Best Waxes for Stainless Steel and Aluminum

When it comes to boat waxes, sealants, and coatings for your metal and brightwork, you have hundreds of options to choose from. How can you decide what’s best for your boat with so many choices available to you? Well, we’re here to break down the various types of protection you can choose for your stainless steel and aluminum finishes f. With a little knowledge, you can make the best choice for your boat’s needs.

Let’s start with the traditional surface protectant, wax. The original form of surface protection, true waxes are natural products that are extracted from plants and formed into a paste. They are the thickest of the coatings and can provide decent to excellent protection from the elements, depending on the quality of the wax. Waxes can be mildly difficult to apply compared to some other options on this list, as they don’t spread easily and require a significant amount of time to cure properly. When using a traditional paste wax, be sure to work in small areas, as excess wax that fully cures before being buffed off can be difficult to remove. They are usually applied by hand using a microfiber towel, but can also be applied using a machine.

Next on our list are polymer sealants and synthetic waxes. Unlike paste waxes, these chemicals are manufactured and usually have a creamy consistency. They offer ease of use, quality protection, and excellent UV resistance. They are slightly less durable than a traditional paste wax, but the ease of application can easily make up for this. Unlike paste waxes, which physically bond to the surface using adhesion, sealants chemically bond with the surface. This benefits you in a few ways. First, the cure time is significantly reduced. That means you don’t have to wait for the wax to dry before removal. Additionally, there is less excess wax leftover after the curing process, so you have less to remove. Finally, the excess sealant comes free from the surface far easier than traditional paste wax.

Last on the list of possible sealants for your boat are ceramic coatings. This type of protection has become popular in the past few years, and for good reason. Ceramics offer a hard, durable layer of protection that lasts a decent amount of time. However, they also have a few major drawbacks. First, a quality ceramic coating can be very expensive, almost prohibitively so. The application process is extremely meticulous and any mistakes can require serious (and expensive) correction. In fact, unless you have an in-depth knowledge of surface correction and detailing, the application of ceramic is usually left up to a professional installer. Be aware, there is a major difference between a true ceramic coating and what many companies are now marketing as “ceramic coatings.” Many companies have begun to market their polymer sealants and synthetic waxes as ceramics, so be sure to do your research.  

The metalwork on most boats is designed and built to be durable and resist the elements, but even stainless steel will eventually succumb to the environment without adequate protection. We tested a plethora of waxes, sealants, and ceramic products to find what product offered the best results. Here’s what we found:

Best Waxes for Stainless Steel and Aluminum 

1. Collinite No. 850 Metal Wax

This standout metal wax was our favorite product for protecting stainless steel and uncoated aluminum. It’s not only a protectant, but a cleaner as well. The microabrasives that are found in the formula polish metal to a brilliant shine while leaving a layer of proteciton behind. It’s liquid makes it easy to apply to the fixtures your working on. As an added bonus, this product contains no talc powder, a filler that’s common in other sealants we tested. While the talc powder does not affect a waxes performance, it does make it harder to remove after the product has cured on the hull. We found that it leaves a nice clean finish with a high gloss point.

It’s also effective at protecting your stainless and aluminum from UV and environmental damage. We found that that Collinite No. 850 offered good protection, even after months in a briny environment. Under normal use, our wax layer lasted around 3 months before a reapplication was needed. That’s on par with any other DIY protective coating out there.


  • Clean and Protect in One Step
  • Great UV Protection
  • Contains no Talc Powder
  • Removes Rust Stains and Light Oxidation


  • Slightly less durable than other sealants
  • Can be removed by heavy cleaners like degreasers or bleach
  • Not to be used on coated aluminum

2. Shurhold’s Pro Polish

This polymer sealant from Shurhold Industries was our favorite product for protecting your boat’s metals. To start, it’s a liquid sealant, so it’s easily applied to the surface of your boat. As an added bonus, this product contains no talc powder, a filler that’s common in other sealants we tested. While the talc powder does not affect a waxes performance, it does make it harder to remove after the product has cured on the surface. We found that it leaves a nice clean finish with a high gloss point. In fact, Pro Polish contains a small amount of alcohol in the formula, which makes it an effective cleaner in its own right.

So it’s easy to apply and work with, but is it effective at protecting your metal from UV and environmental damage? We found that that Pro Polish offered great protection, even after months in the harsh Florida sun where we performed our tests. Under normal use, our wax layer lasted around 4 months before a reapplication was required, which is better or at least on par with any other DIY protective coating out there. In summary, Pro Polish is easy to use, offers great protection, and is reasonably priced. What’s not to love?


  • Easy to Use and Apply
  • Industry Leading UV Protection
  • Contains no Talc Powder
  • High Gloss
  • Removes Black Streaks and Light Stains


  • Slightly less durable than a traditional paste wax
  • Can be removed by heavy cleaners like degreasers or bleach

3. Marine 31 Stainless Steel Liquid Sealant 

Also a synthetic sealant, Marine 31’s dedicated metal protection chemical is another great choice amongst the products we tested. A well respected brand in the automotive space, Marine 31’s Stainless Steel Liquid Sealant proves their products work across industries. The Flagship wax works similarly to Shurhold’s Pro Polish, as this product forms a chemical bond with the surface and offers great protection against UV damage. It left a deep, glossy shine that lasted for around a month, but the finish did dull slightly between applications.

 It was easy to apply, but we did find that this product includes talc powder as a filler. While it doesn’t affect performance, the inclusion of talc makes the excess wax a little harder to remove and we found that it requires more microfiber towels to complete a job compared to other synthetic waxes. Despite those small drawbacks, we love the performance and gloss that Flagship provided.


  • Deep and Rich Finish
  • Easy to apply
  • Good UV Protection


  • Good protection, but it fades slightly faster than the other offerings on this list
  • Shine faded slightly faster than protection did.

4. Collinite Fleetwax

A venerable and well-established favorite, Collinite’s Fleetwax enjoys a great reputation amongst captain’s around the world. Despite the fact that it is an old school paste wax, it’s proven that some formulas can stand the test of time. It has fantastic durability when properly cared for and provides a very slick finish. The gloss factor and UV protection are great as well. So why isn’t number one on our list?

It all comes down to ease of application. As a traditional paste wax, Collinite’s product is harder to spread around the surface, more temperature-sensitive during the application process, requires a precise cure time, and needs more elbow grease to buff off. Once it’s applied, expect fantastic results, but we couldn’t forget how easy some of the other waxes were to apply. Additionally, unlike Collinite’s other offering on this list, it contains no abrasives to clean the metal and restore the finish.


  • Great UV Protection
  • Industry Leading Durability
  • Slick Finish
  • High Gloss


  • Difficult to apply and buff off
  • Needs to be applied in moderate temperatures for best results

Other Important Factors to Consider

How do I care for my boat after I’ve applied my wax or sealant?

It’s important to remember that applying a protective coating to your boat does not mean you can avoid the basic maintenance of washing and general upkeep. Your sealant of choice is designed to work as a sacrificial barrier, taking the brunt of the damage caused by environmental fallout, salt, and UV rays. Unless you wash your boat with frequency or store it in a covered area, your protective layer will fade faster than it’s designed to. Additionally, avoid using harsh chemicals like dish soaps, bleach, and ammonia-based cleaners. They will quickly strip the wax and leave your boat unprotected.

  • Wash your boat every two weeks at minimum
  • Avoid using harsh cleaners like dish soap and bleach
  • Reapply your protective coating at manufactured recommend intervals
  • Use appropriately soft brushes to avoid removing the coating

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the most trusted chemicals for protecting my boat’s metals?

A: When it comes to boat waxes and sealants, there are numerous brands available in the market that you can choose from. Here are some brands we believe stand at the top of the industry.

  • Shurhold – With a simple yet effective chemical line, Shurhold’s Pro Polish is almost universally applicable to any non-porous surface. We also love their impeccable customer service and product support, a rare quality for companies these days.
  • Collinite – It’s hard to argue with plenty of professional captains and crew, along with there tried and true product line. Old school, but great results!
  • Marine 31 – A newcomer from a team of great chemists that impressed us with its performance and shine.