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How to Wet Sand a Boat

how to wet sand a boat
Wet sanding is the process of using sandpaper to remove paint or varnish from a boat. The process can be done by hand or with a machine, and it is typically followed by polishing the boat’s surface.

Wet sanding can be a more gentle process than dry sanding, and it is less likely to damage the boat’s gel coat finish. Furthermore, this type of sanding is much less dusty, making it a better option for indoor work.

Tools and materials to wet sand the boat

  • Waterproof gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask
  • Bucket, sponge, and garden hose
  • Polishing compound (optional)
  • Wax (optional)
  • Putty knife
  • Liquid Gelcoat
  • Drop cloth or tarp
  • Sandpaper (coarse, medium, and fine grit)

A step-by-step guide to wet sand your boat

Step 1: Prepare the area

Before you start wet sanding, you will need to prepare the area where you will be working. Cover any nearby surfaces with a drop cloth or tarp to protect them from water and sanding debris.

Remove any loose paint or varnish from the boat’s surface with a putty knife.

If the boat has a gel coat finish, use a liquid Gelcoat stripper to remove any wax or polish on the surface.

Step 2: Prepare a bucket of water

Fill a bucket with clean water and set it next to your workspace. You will need to dip your sandpaper in the water frequently to keep it from drying out.

Step 3: Put on gloves and safety gear

Put on a pair of waterproof gloves to protect your hands from the water and sandpaper. Wear a dust mask to avoid breathing in any sanding debris, and put on a pair of safety goggles to protect your eyes.

Step 4: Begin wet sanding

Dip your piece of sandpaper in the bucket of water and then begin sanding the boat’s surface.

Start with coarse-grit sandpaper and work your way up to medium or fine grit as needed.

Sand in long, even strokes until you have removed all of the paint or varnish from the boat’s surface.

Step 5: Rinse off the boat’s surface

Once you have finished sanding, rinse off the boat’s surface with a garden hose. This will remove any sanding debris and allow you to see how much paint or varnish you have removed.

Step 6: Dry the boat’s surface

Dry the boat’s surface with a clean towel. If you missed any areas while sanding, go back and redo the parts.

Step 7: Apply polish or wax (optional)

If you want to polish the boat’s surface, apply a polishing compound with a clean cloth. If you want to wax the boat’s exterior, apply a coat of wax with a clean cloth.

Allow the polish or wax to dry for the amount of time specified by the manufacturer before buffing it off with a clean cloth.

How much does it cost to wet sand a boat?

how much does it cost to wet sand a boat

The cost of wet sanding a boat can vary depending on the size of the boat and the type of sandpaper used.

However, generally speaking, the cost of wet sanding a boat will be between $50 and $100.

Additionally, the cost of wet sanding a boat will depend on the size of the boat, the type of sandpaper used, and the amount of time it takes to complete the task.

For example, if it takes two hours to wet sand a boat, the cost will be higher than if it only takes one hour.


Wet sanding a boat is a process that can help remove surface scratches and restore the finish to its original condition. If you’re looking to give your boat a new look, wet sanding may be the perfect solution.

It is essential to wet sand the boat before applying any paint or varnish. This will ensure that the new coating will adhere properly to the surface. Wet sanding is also less likely to damage the boat’s gel coat finish than dry sanding.

You can get great results in just a few hours by following these simple steps. Have you tried wet sanding your boat? What tips would you add?

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