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Achieving Production Gelcoat Finish - 3M

3 Marine & Specialty Vehicle Application Profile
Production Gelcoat Finishing

3M Marine offers a complete system for surface finishing.

Don't just buy products, invest in finishing systems for efficiency and quality. Invest in 3M's preferred gelcoat finishing system. 3M Marine preferred gelcoat finishing products are designed to work together as a system to provide a high quality finish in a limited amount of time.


  • Imperial™ Abrasives
  • Imperial™ Compound and Finishing Material
  • 3M™ Superbuff™ Pads

Product Description

3M™ Imperial™ Discs are a fast cutting, long lasting abrasive for removing gelcoat imperfections and refining sand scratches. P800 scratches can be easily removed with 3M™ Imperial™ Compound and Finishing Material and 3M™ Superbuff™ Compounding Pads for a high gloss finish. For dark gelcoat colors or higher durometer gelcoats, use P1000 as the final sanding step.

Key Attributes

3M Abrasives are:

  • Fast Cutting
  • Long Lasting
  • Available in Stikit™ Disc Roll or Hookit™ Disc Attachment Systems

3M Preferred Finishing System

  • One Step Application Process
  • Removes Sand Scratches
  • Provides High Gloss Finish

Achieve the Finish You Want in Less Time with 3M Products-
The Industry Standard

  • Advanced abrasive technology
  • Pure abrasive finishing compounds
  • Swirl-free, high-gloss finishes
  • 3M Marine "Finish First" Employee Training

Clean Surface Before Sanding

Clean all contaminants, such as mold release wax, surfacing agent in a gelcoat patch, etc., from the surface with 3M™ Sharpshooter Extra Strength No Rinse Cleaner and Mark Remover (PN 19344).* Cleaning removes dust and debris that can create deep scratches and removes other contaminants that load sanding discs.

  • Available in 5 and 55-gallon containers.


Use 3M™ Imperial™ Abrasive Discs-available in full grade sequence-3", 5", 6" and 8".

(Example Grade Sequence)

Sanding Tips

  • Clean the surface before sanding.
  • Start DA tool on the surface.
  • Stop DA tool off the surface.
  • Choose correct abrasive grade for the level of repair.
  • Use proper tool speeds by making sure you have correct air pressure at the tool.
  • Use 3M™ Dry Guide Coat to see when scratches are completely removed.


STEP 1: 3M™ Imperial™ Compound and Finishing Material with 3M single- or double- sided 100% wool Compounding Pads (PN 5703 double-sided, PN 5719 single-sided) to remove P800 or P1000 scratches.

Optional steps to futher improve finish and or remove swirl-marks:

Step 2: 3M™ Perfect-It™ 3000 Swirl Mark Remover with yellow 3M™ Polishing Pads (PN 5705 double-sided, PN 5713 single-sided) and/or 3M™ Perfect-It™ Hookit™ Black Foam Polishing Pad (PN 5725).

Step 3: 3M™ Detail Polish 208 with yellow 3M™ Polishing Pads (PN 5705 double-sided, PN 5713 single-sided) and/or 3M™ Perfect-It™ Hookit™ Black Foam Polishing Pad (PN 5725).

Buffing Tips

  • Clean surface before starting.
  • Sand to a finer grade such as P800 or P1000 to minimize buffing time; it's easier to sand (lighter tool) than buff.
  • Choose correct compound for the finish you want.
  • Use proper buffer speeds; 2000 RPM or less. Myth: Faster buffer speeds help you get the job done faster. The truth is that slower speeds result in a longer compound open time to further refine the scratch and minimize swirl marks. This helps the mineral in the compound do its job, which is to cut the scratch.
  • Use correct buff pads. To maximize productivity and obtain a high-gloss finish, use compounding pads for compound and polishing pads for polish or swirl mark remover.

Cleanup, Gloss Enhancement and Protection

STEP 1: Clean compounding area with 3M™ Marine Clean and Shine Enhancer (PN 9033) and Scotch-Brite™ High Performance Cloth (PN 23589).

If graphics are still going to be applied, use 3M™ Citrus Base Adhesive Remover (PN 49048) and Scotch-Brite™ High Performance Cloth (PN 23589) to remove surface contaminants for proper graphic adhesion.
*Also available in non-aerosol bulk formats.

STEP 2: Enhance and protect gloss with 3M™ Marine Ultra Performance Paste Wax (PN 9030) or 3M™ Marine Liquid Wax (PN 9027), and for short-term protection, use 3M™ Marine Clean and Shine Wax Enhancer (PN 9033).

Cleaning Tips

  • Use a cleaner that enhances gloss. Some commonly used cleaners actually reduce gloss and can potentially hurt the final fit and finish of your product.
  • Use cleaners that don't contain silicones or waxes prior to applying graphics as they may interfere with graphic adhesion. 3M's Citrus Base Adhesive Remover is recommended for cleaning before graphic application.
  • After graphics have been applied, 3M™ Marine Clean and Shine Wax Enhancer is recommended for follow-up cleaning.

Product List

For Additional Information: To request additional product information or to arrange for sales assistance, please call 1-877-366-2746 (1-877-3M MARINE).
Address correspondence to: 3M Marine, 3M Center Bldg. 223-6S-06, St. Paul, MN 55144-1000. To send a fax, please call 651-737-9658.

Warranty and Limited Remedy: 3M warrants this product will be free from defects in materials and manufacture for 12 months from the purchase date. 3M MAKES NO OTHER WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. If the product is proved to be defective within the warranty period, your exclusive remedy and 3M's and seller's sole obligation will be, at 3M's option, to replace the product or refund the purchase price.

Limitation of Liability: 3M and seller will not be liable for any loss or damage arising from this 3M product, whether direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential, regardless of the legal theory asserted, including warranty, of contract, negligence or strict liability.

The foregoing Warranty and Limited Remedy and Limitation of Liability language may be changed only by a written agreement signed by authorized officers of 3M and seller.

Marine & Specialty Vehicle Department
Building 223-6S-06
St. Paul, MN 55144-1000
1-877-366-2746 (Toll Free)

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