Repairing Inflatable Boats

In pursuing different boating activities in your inflatable boat, occasionally you may puncture it or experience defect problems. Here are several different situations that you might encounter along with suggestions on how to deal with them:

This is usually the most common and easiest type of puncture to get and to repair. Please note, there are 3 basic types of materials used for inflatable boats:

Unsupported PVC

These are usually the most inexpensive inflatable boat you can buy. Because this type of inflatable boat is made from a unsupported (there is no fabric) PVC film, their durability comes from the quality of the welding formulation and the thickness of the material being used. Generally, the thicker material and the higher quality of the material determines its long-term durability.

If you do scratch or puncture your unsupported PVC hull, simply clean the damaged area with MEK (Methyl Ethyl Keytone (available at most hardware stores) or rubbing alcohol, cut a patch overlapping ½” on all sides of the punctured area, apply a layer of glue on the damaged area and a layer of glue on the smooth side of the patch.

It is important: to be sure to use the glue recommended by the inflatable boat manufacturer.

Wait 3 to 5 minutes for the glue to become tacky, press down and either place a flat weight on the patched area or clamp down. Let dry for 12 to 24 hours. You may wish to apply a small bead of glue to the edge of the patch. Please be sure to use a a sparing amount as too much glue may weaken your first patch

Please note, if you think your unsupported PVC boat has a manufacturing defect (usually, a split along the seam), you should go back to the manufacturer – hopefully, it will be covered by the warranty. If it is beyond warranty, some manufacturers have special deals on used or replacement hulls.

Bladder Construction Boats

(usually with nylon or polyester fabric outer shell and with an unsupported PVC or urethane inner air compartment This system is used by Aire, Sevylor, Stearns, Intex & others.

Generally, these are relatively inexpensive inflatable boats, but it really depends on the materials used – a heavy duty polyester outer fabric with urethane bladder can be very expensive, a light weight nylon outer fabric with unsupported PVC bladders is usually inexpensive.

Repairing this kind of boat depend on what material and what construction system is being used. If it is a welded PVC coated polyester fabric with a tear, you need to glue a PVC coated patch over it. If it is an urethane inner bladder, a small patch of the urethane materials with the glue supplied should do the job. If it is nylon fabric sewn outer hull with a PVC, you may have to sew a piece of nylon fabric over the ripped area. If it is the unsupported bladder and it is not a defect, a small patch over the damaged area as described above should solve you problem.

Supported Fabric with PVC coating

(Used by Zodiac, Sevylor, Sea Eagle, Mercury Inflatables & others) – This type of material has a fabric inside of it which adds tear strength and rigidity when inflated.

If you do scratch or puncture your unsupported PVC hull, simply clean the damaged area with MEK (Methyl Ethyl Keytone – available at most hardware stores) or rubbing alcohol, cut a patch overlapping ½” on all sides, apply 2 layers of glue – 1 to the damaged area to be patched, 2 to the smooth side of the patch.

(Important: please be sure to use the glue recommended by the inflatable boat manufacturer).

Wait 3 to 5 minutes for the glue to become tacky, press down and either place a flat weight on the patched area or clamp down. Let dry for 12 to 24 hours. You may wish to apply a small bead of glue to the edge of the patch. Please be sure to use a sparing amount as too much glue may weaken your first patch. Please also note, if you think your supported fabric PVC boat has a manufacturing defect (usually, a split or opening up along the seam of the outside), you should go back to the manufacturer – hopefully, it will be covered by the warranty. If it is beyond warranty, some manufacturers have special deals on replacement hulls.

Supported Fabric with Hypalon coating

(Used by Achilles, Avon, Caribe & others) – This type of material also has a fabric inside of it which adds tear strength and rigidity when inflated.

If you do scratch or puncture your unsupported PVC hull, simply clean the damaged area with MEK (Methyl Ethyl Keytone – available at most hardware stores) or rubbing alcohol, cut a patch overlapping ½” on all sides, apply 2 layers of glue – 1 to the area where the patch will go, 1 to the smooth side of the patch.

(Important: please be sure to use the glue recommended by the inflatable boat manufacturer).

Please note, Hypalon coated boats generally need to use a 2 part glue – a base glue and an accelerant in order to make the glue adhere properly. Wait 3 to 5 minutes for the glue to become tacky (check manufacturer’s instructions for actual specifics), press down and either place a flat weight on the patched area or clamp down.

Let dry for 12 to 24 hours. You may wish to apply a small bead of glue to the edge of the patch. Please be sure to use a a sparing amount as too much glue may weaken your first patch.

Please also note, if you think your supported fabric Hypalon boat has a manufacturing defect (usually, a split or opening up along the seam of the outside), you should go back to the manufacturer – hopefully, it will be covered by the warranty. If it is beyond warranty, some manufacturers have special deals on replacement hulls.

 

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