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To wax or not to wax....

Discussion in 'Tips and Tricks' started by Dave Osborn, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. Dave Osborn

    Dave Osborn LIFE MEMBER

    I’ve had a couple of customers asking about waxing the hull on their canoe.
    I’ve always thought it was a bad idea because it could cause fish eyes in the paint if some residual wax remains after sanding and prep for repainting.
    I have heard of a few folks that do wax their hulls claiming it protects it somehow and reduces drag.
    Anybody have an opinion??
  2. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    Silicone (or boat waxes or "miracle" polishes which contain silicone) is much more likely to cause fisheyes than wax is. Even a painted surface has pores in its surface and wax will fill them to some extent, helping to protect the finish, as well as removing or covering (hiding) a certain amount of oxidation. Wax isn't hard to remove prior to a repaint.

    The drag question gets debated frequently in the sailboat racing world. One year they will be claiming that a perfectly smooth surface is fastest, the next year they're all wet sanding the bottoms to provide a very fine texture to eliminate "suction" and speed up the boat. Some of the America's Cup boats over the years have even been covered with peel and stick sheets of film covered with tiny ridges. The same thing gets done to the bottom of cross country racing skis, since skis slide on a thin film of friction-melted water. Honestly, on a canoe it isn't going to matter. For every mile you paddle, missing a couple strokes while you swat a fly or reach for your water bottle is going to cost you more time than a "speed doctored surface" is likely to gain.
  3. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Dave, I always put a coat of quality marine wax on my canoes after I finish them. Cleans much better after the water scum line develops, certainly the bug splatter from car-topping and occasional pitch or bird droppings.
  4. David Satter

    David Satter LOVES Wooden Canoes

    With today's paints, Interlux, Pettit, epifanes you really don't need anything more. As long as you take care of it. It's a personal preference, it may help with keeping it clean. Probably best on a paint job that's had a few years of use on her to clean and freshen her up.
  5. Gary

    Gary Canoe Grampa

    Hi Dave,
    I'm no expert but Jack Lapointe of Wesport Canoes told me to always wax the hull after painting as it can take up to 5-6 weeks for the paint to "cure" or reach it's finished hardened state. He only uses a carnauba wax which is a natural product practically insoluble in water, and one of the hardest of natural waxes. The idea being that the wax when applied and buffed off gives the paint a layer of protection while you get the canoe in the water as soon as possible after painting it. Lets face it no one wants to wait to get her out for a paddle after all that hard work of getting her back to a water ready state. I've included a photo of a UFO I restored this summer showing the waxed hull.

    Attached Files:

  6. Blott

    Blott LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I waxed my Chestnut with carnauba wax after finishing her with Epifanes.

    When the canoe is wet, getting her back on the car roof give bystanders entertainment as its rather like lifting a greased pig!! :)

    mmmalmberg likes this.
  7. mmmalmberg

    mmmalmberg LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I'm no expert either but whenever I used to paint my motorcycles I'd always wait a couple months to wax them so that the paint could most easily continue to fully dry. Those were acrylic lacquers and enamels so I don't know to what degree it would matter with today's finishes. Hard for me personally to imagine how a few microns of wax would offer any mechanical protection to paint that's not fully hard.
  8. Snufkin

    Snufkin Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I do wax my canoe with pure carnauba wax. Looks good. When I wash it down, the water beads up and rolls off, so surely it must also create less drag in the water? However, the Number One advantage - as someone has already mentioned - is that it's much easier to rinse the scum off the hull after paddling on mucky water.

    PS - I am not motivated to polish my car in the same way!
  9. lowangle al

    lowangle al Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I wax my hulls. I can't say if it makes the boat glide better through the water but it sure makes it slide easier on land. When I flip a freshly waxed boat over on the shore it wants to slide into the water on its own, where it otherwise wouldn't. I don't think it could hurt anyway, if nothing else you know the hull is clean when you're done and even my 20' White only takes about 20 minutes to do. (I wax the shellac too)
    mmmalmberg likes this.
  10. Todd Bradshaw

    Todd Bradshaw Sailmaker

    The wax that I nearly always use on boats, either painted or gel-coated is a thick liquid wax which contains a little bit of polishing compound. There are several brands out there sold as marine cleaner/waxes. I've had some with the Rule brand and the current one is from 3M (Marine Fiberglass Restorer and Wax). Back when I was an Old Town dealer they even sold a similar wax/polish mixture.

    These are silicone free and will do wonders for dull looking paint, polishing off the old oxidized stuff, as well as polishing up dull gelcoat of fiberglass boats. This sailboat was painted with dark green Brightside enamel (rolled and tipped) and then sat out in my driveway 24/7 for three years. Then it spent a summer out on a mooring buoy, another winter outside and was back in for cleanup the next spring. This is what a good cleaner/wax can do without a lot of effort.
    nordica 4.jpg

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