Over the past 20 years, we’ve received many questions from customers on repairing inflatable kayaks, locating leaks or adding d-rings and mounts. Just recently, we stumbled across a great tech sheet put together by Aquaglide a manufacturer of inflatable kayaks, standup paddle boards, and a new Backwoods lightweight, packable kayak series. We are reprinting the tech sheet below – read on to find out how to locate a leak in an inflatable kayak, what materials and repair methods to use and when to use them. As long time retailers of inflatable kayaks and paddle boards, we have expanded this to include some of our own AirKayaks tips.
GENERAL PVC REPAIRS – updated 07/30/2020
NOTE: The following instructions are for patching a basic leak on a PVC inflatable, typically a puncture or cut. More complicated repairs such as those near seams and corners, may require special repair techniques which are beyond the scope of this article.
Some Helpful Items and Where to find them
Tear-Aid – Tear-Aid Type B is a self-adhesive patch material that’s widely available online and at nationwide retail outlets like Walmart, Ace Hardware, AirKayaks, REI and more. Great for relatively long-term repair of punctures on all types of PVC products. Clear, non-toxic and easy to use.
Aquaseal FD– This is a liquid sealant that can be oozed into very small cracks, edges and pinholes. Widely available online and at nationwide retail outlets. This stuff is a little messy to work with and may be best applied using a small plastic irrigation syringe from the drug or hardware store.
Shoe Goo, Clear– Yup, seriously. This is a very thick vinyl-based adhesive that can be used for quick, short-term plugging of small holes on low pressure items. Widely available online and at nationwide retail outlets like Walmart, Lowes, Walgreens, Dick’s, REI and more.
Fabric Reinforced PVC – Reinforced PVC, or tarpaulin, is commercial grade material that is the basis for most of Aquaglide’s Duratex products. The strongest and most durable repair for Duratex items is generally to patch with material of the same type. This material can be found in the repair kit included with your Aquaglide product or purchased from an Aquaglide distributor. In a pinch, similar material can be found online, or at marine stores where RIB dinghies or whitewater rafts are sold or serviced. If you go this route, DO NOT use patch material or glue intended for Hypalon, which looks almost identical, but will result in a gooey mess when combined with PVC.
Contact Adhesive– For those choosing to repair with a reinforced PVC patch (see above), using good glue is critical. We recommend HH-66 vinyl adhesive, which is available through Aquaglide, and also widely available online, through Walmart and many local auto