How to Gel Coat a Boat


During a boat's normal course of use, it tends to accumulate dings and scratches. Flotsam and detritus in the water can scrape against the hull and weather can damage the boat's surface as well, but the biggest danger is the banging a boat can suffer against the dock or tie-post at the hands of an inexperienced sailor. Fortunately, you can apply a gel coat to the hull of your boat to fill out prior damage and help protect the surface in the future.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap and water
  • Acetone
  • Putty knife
  • Blister filler and hardener
  • Sandpaper (varying coarseness)
  • Gel coat and hardener
  • Handheld sprayer
  • Clean the area you intend to gel coat completely. Use soap and water to remove all grime and dirt, washing firmly enough to clean the surface, but not enough to damage or scratch it. Wiping clean with acetone can help to remove oils and smaller particles as well.

  • Repair cracks, scratches, and other damages with marine blister filler. Mix the filler with about ten percent hardener so that the repaired area will dry quickly. Use the putty knife to distribute the filler evenly over the damaged area, filling cracks and scratches out to the level of the hull.

  • Wait for the filler to dry and then sand it well. Start with a coarse grain, and gradually move to a finer grain sandpaper for a smoother finish.Wipe the sanded surface clean of dust.

  • Mix the gel coat with one percent hardener and about 25 percent acetone to help it evaporate and dry quickly. Spray the damaged, sanded area with gel coat to protect the new repairs from wind and weather. Use about one liter for every five to ten square feet.

  • Wait for the gel coat to dry completely and then use a very fine sandpaper to smooth out the outer surface. For an extra smooth finish, you may wish to wax and buff the hull of your boat in the damaged area.

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