Gel Coat Repair

We offer blister repairs and gel coat repairs. You’ll find explanations of each listed below.

Blister Repairs:

A fiberglass hull is composed of two layers. The base layer, or poly­ester resin-reinforced fiberglass lami­nate, is covered by gelcoat, a pig­mented polyester resin. All fiberglass laminates are semipermeable, mean­ing they allow water to pass through the outer layers. Osmosis is the process of moisture seeping into the fiberglass laminate, either through the gelcoat layer or internally from the bilge areas. As moisture migrates into the laminate it fills voids, becomes trapped and creates an acidic blister fluid. Still seeking to dif­fuse equally throughout the substrate, the water between the laminate and outer surface places pressure on the gelcoat. The resulting blemishes or blisters that form between the lami­nate and the gelcoat affect the appearance and performance of the boat. As excessive moisture is the culprit, blistering usually only occurs below the waterline.

When blisters are left unchecked they will progressively extend deeper into the laminate and affect the struc­tural integrity of the hull. The term used to describe the chemical reac­tion between polyester resin lami­nates and water is hydrolysis. Over time, blister fluids attack the resin in the laminate, severing the chemical bond between the resin and lami­nate. As it progresses, the bottom becomes spongy and delaminates. Unfortunately, this condition is not reversible but can be repaired once it has started. Any hydrolyzed lami­nate on a boat must be removed and the bottom relaminated.

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Gel Coat Repairs:

Surface scratches can be buffed out of gelcoat with polishing compound, but deep scratches must be filled. When the gelcoat surrounding a scratch is in good condition, the filler of choice is gelcoat paste, which provides both filler and finish in a single application–but not a single step. Because the surface of the cured paste will be uneven, sanding and polishing are required to smooth the repair and blend it with the rest of the hull. Except for color matching, gelcoat repairs are easy and straightforward.