Every spring we get tons of calls about buffing and the boat polish/wax process, and everyone wants to know what we recommend. The boatyards that buy from us have a system that takes a couple steps, which is really the right way to go.
What you need to understand is that these polishing compounds are basically liquid abrasive and what you're doing is lightly sanding or polishing your hull. The more faded or oxidized your hull is, the more you need to compound/polish in order bring back the original hull color.
To meet the demands of our customers, all required items are now available together for less in our Basic and Professional Boat Polishing Kits that feature our proven TotalBoat products.
Step 1 - Compounding
If your topsides are really faded, you should use TotalBoat TotalBuff rubbing compound. This stuff is great at bringing back the original color and knocking out that ugly, faded look. It is applied with a polisher and a pad.
Step 2 - Finishing
The next step is to follow the compounding with a finishing material boat polish in order to get a glossy, bright finish. We recommend TotalBoat TotalShine. Again, you apply this with a polisher and a pad.
Step 3 - Waxing
After the boat polish is applied, the final step is to apply a marine wax to protect your finish. It's important that you seal and protect the finish with a good wax to maintain the gloss that you just acquired. We recommend TotalBoat Premium Boat Wax. You can use any old rag to apply it, but the rag will become clogged with the wax and eventually become pretty ineffective. TotalBoat Wiping Rags (not included in kits) are perfect for the job because they're made from soft, absorbent cotton and they're available in 1, 4, 25, and 50 lb. bags.
Believe it or not, you can get technical about buffing pads in that there are pads with varying levels of aggressiveness for the compounding and finishing steps. However, you can usually get away with just using the double-sided 3M Superbuff Pad (3M-05705) for boat compound and polish applications. If you like, you can use both sides of it—one for compounding and one for finishing. This pad requires the 3M Superbuff Mandrel Adapter (3M-05710).