The material that many plastic canoes and kayaks are made of is called high density polyethylene (HDPE) and it is an extremely difficult material to repair. The same chemical properties that make your boat extremely flexible and durable also prevent other materials from binding to it.
HDPE is resistant to repairs using typical adhesives and sealants in most applications. However, this does not mean that scratches, holes, gaps and cracks on plastic kayaks must not be mixed.
Let's explore some guidelines on how to fix each type of damage that you may experience throughout the life of your boat.
Scratches and holes in the hull of the kayak
Scratches and holes are the most common damage to plastic kayaks. Kayaks are towed along the coast and paddle on shallow rocks. They also got hit by many things when we brought them from the warehouse to the front of the car.
Scratches are a part of this sport and, for the most part, they are nothing of concern. Some of these scratches are accompanied by plastic peeling or fraying. These pieces of plastic also have no problem.
If there are thick scratches that peel off the plastic, simply take a razor blade and cut those areas.
Sometimes, gouge may be deeper than normal and will be big enough for you to care about. In these cases, the plastic can drip into the crack to fill it.
The best plastic to use is the kayak itself, from any cuts you may have saved or other repairs you've made in the past.
If not, you can buy HDPE welding rods from many row shops. You can even use containers like milk cartons made from HDPE.
Simply grab a lighter for the plastic and when it melts, it drips. Allow these drips to fill the scratch. Use a spoon or screwdriver to smear it into the groove. Sand or cut out any excess and make smooth repair.
Hole in the kayak floor
Although very rarely the top of a kayak develops cracks, the holes are quite common because of everything that is attached to them. When the screw is lost or the accessories are removed, it leaves a hole and when water splashes, it can enter the kayak. Obviously, you would leave a kayak in these cases.
Something as simple as tape will hold water. It will only need to be replaced on a regular basis, but it's a good temporary fix.
A UV-proof silicone may also be used in this situation. They can be found at hardware stores and are often labeled for 'marine' use. Use duct tape on the underside of the hole to act as a temporary foundation, then fill the hole with silicone from the top.
Cracks on the kayak
Cracks are the most serious damage possible with kayaks and location is everything. Many cracks on the top of the kayak can be treated much like a hole, with duct tape or silicone. Although there is no solution to the crack, both will prevent water from entering the kayak.
It is a completely different story if the crack is on the underside of the kayak. This is the side that supports your weight, hitting rocks and keeping the boat from sinking. Unfortunately, this is also where cracks occur most often and they require serious attention. Kayaks should not be rowed until they are inspected and handled permanently.
The most serious position for a crack is under the seat and forwarded to the foot pegs. This is the area in which paddler weight and force are often acted in ways that are not shaped. Cracks facing the bow or back toward the stern were less serious. These areas do not have the bend that the seating area has, although they are still a concern.
Regardless of the crack, its ends must be drilled to prevent further spread and the cracks will need to be plastic welded. If you will have an expert do this, please leave the drill to them.
Consult a kayak shop or rental business to guide you on the next steps. They will assess the severity of the crack in relation to its size and location. When looking at the dimensions, they will check not only the length of the crack but also its width. Apparently, an opening is more serious than a hairline crack.
If you plan to fix yourself:
Using a small drill, place a small hole at each end of the crack so it doesn't spread.
Plastic welding cracks to complete repair. You will need a plastic welding kit with a HDPE welding rod and it works the same way as a glue gun.
Plastic can also be repaired with a lighter or flashlight and plastic remnants.
When you try to repair a serious crack yourself, you risk further damage to your kayak. It is also possible that whatever you do will not be repaired by an expert. Think carefully before getting started and proceed at your own risk.
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