How to fix a plastic kayak

My boat cracked. Can I repair it??

That was the first question that came to my mind after it happened. Luckily my friend had a heat gun and he knew a thing or two about kayak repairs. You should know that when you heat up the plastic, there is always a chance that you will make it even more deformed than it was. This method has worked for me lots of times but you use it at your own risk.

What do you need?

  • Flexible metal net
  • Heat gun
  • Knife or spoon
  • Sand paper
  • Drill

Before you start, check what material is your boat made of. Most boats are made out of layered high-density polyethylene (HDPE) but some manufacturers use high-density crosslinked polyethylene (HDXLPE). If your boat is made out of HDXLPE I would recommend you hand it over to a professional welder because its melting point is very close to its burning point – that’s why it’s really easy to transform your small crack into a very big hole.

Of course when I first started to fix my boat I had no idea about different materials. I just started to work. Luckily my boat was made out of HDPE. 🙂

Step 1:

You will need some plastic to melt it over the crack. You can order it from you boat manufacturer or you simply cut it from your boat. There is some spare plastic around the hole of the boat. (See the picture below.)

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Step 2:

Drill holes at both ends of the crack to stop it from spreading further. (You can do this while you are still on the river using a knife but make sure you put some duct tape over the holes to keep the water out.)

Step 3:

Your repair area (surface around the crack) needs to be clean before you begin to heat it up. Make sure you also clean the crack – the easiest way to do it is to use sandpaper.

Step 4:

Cut the iron net, put it over the crack and slowly begin to heat up the repair area. Make sure you heat it up slowly and don’t overdo it. If the plastic gets brown, it means that you are overheating it. While you are heating the repair area, push the net into the plastic until it binds both parts of the crack together.

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Step 5:

Take the plastic piece you cut from your boat and heat it up. Then put it on the net and spread it over the crack. You need to keep your repair area hot enough in order to blend the two plastics together. Be careful that you don’t overheat it because the plastic will loose its strength and in the worst-case scenario it can liquefy. If your temperature is just right it’s like spreading Nutella over a piece of bread. Just continue this process until you cover the whole area around the metal net.

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Step 6:

Once you spread the plastic over the repair area and you are finished with your work, you should let your kayak cool down before you use it again. You can try to make the repair area smoother using sand paper. Keep in mind your repair will never look perfect.

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Using this method you can basically fix all kinds of cracks.

You can transform this:

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Into this:

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And this is how it looks like after three months of paddling

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Good luck!

See you on the water…

Iztok