Why do kayakers wax their boats ?

Like any other moving object, a kayak will be acted upon by the force of friction, thus inducing tear and wear. You might wonder how this happens, yet a kayak moves on the ostensibly friction-free water surface. As a kayak glides over the surface, so do the destructive forces act on it.

So with all these aspects being inevitable, the big question remains whether waxing a kayak is essential or just a waste of time ?

As a general rule, proper maintenance of a kayak via waxing will significantly improve its lifetime and efficiency. Also, waxing a Kayak’s hull protects it from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and acts to seal the dents and scratches it develops during use.

Read on for an expansive illustration of the benefits of waxing a kayak and how to do it without missing a beat.

Should You Wax A Kayak ?

In principle, as a maintenance practice, you should clean and wax your kayak. Not only will the procedure boost its durability, but it’ll also improve its appearance significantly.

Nonetheless, you don’t need to wax your kayak if it has inflatable or polyethylene hulls. Primarily, this is because a polyethylene surface will not hold the wax as you’d want. Also, waxing a polyethylene hull will make it courser and increase friction rather than create a smooth surface.


Still, adding a protective coating on polyethylene and an inflatable kayak can boost its durability. Often, waxing is accompanied by adding a UV protective layer to shield the kayak’s hull from the harsh sun rays.

Thus, though you should skip the waxing process for the Polyethylene Kayak, consider adding the UV protective layer to protect the hull’s structural integrity.

Which type of Kayak hull should you wax ?

In general, you should wax a hull of composite materials such as fiberglass, carbon fiber, and kevlar. Waxing a polyethylene or inflatable hull will be a waste of time and resources.

Waxing a composite kayak hull is easy and comes with benefits, primarily in improving its durability and resistance to friction.

Do You Need To Clean Your Kayak before waxing ?

You must clean the kayak before waxing. Otherwise, applying the wax layer will be futile as it’ll easily peel off. Ideally, you must clean it with mild soap and water. Besides, rinsing it thoroughly before waxing is equally essential, as well as allowing it to dry afterward.


Also, as a general rule, ensure you get rid of grime and dirt from the kayak’s hull anytime you use it before storage. Primarily, this is one of the most effective ways of ensuring you prolong its lifetime and structural integrity.

Furthermore, ensuring thorough rinsing and effective drying before storage keeps mildew and mold at bay. These fungi grow on wet surfaces. Thus, a damp kayak stashed in a room with poor ventilation is an ideal thriving environment.

Lastly, while we asserted that waxing a polyethylene / inflatable kayak hull is unnecessary, cleaning such surfaces after use will significantly improve their durability. Also, ensure you allow drying before storage.

4 Critical Benefits Of Waxing A Kayak (Especially A Composite Kayak)

Waxing a kayak adds an additional layer of protection to its surface, but there are other benefits, such as the following:

1. Waxing Improves a Kayak’s Visual look

If you are keen on aesthetics and appearance, waxing a kayak will go a long way in boosting its outward appeal. Waxing a kayak will seal its dents and scratches, thus, concealing them. Also, it is handy in giving the outer surface a shiny appearance while enhancing its color’s prominence and visibility.

2. Waxing Boosts a Kayak’s Lifetime

As a general maintenance practice, waxing is imperative in increasing the kayak’s lifetime. Other care routines like regular cleaning with soap and mild water, rinsing, drying, and proper storage also add to the longevity of a Kayak’s service.

Ideally, waxing is handy in protecting the upper deck from the harmful UV rays that can be particularly harsh on the outer epoxy layer. Ultimately, flaking of the outer surface will expose the carbon / kevlar underlayer to harsh UV rays.

Thus, cleaning and waxing are inevitable for a longer service time.

3. Waxing may improve a Kayak’s Speed

Waxing will make the kayak’s underside more smooth, thus improving its gliding efficiency on the water surface. Also, the wax will seal the cuts, dents, and scratches on the Kayak’s hull that may add to the kayak’s friction.

All in all, there are suggestions that waxing decreases a kayak’s speed which are grounded on the increase of the drag between its surface and water.

Nonetheless, while the reservations could be valid to some degree, a worn-out Kayak full of dents and scratches would rather be waxed than not. The scratches are more impediments to motion than the wax film would.

4. Waxing protects a Kayak from harmful UV rays

There’s no better layer to shield a kayak’s hull and deck from harmful rays than a wax coating. Applying wax is particularly important for composite hulls that are more prone to damage than polyethylene and inflatable kayaks.

Nonetheless, as extra protection, it’s imperative to apply a UV protection spray after spreading a wax coat on the kayak.

What You’ll Need To Wax A Kayak

Now that you understand the benefits of waxing your composite kayak, next, we’ll explore the prerequisites for the waxing procedure.

Before waxing a Kayak, assemble the materials listed below:

  • Marine Wax
  • A sponge
  • Two microfiber cloths
  • Fresh water supply
  • A garden hose
  • Kayak cleaner or Mild soap
  • A UV protectant
  • A bucket/water basin

Also, as earlier mentioned, you don’t require marine wax if you’re dealing with an inflatable/polyethylene kayak. Nonetheless, even for those, you cannot afford to miss a UV protectant spray. It protects the kayak from fading, slow hull degradation and improves its appeal.

Nonetheless, a composite kayak will need a marine-grade wax and a UV protectant spray.

How To Wax A Kayak

1. Rinse the Kayak Thoroughly

As a general rule, giving your kayak a thorough rinse after being extensively on the move during summer is important.

First, place it on a dry surface, preferably on a lawn, and spray it with a jet of clean water from a garden hose. Ensure you rinse it thoroughly to expel the dirt, salt, mud, dust, and grime stuck on its surface.

2. Make a soap and water mixture

At this juncture, your kayak is thoroughly rinsed. Next, pick a bucket full of water and add the boat wash to make a foamy mixture. If you opt for a specialized boat wash product, ensure you follow the preparation instructions on its package.

3. Wash your Kayak thoroughly

After the initial rinse of the kayak, you expelled most of the loose dirt and salt. Nonetheless, some particles are still embedded firmly on the kayak’s surface that you need to remove, especially if it was extensively busy during summer. This is where a mild soap-and-water wash is handy.

Immerse a sponge in the soap and water mixture and wash the kayak. Ensure you pay attention to all sides of the kayak. Also, don’t forget the nooks and crannies, as this is where the bulk of stubborn dirt is hidden.

It’s also imperative to rinse the kayak after every rub, especially where there’s an accumulation of dirt, for a thorough clean.

4. Rinse the Kayak

Your kayak is now thoroughly cleaned, and you need to run a jet of water over it to expel the soap solution. Hence, ensure you concentrate on each part to ensure no soap residue remains.

Also, there’s no harm in cleaning it repeatedly until you’re sure no soap residue is left.

5. Allow the Kayak to Dry

Generally, you must ensure your kayak is dried inside and outside before embarking on the storage process.

It would be best to leave it to dry in the air if it is sunny. Nonetheless, while this technique is effective, it is not fast. Thus, you’ll have to be patient. If fast drying is of cardinal essence, wipe it with a clean, dry cotton cloth or towel.

If you have a plastic or inflatable kayak, skip the next steps to step 9.

6. Wax the Kayak

Here, you will need to use the microfiber cloth for an even wax application. First, read the wax manufacturer’s instructions on how to apply the wax. Also, ensure you apply a small layer and then evenly spread it throughout the kayak’s surface using the microfiber cloth.

In principle, you should smear the wax in gentle and circular motions while paying special attention to the parts with cracks and peelings.

Alternatively, you may opt to spray the marine-grade wax. For this method, spray the wax first, then use the microfiber cloth to spread it throughout. Also, to ensure that the microfiber cloth doesn’t absorb too much wax on its surface, dampen slightly with water. This will also improve the application.

7. Give time for the Wax to Dry

After a successful, thorough application, give the wax enough time to dry. This shouldn’t take long, and you may find the parts you applied earlier have dried by the time you’re done waxing the entire boat.

Also, feel the wax to confirm its thoroughly dried before the next step.

8. Polish the Kayak’s Surface

Earlier, we indicated that you require two microfiber cloths. One was for a wax application, while the other finds use in this step. Using the microfiber cloth, polish the hull by applying slight pressure with small circular movements over the dried wax.

Noteworthy is that this step is involving, but it’s worth the hassle as it ensures the hull is explicitly polished and brightened.

9. Apply the UV Protectant

If you have a plastic kayak, apply the UV protectant immediately after drying it. There’s a load of UV protectant sprays on the market, and you should settle for the affordable brand.

Applying it via spraying the entire kayak and using a clean cloth, wipe off the excess spray.

Once fully dried, your kayak is now ready for another expedition or storage if it is during the winter.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen, waxing your kayak is among the essential boat maintenance practices. This procedure will be handy in hull protection while also improving its outward appearance.

Also, waxing your kayak won’t be a straightforward process because, as you have found it, several key steps must be followed. Nonetheless, the results will be worth the pain as your kayak’s lifetime and performance will be significantly boosted by waxing.

Lastly, if you own a plastic kayak, you don’t need to wax it. However, giving it a regular rubdown and spraying with a UV protectant spray will also immensely boost its lifetime and general appearance.

We’re hopeful that this guide has been of immense help as you plan to wax your Kayak. Thanks for reading to the end, and we hope to see you again as we’ve got loads of other informative articles on kayaks.

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