Q: There are several deck brushes to choose from at my local boating supply store, but I can’t imagine I need one of each. Which one or two do I absolutely need on my boat?
A: You only need two deck brushes – one that is soft to wash gel coat and most other materials with and one that is lightly scratchy for non-skid. Shurhold offers three types of deck brushes. The blue one is very soft, the yellow one is lightly scratchy and the white one is very scratchy. West Marine offers their own brand of deck brushes, as well, however their yellow brush is soft, their blue brush is medium-course and their white brush is scratchy. Each manufacturer will have different colors for the different grades of their deck brushes, so when choosing the soft one, run it across your face and if it feels at all scratchy, then it’s not the best brush to be used on smooth gel coat.
When washing your boat with the soft deck brush, it’s perfectly fine to use it on glass windows, vinyl seats, canvas, boat graphics and non-skid. However, do not use even the softest of deck brushes on plastic windows, such as Isinglass, Strataglass or Lexan. It is best to use a microfiber rag (not terry cloth) and a spray cleaner meant for those materials such as Plexus Plastic Cleaner or Mer-Maid’s Plexiglass Cleaner and Polish.
Q: I have a DA (dual action) polisher that I use on my car. Can I also use it on my boat?
A: Yes! There are areas where a DA polisher can come in quite handy if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a variable speed buffer and if you just want to keep certain areas of your boat polished yourself in between the big yearly wax jobs.
As I just talked about in the previous question, a DA polisher can be used to keep colored stripes buffed and polished on a regular basis to keep them from fading. DA polishers, because of their smaller size, are also great for getting in those hard to reach places such as around corners, under rails or between areas of non-skid.
One area where we often use a DA polisher is on gel coated cap or toe rails. These areas often fade quickly because of their horizontal surface that bakes in the sun (UV rays hit them more directly causing them to fade faster). A DA polisher is also great for buffing the topside of a ski boat or sailboat that has a lot of nooks and crannies.
A DA polisher isn’t as “aggressive” as a variable speed polisher when it comes to removing heavier oxidation, so I wouldn’t recommend using one on your whole boat, such as the hull, brow or transom. They’re best used for smaller areas that you can do more often to remove light oxidation and add a layer of wax throughout the season as needed.
Q: Is it OK to use a pressure washer on my boat?
A: We get asked this question a lot. You come down to your boat in early spring and are amazed at how dirty it is with green mildew actually growing on the gel coat and canvas and black mold in the non-skid. It would be tempting to use a pressure washer, but even set at a lower pressure, we highly advise against it for many reasons. First of all, you’ll be removing any wax that was left on the gel coat. Even if you’re planning to wax your boat soon after, using a pressure washer won’t improve the gel coat’s condition for waxing. You’ll still need to use a buffer with rubbing compound, so it’s not saving you much time. Especially when there are many things that can go wrong when using a pressure washer on a boat.
Even the lightest of pressure can put a hole in older canvas. Medium pressure can remove fittings and ruin teak. On a colored hull or topside, a pressure washer can make areas look uneven or splotchy because of the spray pattern. On a painted boat, the pressure can easily remove paint. In the end, a boat “washed” with a pressure wash will still require you to clean certain areas by hand and the boat will need to be waxed immediately after in order to keep the gel coat from oxidizing further.
We see a lot of boat detailing companies out there attach a dirty boat or teak decks with a pressure washer and we cringe every time we see this. Fittings go flying off into the water, paint starts to peel and teak decks end up with wide open grain and ugly spray patterns. It’s always best to spend some extra time washing your boat with a good ole’ bucket of soap, a soft deck brush and a soft hand brush. It’s the best way to remove the dirt and know that you’ve touched every inch without ruining your boat along the way.
Deckhand Detailing, established in 1990, offers affordable and high quality boat cleaning and detailing services including boat washing, buffing and waxing, interior cleaning and more. We're experienced, friendly and easy to work with because we love what we do!