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Think you can just use regular automotive polish instead of investing in specially formulate boat polish? Think again! The best way to take care of your boat is to treat it to a regular clean and polish regime, using dedicated products that won’t harm your boat’s precious gel coat or put your hull at risk.
The wrong polish could be harmful to your boat, and the last thing you want to do is damage your boat’s hull. Because of that reason, it might be tempting to ignore your maintenance regime altogether. You can’t put your boat’s bodywork at risk if you don’t touch it, right? Wrong! It needs to be cleaned and polished regularly, to remove stains, marks, and traces of harmful chemicals.
Plus, it’s always nice to have your possessions looking as good as they can look. You wouldn’t neglect the appearance of your house or car, so you shouldn’t neglect your boat!
Since it’s easy to buy the wrong products, we’ve put together a list of the best boat polish products on the market, with a handy buying guide to make your shopping trip easier! So without further ado, here’s all you need to know.
The Meguiar’s brand name is one of the biggest names in the marine detailing industry, and it’s a name that many boat owners have come to rely on over the years. This polishing product comes highly rated from veteran boaters, with tons of the best boat polish reviews attributed to it.
This product is both a cleaner and a polish that can thoroughly clean gel coat, fiberglass, and other materials, whilst simultaneously leaving behind a durable high gloss finish. If you need one product that can competently tackle a number of jobs, then this is a boat polish that you should consider.
Designed specifically for fiberglass gel coat marine surfaces, this polish can successfully remove stains, water spots, heavy oxidation, salt water damage, and scratches. It will restore your surfaces to their former glory, and protecting them from the effects of the elements too.
Like most of Meguiar’s other products, the M6732 Marine One Step Compound is safe to use and non-toxic. This formula is completely bio-degradable and won’t harm your boat, marine life, or the environment in general. The detergents are biodegradable per regulation (EC) No 648/2004. It might have an aggressive attitude, but it’s eco-friendly.
For the best results, we recommend using this with a buffer machine. This makes short work of light oxidation! However, it works just as well by hand with a microfiber cloth, but it will take more time to apply.
Type: Liquid cutting compound
Surface Compatibility: Gel coat fiberglass boats
Volume: 1 Quart
Top Feature: Combination of both a boat cleaner and a heavy-duty polish
This Multi-Purpose Polish from Flitz is exactly what it says it is: it’s a multi-purpose cream that can be used for a variety of purposes. This paste has been formulated for use on all surfaces, including plastic, fiberglass, brass, chrome, marble, all metals, and more. It’s a concentrated paste with a potent mixture, and you don’t need to use a lot of it to receive big results.
The Flitz CA 03518-6 Multi-Purpose Polish can successfully eradicate dirt and grime caused by insects, oxidation, rust, lime, and ultraviolet rays. It can also shift tar, tree sap, graffiti, fingerprints, and pretty much anything that could get stuck on your boat.
Another cool feature about the formula is the fact that it’s 100% non-toxic, making it eco-friendly, marine-friendly and reel-safe. It’s also non-flammable too.
Application is easy, and unlike many other paste creams, you won’t wear yourself out applying it. It is non-abrasive, so it may take a couple of applications to get the best results. The paste does get to work right away though, and you will see results almost immediately.
It cleans efficiently, but it also protects for a long time too. The average coating of the paste provides protection for up to 6 months. If you’re looking for long intervals between applications, then this is a product to consider.
Surface Compatibility: All surfaces
Volume: 1 Quart
Top Feature: Non-toxic formulation that was developed in Germany, but made in the USA
Chemical Guys MBW11016 Marine And Boat Revive Polish
Chemical Guys is another well-known brand in the detailing industry, manufacturing quality products for auto and marine applications. If you’re looking for a product that can handle both car and boat maintenance, then this could be a good option.
This formula is a one-step liquid that can polish and revive gel coat fiberglass surfaces, remove scratches, deal with light oxidation, tackle water stains, UV sun damage. It’s also a gloss enhancer that brings out the best of your gel coat finish.
The abrasive solution perfectly cuts through oxidation water damage, salt spray damage, and old wax, to create a smooth, finish that will allow your boat to glide through the water with ease.
For those looking for the ultimate gel coat surface, this polish is the perfect primer for boat waxes. If you’re looking for a decent marine polish that can shift water spots and heavy oxidation, that also works as a solid base layer for carnauba wax products, then this is it.
For the best results, we recommend using this product with an electric buffer, though if you’ve got plenty of elbow grease to spare, it works great with a hand application too. It’s non-toxic, environmentally sound, and approved by thousands of boat owner reviews.
Type: Cream cutting compound
Surface Compatibility: Gel coat, fiberglass, painted surfaces
Volume: 16 fluid ounces
Top Feature: Solid base for boat or car wax
3M has an enormous range of boat polishes, boat cleaners, and other marine-focused detailing products on the market, and they’re one of the industry’s leading names. Choosing one product from the brand was difficult but if we had to choose something to polish your boat with, it would be this one: the 3M Marine Restorer & Polish Paste.
This paste product is a tough polish that can polish boat surfaces and prime them cleaner wax and finishing wax. Despite the fact that it’s a polish it does have some wax-like protective properties thanks to its polymer technology. It’s designed for use on gel coats and fiberglass boat surfaces, acting as both a rubbing compound and wax.
When applied properly it will remove oxidation, chalking, water sports, fading, heat discoloration, and even some minor scratches. 3M’s formula has been engineered to strip almost all contaminants. It offers UV protection and protects against UV damage at the same time. It restores and protects your finish, and leave a high-gloss shine that will leave other boaters feeling envious.
This formula can be applied by hand or by machine, and you’ll get great results by using either method. And you can polish your boat and RV with it too.
Type: Liquid paste wax formula
Surface Compatibility: Gel coat, fiberglass
Volume: 16.9 fluid ounces (also available in 32 ounce bottles)
Top Feature: Specially designed to remove heavy oxidation
This polishing kit is the perfect option for beginner detailers who want to give their boat the maintenance that it deserves but doesn’t know where to start. This kit includes a Porter Cable 7424XP Variable Speed Polisher rotary buffer, Lake Country buffing pads and microfiber detailing cloths, plus a special Marine 31 boat wax, and Marine 31 polish.
Since it’s an all-inclusive kit with a range of products, it can be used on different types of boats and in a variety of different ways. It has the ability to remove oxidation whilst adding a layer of protection that will protect your boat’s shine. Like other boat waxes and polishes, it has all the right ingredients to shift tough dirt and protect your boat’s color and painted surfaces from the negative effects of UV rays too.
With all the kit on hand, the products are easy to apply, with minimal effort or thinking required. While there might be superior products out there, in bigger volumes, with more specific purposes, we think that this one is a great starter kit. It includes everything you need to keep your boat’s shine strong and healthy, and all for a reasonable price.
Type: All-inclusive boat polishing kit (machine, pads, boat wax, boat polish)
Surface Compatibility: All surfaces
Volume: 16 fluid ounces of boat wax/ 16 fluid ounces of boat polishes
Top Feature: This is a good all-in-one restoration kit for beginner detailers with all the gear
Buying The Best Boat Wax: A Guide
Buying a polish isn’t a complicated task but there are a few features that you should keep your eye out for and a few important things that you should keep in your mind when you’re shopping around. After all, you want to buy the right product for your boat. Here are a few things to think about:
Type Of Boat
One of the most important things to take into account when shopping around for polish is to find a product that works for your boat. By that, we mean a product that’s designed and formulated to clean and treat the materials that your boat is constructed of. If you have an aluminum boat, then you’ll need a polish designed for aluminum. A fiberglass boat will require different treatment. While there are some universal waxes out there, don’t assume the one that you want will just do the job. The wrong formula could leave lasting damage.
For the best results, it’s a wise idea to invest in a selection of different products. A good metal polish, a fiberglass polish, even a car wax, can all contribute to making your boat the best that it can be. Whatever you decide to do: always read the labels. Using incompatible products could do more harm than good.
Type Of Protection
Naturally, you’ll want the best polish that you can find but it’s also worth keeping your specific needs in mind. For example, a polish that specifically tackles damage caused by UV rays could be a better purchase for those who leave their boat exposed for most of the year. A boat that’s always kept in the water may benefit from a polish that’s designed to remove heavy oxidation and corrosion damage.
Most boat polishes offer a general “all round” level of polishing and protection but finding a product that’s formulated to tackle very specific problems that you’re regularly faced with could be a wise investment too.
How Aggressive Does Your Polish Need To Be?
If you keep your boat in great condition, store it well, and follow a regular maintenance schedule, then you can probably purchase less intensive products. Oxidation is one of the biggest problems that boater’s face, however, it doesn’t always require a super strong rubbing compound to get rid of it. If you’re regular about your maintenance, a little bit of elbow grease and patience will get rid of it.
However, if you’re a little neglectful when it comes to your maintenance, and allow for heavy oxidation, water spots, water stains, and grease and grime build up, you may need to invest in a heavier-duty abrasive polish to cut through the dirt, restore shine, and bring your colors back to life.
We always recommend starting with gentler products and working up to the harder stuff. You’ll be surprised just how effective some of the weaker compounds truly are.
Polish Vs Wax
Despite what you many sources suggest, wax and polish are not the same thing. A boat wax is going to be primarily made of…wax! And wax is great for protecting your shine and giving your boat a thin film of protection against the elements. Some polishes have wax-like qualities, but a real polish has very different properties. It’s formulated to cut through grease, and clean up your rougher areas.
In short, polish is for polishing, and wax is for waxing. Polish is for older boats that need a bit of effort to shine, whereas wax is for newer boats that only have light imperfections.
Automotive Vs Marine Products
Can you use automotive products like car wax on your boat? Well, you can, but it depends on the situation. We’ve covered this in a little more detail here. The main thing you need to know is that car polishes are designed to work on painted surfaces, whereas marine products are generally designed specifically with gel coats in mind. Marine polishes are engineered with abrasives that can cut into a gelcoat and restore it. If used on a car, they could damage your car paint.
Ease of Application
Lastly, there’s the ease of application. This could be one of the most important factors that determines what kind of boat polish you buy.
Whatever other criteria you choose, you have to select a polish that you can use and apply without tiring yourself out. Some pastes are a pain to use, but their effects can last a long time. A spray wax or spray bottle polish will be easy to apply, but it probably won’t be so hard wearing.
Some boaters prefer to apply with a rotary buffer, while others prefer to use good old-fashioned elbow grease. Whichever method you prefer, make sure that the product you’ve got your eyes on is compatible.
Find a product that you can apply without wearing yourself out, with the tools that you prefer using, for the right kind of boat, and for the right price. If you can tick all of those boxes, you know you’ve found the perfect polish for your needs.
Joe Appleton is an outdoor enthusiast who loves everything from bushcraft and hiking to wild camping and boating. If he’s not out in the woods, you’ll find him out on the water.
Established in 1998, BoatSafe is your independent guide into the world of boating, fishing, and watersports. We provide expert insights and detailed guides to help you find products tailored to your needs and budget.
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