How to Recaulk A Boat

Boat detailers are often asked to help with every detail in and on a boat, including caulking. Caulking can sometimes turn gray or yellow with wear and tear, or simply wear down over time, needing a replacement job. It’s important to know how to properly replace caulking while protecting other surfaces on the boat.

What is Caulking?

Caulking uses a product called “caulk” to seal the joints of different components on a boat, making these areas free from air leaks and water penetration. Caulking is the perfect way to finish tight seams in boats that are commonly getting wet or experiencing high foot traffic. 

What Tools and Products Do I Need to Redo the Caulking on a Boat?

This process requires a set of simple tools, many of which you may already have. To remove current caulking, you can use a caulk removal tool like a putty knife or a flathead screwdriver. A putty knife may not be enough for areas with more wear and tear so you may also need a razor blade to get difficult caulk up. Then, once you’re ready to apply new caulk, use blue tape to tape the edges, caulk, a caulking gun, and a finishing tool that removes any excess product once you’re done. You will also need gloves and extra towels or rags to keep your workspace clean. 

How Do I Remove Caulking?

Properly removing the current caulk on a boat can be a tedious process, but with some patience, elbow grease, and the proper tools, it shouldn’t be too difficult. You can get caulk remover tools that are specifically designed to dig down below the caulk and pull it up from small spaces. 

Sometimes, the caulk will be a bit too hard and can actually break these tools, so you might have to carefully take a razor blade along the edges to loosen the caulking. You can also use a flathead screwdriver in some cases to remove the caulk. Lastly, once it’s all removed, take a Shop-Vac to pull up any leftover debris before you get started on the next step.

How Do I Properly Tape the Seams?

It’s important to keep the caulk exactly where you want it because when it hardens, it can be difficult to remove. To keep the gel coat clean, take some blue tape and place it carefully along the edge of the crevice where the caulk is going to go. You want to secure the tape in its place right before the edges begin to curl down into the crevice. You can use the sun as a compass; right where the glare stops shining on the boat, place the tape down. Do this on both sides of the caulking area. 

How Do I Properly Apply the Caulk Line?

Once you have gloves on, distribute an even bead of caulk throughout the area you’re treating. You’ll notice that the caulking looks very messy after the first pass, but using the angular caulk-evening tool, you can make the lines clean and even. Sometimes, you might notice that some of the deck seams have more caulking than others, so don’t hesitate to transport the excess caulking to areas that may not have enough. 

How Do I Make Sure the Finish is Clean and Precise?

The tape and the tool used to make the caulking even are going to be the two biggest tools for ensuring a clean seam. They help keep the caulking in a designated area as well as help smooth out any bumps or imperfections after the bead of caulking is initially added. 

Final Thoughts

Recaulking seams is a simple, yet detail-oriented task. It requires a steady hand and some patience, but with the proper tools and knowledge, you’ll be able to replace the caulking on any boat!


Learn how to recaulk seams by watching the video below!

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