do you paint or polish?

do you paint or polish?

Most boat owners ask themselves the question at one time in their ownership of a boat. “Do I polish the boat or do I repaint?”

The reason for this question is the dreaded oxidized or stained paintwork possibly with a few scratches thrown in.

What is oxidation?

And to answer that without getting hugely technical I have an illustration here.

effects of light on gloss and oxidised paint surfaces

bullet polish specular reflection

bullet polish diffused reflection on oxidised paint surfaces

So dull or oxidized paintwork diffuses sunlight in all directions instead of reflecting it in one direction as polished paintwork or surfaces do.

Depending on how severe the oxidation is determines whether you try and polish or “cut” it out or go for the re-paint.

The picture below looks horrendously oxidized; possibly beyond colour restoration however you will be pleased to know that this paintwork was recovered by just a hand applied Colour restorer.

Bullet Polish - boat with oxidised paint being restored

On the left hand side of the boat we see how dull this vessel had become and the owner thought that it was going to cost a fortune for a re-paint.

However, with two applications of colour restorer, you can see that on the right hand side of the boat we were able to recover the paint surface to a beautiful gloss again. This was the same for the whole boat - all 75ft of it!

Wax build up and airborne contaminates mixed with bird lime can also make paint surfaces dull or “milky” over time. One client solved this by first using Panel Wipe, a mild form of paint thinners (Halfords) and by applying this with cloths removed the buildup of old waxes from the surface, then went over again with a colour restorer and finally used a spray Carnauba Wax to seal the surface and bring it back to its glossy former self thus saving him several thousand pounds on a re-paint.

once recovered then comes the task of keeping it shiny

what to consider and what to consider avoiding:

  • A great number of polishes, paste waxes & spray wax products contain Silicone. This is death to paintwork surfaces. Yes it makes them super shiny very quickly, however if one has to go back to the “Body shop” for major or minor work then the silicone covered paintwork has to be taken back to bare metal again as paint will not stick to silicone and the same goes for products containing PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) which will make the project cost more.
  • Most “waterless wash” spray waxes contain Silicone and yes it’s great for onsite/on the water instant shine but in the long term it is a false fix.
  • Avoid Silicones & PTFE enhanced products.

consider using:

  • Carnauba (Car-noo-ba) Wax is the world’s hardest known natural wax and comes from the leaves of the Carnauba palm of northern Brazil.
    It only takes a small quantity of this wax to achieve a superb deep shine on most hard/semi hard surfaces. This can come in paste wax format, creams & spray wax formats too. The amount of “Elbow grease” you wish to use will determine your choice of product.

points to consider:

  • Choose a good quality colour restorer, one that removes oxidation but also seals & shines at the same time.
  • Consider a good quality cream wax or spray wax for the finishing coat & preferably one enhanced by Carnauba Wax. Again avoid silicone based products.
  • Micro fibre Cloths for these types of products and the overall project are crucial. “T” shirts & yellow dusters are not going to do it nor will the old “Scrim cloth”. A good quality Microfibre will set you back about £1.50 each however there are ebay sellers who will sell you packs of 10 for less. The finish you expect will only happen with Microfibre cloths
  • Application sponges, again ebay for these as they make application of colour restorer, cream & paste waxes easier and are cheap to buy.
  • Set aside good quality time to clean the boat surfaces, to colour restore and to finish polish. We recommend a weekend should be enough time to completely restore & polish a 75 foot narrowboat but that time will have been well spent for the coming months of sunny or harsh weather as the surfaces will now be, in effect, “Armour plated”.

Once you have the colour restored and the finish wax is applied then sit back and watch the neighbours on the canal marvel at how good your boat looks now.

Please note: If you have tried a small area of colour restoration and it is not removing the dullness in the paint then you may have to consider a re-paint.

For products and information about boat oxidation click the link to this short video we made in 2013

Please go to Bullet Polish for information & to read the testimonials from happy boat owners.

Bullet Polish LogoBullet Polish Europe Ltd is a family owned & run business which was set up in December 2010 following a road trip through America by my wife Stella & I in our 35ft RV named GUS. 26 States & 13,000 miles later we returned home to England with Bullet Polish.

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