Not getting the mirror finish your looking for using only compound? Then maybe you need to gear down and wet sand. In this blog post we will give you 5 tips to bringing your get coat back to life quickly and in fewer steps with the proper wet sanding tips and techniques.

First things first. A question I see a lot, should I be hand sanding?

The answer to this is no and yes. We believe you should be hand sanding edges if you do not have an interface pad or if the gel coat is getting thin. To get the best results, we recommend machine sanding with a 6 inch, 8mm orbital polisher/sander with an interface pad. Set the machine on no higher than two to reduce the possibility of pigtails.

What grit should I be using?

Ending at the lowest possible grit possible will provide the best results in terms of gloss and depth. For example, cutting after 1000 grit makes a glossier finish than cutting after 3000 grit. However, cutting after 3000 will require less stages of polishing than ending after 1000. We believe that you can start and end with 1000 grit 90% of the time if your using the right paper. Our favorite is Mirka Abralon. This type of abrasive is made from mesh and features a built in interface pad. It does a really great job by staying clean and not loading up. Mirka also has a 500 grit disc that should be used only when 1000 grit will not effectively remove the severe oxidation and dead gel coat.

Why am I getting pigtails? What am I doing wrong?

This comes down to material and technique. I remember when I first started, I used a 5-inch orbital sander, no interface pad and cheap sandpaper! The results were good, but I was getting pigtails and the finish was just inconsistent. To avoid these pitfalls, we suggest using Mirka Abralon mesh abrasive disc and an 8mm orbital polisher/sander with a 6 inch baking plate and interface pad. Keep the machine on low speed and maintain consistent points of contact with the machine and pad.

What product/pad combo do I need to use after wet sanding?

The sanding will leave behind very fine scratches that can be rounded down with either a heavy or medium cut compound, wool pad and rotary buffer. Elevate medium cut compound or Restructure heavy cut compound works fantastic in this stage. Restructure is capable of removing 800 to 1000 grit scratches and Elevate is capable of removing 1000 to 1200 grit scratches. Once the compounding is completed, we suggest using a finish polish like Ignition or Triple P to achieve a perfect mirror like finish for the final stage.

Final word…

All in all, we are talking about 3 steps of prep before the sealant goes down. It all moves relatively quickly and efficiently. You don’t need 600 grit, 800 grit, 1000 grit, 1500 grit, 2000 grit, etc. No need to step up like this each time. It will waste considerable time and money on materials. The results will be roughly the same with a very small percentage of variance from someone who spent more time doing 8 steps versus a process that only took 3 steps. At the end of the day, its all about improving your operating margin as a business owner or even as a DIY hobbyist. Please let us know if you have any questions by sending us a message at

Products Used:

Mirka Abralon
Interface Pad
8mm Polisher
Rotary Buffer
Restructure Heavy Cut Compound
Elevate Medium Cut Compound
Triple P Finishing Polish
Wool Compounding Pad
Polishing Pad
April 22, 2020 — John Watkins
Tags: wetsanding