Is your boat your pride and joy? Of course, it is. If you want to keep your baby in the best condition possible, you’ll need to learn how to wash and detail your boat. Cleaning the boat gets rid of all the dirt and grime, and polishing it returns the look of the paint to its original luster, leaving you with a boat that looks brand new.
There’s a slight difference between polishing and buffing. You’ll buff the boat to remove fine scratches and abrasions, restoring the look of the paint to its original look.
Sure, buffing your boat takes some time, but it’s worth putting in the elbow grease to maintain a great-looking boat. Keeping it in its best condition not only fills you with a sense of pride but also maintains the retail value for a future sale.
While buffing out the body might take some time and effort, speak to any boat owner, and they’ll tell you it’s worth the hassle. You’ll feel a swelling sense of achievement and satisfaction when you put down the buffer and step back to admire your handiwork.
This post gives you everything you need to know about how to buff your boat to perfection.
Why Do You Need to Buff Your Boat?
As mentioned, the purpose of cleaning and polishing your boat is to keep it looking great. The manufacturer protects the paint from fading in the sun’s UV rays, and it needs some maintenance to ensure that the gel coating doesn’t wear out, exposing the paintwork to the sun, leaving you with dull areas on the paint job.
Buffing your boat is similar to polishing it, but it has a specific use for restoring and scratches or scrapes on the hull and sides of the vessel. Buffing the boat involves the use of polishing compounds and a rotary polishing machine, just like polishing.
However, with buffing, you’re focusing on a specific area or area of the boat where there is minor cosmetic damage. If you pull into the slip and forget to drop your bumper fenders over the side, the boat may contact the dock, resulting in small, fine scratches.
They are hardly noticeable, but as a proud boat owner, you know they are there, and it eats away at you every time you see them. Buffing the boat gets rid of these minor imperfections, restoring your boat to as close as possible to its original condition.
Visit the local hardware store and purchase a rotary buffing tool. These tools look like angle grinders, and they have a polishing head instead of a cutting disc at the front of the machine. The pads are detachable and replaceable, and they come in different sizes and materials for the task at hand.
If you have oxidation on the boat, you’ll use a wool pad and then swap it out for a fine polishing head when working out the final signs of scratches and scrapes.
Polishing Products for Buffing a Boat
While you’re picking up your rotary buffing tool, get some buffing compound while you’re at it. There are several buffing compounds suited to different tasks.
A high-viscosity compound is the best choice for removing heavy oxidation, and a low-viscosity compound is the better choice for polishing out scratches.
If you don’t have any idea of which product suits your task, ask the manager at the store for assistance in choosing the right products for your boat.
- ➤【HIGH-PERFORMANCE ROTARY POLISHER】Powerful 1200W motor produces up to 3500RPM with low noise– powerful enough for a professional. Heat resistant copper wire motor allows long working time without burning the machine. The high-performance electric car polisher helps to increase your efficiency.
- ➤【LIGHT WEIGHT & VARIABLE SPEED CONTROL】Only 5.5 pounds light weight, compact and portable design make it easy for carrying and storage. 6-level variable speed dial allows users to control speed from 1500 to 3500RPM according to various tasks or materials and improve work efficiency.
- ➤【WIDE APPLICATION】Comes with sandpapers, fine and rough sponge wheels for waxing, wool polishing disc. You can use different sponge wheel to finish different application. This rotary polisher is ideal for polishing and removing swirls, scratches, and defects from all painted vehicles. You can also use it on furniture, ceramic, wood and metal.
- ➤【HUMANIZED DESIGH】ENEACRO Polisher comes with two detachable handles (D-handle and side handle), you can choose the way that you feel comfortable. Meanwhile with the safe-switch lock design, you can maintain a speed by press the button safely and conveniently.
- ➤【WHAT YOU WILL GET】1* Rotary Polisher, 1* 6-Inch Loop Backing Plate, 1* 7-Inch Loop Backing Plate, 3* 6-inch Sponge Wheel, 1* 7-inch Wool Polishing Disc, 8* 6-inch Sandpapers, 1* D-Handle, 1* Side Handle, 1* Hex Wrench, 2* Carbon Brushes, 1* User Manual. Defect Free Warranty and 6 working hours Quick Response Customer Support.
Recommended Boat Buffing Techniques
When applying the buffing compound to the boat, remember to take a slow and steady approach to the task. Start by dabbing the compound around the affected area or applying it directly to the buffing pad.
Keep the buffing tool flat to the boat’s surface and move it continuously. Don’t leave it to run without moving it around, as you’re likely to strip away the gel coating.
Use gentle movements back-and-forth and in a circular motion until you achieve a mirror-like finish, and you can no longer see the scratch.
Handling the Buffing Tool
Professional buffing tools used by detailing businesses are large, heavy tools that require a certain level of experience and skill to operate. Using these tools yourself without the guidance of an expert could result in you damaging the paint or injuring yourself.
We recommend investing in an orbital buffer. It looks similar to an orbital sander, allowing you to get full control over the buffing surface of the tool. These tools are inexpensive, and they are effective at buffing out the scratches and other minor cosmetic damage on your boat.
If you can find a dual-action orbital buffer offering you oscillation and rotation, it makes things easier to operate, and you’ll get better results from the task. These tools are much lighter than professional models, and they are easy to control, even with one-handed use.
If you can’t find a dual-action orbital buffing tool, the next best option is a buffing head that fits a standard power drill. These heads are inexpensive and easy to fit, and they give you almost the same level of control over the polishing surface as an orbital buffer.
The Meguiar’s DA Power System is a great example of a buffing tool suited to the task. It comes in a kit with three four-inch buffing pads in different grades, including an aggressive buffing pad for compound work, a soft head for applying wax, and a mid-range head for compounding and polishing.
If you’re looking for the top-of-the-line buffing system, we recommend upgrading to the dual-action Meguiar’s Professional DA MT300 or the Porter-Cable or Shurhold dual-action polishers.
Apply Carnauba Wax to Finish
After you finish buffing out the scratches and scrapes, it’s time to wax and polish the boat to seal the paint and protect it from exposure. We recommend waxing and polishing your boat at least twice a year to preserve the gel coating and the paintwork.
Choose a marine-grade polish specifically designed for boats, with a carnauba wax formulation for long-lasting protection. Add the wax to the boat, not the polishing head, and then work it into the paint using your orbital buffer.
Make sure you apply the wax evenly and go over the entire boat without missing anywhere. If you miss a spot, you should see it immediately and address it before putting the boat back in the water.
- MARINE WAX: Blends pure Brazilian carnauba wax with polymers and resins to provide durable long-lasting protection and extraordinary gloss
- UV PROTECTION: Protects against the sun’s ultraviolet rays
- USE WITH CONFIDENCE: Safe, effective and easy to use on all fiberglass gel coat and painted marine or RV surfaces
- IDEAL FINISH: Especially effective on dark colors and clear-coated metal flake finishes
- VERSATILE FORMULA: Effective by hand or by machine
Don’t Make These Mistakes When Buffing Your Boat
After applying the buffing compound to the polishing head, place the tool on the boat before starting the device to prevent the machine from flinging the compound everywhere.
Don’t apply the buffing compound too thick – a little goes a long way. Overloading the pad with compound causes the buffing pad to skid on the paint, reducing the tool’s efficacy.
Never attempt to buff soft or clear plastics. The buffing compound will create fine scratches that ruin the material.
Tape off the PVC rub rail; if the tool touches it, it’s going to leave a permanent mark.
Avoid pressing too hard on decals as the tool may damage them. Workaround the graphics and take a steady and slow approach to avoid tearing and wrinkling.
When the pad seems saturated with the buffing compound, don’t throw it away. Toss the polishing heads in the washer, and they’ll come out as good as new, saving you money and a trip to the hardware store.