How To Restore A Rusty Boat: The Complete Guide

When your boat starts showing signs of rust, it is almost a death knell for the vessel. However, all is not over, and there are a few ways in which you can salvage your old boat. But, restoring a boat that has started rusting is not easy. You might need to remove major parts of the main body that are beyond repair. And in such cases, it is better to seek professional help from experts who have been restoring old vessels for generations. You can visit this site if you are looking for a classic boat restoration company.

How To Restore A Boat That Has Started To Rust

Thorough Cleaning Of The Main Framework


The problem of rusting is acute when the main body is made up of iron. Since a boat spends most of its life in water, it gets rusted very easily. Rust forms due to the oxidation of iron. So iron, when exposed to oxygen (ambient air) and moisture, produces a red, flaky powdery substance known as rust.

So the first step towards getting rid of rust is to see how serious the problem is. So you must clean the boat thoroughly to see the extent of the damage. Several combinations can be used for cleaning, and most people go for a mild detergent solution. However, a solution of baking soda with acetic or citric acid can also be used. When carbonate salts react with mild acids like citric and acetic acid, they produce carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide has the ability to clean out a lot of grime and stains. However, these solutions can be applied only if you have a small boat. It is almost impossible to clean a big boat with citric acid because thorough cleaning requires the material to be submerged in the solution for one or two hours.

Using Techniques Like Sandblasting


Acetic acids and baking soda not only clean the surface but also takes care of small amounts of rust; however, if the problem is more acute, you will need a solution like sandblasting. This technique uses a blast of fine sand particles on a rusted surface to incorporate a rust inhibitor on the rusted surface.

The process is efficient; however, it can be performed only by professional restorers, and hence it might be slightly heavy on your pocket. But if you really love your boat and want a long-term solution to rust, sandblasting is the way to go.

Apart from using a spray of sand, a rotating tip that is fitted on a disc ( a rotating blaster) can also effectively clean a rusted surface. Again, this method can only be performed by experts and hence is slightly expensive.

Applying An Rust Removal Chemical That Is Available In The Market

Many chemical formulations that claim to remove rust are available in the market. These chemical solutions have chemicals like oxalic acid, phosphates, and chelators.

Although there is no standard formula, you must read about all the ingredients and dos and don’ts carefully before applying such solutions. Market-based chemical treatments can be of great help, but they can also be counter-effective. So it is better to consult an expert before applying such solutions.

Replace Parts If Required

If any part is beyond treatment, it is better to replace that part altogether. If you continue with a partially rusted surface, the problem will aggravate further, and the boat will be of no use in the long term.

Paint The Surface Of The Boat


Once the corrosion has been dealt with, it is time to paint the surface of the vessel. Before applying paint, it is vital to make sure that the surface is smooth. If the surface is not smooth, then the paint will appear patchy.

It is standard practice to apply two coats of paint on the surface of the boat. Most paints have some lubricant or material that repels water. So the paint itself is a natural protector against further corrosion.

Apply A Lubricant On Top Of The Paint

It is a must to use a lubricant or a wax-like substance on the outer surface of the boat once the painting is over. The wax-like substances and lubricants repel water. Hence, even when the boat is in direct contact with water, the water will not stick to the boat. So the outer body’s contact with water will be minimal. Since moisture is a key component for rust formation, a waxy coating will make sure that further rust formation is delayed significantly.

Always Remember Prevention Is Better Than Cure

In case of corrosion, it is always useful to remember that prevention is better than cure. So once you have restored your old boat, you need to protect it from further damage. So every time you dock your boat after a sail, you need to clean it.

Cleaning removes all the salt that gets deposited on the outer surface. Salt absorbs a lot of moisture, and by removing all the salt, you are essentially removing the boat’s contact with moisture.

Also, if you want to minimize the problem of corrosion, it is better to go for a boat that has a fiberglass body rather than one which has a metal body. Metals are more susceptible to corrosion and hence require greater care and treatment to prevent corrosion.



Corrosion can be a persistent problem in boats since contact with moisture is inevitable. However, you can always take preventive steps, like cleaning the surface to thoroughly remove any salt deposits. You should also check for early signs of corrosion from time to time. And if you see any early signs, it should not be left untreated.

Although the problem of corrosion is quite a challenge to deal with yet, restoration is possible. There are some efficient techniques like sandblasting that can effectively deal with rust. However, if you cannot afford techniques like sandblasting, you can always apply remedies like treating the affected surface with vinegar and baking powder.

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