How to Refinish Dull Gelcoat Surfaces

What You'll Need
Solvent such as acetone
Gelcoat repair paste

Gelcoat is a popular item to use on a boat deck, or on the exterior of homes, but it can fade with time, moving it from a bright and new-looking color to one which is dull and lifeless. Homeowners who have used gelcoat in their finish on the outside of windows and doors may find themselves disappointed with the lasting effects. However, all is not lost, as it is possible to refinish your gelcoat product to get it looking as fresh as it was before. If you have experience with home improvement, then by following a few simple steps you can get this refinishing job done quickly and easily.

Step 1 - Removing the Chalk

The reason that gelcoat becomes so difficult to manage is that it is easily oxidised, which makes it turn into a chalk-like substance. In order to properly refinish your surface, you will need to wipe away anything that is clinging to the surface of the gelcoat, including wax, dirt, and even the occasional example of marine life! Use sandpaper to remove any parts of the gelcoat which is particularly seriously damaged, but try to avoid using sanding machines, as these can damage the coating beneath.

Step 2 - Apply Solvent

You will now need to use a solvent cleaner such as acetone. You can find some gelcoat cleaning kits which contain this substance. Apply over the surface of the deck, and then wipe over the damaged coating, ensuring that it remains even. This acetone should take up all of the parts of the gelcoat which have oxidized. If you find, once the solvent has been removed, that the gelcoat is still dull, then you may need to use a second application.

Step 3 - Apply the Repair Paste

You should now be able to apply your gelcoat repair paste. You will need to use another paint brush, applying the finish straight from the tin or tube and then wiping it thinly across the whole surface, Quickness of action is important here, as the finish will dry rapidly. A marine repair paste will become dry very quickly, sometimes in a few minutes, so you will have to move towards the wetter areas, taking care not to mark the surface with brush strokes. Check that the repair is even and level, or else it can crack as soon as you begin to use it.

Step 4 - Finishing

Leave your repair paste for a day in order to ensure that it dries completely, and then you may sand it lightly, or even apply a layer of paint. A shiny gloss paint can easily match the appearance of gelcoat, so you may be able to get away with a good match before you re-do the paste. Once you have refinished the boat with paint, you will need to maintain it every season. If you have refinished with the acrylic repair kit, then you will need to watch the area for signs of cracking.