Paste Waxes Test Six-month Checkup

Testers examine boat paste waxes six months after initial application.


How long do they last? In the February 2009 issue of Practical Sailor, we reviewed a sampling of 10 paste waxes that were available in the old-style metal cans or newer plastic tubs. The waxes and polishes were applied to taped-off sections of a 3-foot by 5-foot fiberglass hatch and rated for ease of application as well as gloss and water beading. After six months, two products clearly stood out for their continued ability to bead water and repel dirt.

Paste Waxes

The Collinite No. 885 Fleetwax, which was a Practical Sailor top-rated product in 2004, again retained the best gloss and water beading in this followup. It is one of the heavier waxes, takes some rubbing to get on, and requires some serious buffing to get off.

Another repeat champion, the 3M Marine Ultra Performance Paste Wax, came in a close second. It is one of the harder waxes, but goes on and comes off easily. Third place in the water beading was the Meguiars Flagship, one of the easiest to apply. Were also testing this on a hull on Chesapeake Bay, where it is neck and neck with Collinite No. 885.

In a tie for fourth in the water beading is Mothers Cleaner Wax and Nu-Finish Paste. Among the automotive products, the Turtle Wax F21 and Kit waxes stood out. (We are retesting Star brite Marine Polish and Star brite Boat Wax, as the stock purchased for this test was lumpy and aged.

Although the waxes rated Good beaded some water, theyre nearing re-application time. The Fair products also beaded water, but surely needed re-application.

You can extend your fiberglass protection by applying multiple coats, which would make ease of application more important if you plan on two or three applications a season. Manufacturers are moving to softer, more high-tech formulas that are less labor intensive. We evaluated some of these in the liquid waxes test on pages 24-27.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him by email at