How to Repair a Plastic Kayak

It doesn’t matter how carefully you load your kayak on your trailer or luggage rack or how diligently you monitor the water ahead of you, sometimes life just throws the kind of obstacles in your path that are impossible to avoid.

When you and your kayak hit them head-on, the chances are, that you’re going to end up with a crack or a hole in your boat.

But if it does happen, it isn’t the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean that you have to start scrimping and saving to buy a new kayak, because, with a little ingenuity know-how, you can fix your kayak’s plastic hull and make it water tight again.

And we’re going to tell you, with a set of easy to follow, step-by-step instructions, how to repair your kayak and make it ready to ride in again. 

Your Kayak Repair Shopping List

It doesn’t matter whether your kayak is cracked or holed, the end result of both is exactly the same. Your boat is going to start letting in water and as soon as the water starts coming in, your kayak is going to start sinking.

Fixing your kayak is like any other job that needs to be done. You need the right tools to do the job properly, which means that you’re going to need to patch and seal the problem area, and you’re going to need to work fast and efficiently because if you don’t there’s a good possibility that you could actually make the problem worse.

This is what you’ll need to fix your kayak. Some sandpaper, a pair of pliers, a knife, a rule and a marker, a heat gun, or if you can’t find lay your hands on one, a blowtorch, a pallet knife, a pair of work gloves, and a plastic patch to cover the damaged area.

The main problem that you’ll have is finding the plastic that you’re going to use as a patch, but we found that the best source of that plastic is the fifty-gallon drums that you often find at recycling centers.

They’re not expensive, and it’s worth paying out the few dollars that one of those drums will cost you rather than buying a new kayak. And the best thing about buying the drum from a recycling center? It’ll already have been cleaned, so that’s one less job that you’ll have to do.

Preparing Your Kayak and the Patch

Make sure you know how large the crack or the hole in your kayak is and then measure your patch on the drum using the rule and marker. This is important, so you need to focus - however big the hole or the crack in your kayak is, your patch needs to be bigger.

Ideally, the patch should be four centimeters bigger than the crack or hole is in every direction, as it needs to overlap and be fixed in place over the damaged part of your kayak. As soon as you’ve measured your patch, cut it out of the drum.

Take the sandpaper and lightly sand the area around the damage on your kayak. You don’t need to spend a lot of time doing it, just rough the plastic up a little and it’ll be ready for you to start working on fixing the damage.

Heating and Fixing

Put your gloves on, and use the pliers to pick up and hold your plastic patch. This is where you’re going to need to act quickly and decisively and can’t afford to make any mistakes. So don’t start until you’re completely ready.

Switch your heat gun or blowtorch on and begin to heat the damaged area on your kayak and the patch that you’re holding at the same time.

When they both start to smell like they’re starting to burn and are beginning to get tacky, use the pliers to carefully, but quickly, place the patch over the damaged area of your kayak.

As the plastic on both the patch and the damaged area has started to melt (that’s why it smells like it’s burning), the former should weld itself to the latter immediately and will fix itself in place. Lightly smooth it over with the pliers to make sure that it has stuck, and put the pliers down.

Smoothing the Patch Over

The patch is going to look messy, but this next step on the road to making your kayak seaworthy again will take a little bit of the ugly out of your patch and your boat and make sure that the patch will hold and stay in place.

Start heating the edge of the palette knife up with the blowtorch - you’re going to need to wear your gloves for this part of the job too, so don’t take them off unless you want to end up being treated for third-degree burns in the emergency room. Once the knife is hot, put the heat gun or blowtorch that you’re using down and make sure that it’s switched off.

While the edge of the knife is still hot, use it to smooth out any and all of the imperfections in the patch. You’ll need to work quickly and carefully, and the best way to do it is to pretend that you’re spreading butter or jelly on a piece of toast.

Just remember that the knife you’re using to do the spreading is a lot bigger and hotter than the one that you use at the breakfast table. When you’re confident that the patch looks smoother than it did, and is tightly fixed in place, put the knife down and let the patch and your kayak cool down.

Sanding It Down

The last step is designed to take the rest of the ugly out of your patch and make it look and feel like it’s always been part of your kayak. Pick up the sandpaper and lightly begin to sand the patched area down.

Don’t put too much pressure on the paper, just lightly sand the patched area until your patch and the area around your fix are completely smooth.

And when your patch is flush with your kayak and has been sanded down, it’ll be seaworthy and ready for the water again. We told you that it was a lot easier and cheaper than buying a new kayak, didn’t we?

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