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How To Fix A Hole In A Kayak

If you’ve ever had a leaky kayak, you know how frustrating it can be. It’s not just about having a bad day when you’re paddling, either; leaking kayaks can be dangerous and cause serious problems. That’s why it’s vital that you don’t ignore a leaky kayak – you need to fix it immediately.

But how are you supposed to fix a hole in a kayak? Don’t worry, because this guide will take you through all the steps you need to do to fix the hole in your kayak!

How To Fix A Hole In A Kayak

What Is Your Kayak Made Out Of?

Fixing up your kayak will involve different things depending on the material your kayak is made of. You can’t use the same methods for any material, and fixing your kayak with the wrong method is a sure way to do more damage to your kayak.

Most commercially available kayaks are made out of high-density polyethylene, a sturdy plastic polymer. This is the most common type of kayak.

Plastic kayaks come in one of two types of polyethylene – crosslink polyethylene, and high-density linear polyethylene. Crosslink is the tougher variety of plastic; however, linear polyethylene is cheaper, easier to mold, and overall a better material for kayaks. Most of the time, plastic kayaks will be made out of linear polyethylene.

Older and more traditional kayaks may be made out of wood. These kayaks are much less common, and unless you’ve specifically sought one out you’re unlikely to need to fix one. Because wood is much more rigid and thick than polyethylene (with completely different properties) you’ll need to use different methods to fix them both.

Fixing A Hole In A Plastic Kayak

If you have a plastic kayak, you should be able to repair it yourself. 

Most small-scale wear and tear can be patched up without too much difficulty, so don’t feel like you have to get rid of your kayak just because it’s a bit busted up. 

Larger and more substantial damage is harder to fix, and you may need to think about just replacing the kayak.

Check The Kayak’s Condition

First, assess how much damage you’re dealing with. Some damage is much more severe than others, and you’ll have a much easier time patching up a small crack than you would have if you were attempting to fix a massive hole.

Consider what parts are damaged, how much damage has been done (in terms of both size and significance of the hole), and whether the hole goes all the way through the shell of the kayak and lets water directly in. 

As mentioned before, the more severe the damage is the harder it will be to fix.

Prepare Your Kayak And Patch

Prepare Your Kayak And Patch

Before you start trying to repair your kayak, make sure that everything is clean and dry. If you have access to some kind of cleaning solution, this is an excellent opportunity to use it. Otherwise, wipe down the outside of the kayak and remove any dirt that will make it harder for the patch to stay in place.

Next, take off your kayak’s seat or harness. This will allow you to work on the kayak from underneath, which makes it much easier to position the patches where they need to go. 

If the hole is on the bottom of the kayak, it will make it simpler to flip the kayak over; meanwhile, dealing with a hole on the top will be easier to do without the seat in the way.

The next step is to prepare the area you’ll be patching up. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may want to cut away part of the hull around the hole. 

You’ll also want to make sure that there aren’t any sharp edges or other objects that could cause further damage, and trim these to make a smoother edge.

Sand down the area you’ll be patching up. Not only will this make the surface more even and easier to fix, but it will also make it easier for your patch to stick. You can replace any treatment or paint after the patch is in place.

Speaking of the patch, take the time to measure it up. If the patch is too small, you won’t be able to appropriately cover up the hole, leading to further leaks and other disastrous consequences. 

Similarly, if the patch is too big it can be loose and end up coming off pretty quickly. Make sure it’s the right size for the job, and you’re ready to go.

Patch The Hole

With the damaged area and your patch ready, it’s time to apply it and fix your kayak. 

Get the patch ready to apply by heating it up. The best way to do this is with a blowtorch or heat gun, as these will get your patch to the right temperature as quickly as possible. 

Be careful not to overdo the heating process – you want the patch to be floppy, but not melted or burned. Using a slow and even motion, make passes over the patch with your heat source until it becomes droopy.

Sweep the torch or heat gun over the damaged spot on the boat, being quick, so the patch doesn’t cool down.  While both things are still hot, press the patch firmly onto your kayak. Cover the hole completely, and keep the patch as smooth and taut as you can. Hold the patch in place for at least a minute to make sure it bonds with the kayak.

Secure The Patch

Your patch won’t stay on for long unless you treat it after. This will also get any creases out, and make sure your kayak stays waterproof. 

Using your heat source and a putty knife, heat the patch back up around the edges and smooth them down onto the surface of the kayak. Sealing the edges is the most important part of this process, and if there’s even a small gap then water will be able to flood your kayak and peel the patch away. 

You can also use this technique to smooth out any wrinkles or folds in the patch, leaving your kayak looking as good as new.

Sand down the patch to remove any rough sections, and wipe your kayak down with a finish over the top to keep everything sealed and secure. Your kayak is now ready to take back out on the water!

Fixing A Hole In A Wooden Kayak

Repairing a wooden kayak is much more difficult than a plastic one, and you’re much better off taking the kayak to a professional to get it fixed. However, you can still patch up some small holes yourself with a bit of effort.

Repairing a hole in a wooden kayak involves getting a matching piece of wood, using it to plug the hole, and sanding it down to make it flush with the rest of the kayak. You would then treat the wood to keep it in place and stop water from entering the kayak.

This is a much trickier and time-consuming type of kayak to fix, and doing it yourself leaves you at risk of leaks or further damage.

Final Thoughts

While a leaky kayak can be a pain to deal with, it’s not the end of the world and you can get it back up and usable in no time. 

Simply follow these easy steps and you can say goodbye to the hole in your kayak.

Now get back out on the water and have fun!

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

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