In general, ceramic coating on a boat lasts for up to 12 to 24 months given the proper care and maintenance. That’s also assuming that the preparation and application was done correctly. However, this is a very difficult question to answer because there is a wide array of answers that can be given based on four factors.

  1. How is the vessel stored?
  2. Where is the vessel geographically located?
  3. How often is it used?
  4. How will the vessel be maintained?

Let us give you a couple of examples to help you set expectations of what a ceramic coating could do for you in your specific situation.

This is a real-world example…

Example #1 - 2020 35’ dark grey Scout kept in dry covered storage. Coated the boat brand new after taking delivery. Used maybe 5-10 times over the course of 18 months. One excursion was a long trip to Bahamas out of Naples for a couple of weeks. Washed on a quarterly and after each use basis. Detail crew uses PH neutral soap and topper for each wash. Every 6 months crew does a decon wash with light acid to remove any embedded contaminants that could be masking the coating.

12-month assessment of the coating was amazing. Interior of the vessel was performing very well. Especially inner gunnel walls forward of the console. Coating was still performing on nonskid and vinyl. The hull sides were seeing a build-up of water spots. There were areas where the dock rubbage from the fenders destroyed the finish and the coating. Outside of those areas the coating was still beading below and above the waterline. After decon wash, topper coating was still slick with very vibrant color and 90%  gloss.

In a situation like this, where the boat lives in covered storage, not used very often and is properly maintained, you can see the coating perform well above the 18-month mark in low profile areas of the vessel. We think with proper care and maintenance you could get 3 to 5 years in those areas. In higher profile areas of the vessel, you will need to single layer recoat at 2 to 3 years and touch up the areas that become damaged during usage.

Let us take you to the completely opposite end of the spectrum.

Example #2 – 2015 25’ dark blue Tidewater kept on a lift - no cover. Entire vessel oxidized, severely in high profile areas, needed gelcoat reconditioning. After multiple stages of correction, two-layer ceramic applied. Vessel usage is more on the active side. On average, the vessel is used 10 times a month. Preferred method of washing is rinse downs with city water after usage. No towel dry.

What can you expect on this type of situation? The performance of the coating will vary in certain areas. Higher profile areas like the hard top, top of the gunnel caps, the aft ends where you have the swimming platform, etc. are going to get smoked by the sun when there is no cover.

In this case, there was already extreme oxidation that had occurred in these areas before the coating was applied. This is why there was extensive correction that was needed before application. In our experience, we have seen coated finishes (already oxidized, dark color) hold up well for approximately 9 to 12 months with minimal maintenance. Beyond that, the coating begins to fail, and reapplication is needed. In most cases, the reconditioning is not as intense as the initial application.

The hull sides typically hold up well on the flares. With a dark blue hull that is used that often, we typically see a lot of damage from usage. After 12 months, there is often times a fair amount of scratches, marring, mineral deposits and other damage that could occur. Up close you will see the defects and the water spots in the gelcoat. Hydrophobics and gloss are still intact by about 70%. Below the waterline, the coating will not be expected to perform very well at 12 months. Above the waterline, we can still expect to see the coating performing at 70 to 80%. After another 12 months we would expect that another coat will be needed. Dark blue hull will need moderate correction at recoat because of waterspot buildup and defects that occurred from usage.

Now, if this boat was completely covered and used less frequently, the coated finishes would react differently and would last longer because of less exposure, etc. Salt water over fresh water environments pose certain challenges as well. So we hope you see where we are going with this! 

Hopefully this gives you a gauge as to how long ceramic coating will last on your vessel.

There are a number of measures you can take to protect your investment. UV damage from our beautiful sun that creates organic life, destroys our expensive inorganic toys when left uncovered. If you’re not in a situation where you can get a cover or be out of the sun, then you need to have some type of protective coating protecting your vessels finish. This is the best form of protection by a wide margin as of 2022. When we say coated in the marine detailing industry, we mean the protective polymeric coatings that use Polysiloxanes and constitute the majority of “ceramic chemistry” as understood in the detailing industry.

These types of protective coatings last several times longer than traditional crème and paste based polymer sealants and carnauba wax. They also require less maintenance and keep your boat looking great with minimal effort!

Check out a few of our other blog posts to get a more detailed approach on how to properly care for your coating and what can affect performance.

How to Prolong the Lifespan of your Ceramic Coating

Factors Affecting Your Boat’s Coating

When Do You Apply Another Ceramic Coating Again?

August 15, 2022 — John Watkins