Boat Maintenance Tips: Beyond the Gel Coat

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good looking boat

Does your boat look good as new? Keep it looking that way, and you'll get top resale value for it when you go to upgrade.

We’ve talked in the past about basic boat maintenance topics, like how to keep your gel coat shining, and how to restore faded gel coat. Aside from mechanical maintenance this is probably the number-one way you can maintain your boat’s resale value, because the way it looks has a huge impact when potential buyers come to shop. But that’s not the only thing that has an impact—not by a long shot. A good-looking boat will bring top dollar, and there are a lot of different pieces-parts and materials that come into play: outboard cowl finishes, stainless-steel or aluminum rails and fittings, vinyl cushions and padding, canvass tops and enclosures, and Lexan windshields, to name a few. Here are some tips on how to keep them looking good.

good looking boat

Does your boat look good as new? Keep it looking that way with basic boat maintenance chores, and you’ll get top resale value for it when you go to upgrade.

First off, as far as the motor cowl goes: outboard finishes require special care, and since I recently shot a video about this, instead of re-hashing everything I’ll just embed it here:

Now, for the rest of those items:

  • Stainless-steel and aluminum rails – Make absolutely sure to thoroughly wash them down with freshwater, after every trip into salt water. Polish them up with metal polish at least once a season, and if you’re going to lay up your boat for more than a few weeks, give those rails a coat of automotive wax for protection.
  • Vinyl cushions and padding – These require regular cleaning to keep mildew at bay, and they also should get a protective coating (like Armor All) at least once a month. If your cushions are removable and your boat sits in the sun, remove them whenever possible; UV rays do more harm to vinyl than anything else.
  • Canvass tops and enclosures – Give them a blast with the hose and scrub away bird droppings, which will do harm over time. At least once a season, spray on a canvass protectant/waterproofer. Do it when the protectant has plenty of time to dry (usually several hours) before night-fall comes and dew can be an issue.
  • Lexan windshields – Clean these with a microfiber cloth and a dedicated plastic polish, like Plexus. And whatever you do, NEVER use Windex or any ammonia-based cleaner. This stuff turns the plastic yellow and brittle.


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