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How to Wet Sand a Boat in 2022 – Easy DIY Guide

Maintenance is the process of preserving and taking care of an object. Maintenance is very much important especially in automobiles and devices as it not only makes them presentable but also elongates the lifespan of the object.

Have you ever seen an automobile that lacks maintenance? It will render it old and non-presentable. A non-maintained objects or automobiles tends to show some scratches or crashes on the body.

Today, we are going to be centering our minds on how to wet sand a boat.


What does wet sand mean?

Wet sanding is the technique of sanding a surface with an abrasive plus water or another liquid to achieve a lustrous finish. This lustrous finish shows the shining effect of the material.

However, when we talk about wet sanding in the automotive context, we are talking about getting the exact greatest sparkle out of the automobile.

You may or may not be aware of how wet sanding works if you’re working on a sanding project, such as auto bodywork or drywall sanding but to know more about this, follow through as we will be explaining everything you need to know about wet sanding and the benefits it offers on our automobiles and machines.

Reasons you need to wet sand a boat

What comes to your mind whenever you see a boat with scratches? Well, one of our automobiles we should always maintain is a boat.

There are so many ways of maintaining our boats but in other to prevent the body from scratches is by wet sanding the body of the boat.  In this section, we will be considering the reasons why we need to wet sand our boats.

01. To remove scratches on the boat

One of the greatest damage to the body of an automobile like the boat is the deep scratches or dents; this is a result of accidents or scratches from sharp objects.

When this is noticed the only solution to the problem of the scratch is by consulting a wet sander. This will help to remove the scratch on the body of the boat and transform the entire body of the boat into a clean and shining surface.

02. To remove debris

Why do you think people always long for shining things? The wet sanding helps to remove debris and dust from the body of the boat.

After a long journey, dust and debris tend to stick to the body of automobiles but to get rid of this, you need to visit a wet sander who will help you bring out the original form and color back to life.

03. To get rid of paint flaws.

To effectively remove the paint defect on the surface of your boat, the activity must be carried out by someone who has received competent training in terms of removing the defect on the body of your boat.

As a competent wet sander, you need to check the thickness and texture of the gel coat before you can determine the grit of sandpaper to be used.  Once the wet sander has confirmed this, the paint defect will be removed totally and give out a clean and beautiful surface.


In other to carry out a successful wet sanding process, there are some materials needed. The following materials are listed below.

  1. Sandpaper of different grit number
  2. Masking tape
  3. Towel
  4. Water and soap
  5. Wet sanding disc
  6. Dual-action polisher machine

Step by Step Guide for How to Wet Sand a Boat

Each boat is designed with a different degree and texture of gel coats, so it is, therefore, advisable and the basic rule is to start with the least coarse sandpaper. You should only move up to more aggressive media when it is clear that you are making no progress with the less coarse abrasive.

To carry out a sanding process for a better finish on your boat, you need to follow the following guides:

01. Open the compartment of the boat to see the original color

Before you can determine the color of a boat to be sanded, you need to check the compartment of the boat to know the original color of the boat. The compartment shows the original color of the boat and therefore if there is any other part of the boat that is different from this color; that is the place to be sanded.

02. Know the kind of sanding that will be useful for your boat hull.

Wet sanding is a great technique to bring back the shining effects of your paint, but not every time does this goes to resolving the problem on the boat hull. Wet sanding, may therefore be considered the best option if the body of the boat has just light scratches.

03. Know if truly wet sanding will be suitable for the work.

The condition of the boat to be wet sanded determines the attempt to solve it. For example, the total peel off of an area on the boat hull may require several steps to resolve the issue, while normal scratches can be remedied in just one.

So, if the damage to the paint is minor, one can start with the range of 2000grits or 3000 grit of abrasive paper instead of 1200 or 1500 grains.

04. Fill a bucket halfway with water and a dash of automotive soap.

After we have known the kind of sanding we are to do to the boat, so the next thing is to prepare the liquid to be rubbed on the surface of the affected area, but before the liquid is being applied, it is necessary to apply lubricant to the area to prevent the sandpaper from burning the paint then after that fill the bucket halfway and apply soap to it.

05. Tape the unaffected part.

Make use of masking tape to cover the non-affected area of the boat. The masking tape prevents you from doing double work by sanding the unaffected area of the boat.

06. Set the wet sanding disc on the Dual action polisher machine.

Grab your spacing backing plate and set it at the Centre of the rotary machine. It is necessary to set it at the Centre to prevent it from moving in an odd out of round while sanding the boat and set a 1000 grit of sandpaper on the disc.

07. Add the quality of water to the hull of the boat.

Because it is a wet sanding a quite bit of water will be used on the hull of the boat to act as a lubricant between the pad and the gel coat. So spray quite an amount of water mixed with soap to the affected area on the hull of the boat.

08. Wet sand the hull.

The most important thing to take note of while sanding the hull of a boat is that too much pressure should not be applied on the dual action polisher machine to the body of the boat.  If this is done, it will not only work against the grains but will also worsen the situation.

You also need to make the dual action polisher move in a random orbit that the tool is designed to make to get the perfect finish. Once this is done, use a towel to clean the sanded area.

How to wet sand a boat by hand

Another means by which a boat can be wet sanded is by a manual process; in this process, the use of a machine is not involved. In this section, we will be looking at how to wet sand a boat with the use of our hands.

The first thing to do is to clean the body of the boat to remove some dirt on it when looking for the area which is meant to be wet sanded. When that is done, pour water inside a bucket and apply a small amount of soap to it.

Tear the specific grit sandpaper to be used into two parts and wrap it around the wet sponge and dip it inside the soapy water. it is necessary to move in a circular motion while sanding and after you are done with that, clean it with a clean towel.

How to wet sand a gelcoat of a boat

Each boat has a different texture of gel coat, it is very necessary to know the texture or the degree of thickness of the gel coat of the boat before going ahead to wet sand it.

Once the thickness of the gel coat is known and the sandpaper grit to be used is known, the next thing is to cut the sandpaper into two and wrap it around the wet sponge.

Dip it into the water and gently rub it on the surface of the affected area until a perfect turn is achieved.

Then clean the part with a clean towel to get a sparkling and clean surface.

How to wet sand a fiberglass boat

Do people keep asking how we wet sand a fiberglass boat? It is quite simple and synonymous with how to sand wash other kinds of boats. Once a fiberglass boat is observed to have a dull surface, the only remedy is to carry it to a wet sander for proper wet sanding.

In carrying out the wet sanding process on the boat, the sandpaper of about 1000 -1500 grit is used to bring out the unique shining part of the boat.

The sandpaper is being folded and rounded around the wet sponge and it is thereby dipped inside the water which serves as a lubricant.

The sponge is being rubbed gently in a circular motion on the affected area and the oxidation is thereby removed in form of whitish liquid.

Once this is done, a towel is therefore used to clean the sanded surface of the fiberglass boat and a perfect finish is observed.

How to wet sand a boat hull

In other to wet sand a boat hull, several processes are being put in place to get a perfect and clean finish. The first thing to do is to invert the boat so that one can have full access to the wet sanded region.

Mask off any area that will not be wet-sanded with the use of masking tape along the waterline.

Spray the bottom of the hull with a bottle of water, choose preferable sandpaper suitable for the gel coat and rub it on the affected area until a perfect finish is obtained.

Clean the surface of the sanded area with a towel.

How to wet sand a wooden boat

Some kinds of boats are made of wood, or some parts of a boat that are made of wood, but what do you think we can do when this part of the boat is due for sanding?

In this section, we are going to be explaining how to wet sand a wooden boat.

To remove the oxidation on the wooden part of the boat, dip a 320 grit sandpaper into the water and apply a lubricant on the surface of the sanded area.  It is necessary to apply lubricant so as not to allow the sandpaper to make marks on the surface of the wood.

Then the sandpaper is moved along the grain of the wood till a shining and glass-like surface is obtained.

Wipe the surface of the wooden boat with a clean towel.

How much does it cost to wet sand a boat?

Boat cleaning services such as wet sanding are often priced by the foot. Depending on the size and condition of the boat, detailing might cost anything from $10 to $125 per foot.

This is because the higher the boat’s size, the higher the expense of the detailing. For example, a boat longer than 40 feet in length will typically cost 20% to 40% more than a smaller boat.


The idea of wet sanding is to get a smooth, clean and sparkling surface. So in case you have a problem seeing the color of your boat or any part of your boat oxidizing, what you need to do is to adjust your sandpaper periodically to maintain a consistent finish.

So when you are done with that, give it a short wash and clean the part with a clean towel, then you will see your boat back to its shining state.

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