Beneteau Gel Coat Restoration & Ceramic Coating Application
As a sailboat owner, you will face a number of challenges when researching the best options to maintain your vessel. For 30+ years, a vast majority of sailboat owners have chosen traditional maintenance programs like buffing and waxing to protect their vessel from the harsh marine conditions.
As we are sure you have experienced yourself, wax does not hold up well over time. Wax can’t hold up for a number of reasons. See below for the following:
Traditional boat wax does not bond well with the pores of the surface
Traditional wax, when broken down on a molecular level, is very large in comparison to nano-coatings. It simply sticks on the surface, not filling in the pores and bonding well with the surface. Each time the boat is used, rinsed or washed, you are effectively removing the wax from the surface. Because of this phenomena, salt, dirt, grime, and water will be able to get into the pores of the gel coat and overtime cause damage and have negative effects on the finish and appearance of your vessel.
Traditional Boat Wax begins to evaporate at 108°F / 42°C
In the extreme heat that it is quite common down here in south Florida and around the world, it will be a common occurrence for your vessel’s exterior finish to be exposed to temperatures greater than 108°F. At this temperature, the wax will begin to evaporate. In comparison to a Liquid Crystal Armour ceramic coating which can withstand exposure to temperatures greater than 1100°F / 590°C
Traditional boat wax is outdated and good for only 3 months
In extreme heat, wax can be effective if you are re-applying every 2-3 months, and in some cases, sooner then that. Exposure to salt, abrasion from water, cleaning, etc, will contribute to reducing the lifespan of the wax.
Tom from Oceanview Marine Services in San Diego, California was sought out for his deep knowledge and skillset in gel coat restoration. The client came to him for a solution after removing the vinyl wrap from his hull. Tom has been testing our products for the last 6-8 months. Like any professional who is good at what they do, a substantial amount of upfront research should go into the products that you are considering.
While conducting his research he discovered an extensive number of options for the automotive industry, but much less that are drilled in and focused solely on the marine application. For any owner of a vessel who is considering a marine-grade ceramic coating, make sure to thoroughly research the product. Applying a coating to a boat or yacht is vastly different than automotive application and you should consider if the coating has been developed specifically for marine.
The manufacturer that we work with developed the coating we distribute specifically to battle harsh marine conditions. Our formula is designed to battle constant exposure to salt, chemicals, and UV and has solvency tailored for installation in a tougher marine environment. In fact, Liquid Crystal Armour HD has 2.5x-3x more solid material than its sister automotive version.
Sanding: the first step of gel coat restoration
Let’s talk about the process. Based on what you can see in the pictures, the hull had to be wet sanded.
- Wet sand
- Surface Decontamination
- Coating Application
This project presented a unique challenge because it required the removal of adhesive from the wrap and there were a lot of inconsistencies and defects in the gel coat.
Tom wet sanded using 1000, 1500, and 2000. This process allowed him to remove a very thin layer of gel coat. By doing so, he will start his buffing and polishing process with a fresh gel coat. This will also increase the bonding properties of the coating because the pores of the gel coat will be clean and completely exfoliated from the buffing and polishing process. If Tom would have started by using a heavy cut compound to correct the defects and remove adhesive, there is a good chance that the pores would still be contaminated which would not allow for the strongest bond possible.
The preparation process before applying the coating can be laborious. Tom was able to use our proprietary 3-step compounding and polishing system to deliver a high gloss, defect-free finish. Depending on the condition of the surface, it can range anywhere from 8 - 10 steps between prep washing, compounding, and polishing followed by surface decontamination.
An important aspect to keep in mind with ceramic coatings is that preparation and restoration are absolutely essential. The ceramic coating is simply locking in the condition of the surface after the restoration steps.
Up to this point, Tom completed the restoration process to bring back the gloss and better than the factory finish of the hull. Before applying Liquid Crystal Armour ceramic coating, we recommend a prep wash to remove all the lubricants and oils from the compounds and polish. Believe it or not, Dawn dish soap works great for this step. This particular soap carries a substantial amount of degreasing agents to remove the oils. After this step, we use our Surface Wipe, a 100% virgin solvent wax and grease remover to ensure the surface is sterilized making sure that all contaminants have been removed.
With the surface now fully prepared, Tom will start the application process for Liquid Crystal Armour HD ceramic coating.
Marine Nano Shop recommends applying two layers of coating. On the first pass, the nano-material is small enough on a molecular level to get into the pores of the gel coat and sub-atomically attach. Again, we will emphasize that this is why ceramic coatings are so much stronger than wax and other traditional sealants. On the second pass, the installer will use much less material and the pad will glide much easier. This is happening because the pores have been filled in. Marine Nano Shops Liquid Crystal Armour HD provides a durable glass-like layer of protection 3-4 micron thick which creates a protective barrier on the hull to prevent oxidization and staining.
After the curing process, As you can see, the hull of the Beneteau looks like glass!
Once finished, the shine and finish of the dark blue hull are absolutely flawless! Not only does Tom’s Clients boat have an incredible shine, but it is also now protected with one of the most effective and proven ceramic coatings for marine applications. Tom’s client can now enjoy the beautiful look of his dark blue Beneteau without having to worry about constantly washing and having it detailed every 3 months to keep it looking great at the dock.
Here is what Tom had to say about his client. “He was practically jubilant, and had a hard time not smiling.”
“I gave him his bottle of Activate and went over the process to apply it. Even had him do the back of the hand test to show him just how soft his finish felt. Since boats are typically considered ladies, I may have created a situation where too much heavy petting is in the boat’s future!”