Can You Use Car Wax on A Boat?

Many boat owners want to keep their boats in the best shape it can be. From cleaning to waxing, they are always looking for the best tools and products available. So, the question arises, can you use the same wax you use for your car on your boat?

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Can You Use Car Wax on A Boat?

If your goal is to protect your boat or to make it more visually appealing, then car wax is something that you can use on your boat. If you are using a product that will not cause any oxidation, you will be fine. Although there are differences between the paint on a car and the paint on a boat that you should be aware of.

What exactly are the differences between auto wax and marine wax, and what kind of impact will it have on the life and appearance of your boat? Let’s talk about it!

Can You Use Car Wax on A Boat?

Many boat owners take great pride in their boat and want to keep it looking as great as it can. By taking the time to wax your boat, you are helping to increase your boat’s durability and keep the gloss, shine, and color of your boat. Many enthusiasts use car wax on their boats for the simple principle that they are wanting to protect their boat from scratches, uv damage, salt, and stains. Since they essentially do the same thing, there are not many rules in what to use.

Choosing what wax you want to use on your boat is a personal decision. Not only is it reliant on the environment you live in, but you also need to consider how often you plan on using the product, and the amount you want to spend on the product.

Waxes can come in a variety of different forms. Most wax is in the form of a paste, but it also comes in liquid or spray form. For your type of boat, as long as the wax you are using is made from natural wax, such as carnauba wax, it will be safe to use on your boats, RVs, and cars.

There are marine waxes that are designated for protecting the gelcoat of your boat that you can purchase. Some owners believe that since they are different surfaces that buying the marine wax is not only worth the money, but a better investment for your boat.

waxing a boat, Can You Use Car Wax on A Boat?
This is my 10-year-old daughter learning to compound and wax our boat to a mirror finish.

Not All Waxes Are Created Equal

Before you head to your garage and grab that bottle of wax, not all waxes are meant for general use. There are two main types of wax that you can use on your boat, and knowing the differences between them can save you a lot of time and effort.

  • Cleaner Waxes: These products offer a certain level of cleaning. They can contain chemicals or abrasive ingredients that can help to remove damage from neglect or oxidation, as well as debris that may have built upon the boat’s surface. These can also improve the appearance of graphics or paint on your boat. A lot of owners use this product since it cuts down on the time it takes to clean and wax a boat. Since these contain cleaning agents, you should only use them where they are needed. They can weaken the gel coat over time if they are used too often on areas that do not need to be cleaned.
  • Finishing Waxes: Unlike cleaning waxes, these are primarily used to simply improve the appearance of your boat. While they do not offer a cleaning aspect, they can have a huge impact on the appearance of your boat or paint. If your boat is already in great condition, then a finishing wax should do the trick.

Although you can use car wax on your boat, there are marine waxes that are specifically designed for use on boats or RVs. These waxes are designed to enhance the gel coat or LP surfaces that are on your boat. They are the best way to get the optimum results for your boat and maximize luster.

Are Boats and Cars That Different?

Although boats and cars seem similar, they do have their differences in terms of what is on the outside of them. Most cars have a clear coat that acts as a UV ray blocker. Boats use a gel coat instead of a clear coat that does not provide the same protection. It is important to know that the gel coat is very porous and not as strong as the clear coat that is put on cars.

Since a gel coat is simply laid over the fiberglass of a boat, they are more likely to oxidize than your car will, even if left out in the same conditions. Therefore, many boats are white, which helps to minimize the appearance of oxidation. You can still treat oxidation on your boat no matter the color by using a cleaner wax to help you remove it.

Eraser Wheel to Remove Decals from a Boat, Can You Use Car Wax on A Boat?
(Notice the can of Collinite wax on top of the green microfiber towel – see product description below)

Why Should You Wax Your Boat?

A lot of people believe that waxing a boat is a waste of time since you are just putting it into the water, but that is not the case at all. Although it is a time-consuming process, there are four huge benefits to waxing your boat.

  • It Enhances the Appearance of Your Boat: This one is the most obvious, but waxing your boat is going to make it look brand new. You can remove oxidation and give your boat a new life with a simple coat of wax.
  • It Provides UV Protection: Unless you have your boat covered 24/7, you need to consider damage from the sun when you are working on your boat maintenance. UV rays are an enemy to any graphics, interiors, or paints that you have on your boat. By waxing your boat, you are not only maintaining the beauty of those items, but you are also extending their life as well.
  • It Creates Less Drag: If you are looking to have the best ride possible on your next trip on the water, then waxing is a great way to ensure that. Not only is it going to protect your boat, but you will also experience less resistance and friction, which is crucial to a smooth ride. Although the wax does not last forever, there is some improvement that you should be able to notice.
  • Wax Provides a Barrier of Protection: No matter how well you maintain your boat, it is impossible to control what is in the water. Wax gives you an added layer of wax protection between you and anything that may be in the water living or not. You are also less likely to experience a buildup of residue as well and rust.

My 3 Favorite Waxes

I used all three of the waxes for my cars, Jeeps, and Boats. They are all great products and I feel confident sharing each of these with you. In no particular order…

  1. Collinite 885 Heavy Duty Paste Fleetwax, 12 oz. – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I use this on everything! This is my final layer on my vehicles to give it that deep wet look. It’s the wax I use throughout the year on the boat. If I want a paste wax, this is what I am using. One suggestion though, don’t let it fully dry before buffing off. It gets hard to remove once the paste is fully dry. [Read Reviews]
  2. Nu-Finish Liquid Polish 16 oz ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2 for Cars, Advanced Top Coat Sealant with Simple Once A Year Application, Perfect Kit for Fiberglass Boats, Motorcycles and Various Appliances. This is the easy solution. It goes on easy, comes off easy and it is a tough coating. It lasts a long time and it works great for people who just want easy. [Read Reviews]
  3. McKee’s 37 MK37-630 Hydro Blue SiO2 Coating ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2 | Ceramic Car Wax Spray | Advanced SiO2 Coating | Hydrophobic Top Coat Paint Sealant Protection, 16 oz This is by far the easiest protection you will ever apply to a car, boat or any other item ever! The protection only lasts for about 3 months, but it’s super easy. After washing your boat, while it is still wet, spray the McKee’s 37 spray on the boat and then rinse it off with a jet of water. That’s it! I use this about once a month during the summer. It keeps water beading up and protects the boat between my once or twice a year waxing! [Read Reviews]
wax on a boat, Can You Use Car Wax on A Boat?
Wash, Compound, & Wax on a 15-year-old boat hull!

Should You Use Wax on a Boat with Oxidation?

If you are considering waxing your boat but have significant oxidation, then you need to make sure you remove that before you proceed with wax or even a sealant.

Using a heavy compound or hiring a professional detailer may be your best best if you have heavy oxidation.

If you have light oxidation a cleaner wax is going to be your best bet if you know you have an oxidation issue. Not only is the product going to remove some if not all of the oxidation, but you are also getting the benefits of wax at the same time.

For those who are unsure if they have an oxidation problem, it is recommended that you use car wax on a small area of your boat. If you can remove it easily, then you can go ahead with waxing. If you experience any sort of resistance, then you may be dealing with some intense oxidation on your boat.