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Boat Buffer Buyers Guide

Are you looking to buy the best boat buffers? It's one of the best devices out there to help you take care of your boat. If your boat wears our or withers away in appearance, you can just pull out a polish and buffer! With a little time spent on the activity, you can restore your boat to the former glory!

However, it's not easy to choose the right buffer to work with you. As we all know, countless manufacturers offer an extensive range of tools. It becomes confusing to decide which one to choose. The size, durability, warranty, performance, and much more! It's an endless list of considerations.

But where do you begin, and how should you prioritize these aspects? The guide will elaborate on various factors and bring you a little ease for making a decision. More importantly, you will learn everything about a boat buffer to determine whether you need one or not. So, let's begin!

What is a boat buffer? Is it any different from a car buffer?

Buffering is a technique in which you apply polish or paint to the car. Then you start moving your hand around and spread it evenly. Most of the time, it requires you to perform quick motions with hands, even sounded motions by using pads and other tools. Overall, it can be a highly exhaustive task that consumes too much time to do manually. A boat or car buffer is a machine or tool that helps you apply paint or polish on the car's surface or a boat.

In short, with a higher speed of a buffer, you will quickly apply polish or paint. It mimics the hand's motion and provides more precise and well-versed polish to a vehicle's body. Overall, it is highly cost and time-efficient.

It's easy to get confused between a boat buffer and a car buffer. After all, they both have similar designs and purposes. Why can't you use a car buffer, or can you consider car buffers to work as boat buffers? There might be questions like these in your mind.

To put it in short, boat buffers are more robust. A boat is a more durable and denser construct. It can withstand higher speeds and friction. More importantly, people use gel coat, wax, and other similar options for the boat. Meanwhile, the car's layer isn't as durable, and its paints or polish aren't as sustaining against higher vibrations, either.

As boat buffers are more substantial and with more speed, it becomes pivotal to consider their durability and other aspects which would enable you to find the best choice available.

Factors to consider when buying boat buffers

Now that you understand the difference and importance of a boat buffer, it's time to dig into the buyer's guide. These factors are divided into different segments covering a single most crucial buffer aspect with some relevant information. Thus, you can check these factors to get more well-versed knowledge. Let's begin:

Types of buffer

There are three types of buffers available in the market. If you talk about boats, you can consider the latter two. However, if you're new to buffering and still trying to get the hang of the process, it's better to consider all three options.

This segment elaborates on the pros and cons of each type of buffer to provide some valuable information.

Dual-action buffers

These buffers are an excellent choice for beginners who are still learning how to polish their boats. It will enable them to get used to how the polish works and what they can do with the buffer. A dual-action buffer comes with random movements most of the time but is generally slower than the preferred speed for a boat buffer. It will still speed up the process compared to hand polish or buffering.

There's no swirl motion, and there's no requirement either. Most of the time, dual-action buffers provide a finishing touch or a protective coating to a boat. It won't burn through the paints and give a more well-distributed polish on the ship.

Orbital buffers

An orbital buffer is a right choice for minor scratch repairs. It is more robust and better than dual-action. Thus, you can say this is where the actual boat buffer category starts. Orbital buffers don't have a circular or spinning motion for their pads. It's more like a jerk back and forth with powerful vibrations. Most of the orbital buffers prevent a hard-press against the boat.

In other words, you can't push them too hard against the boat's surface as they will stop working. They require you to delicately hold them and move around for enough that the pad is in contact and work. Hence the name, orbital.

Rotary buffer

If you're looking for a professional choice, rotary buffers are the way to go. These have a powerful spin and high-powered motors. If you choose rotary buffers, you need to have experience with polishing. Otherwise, you will end up burning the paint or even causing more harm than good. It requires you to have a keen sense of the time and amount of product it will take to get the job done.

When you go to a professional shot for boat maintenance and polishing, this is the type of buffer they use. Hence, these are more industrial-grade, while orbitals are better for commercial or personal use.

Efficiency in use

The use efficiency has more to do with the usability and additional features that would make the buffer long-lasting. It will enable you to have better and well-versed performance. The efficiency would allow you to control the polishing, carry it out for more prolonged use without requiring breaks. More importantly, efficient boat buffers should have multiple pad compatibility. Let's take a better look at the aspects that make a buffer more efficient to use.

Pads compatibility

Almost every buffer comes with a removable or replaceable pad design to bring you the convenience to change the pad once it wears out. Many people use pads that are one-time use and dispose of them. However, most of the buffer supports a specific brand or build. It would be better to check if you can get different pad compatibility.

There is a polish and wool pad. Both have different applications, and both are vital in boat buffering. Thus, you need a buffer that would enable you to use both of these pads. You wouldn't want to invest in two or more buffers for a particular task, right? Alternatively, you should consider the cost.

If compatibility of buffer or multiple-functioning buffer is more costly than buying two buffers, perhaps you could get two buffers. As long as portability and storage is your primary concern. It will come down to your personal preference and budget consideration in the ned.

Speed variable settings

Speed settings are crucial in any buffer, especially a boat buffer. Multiple-speed settings should be there. The right way to buffer your boat is by starting slow and gradually catching speed, then slowing down again for finesse. If you don't have speed settings on your buffer, it is not an excellent option to have. You may even check the motor and see the amount of power it can take.

Most of the cost-effective choices will come with at least two-speed settings. Three is the average. Higher speed settings would enable you to meet various polishing requirements. Some parts or materials of the boat requires less intensity, while others would need more.

Speed variable settings also make it easier for you to clean your boat. If you use a scrub pad with buffer, you remove oxidization and other elements more efficiently for a holistic approach to cleaning and maintaining your boat. Therefore, you shouldn't overlook the speed variable, especially with pad compatibility.

Heat-treated components

The quality of your buffer's internal components will significantly impact your buffering speed and the time it will take. Many buffers require you to take a rest after 10-15 minutes of use. It enables the motor and components to cool down.

Alternatively, heat-treated components would enable you to work for at least twice as long. Some allow your buffer to cool down by lowering the speed. This could bring you lasting performance without requiring frequent breaks.

However, the cost of these motors will be much more. These are premium selections and require much more initial investment due to the qualitative components of high-grade.

Ease of use

Ease of use is more about you than the efficiency of the machine. It comes down to how comfortable it is for you to use the boat buffers. More importantly, are there features that support your activity? If you're unsure about how to determine ease of use, here's everything you need to consider:

Weight of the buffer

Heavier buffers are harder to hold and use for a more extended period. Thus, you might want to check for lightweight choices. But you can't go too light, or it might compromise the model's power and integrity. You need to find a balance, something you can hold and use efficiently without building too much stress on your body.

Remember, the machine appears to be heavier when there are intense vibrations. There will be excessive vibrations in a boat buffer because of the process. So a buffer that feels like without power might turn heavy. The best way to determine the right weight is to start the buffer and take a trial.

Accessories available

This point correlates to the pad compatibility, but not exclusively for pads. Your buffer should be compatible with various tools and accessories available. It could work with better velcro straps around the handle for a secure hold. You could get easy handle replacements—bags for storage and so on.

More importantly, brushing to clean the boat with your buffer to become multi-purpose could be a great option as well. When buying a buffer, check if it comes with or without pads. More importantly, it should come with both a wool pad and a polish pad to be a high value for money.

There's no reason to pay a higher price for a buffer that doesn't come with pads. Multiple pads, even direction, or specific purpose pads could be a great choice. This, combined with speed variable settings, would bring you a highly versatile option for buffers.

Handle for directional hold

Check the position and build of the handle. You might want to read the manual and see how many directions the buffer supports. Alternatively, you may find it on the buffer. It's vital to get multiple directions and a comfortable handle design for it. You're the one holding the buffer and using it, so you have to be comfortable to use it.

As mentioned earlier, buffering is not an easy task. It can take hours or multiple days if you take proper breaks and do other work. Thus, a directional handle will play a vital role. A more well-versed handle would enable you to hold the buffer in any way you like. You'd be able to reach various lengths and settle the grip according to the shape for better buffering of the ship.

Grip and firmness

Correlative to the handle, the grip on your buffer would matter. When you talk about grip, it isn't just available on the handle. Many parts of the buffer's body also have grip support for you to use both hands. If there are rubber coats on the handle and around the body, it will allow for more firmness and stability.

Similarly, the buffer's grip on the pad and the pad's grip on the surface of the boat would also matter. This entire segment is to help you realize that you need a proper grip. If the pads' grip is too firm against the boat's surface, you will end up doing more harm than good.

It will create more friction, burn the paint, and even damage the surface with too much intensity. Of course, this is also the reason why a speed variation is a good option.

Vibration control

Each model of boat buffers creates intense vibrations. It will make the task more exhaustive due to the consistent toll of the vibrations on your hands and even the body. As mentioned earlier, excessive vibrations also make the buffer feel more decadent than it is. Similarly, too intense vibrations will also weaken the grip, and you may end up accidentally dropping the boat buffer.

If you don't want those mishaps, you need to see how well the buffer holds vibrations. Some come with vibration dampening design to prevent you from feeling any backlash. The pulses should primarily focus on the pad and not the entire body.

Some boat buffers come with a design or option to unleash random vibrations. This could work verywell for polishing the boat. However, it would get some practice to get used to the unexpected vibration intensity.

Cord considerations

The power source for almost every boat buffer is electric. Thus, you need it near the electric port, or at least have enough cord length. It can become highly inconvenient if the cord is not long enough. Depending on the size of your boat, you might want a longer distance. Alternatively, you can use extension cords and other similar additions to ensure you can reach every nook and cranny.

At the same time, you also have to check out to see how well-protected the cord is. Is it protected against the elements like sunlight, water, moisture? The same applies to your buffer, and you will learn more about it below. Anyways, you will always have to prevent the cord from going in the water as that could be harmful to you.

Maintenance and protection

In this segment, we will browse some valuable additions that could make the boat buffers last long. These are some final considerations. This article is just a reminder or suggestion for you as you finalize the buying process.

Wool shield

It is a little addition but prevents the wool and other debris from getting inside the motor or buffer. While seemingly irrelevant, it could drastically reduce cleaning and maintenance requirements. You should always check for it if you want a better buffer.


If you're dumping enough money in the buffer, there's no doubt that it should affirmatively have a warranty. Cheaper buffers don't come with any type of guarantee. You might also have to check the kind of warranty it is. Some dealers provide a manufacturing guarantee, which starts from the day it was manufactured. Hence, the dealer might own an older piece with a warranty about to end. Always check for it.

Others have a lifetime warranty but are limited to the components. You have to check and see the terms. Alternatively, buffers come with a standard buyers' guarantee, which could be great if you buy from brands.

Durability and material

The durability of your buffer and its material composition has a lot to do with its longevity. It will also determine how well it can withstand other elements. You will be exposed to moisture consistently, most likely, around the boat. Even if you do it in your garage or storage facility, you'd have to use some form of water to work around the ship. Thus, the buffer needs to be waterproof.

Whether you have shades or not, the buffer's cord and body should be more resistant to UV to ensure it can last longer. Almost every buffer comes in a plastic design, but the quality might vary. You're looking for a durable, thick, and long-lasting build. Check to see if the plastic body also supports chemicals or other cleaning agents.

FAQs: Best Boat Buffer

Q: How to buffer the boat?

A: If you want your boat to last long with impeccable charm, you might want to clean or wash the boat first. Cleaning your boat is an integral part as it will prepare the surface of the boat. You can use cleaning agents or warm water with soap. Either way, once you are done cleaning, you can apply the wax or any other product.

You might want to divide the buffering process into segments. It is a time-consuming activity and would take multiple hours or days. Try to finish one segment each day to get the best result, as you will manage to polish your boat evenly.

Q: How to maintain or clean the buffer?

A: It would depend on the material of your boat buffers and the qualities. Primarily, you might want to clean the buffer after each use to ensure there isn't any product left on the machine. Clean the pads separately to maintain their integrity. The buffer doesn't need to be water or element-proof. Thus, you would have to treat it like any other tool while cleaning.

Q: What kind of coat or polish should you get for a boat?

A: It would depend on the type of boat and its material. Most of the fiberglass boats require a gel coat, which brings a more even polish and oxidation. It enables you to provide your ship with a protective layer. This layer would improve the life of your boat and protect it from other elements. However, you might want to check some guides on the best boat polish to buy to ensure that you have better knowledge. After all, there are different options available in the market.

Q: Is boat polish different from car polish?

A: Much like the buffer, the product for two vehicles are different, as well. However, many people claim that you can use car polish. It just won't be as long-lasting. Boat polishes come with other coating and elemental protection to withstand water damage, oxidization, sunlight, and much more. Boat coating is more abrasive and even repairs the primary layer. Hence, they require more potent buffer devices.


Buffering your boat is an indispensable requirement for its longevity. It restores the former appeal of your boat and makes it look good as new. There are countless benefits to buffering your craft. To ensure you get the best results, you need a perfect buffering companion.

Now you can buy a boat buffer that will last you for months or even years to come. How frequently you polish your boat depends on the use and exposure to elements. Apart from that, we hope that you realize the value of a buffer. This article should cover all the essential aspects and help you get the best boat buffers. / - © Copyright 2020