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The right boat wax will really make your boat shine. There’s a noticeable difference between an unwaxed boat and a waxed one, and the results speak for themselves. However, there’s more to waxing than having an eye-catching boat. A good wax will protect your boat from the elements, keep it in tip top condition, and help it to last for many more years to come.
Before we take a look at the best boat waxing products out there, we want to answer this frequently asked question: can you use car wax on a boat, and vice versa?
In short, the answer is yes. Car care and boat care regimes are very similar, but before you just use any wax here and there, you need to understand what your top coat comprises of. Cars are finished with a clear coat. Boats are finished with a gel coat. These two features are not the same.
Unlike automotive clear coats, gel coats are porous, and this can cause oxidization underneath. Car wax won’t it here, and you’ll need to remove any oxidization before applying the wax. However, a specially formulated boat wax with sealant properties allow you to tackle the job without too much prep required. That’s the fundamental difference.
Now, without further ado, here are our favorite boat waxing products on the market, along with a short buying guide that will help you make the right decision about which product works best for your needs.
Mequiar’s detailing tools have long been the go-to products for cleaning, detailing, and protecting vehicles. They have products for cars, motorcycles, and more. But most importantly: they have an excellent line of marine detailing products. The brand’s Flagship Premium Marine Wax is one of the best boat wax products you can buy.
This wax has an advanced formulation that includes synthetic polymers, which are ideal for use on painted surfaces, fiberglass, and gel coats, without damaging them. The formula doesn’t include any running compounds which would usually cause damage to some painted areas. The result is a hard-wearing wax that restores shine and luster, giving solid all round protection.
In terms of protection, Meguiar’s Flagship Premium Marine Wax successfully defends against UV damage, salt water, wind, rain, and general wear and tear.
One of the most unique features of Meguiar’s Flagship Premium Marine Wax is that it has the ability to remove scratches. Thanks to the chemical make-up of the wax it can fill in shallow scratches and restore your boats finish. It also has the ability to clean and remove light oxidation too. If you’re looking for a high-quality wax that protects and repairs your boat whilst giving it a lustrous shine, then consider this product.
Top Features: Removes light oxidation
Base Ingredient: Synthetic polymer formula
Type: Liquid wax
Available Sizes: 32 fl oz
For boaters looking for a hardwearing and long-lasting wax coat that protects fiberglass and gel coats, then Collinite’s Fleetwax paste is a great choice. Blended with carnauba and specially formulated ingredients, this wax is the best choice for those looking for a boat wax that they don’t have to apply too regularly.
Each 12 oz tub is capable of waxing a 26-ft boat in its entirety for at least two applications. There are other pastes that are easier to use and easier to apply, but this one has the best shine, the best finish, and one of the longest lifespans. Simply apply a thin coat over your boat, and remove the excess with a microfiber cloth. It’s time consuming, but worth it.
The result speaks for itself. You’ll be left with a strong protective barrier coat that will defend your vessel from the negative effects of UV rays, hard water, salt spray, marine life, and other harmful chemicals. Your boat will also experience a reduction in drag, that will increase performance, improve fuel-efficiency, and make your boat the best it can be. It can also be used on your car or motorcycles too, and not just your marine vehicles.
Collinite’s Fleetwax paste is handmade, poured, and formulated in the USA. If you’re interested but don’t like the sound of the paste, Collinite also offers their No.885 formula in liquid form too.
Top Features: Very long-lasting wax barrier coat
Base Ingredient: Carnauba
Available Sizes: 12 oz
3M’s Scotchgard Marine Protective Liquid Wax is an excellent all ‘rounder. Designed specifically for marine purposes, this protective wax can safely be used on fiberglass, gel coats, metal, resins, and topside paints without worry. When properly applied, it will defend your boat against the harmful effects of the sun, salt, dirt, and grime.
This liquid wax is specially formulated with reactive chemistry that bonds it with your boat’s surface, providing comprehensive coverage with a durable long-lasting high-gloss finish. In terms of protection, this 100% synthetic wax will keep your vessel safe from UV damage and degradation, light oxidization, corrosion, pollutant damage, and other negative effects caused by the weather.
Scotchgard’s formula is very easy to use. It’s a simple wipe on, wipe off product that doesn’t require too much elbow grease to apply. Unlike paste waxes, this liquid formula can be applied in a fast and efficient manner, without leaving any marks or lines. It can be used with either soft hand cloths or mechanical buffing tools, and it won’t let you down. It even smells nice!
According to 3M, this product is 33% more durable than competitor products tested over a 39-day period—though we can’t verify that claim.
Top Features: Formulated with reactive chemistry to bond to your boat
Base Ingredient: 100% synthetic wax
Type: Liquid wax
Available Sizes: 500ml, 1 liter
The last boat wax on the list is another product from 3M. The 3M Marine Ultra Performance Paste Wax is one of the most highly-regarded pastes on the market, with thousands of positive boat wax reviews from satisfied boaters. It offers a high-gloss, wet-look finish, plenty of heavy-duty protection, that can remove water spots and stains in a relatively easy-to-apply formula.
This paste wax is made on top of a carnauba base, mixed with polymer protection technology that help to improve that wax’s lifespan, boost its protective capabilities, and give it water beading properties. With the ability to bead water effectively, it reduces friction, which will enhance your boat’s performance and efficiency, making for a more pleasurable boating experience.
In terms of protection, 3M’s paste offers effective protection against salt water, rain, dirt, and against harmful pollutants and other substances. It’s also has UV protection, which will protect your boat’s finish. The actual formulation of the produce helps to repel dirt and water in general whilst simultaneously maintaining your boat’s shine and coloring.
Even though it’s a paste—generally considered to be the hardest kind of wax to apply—the 3M Marine Ultra Performance Paste Wax is quite soft and can be applied easily. It’s designed for easy on/off application, and it can be applied manually with a cloth, or with a buffer. This is arguably the best boat wax for paste loyalists, offering heavy-duty protection in an easy-to-use package.
Top Features: Comprehensive high-gloss wet-look finish
Base Ingredient: Carnauba wax
Available Sizes: 9.5 fl oz
Marine 31 has a special spray wax sealant that has been formulated for your boat’s non-skid surfaces. Unlike other waxes, it’s specially designed to protect areas that are the most exposed to potentially harmful elements, such as UV rays, salt water, rain, and even other overlooked substances like fish blood and bird droppings!
If you’re looking for durable protection to your non-skid area, then this product is for you. It will fill and defend all exposed puts and pores on your boat’s surface, without damaging your gel coat. It’s very easy to use, though we’d prefer it if it was a little cheaper.
All you have to do is spray it on from the spray bottle and wipe. Thanks to the spray wax bottle, you just point, shoot, and wipe away the excess. It doesn’t need to be worked in, and it won’t leave you with a slippery surface either. Another cool feature is the fact that it doesn’t build up, so you can apply it regularly and often without worrying about excess wax.
Since it’s made from Carnauba, it’s a good choice as a fiberglass boat cleaner, and it won’t harm your gel coat either. For durable and long-lasting protection of your non-skid that can be applied in minutes and with minimal effort, the Marine 31 Non-Skid Clear Sealant is a sensible option.
Top Features: Easy apply, only taking minutes to cover huge areas
Base Ingredient: Carnauba
Available Sizes: 20 fl oz
Buying The Best Boat Wax: A Buying Guide
If you want to wax your boat, you’ll need to use the right products. While the waxes listed above are all great products, they might not be the right ones for you. Before you choose a boat wax, here are a few key things to keep in mind. Hopefully, this buying guide will help you to buy the best boat wax for the job.
The first thing to consider before buying a boat wax is what kind of boat you’re planning on waxing. Different hulls are made from different materials, and they all have their own quirks and waxing requirements. Whether it’s fiberglass, gel coat, or metal, you need to have the right product for the job.
Fiberglass gel coated surfaces are the most common. They demand a fiberglass boat wax that will give them a high shine and plenty of protection from the elements. Metal surfaces will require specific protection against corrosion and rust. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use an appropriate wax or polish to keep your boat its components safe.
Boat Wax Or Boat Polish?
After you’ve identified what type of boat you own, you can start looking at what kind of wax you need. Or rather, if you need wax at all. You’ll have seen boat polishes advertised on the same pages as waxes. Is there a difference?
Yes. Simply put, anything that’s advertised as a wax will have a wax base, usually carnauba wax. If it’s synthetic, and made of chemicals and polymer technology, then you’re looking at a marine polish rather than a boat wax.
But there’s more!
A cleaner wax is a mixture of natural wax with a cleaning compound. And a restorer wax is a thick mixture with a heavy-duty cleaning compound in it. Here’s a quick overview of what product you should use, and what they’re used for:
Pure boat wax is best suited to be used on new boats that have very light oxidation. You can safely apply wax with by hand or with a buffer.
Boat polish can be used on new boats. It can also be used on older boats but only after oxidation has been cleaned and removed. This can also be applied by hand or by machine.
Boat Cleaner Wax
Cleaner wax is best used on boats with light or medium oxidation. It can remove blemishes and help restore the boat’s finish. For the best results it should be applied with a boat buffer.
Boat Restorer Wax
Boat restorer wax is thick stuff that’s for heavy-duty oxidation removal. You’ll have to apply this with a power buffer to see any positive results.
Levels Of Protection
Since your boat wax is there to protect your vessel, it’s worth looking to see what level of protection it offers and what elements it can defend against. Here are some of the key things a good wax should be able to protect your boat from:
UV Damage – UV radiation can harm anything, and your boat’s finish can be dulled, fading your paintwork and making your boat look old and worn out. Imagine a layer of wax being like a layer of sunscreen for your boat.
Oxidation – Oxidation is caused by UV sunlight, water, and other weather. It can break through your boat’s gel coat and cause pitting, and a chalky looking finish.
Stains – There are a number of things that can stain your boat’s finish, from water marks and exhaust emissions, to chemical pollutants. Getting rid of these stains will keep your boat healthy.
Scratches – Granted, it will only protect your finish from very minor scratches, but even a thin film of protection is better than none at all. Some boat waxes can even fill in minor scratches, making them invisible.
Another important thing to consider is a wax’s durability and longevity. A fully-comprehensive protective wax is only good if it can stay on the boat for a long time. Some waxes can wear off alarmingly quickly, while others can last whole seasons without requiring re-application. A good wax is one that protects for a long time, and in a wide range of harsh conditions.
Ease Of Application
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, there’s the ease of application involved with these boat waxes. Some boat owners don’t mind working up a sweat and investing hours of their time into working a wax into their gel coat surfaces. However, there are some that don’t have that kind of time, and prefer to quickly wipe on and wipe off a coating over their fiberglass boats. Some ways are more labor intensive than others, and some are quicker but not as comprehensive.
When searching around for a marine wax that suits you: make sure you read the reviews. The best boat wax reviews will come from veteran boaters who will explain why a wax worked better than another, how long it lasted, and just how easy it was to apply.
Once you’ve found the best boat wax for your needs, your future detailing process will be a dream.
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.