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How Often Should You Wax Your Boat? (Expert Answer)

How often you need to wax your boat depends mostly on how often your boat is exposed to the sun and environmental debris. UV rays from the sun eat through your wax and will eventually start damaging your gel coat and paint. So to stop this, professionals recommended this:

Wax your boat once every 3-4 months if it’s exposed to water and the sun often. If you store your boat out of the sun, wax it once every 6 months or once a season for those who store it in winter. Not waxing your hull this often will cause it to fade in color and lose its original shine.

If you boat in salt water, I recommend waxing your boat with polymer sealer instead of natural wax, as natural wax does not last long in salt water. Click here to scroll down to the sub-heading I elaborate more on this.

Out of the 10 boat detailing companies and dealerships I emailed, all of them gave me an answer equal to or very similar to this.

What happens if you don’t wax your boat as often as recommended?

By waxing your boat as often as recommended, it will help make sure your boat still looks brand new as it ages. Many people who don’t wax their boats often will justify it by saying their 3-year-old boat still looks brand new. However, if they keep up that trend, the boat will start to age quickly.

When UV rays get through boat wax to your gel coat, they:

  • Fade the color of your boat
  • Deteriorate your gel coat
  • And cause your boat to lose its original glossy shine

So, if you don’t wax as often as recommended, you may have to repaint or repair the gel coat on your boat to restore its original look.

This could be much more costly than if you just waxed your boat as often as you’re supposed to. And if you plan on selling the boat, it won’t sell for as much if the gel coat and paint are UV damaged.

Can you repair oxidation (UV damage) on gel coat?

If you wax your boat as often as recommended (every 3-6 months), you shouldn’t need to worry about any of what I’m about to talk about; however, if you don’t wax your boat that often, it may be damaged by UV rays. Although:

Yes, you can repair oxidation on gel coat; however, you may have to repaint your boat depending on how damaged it is. There are products that will restore gel coat such as the 3M Perfect-It Gelcoat, but they may not fully bring back the original look.

If a boat’s surface is super chalky, dull, or especially faded in color, I would recommend repainting the boat. This can happen from a boat sitting in the sun for 2+ years without being waxed, or not waxing as often as you’re supposed to for 6+ years.

However, if it’s just a little chalky or dull, I would recommend using a gel coat restorer and polisher to bring back the original shine.

If you’re unsure, you could always try to restore a sliver of your hull to see if it looks good enough or not. Then decide if you want to continue restoring or just sand everything and repaint. Or ask a professional detailer and see what they recommend.

What parts of a boat need to be waxed?

If you plan on doing a complete wax job (as we recommend), it will require more than just waxing the hull. Every part of your boat that is painted or has a glossy finish and is exposed to the sun will require waxing. This includes:

  • The hull
  • Non-slip surfaces
  • Metal railings
  • Any painted aluminum
  • Outboard cowling
  • Vinyl
  • Plastic window covers
  • Glass windows
  • And wood (teak)

Vinyl, plastic window covers, wood, and glass windows are recommended to be waxed with wax that’s specifically designed for them instead of general boat wax or sealant.

What parts of a boat don’t need to be waxed?

As I’ve said above, all painted and glossy surfaces exposed to the sun need to be waxed. However, some surfaces don’t need to be waxed, and it may actually be harmful to wax these surfaces. These include:

  • The hull bottom
  • And unpainted aluminum

Waxing the submerged hull of your boat is unnecessary because it’s not exposed to many UV rays, and it’s also not visible (so making it look good doesn’t matter). As well as that, waxing the bottom of your boat will increase surface tension and create more drag, making your boat slower (source).

Unpainted aluminum does not need to be waxed, and it’s actually recommended not to wax it. This is because aluminum oxidation can protect it instead of damaging it. However, if you want your aluminum to look shiny, you can polish it with a metal polish product such as this one on Amazon.

How to wax your boat

I recommend hiring a professional to wax your boat for you if you want it to be perfect; however, it can be done by yourself fairly easily. here are the steps to wax your boat:

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If that seems too complicated, there are plenty of videos on YouTube that will teach you how, including this video:

Products needed for waxing a boat

Depending on if you plan on waxing your boat with natural wax or polymer sealer, you will need to buy different waxes. You can scroll down to the next sub-heading to read more about that.

The products you’ll need to wax a boat are:

See all the products needed for cleaning a boat by checking out this article “10 Best Boat Cleaning Products Every Boater Needs“.

Natural wax vs. polymer sealer

The difference between natural wax and polymer sealer can essentially be described by this:

Natural wax looks better than polymer sealer, especially with dark-colored boats. This is because natural wax will give colors a deeper, darker, and richer look. Polymer wax does the same; however, it doesn’t look quite as good (although close).

The upside to polymer sealer is that it will last much longer than natural wax, especially in saltwater. In saltwater, natural wax may only last a couple of weeks, while polymer sealer will last 3-6 months. So this is why it’s always recommended to use it for saltwater boats.

You can buy my recommended wax and sealer by clicking the Amazon links below.

Sam