How To Fix Etched Aluminum

Q: I used the two-part teak cleaner and brightener on the teak decks of my sailboat. The decks look great now, but it etched the aluminum window frames and stained my blue hull. What do I do?

A: The two-part teak cleaners and brighteners definitely do a great job bringing dirty, oily or grey teak decks back to clean and honey colored, but they can also damage areas of your boat if you’re not careful. It’s always best to keep surrounding fittings, aluminum and gel coat wet the entire time you’re using the two-step solutions, but sometimes even that won’t protect those areas completely.

This is where preventative measures can help a lot. We always recommend taping off any aluminum materials that the two-part teak solution will touch or splatter on. If you have a colored hull, do the teak cleaning and brightening soon after a wax job so the solution runs down over the layer of wax. Work quickly so it doesn’t also remove the layer of wax.

If you didn’t take these precautions ahead of time and have discolored gel coat or etched streaks or splatter marks in the aluminum, you’ll need to buff those areas with a variable speed buffer and rubbing compound to remove the etching and discoloration and then follow up with a coat of wax on the gel coat to continue protecting it.

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