In the last couple of years, ceramic coatings have become more commonplace in the marine market. This is due to ceramic coating’s ability to protect boats from UV damage, acid rain, salt and insect and bird droppings, to name a few. In addition, it adds great shine and gloss as well as restoring color.
If you are looking to preserve your new boat or restore that dull, oxidized, washed-out hull and topside, give ceramics a look.
Some Common Ceramic Coating Misconceptions
I Don’t Need to Wash My Boat – A ceramic coating seals the surface, whether gelcoat or paint, creating a hydrophobic surface that is easy to clean. It is recommended you rinse the boat after use with fresh water and wash the boat once a month with a non-abrasive soap.
Ceramic Coatings are Permanent – Nothing is permanent. Ceramic coatings come off through abrasion. Coatings developed for the marine environment typically last 18-24 months before requiring re-application. Coatings for the auto market typically last 5 years, but there is a big difference when used on painted aluminum and gelcoat.
The life expectancy of a ceramic coating is based on factors including: climate, storage, whether use is seasonal or year-round, exposure to UV, whether a boat is kept in the water, trailered or on a lift. Most coatings in southern states like Florida will last 18-24 months. Up north, they might endure for three or four seasons.
Ceramic Will Peel Like a Clear Coat – A ceramic coating fills the pores on the surface and bonds to the surface, making it hydrophobic. It does not peel and is only removed through abrasion.
I Must Use a Professional Detailer – I encourage people to use a professional detailer, but application of a ceramic coating is an option for experienced DIYers. The reason I suggest a detailer is that proper surface preparation is critical. All oxidization, stains and water marks must be removed, and necessary color correction should be conducted. Then, the surface should be polished to a high shine. Once the surface is consistent and in the best possible condition, the coating is applied. Some coatings are difficult to apply, others are self-leveling and easier.
Applying a Ceramic Coating Will Make My Boat Look New – Unfortunately, ceramic coatings are not a miracle coating. With the right preparation, the boat will look as close to new as you can get given the condition of the gelcoat. On new boats, there’s a 10-15 percent bump in gloss and shine from new gelcoat. On older boats, readings on a gloss meter—which measures shine by reflecting light off the surface—go from single digits to north of 90, which is substantial.
Hopefully this answers some of the questions about ceramic coatings. If you have other questions, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.