Polishing boats protected with gelcoat is not as unnecessary you might think. Regular maintenance is paramount both for yachts and for ordinary boats. Maintaining good appearance is one thing, but you also need to protect the boat for more down to earth reasons. The best of polishing pastes retain the value of your boat with the latest polishing technologies. They will protect the gelcoat from environmental damage. That includes sea salt, dirt, ultraviolet rays, and everything else.

But wait, doesn’t wax do the same thing? That’s right, but while applying synthetic pastes is still waxing, they do not contain the original wax, which is why you will not find any wax products in this review. But there’s no need to be upset about that. First, I also have a review on waxes, second, synthetic compounds can sometimes deliver better results than natural products. After all, your boat is not a pet you need to fee or give supplements to, she doesn’t need natural products to function. Most of the time, it’s quite the opposite, in fact.

Also, the wax is applied after a polishing compound sometimes.

Top 5 Best Boat Polishes in 2019

Meguiar's M6732 One Step Compound ⁠ — One Step Polish

Use this Meguriar’s compound when you need the heavy lifting done in one step. Obviously, it’s not meant for situations where you only want to do some touch-up job. As I said, it’s a heavy lifter, so it’s better to treat it like one.

It’s a cutting formula that is perfect for removing oxidation from gelcoat and renewing its glossiness. It also provides excellent results with bare fiberglass.

The One-Step compound is genuinely a one-step for all. It cleans, cuts, polishes and seals, all in one step. Basically, it saves you a lot of time.

Is it better than using three different compounds consecutively? No, actually it’s not. It is more than adequate, but if you need something astounding, then you better do it in consecutive steps properly. I’m not saying the One Step compound isn’t useful, because it is. But if you expect more than 90% of people do, you might have to consider other options. After all, if you do everything in several steps, you can run some quality evaluation after each, and that’s a lot harder to backtrack when all it takes is a single step.

It’s a magnificent compound, and I recommend it for anyone who has a fiberglass boat and wants to save some money and time.

  • Easy oxidation removal. Because this compound is aggressive, it doesn’t take long to remove anything that you don’t want.
  • All-in-one. While some people are specifically irritated by any all-in-ones, this one is more than good when it comes to polishing.
  • Tailored for fiberglass and gelcoat. Using this compound on anything else is not guaranteed to deliver the best results, but if it's the, everything's fine.
  • Abrasive. It's an aggressive compound, and it's not fit for use on aluminum and most painted boats. It's also not really needed for fiberglass boats with just some oxidation. Granted, it's not too bad a con if you need some heavy work done on your boat.
  • Not a dedicated polish. Although it's more than adequate as an all-in-one solution, those tend to be less effective or convenient than specialized tools.
  • Risk of decomposition. At least a few customers complained that the product arrived broken down into liquid and gooey components. I haven’t experienced the same, but it can happen.

3M Perfect-It Gelcoat Light Cutting Polish + Wax — Best Polish with Wax

If we’re going to talk about heavy hitters, I can’t help but bring this one up. Why, it’s so good I can barely resist using bad language to describe this beauty.

Before I say anything else, I’ll have you know that this particular compound is part of an entire product line made for boat care. This is a stage 2, polish (and also some wax), but they also have a pre-cleaner, a cutting compound that has more abrasive power than some sandpaper this polish and finally a dedicated wax for ultra-high gloss.

If your case of oxidation is terrible, you need to get their stage 1 compound. I guarantee that it’s going to impress you, as long as it’s shipped to you intact. Nothing cuts like that thing. Including this polish, admittedly.

In fact, it’s not very strong as far as cutting compounds go. But it’s a polish, so that’s hardly a bad thing.

3M is one of the best and most recognized brands in the world. It’s a pro-grade brand, and it makes pro-grade compounds. And it’s great.

The only thing I have against this polish is that it’s mostly useful for fiberglass and gelcoat. It’s not designed for anything else, although it’s applicable.

  • Effortless oxidation removal. It's a fast-cutting compound, and it shows. Perfect for removing oxidation.
  • Includes wax. You can polish your boat, and that’s it, it’s as good as waxing.
  • Tailored for fiberglass and gelcoat. It’s not designed for anything else. Not a general purpose tool by any stretch
  • Abrasive. It’s a fast cutting compound that’s only made for fiberglass boats and RVs.
  • Not designed for anything other than fiberglass. Partly due to the abrasiveness, partly because of the strategy.

Met-All Aluminum Polish ⁠ — Best for Aluminum

Abrasive polishes won’t get you far. They can only do so much, they are destructive polishes, they are only suitable for some materials, and even then they are meant for particularly nasty cases of scratches, oxidation, and burnout. They work by removing the top layer of the gelcoat or other material, revealing the shiny yet untouched layers underneath. Sometimes, you don’t need to do that, sometimes, you don’t want to do that.

Enter the Aluminum Polish. It is non-abrasive, so it is the polish to use when you need to polish metal surfaces, aluminum, and its alloys first, of course, but also others. The best part it’s not just metals, the polish works on fiberglass and plexiglass, and that’s what makes it perfect for any boat owner.

You can use this polish more than just for your boat. Your car? You got it. Got a plane you want to polish? No problem. Cookware? Kitchen utensils? Anything in your home that needs that high gloss? Go ahead. It’s truly a multi-purpose polish. With it, you won’t need several dedicated polishes to work on your boat. You can use this polish for the hull, for the windshield and even for the seats, the metal parts, anyways.

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  • Protection. While it’s no wax, the compound does offer some protection against water spots and oxidation.
  • Multi-purpose. With this polishing paste, you can polish almost any type of surface that you want. It is specially designed for some metals and alloys known for their glossiness and also fiberglass and plexiglass.
  • Safe for kitchen utensils. The paste is entirely non-toxic and non-abrasive, and that makes the range of possible uses so much more extensive.
  • No fire hazard. The Met-All aluminum polish is explicitly non-flammable.
  • High luster. All that needs to be said.
  • Possible shipment problems. The compound is shipped in a can that is seemingly not designed to take the abuse of rough handling. The lid may come off if the package is thrown around too much.

Cream Polish Flitz150gm — Best for Fixing Spots

First things first. For an entire boat, this little tube is not large enough. Even if your boat is small, you have to purchase a few extras to run through them as you keep polishing. But it’s great for a patch-up job, and it’s also great for working on some parts that need some love and luster rather than trying to polish the entire hull. Which you can do if your boat is small and you have quite a few tubes on hand, Given how expensive that would be, I somehow doubt you would go for that option.

It is very similar to the Met-All aluminum polish. The difference is that the Met-All product can handle black spots despite being non-abrasive, even though it takes time, and this product is less suitable for that. It does remove black stains, but you should realize that you’re in for a lot of elbow grease. I suppose a power buffer could help, but the tube doesn’t have a lot of paste to make unpacking the buffer worth it.

  • Multi-purpose. A truly all-around product that you can use on anything.
  • Safe for kitchen utensils.If that's what you want to do. Non-toxic and non-abrasive is what it takes. Works great on stainless steel.
  • No fire hazard. The Flitz polish is also non-flammable.
  • Protection. The compound offers some protection against corrosion.
  • Bad at removing black stains. You can polish a part of your boat to be all glossy and look like a mirror, but if there were black spots, they are going to stay. You need to remove them with something else or work for hours to get rid of them.
  • Small tube. You can’t work on your entire boat with it, it’s not big enough for that.

Meguiar's Clear Plastic Polish — Best for Windshields

This polish is not suitable for polishing your boat as such. It is, however, ideal for plastics, particularly, transparent plastics. If you want to work on your plexiglass windshield, this is the product to take.

Unfortunately, it’s no good for anything other than plastics. It’s a one-purpose product, and you can’t use it on any other part of the boat. That sucks, but it’s true.

On the bright side, this polish is excellent when you’re using it for what it’s intended for. Windshields are not the only thing it’s great for. It’s also great for restoring instrument panel covers (which are typically made of transparent plastics rather than glass), navigation lights and lots of other things.

It’s only tangentially related to boat care, but then it’s very good at what it does.

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  • Removes light scratches. Since plastics are soft, you don’t need abrasive materials to get rid of scratches.
  • Superb glaze. When that’s part of the name, we should expect other results.
  • The best polishing compound for plastics. It’s a dedicated polish, that’s hardly a surprise.
  • Not for the hull. Irritatingly so. It's only meant for clear plastics. But it's good when that's exactly what you need for your boat.

Buyer’s Guide

It is not unlikely that you will need more than one polish but a couple or more. The depends on several factors.Let’s say your boat is made of fiberglass. But is it? Fiberglass is popular but is far from the only one that is used in the boating industry. And even if it is, not all the boats that are made from it only have fiberglass surface. Almost any motorboat has a windshield, and some also have a few metal surfaces. And then there is the deck and other wooden surfaces, especially indoors.That’s just fiberglass boats. It’s not the only material used to make hard boats, but then there are inflatable boats. We shouldn’t leave them out of this review, because they have their own polishes, even though those are applied in a completely different way. I can safely assure you that no power tools except highly specialized ones are used for applying them at all. Otherwise, you would have to say goodbye to the boat, because it would be ripped to shreds.Whatever the nature of a given polish is, they all serve the same purpose: they protect the boat from ultraviolet radiation, sea salt, weather, dirt, as well as other factors.

Abrasive vs. Non-Abrasive

When purchasing a polish, it is paramount to consider if you need an abrasive or non-abrasive polish. Non-abrasive polishes can be applied to a variety of surfaces, regardless of the purpose. Abrasive polishes have a minimal range of applications.I recommend using them for fiberglass boats only in most cases, and even then it’s only needed for a nasty case of oxidation, where you need to cut a lot of gelcoat to hide the numerous defects. Basically, the worse it looks, the more abrasive power you need. If the boat looks just horrible, it might be better to sand it well first and proceed to a regular polish after that.If you still need to use an abrasive polish, then you’ll still have to use a non-abrasive polish or wax in most cases, to apply the final protective coat. The reason you need that is that the primary function of an abrasive polish is to remove the defects rather than protect the surface of your boat. Abrasive polishes literally cut the surface of your boat, destroying the surface layer of gelcoat, and therefore they are not to be used as the final coat. There are a few exceptions, but it’s easier just do two things rather than one.


Aside from removing and hiding the minor defects, the main reason for why a polish is needed at all is the protection of the hull from the following harmful factors:
  • Ultraviolet radiation. Bright sunlight causes the gelcoat exposed to UV radiation without any sort of protection to lose its original color. A polish can help with that.
  • Sea ​​salt. A never ending problem. Sea salt is extremely corrosive, and protection should never be neglected.
  • Dirt and stains. How can someone get their boat all dirty and strained at sea? Believe me, there’s more than one way. Regardless of how people get their boats all greasy, it can be prevented with a polish. It doesn’t even matter if it bonds with the gelcoat or not, the polish is enough to isolated the hull from absorbing the stains and the like.
  • Mechanical damage. Happens all the time, main inshore, although colliding with floating debris from storm aftermath can happen far in the open sea.
When picking a polish, you need to have a very clear idea of what you want to protect your boat from first. Asking me what is the best polish for the beat would not be a correctly worded question.  The truth of the matter is that polish is chosen based on specific factors it offers the best protection against. For example, some are better to protect the boat from stains, others protect from UV exposure, and some are universal.

Liquid vs. Paste

Strictly speaking, there is no difference between the two. Both liquid and paste-like polishes are equally good and up for the task. However, their purely physical properties should be taken into account.Liquid polishes usually fill micro defects more easily and quickly. But due to their state when you apply them with a power buffer, you will run through the bottle faster simply because more of the polish will end up splashed around. Paste-like polishes lack that particular disadvantage. They can also be splashed around by a rotating polisher, but only if the RPM is set to very high. If that is not the case, then the splashing will not happen, especially if you gently spread the polish over the surface of the polishing disc first. But we must remember that liquid polishes can fill in the micro defects, while paste-like aren’t as good when it comes to that. Therefore, if the surface has not been sanded well enough, there might be some remaining traces left visible after polishing with a more thick polish that is less likely to occur when you’re using a thinner polish.


How to Polish Your Boat

Polishing Fiberglass Boats

If you want both sides of your fiberglass boat to shine, don’t lose the vibrant color and gloss, then you need to clean it regularly. There are two kinds of polishes: abrasive and non-abrasive. You should give preference to non-abrasive polishes, but sometimes, using abrasive polishes is the only option.

Non-abrasive Polishing

When your boat looks kind of dull and you need something to do to get all vibrant and shiny, that something is usually three things: washing the boat, removing oxidation, and finally waxing.If all of the surfaces of the boat are in good condition, and the gelcoat retains the original color and gloss or maybe they are only slightly diminished, abrasive polishes a no-go.So, how to polish a boat with a non-abrasive polish?
Step 1. Wash It
Somehow, I don’t think washing the boat can be troublesome for anyone who lacks the experience. But that’s step 1, and you shouldn’t skip it even if you feel the boat is clean. It’s not, even if you can’t see that, unless you kept in a sterile, airtight chamber, it can’t be clean enough for polishing it. Use degreasing detergents.
Step 2. Apply the Compound
Depending on what you choose, you are to use either your own hands or a power buffer.If you choose the manual application, prepare some dry wipes. Apply the compound and spread it thinly and uniformly, don’t try to cover too big an area, 20×20 inches is more than enough. Give the mixture enough time dry and then polish it with another dry wipe polish the surface until it’s glossy.With machine polishing, the polishing compound can be applied both on the disk and on the hull itself. I recommend only using the compound on the buffer. Don’t just squeeze it out onto the disc, spread it like butter with a spate or even your hand. It’s not necessary, but if you do, you’re going to use less polishing compound, because it won’t end up fly around.
Step 3. Polishing
Buff it!  I recommend polishing with an RPM not higher than 1500.I advise that you do some sanding or polishing manually before you get to the buffer. If you don’t have the time and patience for that, only polish it manually in the really hard to reach areas and around the fittings. You only have to work on your boat manually once, and even then it’s to get a grip on how it’s like to sand and polish your boat. When you do it again, you can use power tools only, except for the cases where you feel manual buffing would work best.Regardless of the polishing method, avoid processing a large area at a time! Applying some compounds and polishing it by moving back and forth is more than enough. If the polish starts to pill, you should reduce the speed of rotation. 
Step 4. Wiping
Time to wipe down with a clean, dry cloth to get rid of all that dusk.
Step 5. Quality Check
At this stage, you do nothing, if you’ve done an impeccable job on the boat. But in reality, you will often find spots and rusty fittings, and screws, and everything that you’ve missed. That’s what you fix on stage 5.If you’ve got any sort of rust blemishes just put a bit of the compound onto this the part andjust rub it around there with your rag.

Abrasive Polishing

What to do if the boat has obviously been through a lot, what if the gelcoat is not really glossy anymore? In that case, it should be polished in two stages. With an abrasive polish first, and then, with a non-abrasive polish. You can also sand your boat instead, but it has to be wet sanding. Make sure your sandpaper can handle that.Anyways, using some abrasive polish is just more straightforward. Abrasive polishes have a cutting effect, and that is the whole point. When polishing, the abrasive particles cut off the top microscopic layer of the gelcoat, getting rid of oxidation and making the gelcoat more smooth and glossy again.Abrasive polishes are applied in a way that is very similar to how you should handle non-abrasive polishes. There are two distinctions: one, manual polishing is better, unless the oxidation is too bad. Two you need to apply the finish to a small area of ​​the hull and then rub it in circular movements for a few minutes, while the polish is still liquid. As soon as the polish coat dries up, wipe it with a clean and dry microfiber cloth. After that, apply either regular polish or wax.

Polishing Aluminum Boats

Restoring the appearance of an aluminum boat boils down to removing algal deposits, lime deposits, seashells, other marine life and stains in general. Aluminum boats are not polished with abrasives, mostly because aluminum oxidizes fast, and the oxide of aluminum is quite hard and durable, and it also forms an impervious oxide film that protects the metal both from further oxidation and other factors.

Polishing Painted Boats

Painted boats are also often covered with non-abrasive polishes. Unlike aluminum, abrasive polishing may be administered at times, although not every paint can handle that kind of abuse. Many boat paints do not tolerate abrasive polishing, so you should check it with the manufacturer of the paint!

Polishing Glass

Tarnished acrylic and polycarbonate glass can be restored to the full gloss with the help of a non-abrasive polish. I really advise manual polishing, and you should be careful with power buffers. They can overheat the glass at even a relatively low speed, and if that happens, the glass will be permanently clouded.

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