What is fiberglass?
Fiberglass is a material that can be used to repair many different things, marine boats, bathtubs, vehicles, etc. Fiberglass is a type of reinforced plastic using glass fiber; the fibers are flattened into a sheet or woven together.
Fiberglass on its own is not very useful, but once you add a chemical resin, it becomes hard, waterproof, and durable. There are many different fiberglass cloths; however, for boating, you will mainly use Fiberglass fabrics or cloths & Fiberglass mats.
Two types of resin used with fiberglass
The type of resin you use depends on the kind of work you will be doing.
Polyester resin is excellent for fiberglass lay-up, like building a boat, for example. Polyester resin does not fully cure when exposed to air, making it easy to use for lay-up. Polyester is a good adhesive but not as strong and not as good as epoxy.
Epoxy resin is more expensive than polyester but is much stronger. Epoxy resin is more versatile and will bond over polyester resin, but polyester will not work well over epoxy. Epoxy resin is the best choice for fiberglass repair work; when you are doing repair work, the epoxy resin will also function as an adhesive, gluing the patch to the surface.
Are fiberglass boats good?
Fiberglass boats weigh more and have better sea keeping abilities. They are more stable than aluminium boats, with their higher weight fiberglass boats don’t easily get buffeted by the wind. Fiberglass boats are very durable, and with regular maintenance and care, they can last up to 50 years.
Most people would say that fiberglass doesn’t require maintenance; that is not true; every boat type needs maintenance. The maintenance on a fiberglass boat is less than on other boats!
What impacts the durability of a fiberglass boat?
It is important to do a boat inspection/ assessment regularly to identify small cracks; looking for microscopic cracks can help you in the long wrong; if you recognize any small crack, it is best to repair it; this way, you will avoid any complications in the future.
Fiberglass can experience fatigue; when not correctly maintained or taken care of, fiberglass can be worn down and become weak and brittle.
It is not very likely to happen, but very possible for a fiberglass boat to get water damage; this type of damage will most likely occur on the hull, which is below the waterline, If by some chance there is a crack and water gets in, leaving it will mean that more water will be absorbed and eventually the damage will apply pressure and will cause wear, blistering and cracking. This type of damage is not very common, as fiberglass with the resin is waterproof; however, if the boat is not maintained and not inspected regularly for problems, this might just happen.
Structural issues on fiberglass boats are more difficult to repair and restore; if a small problem occurs, you can patch it up; that is why it is important to regularly inspect a fiberglass boat. Wooden boats require more maintenance but parts on wooden boats are replaceable.
If you plan to buy a used fiberglass boat, always do a proper inspection and look for any structural damage.
Fiberglass boats do not require a lot of maintenance if you compare them to other boats; however, this does not mean any maintenance at all! Maintenance is vital for any and every boat! Taking care of your fiberglass boat and follow regular maintenance steps means you can enjoy your boat for many years to come.
GELCOAT, WAXES, AND POLISHES
Fiberglass boats have a gel coat layer that protects the underlying fiberglass from the sun, salt, etc. A gel coat in good condition gives you that tough glossy exterior finish, a gel coat in poor condition will provide you with a chalky look, but you can change the chalky look with maintenance!
To maintain the gel coat, you need to wax or polish, waxing your fiberglass boat will protect and seal the gel-coat from water, dirt, salt, and sun. The polish will remove oxidation from the gel-coat and make it shine. Wax your boat at least twice a year.
3 Steps to avoid chalking, fading, and hazing due to constant exposure to sunlight.
1. Give your boat a good thorough cleaning: Ensure your boat is clean before you start waxing, use quality Fiberglass - Marine products to clean your boat. Rinse your boat with fresh water.
2. Polish your boat: Use a protectant to buff and polish the gel-coat; remember the gel-coat is a layer that protects the fiberglass and at the same time makes your boat look neat, so taking care of it will only be in your best interest. fiberglass polish - marine products
3. Waxing: Use fiberglass wax - marine products make sure your boat retains its good looks! Wax at least twice a year.
Wash your boat regularly. Wash after every trip!
It is vital to rinse your boat after every boat rip removing the salt from the boat; you don’t have to use expensive cleaning products. Wash your boat with fresh water and marine quality cleaning products used for fiberglass. These products will remove stains and will add protectants to your fiberglass boat. Fiberglass - Marine products
Keeping your boat clean is the number one maintenance tip! After every trip, it is good to clean with marine products and rinse with fresh water, removing the salt from the boat.
Inspect your boat regularly.
Inspecting your fiberglass boat on a regular basis will help avoid future problems; if you identify any small cracks or any repair work that needs repairing, it is best to do it immediately, saving you from future issues. Leaving small problems or cracks that are not yet considered a problem is a mistake; leaving it means you will forget about it, and then as time goes by, the problem will become a bigger problem and cost you more!
Use a schedule and monitor your maintenance & repair work.
This way, you can keep track of repair work that needs repairing and repair work that is complete.