Inflatable Boat Repair for Damaged, Punctured, and Faded Hulls

Are you nervous about doing an inflatable boat repair job and wonder if your boat or kayak will still be seaworthy with a patched air chamber? Many people have the same doubts about inflatable boat maintenance that you do.Yet the reality is that a large puncture doesn’t mean the boat is a total loss. Even in cases where the inflatable boat is many years old and the hull appears to be deteriorating, it can be restored and repaired at minimal cost.

Punctures: Large and Small

Pinholes and small leaks can be fixed while still underway without deflating the hull. Most boats are sold with a small inflatable boat repair kit (swatches of material and a tube of glue) for just such emergencies. You select a glue repair kit depending on the type of hull material your boat has — either Hypalon or PVC. The patch kit is specific to one or the other, but they both work the same way. The glue has a unique chemical bonding agent that vulcanizes the two surfaces together, making the patched area as strong as or stronger than the rest of the hull.

Clam Seal Instant Boat Repair – Works on Tears Above and Below Waterline

Large rips (one inch or bigger), or a puncture near a seam, should be repaired by a professional who will use interior and exterior patches. If there is a leakage problem due to a seam failure, or any type of defect in fabric or construction, and the boat is still under warranty, it is best to return the inflatable (without floorboards and accessories) to the manufacturer. If the defect cannot be repaired, you will get a replacement boat.

Restoring the Hull Fabric

Hands down, the biggest threat to an inflatable hull made from PVC or Hypalon is prolonged exposure to the sun. Left in the open without a boat cover, the material on the inflated air chambers will lose color, fade, and deteriorate from the effects of UV radiation.

When this happens you need to use a product designed to restore and protect an old hull. The best on the market is Tuff Coat, a UV-resistant synthetic rubber coating (SRC) that can be used for inflatable boat repair on kayaks, fishing pontoons, tenders, runabouts, and RIBs. Tuff Coat is painted on the entire hull and directly bonds to the PVC or Hypalon surface. The SRC compound has a separate base coat and top coat application that increases protection from the sun and other elements, and restores the boat’s appearance to like-new.

Care and Preservation

If you aren’t in need of inflatable boat repair or restoration, you must still condition the craft to keep it in top shape. There are two highly recommended products to keep on hand for periodic inflatable boat maintenance. The first is 303 protectant spray, a water-based polymer formula that helps to screen out harmful Ultraviolet rays. The second is a marine cleaner that is formulated to remove stains including oil, dirt, mud, fish guts, and many others. With regular cleaning and inspection, you will extend the life of your inflatable.

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