How To Repair A Kayak

How To Repair A Kayak

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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 upon the extent of use you plan to give your kayak, repair concerns may be as easy as a field fix of simply slapping on a strip of duct tape or a dab of marine putty and continuing on for the 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! The processes for basic repairs – smoothing a scratch or forcing out a dent – to filling a gouge or closing a crack each require their own protocols depending upon the material from which your kayak is made.

Before offering an overview of the ways each boat material is typically repaired – there are a few general ground rules that apply to all repairs; following them can help make fix-ups go much quicker. Not following them can create even more damage than what you had to begin with!

PRE-REPAIR HOMEWORK:

(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/? adequate time to cure before you continue to work it or go on to the next step. Read the instructions on the container!;
  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.