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What kind of damage should you expect when you own and operate an inflatable boat?
What can cause this type of damage?
How long can you reasonably sail your inflatable boat before something like this happens?
In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of inflatable boat repair, including what to expect from most inflatable boats. For the most part, these types of boats are fairly durable; however, they can be prone to some kinds of damage.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the proper way to repair your inflatable boat before anything unfortunate occurs. This way, you won’t be stuck having to scramble for information while you need to be fixing your boat.
Check out our quick walkthrough to help you learn the basics for inflatable boat patching and repairs.
How to Repair your Inflatable Boat (STEPS w/ VIDEO)
The most common type of damage you’re likely to encounter with your inflatable boat is leaking, whether that is in the form of holes, tears, punctures, or other similar issues. Almost any type of collision or scraping can cause this type of damage, and it’s not very uncommon at all. Most inflatable boats will suffer a hole or tear at some point; some may be able to sail for years before this happens, but others may run into some bad luck sooner rather than later.
In this section, we’ll give you some quick tips to help you learn how to repair your boat if this should happen to you. Big and small tears can be repaired in much the same way, but you will need different kinds of repair kits depending on the material your boat is made from. Keep this in mind as you check out our guide below!
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- Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)
- Repair Kit (usually included with inflatable boats, but can also be purchased separately)
- Face mask
- Duct tape
- Optionally: Bottle filled with liquid soap and water mixture
- Note: If your repair kit doesn’t come with glue, you’ll need to choose the right glue for the job. Consider the following:
- PVC or urethane fabric: Urethane adhesive, Stabond, or vinyl adhesive
- Wood, metal, fiberglass, or ABS plastic: Epoxy
- Rubber materials: Hypalon or neoprene adhesives
1. Before you begin, make sure you work in a ventilated area. The adhesive you’ll be using is flammable and fumes may be toxic.
2. The first step is to fully inflate your boat. This way, you’ll be able to see where the leaks may be coming from. This choice may take a little time to locate the leaks, but until you find them, you won’t be able to continue. Take your time looking for any potential problem areas.
3. One good way to determine whether or not a hole is causing a leak is to use the liquid soap and water mixture. Shake it up to form bubbles, then squeeze some onto the problem area. If the bubbles get bigger, this means air is being blown into them. In other words, bigger bubbles indicate a leak.
4. Put on your face mask so you don’t breathe the MEK fumes as you continue.
5. Pour a small amount of the MEK onto a towel and scrub the area where the leak is present.
6. Next, find a PVC patch from your repair kit. Cut a piece about one to two inches larger than the problem area.
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7. Use duct tape to outline the area where the leak is present. This will make it easier for you to see it and work with it.
8. Use your sandpaper to sand the area where the damage is located. Then, sand the back of the PVC path as well.
9. Use the glue that is included in your repair kit to apply an even, flat layer on the pack of the PVC patch.
10. Add another even, flat layer to the side of the boat where the damage is present.
11. Let the glue dry for 15 seconds.
12. Press the patch onto the side of the boat.
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13. Press the patch well to remove any air bubbles.
14. Let the patch dry for at least an hour, then check for bubbles again using your soap and water mixture.
15. If the patch is sealed correctly, let it dry for an additional 24 hours before taking the boat back out on the water.
16. You can use a hair dryer to speed the drying process along. However, make sure to let everything dry thoroughly before using the boat on the water regardless.
17. Note: You may be able to save money by using PVC plumbing glue and truck slider material instead of purchasing a repair kit.
18. Note: For a very large tear, you will need to patch the inside material of your boat as well as the outside.
Inflatable Boat Repair Kits (YOU WILL NEED)
Now that you’ve learned how to fix holes in your inflatable boat, it’s time to pick up a repair kit or two. Different boats and materials require different kinds of repair kits, so be sure you get the right one for your needs.
Here are a few repair kits to help you get started.
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Inflatable Boat Patch/Repair Material
This Inflatable Boat Patch/Repair Material comes in a pack of two Hypalon material patches. The patches are available in dark gray and are 7.75 inches long by 3.5 inches wide. These are good, solid, simple patches that can help you repair many of the most common inflatable boats on the market.
- The patches are thick enough to get the job done well.
- The patches are easy to cut and work with.
- These patches may arrive in either rounded or straight edges, but buyers cannot choose which one to receive.
- Dark gray is the only available color.
Inflatable Boat Repair Kit
This Inflatable Boat Repair Kit has everything you need to get started fixing most of the common inflatable boat damage you may encounter. The patches and adhesive included are ideal for use with most of the inflatable boats available on the market today, and should be able to be used with various materials as well.
- The kit includes a valve wrench as well as adhesive.
- The kit also comes with patches in both black and dark gray.
- This option may arrive missing instructions for how to use the included items.
- The carrying case that comes with the kit is poor quality and is not water-tight for protection.
Fiberglass Evercoat Inflatable Boat Repair Kit
If you’re looking for something to use with your fiberglass boat, try this No products found. instead. The kit includes durable items that can be used for fiberglass repairs and are sure to hold up to a lot of wear and tear over time.
- This kit includes sandpaper, rubber materials, and rubber cement.
- The kit also comes with a cleaning solvent to make it easier to prepare the area you need to work on repairing.
- The rubber cement may be a little difficult to apply.
- This is a pricey kit in comparison to some others.
Pick the best repair kit for your needs, and you’ll be one step closer to getting your inflatable boat back on the water as fast as possible!
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