Boat Detailing Secrets from the Pros that will Save You Money

It’s All About Equipment and Materials

BOOM! That’s it! The boat detailing secrets you need to know is that it is 100% about the type of buffer, the compound, polish, or pad that you purchase. The boating and yacht industry is so saturated with products that are not worth a dime. Take it from us, because we have tried literally every product on the market. We’ve tried virtually every product on the market, and scoured the internet for the best products.

Lucky for you, we are honest detailers and we don’t mind sharing some info with you.

Boat Detailing Secrets #1:What should I use to wash my boat or yacht?

It can be a little overwhelming walking down the aisle of West Marine seeing all the detailing products. Wash-downs are an often neglected part of boat upkeep that should not be avoided. To simply wash your boat, you can get away with some cheap boat soap, but it depends on what wax you are using to protect your gelcoat. You don’t want an abrasive soap with chemicals that is going to wash away the wax on your boat. If you’re using a silicone sealant like Permanon (which we HIGHLY recommend), you want to use a very simple degreasing soap like Dawn Dish Soap so you don’t wash away any of the sealant.

Furthermore, you don’t want to use an abrasive brush unless you’ve got some bird droppings that just will not come up. To avoid washing away your wax (which protects your precious gelcoat), you need to use a soft cloths. You can purchase handles and extensions online & at West Marine, see the photo below –


If you’re using Collinite or Maguiars Wax products, you can get away with other boat soap, but remember, you can save so much money by shopping online. West Marine literally doubles, and triples their prices from online retail of the most common boating items you can think of. I was appalled at the deck brush they were selling for $80. So First tip, BUY ONLINE or PRICE MATCH (see below).

#2: Which Buffer should I use to Buff my Boat?

Of all the boat detailing secrets, this is definitely one of the most effective and important. If your boat has seen the worst of the weather and the gelcoat has become faded and chalky to the touch, it’s time to pull out the buffer, but which one? We’ve tried a host of different buffers and we have a few tips for you here!

The staple of buffers that you will hear from any detailer out there is definitely the Makita 9227C Polisher. It is a widely sold, reliable buffer that will last for years if you don’t drop it in the water. What you need in a polisher is torque to buff out that heavy oxidation, and it has plenty. You can find companies online selling these, or run by a local Home Depot or Lowes Hardware for fair prices on this product.


#3: What about Compounds and Pads?

I have a few tips in this area. There are some very good compounds out there that are widely available because they are also used in the car detailing industry. The best compound I have ever worked with, and what we use on a daily basis is Presta Super Cut Compound. It’s hard to find in stores, but available on amazon or online. You can also find some great compounds by 3m Heavy Cut/Finess-it  and Maguiar’s Heavy Cut at West Marine. What you are looking for is a ‘diminishing compound.’ These compounds start at a very low grit equivalent to 800 grit sandpaper, and as you continue to buff, they diminish to 1000 grit, then 1500 grit then 2000 grit until they literally disappear.

For pads we recommend wool pads for cutting, and foam pads for polishing. First you have to cut the oxidation with a heavy compound & wool pad. After cutting, you polish the boat with a lesser compound and a foam pad. The foam pad will get rid of swirl marks that you made with the wool pad. You can find these pads at any auto parts store, and the makita buffer we mentioned above takes a 7 inch pad.

#4: What about a boat wax?

Yes, you are going to want to use a wax or sealant. This step in the detailing process is very important because it seals your work (and buffing is hard work). There are a lot of waxes and sealants out there, but we’ve found that one product stands above the rest. Permanon Finishes is an absolutely phenomenal product that does the work of a wax in a spray bottle. It lasts just as long, but protects your boat so much better than a traditional wax.

If you go the route of a traditional wax, Collinite makes a great wax that has been tried and true for years. Maguiar’s Flagship wax is also great, and easy to work with. Just make sure you let the wax sit for 2 minutes after applying because it has to cure. Then you can buff it off with a microfiber towel.

#5: Final Tip: PRICE MATCH

Our final tip for boat detailing secrets is about price matching. The dreaded West Marine actually does carry some good products, but they are completely overpriced. A quick search on your phone will reveal that amazon sells most the products they carry for 1/2 or even a 1/3rd of the price. West Marine offers price matching through Amazon, and you can really take advantage of this. Be forewarned, the product has to be Shipped and Sold by Amazon to work as a price match at the counter. So, before you tell the cashier you’re going to price match, and show them your phone, make sure it says Shipped and Sold by Amazon.


If you have any questions feel free to give us a call for some advice.

Our Yacht Management Team will customize services to keep your boat ship shape.

Boat Detailing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Charleston, South Carolina, Bohicket, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, West Palm Beach, Florida, Near Me

That’s right, we have several different locations where we complete pristine boat detailing services. Boat detailing in Fort Lauderdale our high traffic area in South Florida, and Miami & West Palm Beach is a close second. If you find yourself in any of these areas, give us a call and we are happy to help!