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Want to make that boat deck look shiney-new, right?
Try a product called Penetrol™.

(The test has been completed.)

I was considering the job of putting a protective wax coating on the deck areas, by using Weather Wax™, Turtle Wax™, or Nu-Finish™. Each is good and would likely last a year, even in the Florida sunshine. However, they all share a common fault. Wax on, wax off. Doing something twice in the sunshine here is just plain crazy.

I read, in a magazine or web site page somewhere, about an experienced boat owner's once-a-year system for using Penetrol. This is a liquid product that leaves a coating that behaves similar to Thompson's Waterseal™. However, it dries much quicker based on my experience with Thompson's.

WARNING: This project requires the use of flammable materials and may harm you. Use adequate safety procedures and protective gear.

Job Part "A", prep the surface:

  • Bucket
  • Scotch Brite™ pad (mine had a sponge on the back)
  • Non-abrasive cleanser (safe for plastic tubs)
  • Water hose

Job Part "B", seal the surface:

  • Penetrol, 1 Qt
  • White rag, washcloth size terrycloth, disposable (3 or 4 rags is good)

Getting down to work:

[1]   Wash the deck surface with the non-abrasive cleanser. If you have a dull and powdery surface, use the Scotch Brite pad on it with the cleanser. If your surface is still shiny or new looking, or you cringe at the thought, then just use a sponge or cloth. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.

[2]   After the surface dries, apply the Penetrol™ with the soft cloth. Resist the urge to pour the Penetrol™ on the surface. Soak the rag center instead, and apply in circular motions (wax on) while keeping the rag wet. Do not be stingy with the Penetrol™ because you will get poor coverage on the first coat. I put two coats on a 20-foot sailboat with a cabin, andstill had plenty for touchup work.

[3]   Plan your route of escape and do not paint yourself into a corner, so to speak. Do not walk on the coated surface! I did, with sneakers, and had to remove the shoe prints the next day. Although the can says thin with Mineral Spirits, I found Denatured Alcohol could remove the footprints and dried quickly.

[4]   I waited until the next day to apply a second coat so the surface would be reasonably hardened. Dust off the surfaces and apply the second coat the same as the first.

[5]   Do not forget that the dull surface provided some traction when wet.

[6]   The job went much quicker than I expected. It was like putting on liquid car wax, without having to remove the haze (no wax off).

The finished result was much better than I expected. It worked wonders with the upper surfaces of my 1981 Mirage 5.5 sailboat and rain water actually beaded up on the deck surfaces. The deck also reverted back to its original color, a rich darker eggshell white. As the surface of the coating ages in the weather, I will give periodic reports on how it looks.

27 Feb 2003

Periodic Report #1:

Discovered an interesting aspect of Penetrol™. It is a lot more like Thompson's Waterseal™ than I thought! After about two weeks, the boat looked DIRTIER THAN I had EVER seen it. When I wiped it off with my hand, it appeared the dirt was stuck to the surface coating I had completed two weeks earlier. The Penetrol must have still been soft for a while. I guess not all good ideas are brilliant ones.

I used soft scrub cleanser and my Sponge-Scotch Brite™ combo pad to see if I could remove the dirt. It came off easier than I expected, but the water did not bead up as it had previously done. Round two goes to the boat.

I guess I now have to see if it is a dirt-magnet again. If so, I will scrub it good with regular cleanser and the Scotch Brite, and then give it a coat of Nu-Finish™. This is probably what I should have done in the first place.

29 March 2003

Periodic Report #2:

Well... I was able to recover nicely from the Dirtier Than Ever fiasco. I decided to AJAX™ it, actually Soft Scrub™ it, with a sponge and was able to remove the dirt much easier than I thought. I did not even have to wax the surface. The shine apparently survived the cleaning. Now I get to see how long it actually lasts.

9 April 2003

Final Report #3:

How long it actually lasts? In Florida, apparently not a whole year. My last observation, after a good water hose rinse, detected large areas where the Penetrol had disappeared. In 6 months, half of the shine was gone, but unfortunately not evenly. I would now question its effectiveness as a crack sealer where the hardware stresses the deck areas.

I would rate this product as "average", and not suitable for long-term (one year of more) protection in the brutal Florida sun.

13 Nov 2003


Mike Hembrey
Tampa Bay