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How can I restore the cloudy finish left by Poly Glow?


Frank asked:

I was compounding last Sunday on a 2003 Beneteau sailboat with a blue hull. Been in the sun for a while in San Diego. Last time, I worked on the hull was over a year ago. When I get the boat wet it looks good, then dries and looks like hell, all cloudy!! I can run my hand over the surface when wet and it’s gritty. Last time we put Poly Glow on it. PS: Spent 4 hours working on it with no results.


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Your problem is Poly Glow. It was not maintained and now has deteriorated. You need to strip the Poly Glow and polish the gelcoat to restore the shine.

The Wet-Dry test indicates that you still have some good quality gelcoat under the surface to work with. If it was dull or faded when wet, then you would be faced with refinishing or going back to a Poly Glow type product to get a few more years out of the boat.

Poly Glow is advertised for restoring older, badly deteriorated, gelcoat. I’m surprised that it was used on your boat. A 2003 is considered a relatively new boat and the gelcoat should still be in good condition unless it was abused. I have seen boats that were compounded regularly (rubbing compound used as a cleaner) and their gelcoat had been rubbed off in a few years. Sandpaper and rubbing compound abrasives should only be used for repairs or serious restoration and as infrequently as possible. When your boat was new, you only had 20 to 20 mils of gelcoat. Each time you compound, you remove 3 to 4 mils, sometimes more.

Poly Glow is an acrylic finish, like floor polish. (ps; floor finishes do not work on boats). There are other brands that use similar technology. It is best suited for older boats where the gelcoat can no longer be restored using conventional cleaners and polish. Best results are on colored gelcoat. It will give you a shine for a few years until you can justify painting or re-gelling the surface. These products are commonly used on older boats in order to make them saleable. If you use this type of product, it is critical to re-apply it at lease every year. Once it starts to deteriorate, you need to completely strip it, which is a bear.

I suggest that you try to remove the Poly Glow with ammonia and a fine scrub pad. It’s a lot of work because it does not come off easily. The scrub pad will probably scuff the surface, but it’s probably already scuffed. This is part of the preparation for applying Poly Glow. If it’s not too badly scuffed then Boat Scrub will bring back the shine.

If this does not work then you will probably have to wet sand it off. Be sure to use the finest sandpaper that will work because after you will have to use compound to cut the gelcoat back even further to get past the scuffing and scratching. Depending on the condition of the hull you may have to use several grades of rubbing compound, starting with a medium or even coarse grade and graduating to a finer and finer grade until you get the shine and color back. You will need a buffer and patience for this.

After you restore the shine, you need to deep clean the gelcoat, otherwise you will seal the remnants of the rubbing compound into the pores. Rubbing compounds also leave an oily residue on the surface. You can use Boat Scrub for this. It contains Hypexine, which is a leaching material that deep cleans the pores and will strip the surface clean. It’s also free rinsing so that there is no residue to impede the attachment of a sealer or polish.

Use Premium Boat Shine to lock in the shine and protect against UV damage. It is a combination sealer and polish so it will seal the exposed pores in the gelcoat. Premium Boat Shine is synthetic and does not contain Carnauba Wax, which does not seal the pores and can cause yellowing and streaking. Boat manufacturers are now recommending against the use of Carnauba Wax based products and some will void their warranty if it is used. Because of the damage done to your hull, I recommend an initial application of 3 coats, followed by semi-annual stripping with Boat Scrub and re-application of 2 coats. Assuming that the damage to your boat is not too severe, this regime should keep your boat looking shiny for the next 20 plus years. A boat that is well maintained from new has an average life of 35 years.

Premium Boat Shine is self polishing so you don’t need the heavy buffer to get a shine. Wipe it on and rub it in. When it dries to a haze, wipe the haze off with a soft cloth. Chemistry does all the hard work. Also, the new formula now contains VS721 polymer for even greater durability.

Thanks for your question,
Captain Aurora

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