Plastic and fiberglass care

Depending on the size and purpose of your rigid inflatable boat, there’re lots of different plastic elements installed: oarlocks, oar stops, oar paddles, valves, handles, rub rails, all sorts of caps for additional equipment, etc. They are all made out of different types of plastics, such as PVC, ABS, Polypropylene, Polyester, synthetic resins, etc… The fiberglass rigid hulls and accessories are covered with decorative gelcoat coating, which in a way is similar to plastics and will face pretty much the same problems, if not taken care of.

The main problems happening to the plastic parts are surface cracking, discoloration and turbidity caused by UV radiation, and inconvertible deformations – all plastics have no crystal structure and eventually they all start to sort of “melt” more or less. The decorative gelcoat coating however is most commonly affected by only color fading and surface cracking.

But don’t let this knowledge intimidate you! Keeping gelcoat and plastics clean using good old soapy water, together with all the special additives that manufacturers put inside to increase the UV-resistance and slow down aging, will prolong its lifespan. Surface cracking of the gelcoat can be fixed by polishing, and plastics can be restored by “restorative agents” – chemicals that restore the surface of plastic elements.

Be careful choosing chemical products, as some extra aggressive ones may actually shorten its life time… and ALWAYS REMEMBER that the best way to prolong the life time of your RHIB is to protect it against active UV radiation by means of an overall cover and by minimizing the time the boat stays under direct sunlight.

Plastic and fiberglass care
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