Keep Your Gelcoat Looking Like New


The outer surface of a fiberglass panel is normally a special resin called gelcoat. As the cometic component of the laminate gelcoat provides little structural value.

When gelcoat is sprayed into a mold it takes on the shape and texture of the mold surface. The glossiness of gelcoat is due entirely to the highly polished, surface of the mold.

Exposure eventually erodes the surface of gelcoat, leaving it dull and chalky. Fortunately, the gloss can usually be restored.

On a new RV, routinely waxed gelcoat can retain its gloss for 15 years or more. The primary purpose of wax is to protect, but wax also has restorative properties.

Here’s some tips for keeping your gelcoat looking like new.

  • The first step in restoring the gloss to gelcoat is a thorough cleaning. A cup of detergent to a gallon of water is a good cleaning agent. If mildew is present, add a cup of household bleach to your cleaning solution. Difficult stains may require direct application of a concentrated cleaner formulated for fiberglass.

    Rinse the clean surface thoroughly and let it dry.

  • For dependable results from wax or polish, the gelcoat surface must be free of oil and grease. After washing, wipe the surface with a rag soaked in MEK (preferred) or acetone, turning the rag often and replace it when you run out of clean areas. Protect your skin with thick rubber gloves.
  • When applying wax you should follow manufacture’s application instructions, but in general, wax is applied with a cloth or foam pad using a circular motion. Let the wax dry to a haze, then buff away the excess with a soft cloth. The remaining wax fills microscopic pitting in the gelcoat and provides a new, smooth, reflective surface.
  • An electric buffer can take much of the work out of keeping your RV shining but keep in mind they operate at relatively slow speeds, don’t try to “make do” with a polishing bonnet fitted to a disk sander or chucked into a drill. You will probably ruin the gelcoat surface.

Before relying on this information you should contact the manufacturer for recomendations for your specific RV. If that’s not possible consult an auto body or RV tech. Also note that a surface that looks like gelcoat may not be.

Read more about How to Restore Gelcoat & Gelcoat Buffing at RVbasics.com
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