A gelcoat is usually used on fiberglass. The gelcoat makes the boat, car, trailer, etc. look good. This coat is subject to the elements, however, and gets damaged. Water, UV rays, and air cause weathering which means you will have to replace or repair this coat eventually. You can do it yourself. You simply need a few things from the hardware store, instructions, time, and a bit of elbow-grease.
You will need a gelcoat repair kit or the separate items if you have them. These kits usually consist of:
- 250g tin gelcoat
- 100 ml acetone
- 50ml catalyst
- 100ml UV wax
- 100g polishing compound
- Mixing cups and sticks
- Wet and dry paper
- Release film
Once you have these items, you can start the reparation process. The gelcoat should be restored at least once a year. You will know it’s time when the material starts yellowing. Kits like this can be bought at hardware stores or on eBay.
Step 1: Cleaning
The first step is to clean. It’s relatively easy and water and detergent should do the job. Bleach may be necessary for stains or mildew. You can also use fiberglass cleaner if you feel it is necessary. This part is very important. You want to make sure that all the dirt and stains are removed. This ensures a better result and gets rid of irregularities.
Step 2: Polishing
Polishing basically means that you are wearing away layers of gelcoat. You need to be careful as to not take it all the way off. Replacing a gelcoat is much more expensive and work intensive than a simple repair. Take care to not use materials that are too abrasive. Sanding, compounding, and polishing are all methods of doing this part. They vary in degree of taking off layers. Start with the mildest polish or compound to make sure that you don’t remove too much of the coat. Next, buff the coat with a slow speed polisher. If the speed is too high, the heat from the friction might damage the gelcoat.
Step 3: Sealing
Once the polishing is done, the surface should have a high gloss look. The next step is to apply wax or sealant. The reason for sealing or waxing is two-fold: it fills the microscopic cracks, and it adds a protective coat. This wax coat protects the newly repaired gelcoat against the elements of wind, air and UV rays. After waxing your surface should be nice and shiny.
Now you are ready to repair your boat or other surfaces. Get to your nearest hardware store or go to eBay to purchase the necessary materials. Get some more instructions online and set out a day for this project. Make sure you have some cold refreshments at hand and get started. You will be very impressed with your new gelcoat.