I've seen a neglected boat given the properly-applied PoliGlow treatment (which is easier and less labour-intensive than sanding-buffing-polishing-waxing) and the improvement is astounding ("wet hard-candy" it is). on my friend's boat the PoliGlow finish seems to stand up after a few seasons with just good washing and touchups. But after a few years of neglect... I've also seen a boat whose hull is a yellowing and patchy mess. I hear it's relatively easy to get back down to the base with the proper "PoliGlow" strippers, and then you just start again.
When it came time to resurrect our small boat's 35-year old gelcoat
, I opted for the full MaineSail wax regimen linked in this thread. It seemed the best way to get a real idea of what state the gelcoat
is in, an opportunity to do gelcoat repairs
as encountered, and as a form of penance for waiting so long to attend to the hull. (besides it's small, no excuse for not being thorough)
I wet-sanded with 1000 automotive paper where necessary, then progressed through compounding to remove oxides, polishing, then waxing. I used a Meguiars kit with the 3 bottles. I used an inexpensive orbital polisher, but I think everyone agrees that the bigger rotary machines are better. Haven't tried wool pads yet.
I never polish or wax the anti-skid.
What I ended up with... is not a new-boat look. I could have been more aggressive with oxide removal
, but I wanted to remove as little gelcoat as possible. I do have a hull whose colour is much closer to the original cream, thoroughly clean looking and blemish free, and with a decent shine. Water beads and the boat is handsome to look at.
After the big makeover, I now just wash, inspect and polish/wax the hull every spring, usually with a 3M one-step cleaner/polish.
I haven't met any pros who recommend PoliGlow. One guy I met this year recommended the Harbor Freight rotary polisher - he liked it because it's lighter than the better Makita or similar units, and when it craps out after a year, he marches it back to HF and gets another.