Will IMPACT Fenders Scratch My Gel Coat? 

The number one question we get is: “Will IMPACT fenders and bumpers scratch my gel coat?” 

The short answer: No. IMPACT fenders and bumpers won’t scratch, scuff or transfer color to your boat’s gel coat. 

Old-style fenders are notorious for scuffing and damaging gel coats, which leads many boat owners to make the additional purchase of fender covers. Really? Why should you need to buy protection from your protection? Neither of these things are okay by us. Whether you spent $2,000 or $200,000 on your boat, fenders should be an easy-to-use and effective first line of defense.

We’re in the boat protection business. To us, that means Impact fenders and bumpers not only need to prevent damage from rubbing and impact, they also need to do no harm. 

We tested our products for four years in order to confidently say they won’t scratch gel coats. We’ve put them through the wringer, in nearly every conceivable condition. 

Impact fenders have withstood massive Lake Powell wind storms on rafted boats. We’ve given them to friends across the country who care for their boats with (almost) more tenderness than they care for their own children. And we’ve shared them with folks that put the party in pontooning. (In other words, being precious with their gear is not on the top of their list.) We’ve placed Impact bumpers in high traffic areas like gas docks and commercial launch tie-offs. And of course, we’ve used Impact fenders and bumpers exclusively for our own boat, a Malibu Response TXi. (And yeah, we are a little precious with her.)

From firsthand inspection and user reports, there’s been no evidence of gel coat scratching, scuffing or color transfer from Impact fenders or bumpers. As an added bonus, the wooden boat crowd has reported zero damage on marine paint and varnish. 

Our confidence begins with the materials we choose. Impact fenders and bumpers are made with 32-ounce PVC coated polyester. This highly durable material is known for high resistance to oils, salts, dirt and UV rays. Additionally, the rectangular shape of Impact fenders means they don’t roll across your hull, like an old-style cylindrical fender will. Less movement = less abrasion.

Even with the most ambitious boat maintenance (see below), every gel coat will develop some spider cracking over time. It’s the nature of fiberglass in the sun, water, motion and varying temperatures. While Impact fenders and bumpers provide greater protection than vinyl or polypropylene fenders, it’s worthwhile to take a few simple steps to minimize potential risks even further. 

Fender Pro Tips: What else can you do to ensure that your boat protection isn’t scratching your boat?

  1. Keep the fenders clean and free from dust and dirt. 
  2. Whenever you rinse your boat with freshwater, give your fenders a rinse, too.
  3. Unless the water itself is particularly oily or dirty at the dock, give the fenders a quick dip before attaching them to your boat.
  4. Position your fenders appropriately along the hull and in relation to the dock, to minimize excess movement. 
  5. Always pull your fenders up when you’re away from the dock. 
  6. Treat a few times per season with a UV protectant, like 303 Aerospace Protectant.

303 PRODUCTS 303® Marine & Recreation Aerospace Protectant™, 32oz ...

Tips to keep your gel coat in prime condition: 

  1. Once again: Keep her clean. Dust and dirt trapped between a boat and fender will etch away at the gel coat.
  2. All gel coats require regular maintenance. Here’s a 5-step maintenance plan from Sport Fishing magazine.
  3. Dark colors show scratches more easily. Black and navy blue boats sure are pretty, but you’ll also see every imperfection.
  4. If scratches do occur, treat them early. This short article and video from West Marine outlines how to do so, and when you should call for a professional assessment.
  5. For an ultimate gel coat guide for the highly ambitious, check out this 10-step program from Boats.com.

And as always, we welcome you to hit us up with any questions!

Thanks, 

Courtney & Brian

Shop now for our fenders and dock bumpers.

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