Best Boat Waxes and Sealants for Fiberglass Boats
When it comes to boat waxes, sealants, and coatings, 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 fiberglass boat. 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 paint and gelcoat 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.
Gelcoat over fiberglass is the most common method of boatbuilding today. The structure of the boat is a durable fiberglass layer that gives the boat it’s shape and form, and that is covered by a colored gelcoat layer. Gelcoat is defined by its relatively thick layup, by being easily correctable, and by being softer than a traditional paint finish. If you’re unsure of what type of finish your boat has, contact your boat’s manufacturer. We tested a plethora of waxes, sealants, and ceramic products to find what product offered the best results. Here’s what we found:
Best Fiberglass Boat Waxes and Sealants of 2020
1. Shurhold’s Pro Polish
This polymer sealant from Shurhold Industries was our favorite product for protecting a fiberglass boat. 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 hull. 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 boat 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
2. Meguiar’s Flagship Marine Wax
Also a synthetic sealant, Meguiar’s top of the line protectant is another great choice amongst the products we tested. A well respected brand in the automotive space, Meguair’s Flagship Marine Wax 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
- Widely available
- Talc Powder makes removal of excess product somewhat difficult
- Shine faded slightly faster than protection did.
3. 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.
- 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
4. Starbrite Marine Polish
While their product line can be a bit overwhelming, Starbrite’s Marine Polish is their best product for pure protection. Like the other synthetic products we reviewed, the Marine Polish was easy to apply and offered a quality layer of protection. It works a little differently than some of the other liquid waxes on our list, as it leaves behind a layer of PTEF to act as the sacrificial layer. This silicone deposit didn’t seem to last as long as the other products we tested, but cleaned mild stains and left a good shine.
While there is nothing wrong with this Starbrite’s Marine Polish, we found other options more enjoyable and durable. Good protection at a good price if you don’t mind waxing a little more frequently.
- PTEF prevents stains from building in the gelcoat
- Good UV Protection
- Easy to work with
- Not as durable as other options
- Gloss and Protection were less than other products we tested
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 fiberglass boat?
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!
- Meguiars – The famous automotive brand has plenty of clout in the marine industry as well, and their products prove it.