Your Boat’s Outer Layer: How Does Gel Coat Compare Against Marine Paint?

Owning a boat gives you numerous ways to enjoy time outdoors. From taking your fishing beyond the limits of the lake shore to lounging in peace well away from civilization, a boat can give you plenty of freedom. Of course, all the watersports you can enjoy when you own a boat can’t be overlooked. With so many boat models on the market, there’s bound to be one for any lifestyle. 

What’s On the Outside Matters

People look for an array of features when they’re buying a boat. They also have an array of options to consider for Boat Parts, maintenance, and customizations. One of the most important considerations is the exterior finish. What’s on the outside of a boat can affect its longevity, durability, and appearance among other factors. Two of the most popular choices for boat exteriors are gel coat and marine paint. Each one has its benefits and disadvantages. Which one is best for you depends on several aspects.

Taking a Closer Look at Gel Coat

Gel coat is a specially developed resin that’s applied to the surface of a boat during manufacturing. It’s used for boats made of fiberglass-reinforced composites. It’s basically a colored coating that provides a protective outer layer. Gel coat has a smooth, glossy finish that safeguards boats against ultraviolet radiation, water damage, and other hazards. 

Benefits and Disadvantages of Gel Coat

One of the main benefits of gel coat is its protective capabilities. It bonds with the materials it’s applied to and creates a durable, seamless finish. As mentioned, it can protect boats from a variety of hazards to reduce damage and maintenance costs. Other than an occasional wax and polish to keep it looking good, it requires very little maintenance.

Gel coat is only available in a few colors, though, so customization options are limited. In the event it sustains damage, repairing it is much more expensive than touching up marine paint. It won’t stick to paint and certain other types of surfaces, either. Because of that, it’s not an option for all types of boats.

Delving Deeper Into Marine Paint

In contrast to gel coat, marine paint is applied to a boat’s exterior after manufacturing. Like gel coat, it’s durable, and it provides effective, long-lasting protection against fading, peeling, and other types of damage. Unlike its counterpart, though, marine paint isn’t part of a boat’s hull; it’s a separate outer layer. 

Advantages and Drawbacks of Marine Paint

Marine paint is much easier than gel coat to apply, and it’s available in a much broader range of colors. That means it’s more suitable for do-it-yourselfers, and it offers more customization options. It’s easier to damage than gel coat, but it’s also less expensive and difficult to repair. It works with more types of materials than gel coat as well. In terms of maintenance, marine paint needs to be reapplied every few years. That ramps up the cost of maintenance as well as the effort involved. 

All Things Considered

Both gel coat and marine paint are effective options for protecting a boat’s exterior. Gel coat is tougher, and it offers plenty of protection against the elements. Still, its color options and the types of materials it works with are limited. It’s more difficult and expensive to repair than marine paint as well. Marine paint provides ample protection for a boat’s exterior, but it doesn’t last as long as gel coat, and it needs more maintenance. Consider your needs and expectations while comparing these two finish options to help determine which one might work best for you.