The Straight Scoop on Wax

By: Barry Berhoff

QuestionI own a 20-foot center console that is used exclusively in salt water. Each spring I get different advice on what type of wax to use and how to use it. Can you tell me once and for all which type of wax I should use and how I should use it each spring when I am getting the boat ready for the season?

AnswerPicking the correct wax can seem like voodoo or black magic sometimes. Ask 20 people, and you will get 20 different answers. Here are some general guidelines to help make the process of picking a wax a lot easier. First, waxes come in a few styles. Cleaner wax has a slight abrasive in it to clean as it waxes. I prefer to skip this wax, as you will be using it on the entire boat, and many areas may not need it. I would steer clear of wash-and-wax all-in-one products, too. Straight wax/protectants are formulated for maximum protection. Look for one that says it has UV protection.

Additionally, there are two basic technologies in wax products: semi-solid paste/hard natural waxes and liquid-polymer waxes. The newer liquid-polymer waxes are considerably better. They are easier to work with, last longer and make a stronger bond with the boat.

So, in short, you want a high-quality liquid-polymer wax with UV protection. Additionally, these waxes really need only one coat. Save your second coat for later in the season. Think of it like reapplying sunblock. In northern climates with a shorter season, wax the boat twice. In southern and tropical areas, three to four applications per year would be better.


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