Boat Scratch Repair Cost (Materials, Costs & Tricks)

When you own a boat, you know at some point the boat will get a scratch no matter how hard you try to prevent it. Scratches on a boat can depreciate its value. If you own a boat and want to be cautious about scratches, you might want to know the exact cost to repair a boat scratch.

The average cost to repair a boat scratch is 500-1500 USD. The price varies based on the material, magnitude of the scratch, location of the scratch, material availability, and the boat’s age. 

Is there a way to repair the scratch at a lower price? Should you have materials immediately available to fix scratches on the go? Let’s discuss this in this article. 

Average Boat Scratch Repair Costs 

The average cost for materials to repair a boat scratch can range from 500 to 2000 USD. The labor charge begins from 150 USD and increases based on the intensity of the scratch. 

Perhaps, some minor scratches can always incur lesser prices and can be done without requiring external experts. For instance, if you’ve noticed a tiny scratch around the boat dock, you can fix it with respective liquid solutions. However, if the glass on the boat has a major scratch, you need to replace it and fix its surrounding location. This can incur additional expenses. 

One of the common instances, when your boat gets scratched, is while docking it. You may seek a discount on the overall charge if you reach a dealer. In any case, tiny repairs and scratches can be fixed with polishes. Nevertheless, don’t take chances with large scratches or deep scratches on the hull or important locations. 

Such scratches can affect your boat’s quality, integrity, and value. 

How To Fix A Scratch On A Boat 

While a scratch on a boat can be thought of as a scratch on a bike, the intensity can vary significantly. Fixing it begins with proper assessment, sanding, filling the region, and curing the damaged part. 

Let’s look at it step-by-step right below. 

Step 1: Identify the damage 

A scratch doesn’t always mean that the paint has peeled off the boat. It can also imply damage to the hull of the boat. 

  • Dock your boat at the nearest location. 
  • Inspect the scratched part. 
  • Identify if the surrounding area is unaffected. 
  • Estimate the magnitude of scratch. 

If it’s huge, reach out to an advisor. If it’s tiny, do-it-yourself. Sometimes, fixing tiny scratches is easier than you imagine it to be. 

Boat owners often underestimate the cause of the scratch. For instance, there can be an underlying crack resulting in a scratch. When you leave it unattended, it can extend further and ruin your upcoming journey. 

Step 2: Sand the area 

As soon as you spot the scratched region, remember to sand it down to avoid exposure to sharp corners. You can use a sanding sponge to fix this sharp region. 

Another advantage of sanding the area is to clean it thoroughly to gain a better look at the scratch. Sometimes, it can be bigger than what you’ve estimated. 

You need to switch between different sandpapers depending on the depth of the scratch. For example, a deep scratch requires 800-1000 grit sandpaper. 

According to Bottom Paint Store, wet sanding combined with 2000 grit sandpaper seemed to work well for many sailboats. 

Remember to store sandpapers of varied grits in your boat cabinet so you can save time in hunting for a hardware store at a new location. 

Step 3: Get the filler. 

If it’s a surface scratch, you can use a basic filling solution and mix it with a color that matches your boat’s color. However, you need to engage a professional if it’s a deep scratch 

Some deep scratches are caused due to internal holes or major cracks. In that case, you need to use a marine filler to fill the scratched region and increase its elevation to match the surrounding. 

Switching between sanding and coating a few times will help if it’s a hairline crack. 

You can use a resin filler to fix the scratch. Ensure proper care while mixing the filler as it needs to be in ratio and consistency as recommended by the manufacturer. 

The rule of thumb is to mix it in a way that is spreadable. This will make it easier for covering the scratched area. It should not be too watery or too thick. 

Step 4: Cure the scratched area

As soon as you’ve filled the scratched area, ensure that it’s consistent with the associated surface. Otherwise, you should shape it properly. 

Your boat needs some time to cure before you can use it again. For instance, a minor scratch might need a few hours to a day to dry and become usable. Deep scratches need several days based on environmental factors and the type of mix. 

Once the boat has crossed the average curing time, you should cross-check for imperfections before using it for your next sailing experience. 

Note: You can also polish the area if you’d like to. 

I’d prefer a polished look always. So, I’d always be up to spending those extra hours of elbow grease to give it a better shine. However, it’s entirely up to your discretion. 

For a qucik and cheap option for fixing boat scratchs, I highly recommend this product! I love it!

How To Fix A Deep Scratch On A Hull 

The best way to fix a scratch on a hull is to use either Gelcoat or Alexseal paint, and a sprayer. Begin with applying Gelcoat and curing the area until the scratch is no longer visible.

Fixing a deep scratch on a hull can take time and effort. Here’s a step-by-step guide to fixing the damaged hull:

  • Sand the location with 120 grit sandpaper. 
  • Apply the paint as a primer (the first level of fixing the scratch). 
  • Sand the location again with 400 grit sandpaper. You can skip this step or extend it further according to the size of the scratch on the hull. For example, if it’s extremely deep, you need 800-grit sandpaper to take advantage of its shallow surface.
  • Apply the first coat to the sanded region to provide an even look. 
  • Since the scratch would’ve affected the elevation, you need to apply another layer of paint to match up with the surrounding elevation. 
  • Allow sufficient time gaps for drying between all layers of paint.

Here’s a YouTube video where the presenter uses Alexseal paint to fix deep scratches:

You need to repeat the process if you’re unhappy with the outcome. Alternatively, it’s also recommended to take the help of an expert while fixing deep scratches. 

In sanding the region, you may hamper the smoothness of the surface. This can increase the overall effort involved. 

For major scratches, you may need several materials like a sanding block, heat gun, spray gun, sandpaper, variable speed buffer, and rotary tool. You should also decide on the filler or gel coat you’re planning to apply to the scratched region. 

Important Safet Note:

Don’t forget to purchase safety gear. You may need two pairs of gloves (chemical-resistant) and safety glasses. On the safer side, you can purchase a respirator to avoid the side effects of the paint’s smell on your respiratory system. 

Common Mistakes In Fixing Boat Scratches 

Fixing boat scratches is vulnerable to several mistakes such as owner underestimation, wrong choice of materials, wrong process, and limited knowledge about curing. These mistakes affect the usability of the boat. 

It’s common to overlook the affected area and fix it with a thickener. Unfortunately, this approach can become useless when there are cracks or serious deep scratches that need urgent attention. 

When you’re stuck at a place with no access to experts, you may need to determine the urgency in fixing the scratch and then plan it accordingly. If it’s a minor scratch, it can wait. 

As a boat owner, remember to stay cautious before, during, and after the process of fixing scratches on your boat (irrespective of the location and magnitude of the scratch). 

Can You Get Scratches Out Of A Boat

All scratches in a boat, minor to profound, can certainly be fixed with a relevant filler compound. Based on the intensity and location of the scratch, a professional can be engaged. 

It’s common for boat owners to feel low when the sailboat has major scratches caused by a petty mistake. It’s a wise thought to keep a filling compound with your boat kit. This will help in treating the boat immediately.  

Do All Boats Have The Same Methods To Fix Scratches

Most boats have similarities in their methods of fixing scratches, but the materials can vary according to the surface. For instance, a fiberglass boat needs a different material to fix the scratch compared to a kayak. 

If you’re using a conventional sailboat, the material varies. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to fixing scratches. Likewise, the filler compound isn’t the same either. For instance, Gelcoat is widely used for fiberglass boats. However, for conventional sailboats, experts use a 3M sanding block, marine filler, and an aerosol thickener. 

Final Thoughts

Sailboats are prone to cracks and scratches. However, most scratches don’t need immediate attention unless they’ve extended to other regions or affected the performance of the boat. 

In any case, fixing the scratch can vary in cost, effort, and time. But, you can rest assured that it can be fixed! 


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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