How to Wax a Boat? A Complete Guide

Looking for the easiest way to wax your boat?

Well, in that case, you have come to the perfect place. Here, in this article, we are going to show you the step-by-step guide for waxing your boat.

Don’t worry; we are gonna breakdown the process in the simplest manner so that anyone without prior experience can do the job.

If you’re interested, then read on to know more about the process.

Why Wax the Boat?

One of the most significant sources of frustration for boat owners is damage to the gel coat covering boats because let's face it, no one, absolutely no one wants their shiny vehicle to become dulled by wear and tear.

Hence, waxing is an important part of keeping your boats in good shape. In this guide, we will walk you through that.

See Also:

Best Boat Cover for the price 

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How to Clean Boat Seats?

How to Build a Wooden Boat?

What Factor Determines a Boat’s Required Equipment?

How to Wax the Boat?


Here’s how you are going to wax the boat.

Part 1: Cleaning

Boat waxing can be broken down into three individuals parts. Each of which has its own steps, equipment, and chemical products that you may use. The first part is cleaning your boat. Before you get to waxing, you must ensure your boat is free of dirt and dust.

Why clean the boat?

The first step, as mentioned, is cleaning the boat. You only want to be waxing after the boat has been adequately cleaned. Some prior precautions should be taken concerning this.

Step 1: Placing the Boat

Place the boat securely on a trailer and make sure the trailer is on an even surface. The boat moving during the cleaning process can make your job even more painstaking.

Step 2: Covering and Hosing

Secondly, make sure to cover the interior of the boat to prevent it from getting wet or from the detergents, waxing solvents, and other chemicals dripping into the seats or controls. Once you have settled those, start with gently hosing the exterior of your boat. Use only water at this stage.

Step 3: Removing Grimes

When you’re done with hosing, use a wet cloth to gently scrape off any grime that may have built up. If the stains are persistent, you may call upon the use of the sandpaper. Choose those of the 220 fine-grain variety. Do not apply the hose with too much force as you may risk breaking and damaging the Gelcoat.

Step 4: Removing Damaged Wax

After this, you should remove any remains of damaged wax that are clinging to your boat surface. To do this, soak a wet cloth in a dewaxing solvent of your choosing. Experts often recommend toluene. Gently scrub with the cloth to remove the wax bits. Once more, do not apply too much force and scrub one way.

Step 5: Wash with Detergent

Once you are done, wait for the solvent to evaporate before moving on to the next step. The final step in this part is to wash the boat with a suitable detergent. Several soaps and detergents are available for the boats that you may use here. If the surface contains stains, you may use a disinfectant, such as bleach.

Step 6: Getting Rid of Grease

In the case of grease, it is also advisable to use other chemicals such as lacquer thinner or Varsol. Wash thoroughly with clean water, and if need be, a squeegee may be called upon to speed up the drying process.

Part 2: Buffing 

The second part is buffing your boat. This is where you work on the surface of your boat and remove stains, discolorations, etc. and improve its shine. The final part is the waxing itself where you apply the boat wax and replenish that protective and eye-pleasing coating on your boat.


Step 1: Choosing What to Apply

We now get to the second part, which is buffing your boat's surface. Essentially, this is applying either polish or a buffing compound to your boat's surface, to remove any imperfections on the Gelcoat. Polish is recommended if the discolorations are not too severe. If the discolorations have reached the extreme stage, then use buffing compounds.

Step 2: Preparing to Apply the Compound

You must take extra care with these and be as gentle as possible. These compounds can penetrate the gel coat and inflict significant damage on the body of your boat. Divide your boat into smaller areas that you will clean one at a time, moving in one direction. Two square feet can be a reasonable size to work with.

Step 3: The Buffing

Start from the transom end of the boat and work your way towards the port side. You can choose to do this manually or with an automated buffer. It is advisable to use a low-speed tool and use it at minimum force. Tools that have an orbital action are more suitable as they do the job more neatly.

Step 4: Polishing After Buffing

If you are using a buffing compound, you can still choose to apply polish afterwards, to get that extra shine. The method would be the same as before.

Part 3: Waxing

Here's the final part, waxing.

Step 1: Choosing the Wax

The third and final part, as you would expect, is applying the actual wax.

First and foremost, you will have to choose the appropriate boat wax for your vehicle. This will depend largely on the kind of Gelcoat your boat has, and how you use your boat. Collinite 885, PolyShine, and LifeWax are often recommended.

Step 2: Applying the Wax

The method of applying the wax is the same as described for the buffing compound. Once more, you can choose from doing it by hand or an electric buffer. Be sure to check the specific instructions for the wax you are using. 

Step 3: Working Around Tight Spots

Extra care should be taken when you are waxing the fittings or any tight spots. It is advisable to do these parts by hand, to avoid the risk of damage.

Step 4: Buffing the Wax

Finally, once you have covered the entire boat, allow the wax time to set. Usually, this takes around five to ten minutes. After which you can buff the wax again, either by hand with a cloth or using an electric polisher. If using the latter, make sure to pair it with a terrycloth bonnet.

If you give it the proper dedication and effort, that beautiful shine that you desire will soon meet your eyes.


Now that you know how to wax your boat, you shouldn’t delay the waxing process anymore.

Nevertheless, let me know in the comments if you need any further help.

Last Updated on March 9, 2021