. A polish is simply an abrasive, but not a coating. Rather than coating, it removes the pitted surface. The procedure involves using a soft cloth to apply the polish to small areas at a time. This is done by circular motion rubbing to get a glassy appearance. This is then followed by a wax application to protect the new coat.

Wax is widely used and has to be applied regularly for it to be effective. They tend to work well as long as the boat is new. As the boat ages, the wax becomes ineffective given the microscopic crevices and pits that trap air allowing for continued oxidation. It is best applied as the last layer after polishing or other processes.

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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