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How to Remove Gelcoat

by Jenny Carver

Gelcoat is the protective coating that covers most fiberglass boats. The gelcoat seals the fiberglass and can be left alone or painted over. Over time, the gelcoat can fade, oxidize and become pitted and dented. Gelcoat oxidation can sometimes be repaired, but if the damage is extensive the gelcoat must be removed. Learn how to remove gelcoat by following a few simple steps.

Use a sandblaster to blast the gelcoat away from the fiberglass. Lightly blast the gelcoat so that the sand does not penetrate the fiberglass. Gelcoating is thin and can be easily sandblasted in a short time.

Grind the gelcoat away from the fiberglass using a grinder and 36-grit griding discs on a soft grinding pad. Hold the grinder at a lowered angle to avoid gouging through the gelcoat and into the fiberglass.

Scrub the entire area with detergent and then rinse with clean water. This removes any contaminants left on the surface of the fiberglass.

Smooth the area with a Scotchbrite pad once the surface is dry. Some contaminants leak out of the fiberglass during the drying process and the pad will remove them. The area is now ready to be repaired and/or recovered with gelcoat or paint.


  • Never sand without wearing protective clothing, gloves and a face respirator.

Items you will need

About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.

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