How To Repair A Kayak

How To Repair A Kayak

One of the considerations for deciding which type of material you want your kayak to be made from (wood/rotomold/glass/thermoform/inflatable-folding) should be the extent of damage you might suffer and the subsequent ease of repair – particularly structural damage that critically compromises the integrity of the craft. Depending on the use of your kayak, repairs can be as simple as applying a small amount of marine glue or duct tape and moving on with your day.

If, however, your damage is major and may compromise your boat in any way, you’ll want to make sure that your repair is solid and lasting – or worse, even possible! You will need to follow different procedures depending on the material of your kayak. These can range from simple repairs like smoothing a scratch, or forcing out a ding, to more complex repairs like filling a hole or closing a crack.

Read More: how to fix a crack in a kayak

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Before we go into detail about how each boat material is repaired, there are some general rules that can be applied to all repairs. Following these guidelines can make the process much faster. These rules can cause more damage than you intended.

PRE-REPAIR HOMEWORK:

Kayak Repair Chemicals and Materials
(A) Plastic Welders/ Thermoform (B) G-flex/ Rotomold (C) Epoxy Resins/ Glass, Wood (D) Duct, Weather Seals, Marine Tapes (E) Underwater Epoxy Putty (F) Repair Kit
  1. A prudent first move when it comes to trying to repair your boat is to contact the manufacturer to double check on exactly what the material is and what adhesives, fillers and other applicable goos will bond with it – or more importantly – cause damage. If you intend to paint or coat over your repair, check to see which paints (or pigments added to your goo of choice) will adhere to the material;
  2. Specific repair sequences can be quite detailed, most manufacturers provide videos or extensive written/illustrated instructions on how to make repairs to their boats, as well as the tools, adhesives and other repair items you’ll probably need. YouTube also has myriad “how-to” clips on repairs – be sure to choose your “expert” advisors wisely!
  3. Larger areas where you have to actually replace lost hull/deck material can best be matched if you can get a piece of scrap material from your dealer or manufacturer – pairing material and color to your own boat;
  4. If you can find a similar piece/shape of material, and you are unfamiliar/uncomfortable with repairing your boat, practice the type of repair (filling in scratch, repairing a hole) on a sample piece first – to get a feel for how a heating tool works, for example;
  5. Coupled with #4, if you are concerned about a negative reaction to a particular adhesive, goo, or even heat treatment, find a place on your boat where you can make a test application that won’t affect the structure and is out of view;
  6. Plan to treat your repair like surgery in an operating room: all the tools and materials you’ll need should be laid out within reach; Be sure to wear eye protection, face mask and gloves.
  7. Work in a well-ventilated area;
  8. Mix just enough repair material you’ll need to complete the job quickly. Fast set-ups of some adhesives don’t give you much time to pause/hesitate;
  9. Always make sure the damaged area and immediate surrounding material is cleaned and free of any minute loose particles, grit, etc;
  10. Make sure you’ve given the adhesive/goo/putty/? Give the adhesive/goo/putty/ enough time to cure before you move on to the next step. Please read the instructions!;
  11. Consider clean-up to be as critical as the repair itself, especially if adhesives get onto other areas of the boat or otherwise drift/expand beyond the work area.
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