inflatable boats and inflatable boat accessories

Inflatable Boat Repair Information and Procedures.

inflatable boat repair information and procedures

























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Inflatable Boats
Repair and Restoration Paint

Turn your old inflatable
into a renewed gem!

inflatable boat accessories

View These Incredible

Inflatable Boat Basic Repair Information and Procedures

- Hypalon Fabric -

Small repairs and the addition of small accessories may be attempted by the owner if factory gluing instructions are followed closely.

Rips or holes larger than one inch in the air chambers or within two inches of a seam should be repaired with internal and external patches by a professional repair technician at a certified repair facility. A quick patch repair may solve your problem for a short period of time, but we recommend you have it redone by a professional.

We recommend that major repairs and the addition of large accessories such as oar locks, seating or towing rings be done by a professional repair technician at a certified repair facility.

Read these general repair tips before starting.

Read this overview of fabric types before starting

Hypalon Fabric Repair Procedures  (PVC Fabric Gluing Instructions Here)

Recommended solvent: The solvent used at the factories is called Toluene or Toluol. It is often available at paint, hardware or plumbing stores as a cleaning solvent.

You can also use MEK (methyl ethyl ketone). It is often available at paint, hardware or plumbing stores, sold as a cleaner for PVC pipes or lacquer thinner. For non-critical bonds you might substitute acetone.

Glue: Zodiac #7097 Universal Glue. You can also use Avon Adhesive (one or two part) or BostikŪ or other Hypalon or rubber glues.

1. Atmosphere: Glue with humidity less than 70%; and not in direct sunlight; Temp. 64° to 77°F is best.

2. Preparation: Gather rags, glue brush; solvent; timer with second hand or stop watch; make sure all the old glue is cleaned off; get your patch cut out, position noted and marked. It always leaves a neat tidy finish if you tape off the perimeter of the patch area with masking tape to avoid over glue. (If you need more details on this part, read these general tips)

3. Mix accelerator and glue thoroughly either now or while waiting between the solvent wipes below. Accelerator is toxic; keep off skin. Keep mixed glue covered (foil or wax paper) when not using. Pot life is about 1 hour. It may still look liquid, but will have lost effectiveness.

IN ADDITION: you must abrade/scuff the fabric to remove any oxidation and to allow the glue to attain a mechanical bond to the scuffed area. Use 100 grit sandpaper or a Dremel tool. Do not cut into the threads under the protective coating. You just need to cut through the surface to allow the solvents and glue to penetrate. Some accessories rubber surfaces have been preprocessed and do not need abrading, rub just the boat fabric. Wipe clean to remove grit and residue.


Solvent Cleaning (2 times - to clean the fabric for a strong "mechanical bond" with the glue)

4. Scrub both sides (boat and patch or accessory) with MEK on a rag to clean surface. Wait 10 minutes after the first MEK wash. (time it)

Mix glue and accelerator while waiting, if not done already.

5. Apply one more solvent wipe with 10 minute waiting time (timed) between them.
You are cleaning the fabric for glue adhesion.


Glue Application (2 thin layers 20 minutes apart)

6. Apply a thin glue layer with stiff brush to both sides. Aggressively work it into the fabric with the brush. If it looks too thin, it is probably correct!

7. Wait 20 minutes (timed) If glue still looks wet, wait longer. Check for no tackiness with knuckle, no adhesive should stick to your skin. Humidity control while glue is drying is critical. Keep door closed. Don't breathe on glue area while inspecting.

8. Repeat steps 6 & 7 (total of 2 layers with 20 minute open time between)

9. Wait 10 minutes after second layer of glue.

10. After 10 minutes, join the parts together. Start from one edge and slowly lay the patch or accessory down onto the glued area.

Press out all air bubbles and wrinkles from the center to the edges. On deflated boat rub as hard as possible with smooth tool, e.g. the back of a large tablespoon - force air out from between boat and patch. Careful not to scratch the fabric.

For davits and hard based accessories, deflate boat and press through from other side to make sure of adhesion. Wipe off excess glue with solvent.

If over 10 minutes or if glue has spots of white haze the glue has picked up moisture and you should try to "reactivate" it. With a clean rag wet the glue surface with MEK but do not rub the glue off (one quick swipe). Then assemble immediately. Press hard. For accessory on an  inflated boat you can rub it down vigorously with a rag with MEK on it.

11. Wait at least 48 hours before use.

A mechanical and chemical bond will continue to strengthen over next 7 days. Don't be tempted to shorten the process. Don't cut this curing time short: your patch could peel off like a Post It note!

12. Pressure test if you want to be sure. Blow it up to full pressure. Leave it overnight.

13. Go boating!


Important Gluing and Safety Reminders


  • Relative humidity must be less than 70%, preferably as low as 40%.

  • Temperature 64° to 77°F.

    Never fiddle around with these. Bond strength drops very rapidly with heat or high humidity. Take your boat indoors. Don't even think about trying to glue on the dock or near the water or in direct sunlight. Professionals use a specially built, climate controlled room, and still don't attempt to work on a rainy day.
    Note: You are using a two-part contact cement. The solvents in the glue must evaporate before assembly. When ready to assemble parts, the glue must not be tacky at all to the finger. It must not have spots of whitish glaze. If so, you may have spread the glue too thick, not waited long enough between coats, or a sudden drop in temperature or gust of humid air may have occurred. Someone may have opened the door, or you may have leaned too close and breathed on it. Plan to stay in the room until finished.



  • Mark out your patch or accessory perimeter where it will be glued on. Then use masking tape to tape off the area to ovoid getting MEK or glue on other parts of your boat during the repair process. This takes a little time but is well worth it in the end as the glue is hard to get off the boat after it dries and looks very messy when it dries and goes brown from the sun.

  • If using small cans ( 1/4 L) mix the entire can with the dose of accelerator. Inaccurate measurement will weaken the glue. Once opened the accelerator cannot be kept. Do not try to save it. The quality of your final bond depends on it.

  • Apply glue with a paint or glue brush with the bristles cut short (1/2 to 3/4") so they are stiff. It must be natural hair (i.e. OK for lacquer); bound in metal not plastic; preferably with wooden or metal handle. Careful not to get glue on areas of your boat besides the repair area.

  • Old glue must be completely removed -- solvent, sandpaper, scraping, grinding with a Dremel tool. Glue will not stick to old glue. Clean it off thoroughly. Be careful not to burn or melt the fabric if using a Dremel tool. Constant motion with the tool will prevent this problem.

  • If your boat has ever been protected with ArmorAllŪ or another silicone or petroleum based product, you may have great difficulty getting a bond. Wipe the repair area well with MEK, follow the gluing instructions closely and hope for the best.

  • Pinhole size leaks in most Hypalonfabric or PVC boats sometimes may be repaired simply by use of either Seam Seal or Air Seal liquids. You might be able to avoid a patch on the boat.

  • To find tiny leaks, take floor boards out, inflate boat hard. Put some liquid detergent in a bucket of water and with rag or big wash brush, scrub it all over boat. Keep watch for elusive, tiny bubbles. When you find the first leak, keep looking. You might as well fix them all at the same time! Remember, the number one cause of slow leaks is a poorly seated valve. Unscrew, clean. Make sure little rubber O-rings are good. They are the cheapest repair possible.

  • If patching, cut patches 1 to 2 " larger than tear in each direction and round the corners (a quarter makes a good template for the edges). Little one inch circles pasted over a pin hole won't last. Try to get the same fabric used by the manufacturer for your boat. The inside and outside surface may be different. If you can't match color, sometimes a cleverly shaped patch in contrasting color can be made to look like decoration instead of a Band-Aid. e.g. arrow, lightning bolt, even a new D ring if in right spot. Professionals often put one on each side to look like they came with the boat.

  • Inflate boat to apply accessories. Deflate to patch air leaks, even if very small. Air pressure will bubble the patch before glue sets.

  • Use our inflatable boat restoration paint if your boat is old looking, looks faded, is sticky or generally looks old and ugly.



  • Do Not Smoke! Glues and solvents are flammable. No open flames (e.g. furnace or pilot light when working in a cellar.)

  • Use in a well ventilated area. Fumes can be overwhelming. A carbon filter respirator is recommended. MEK solvent smells, but is relatively safe. It is recommended that you not use Toluene - the factories do but it is quite dangerous.

  • Accelerator (small bottle) is toxic. If spilled on on your skin WASH IMMEDIATELY with soap and water. If in your eyes, IMMEDIATELY FLUSH WITH WATER for at least 2 minutes and consult a physician. (Accelerator is an isocyanate based product.)

  • Always wear safety gear as recommended by the manufacturer of glue, solvent, accelerator, etc.


NOTE: These instructions are offered to assist you in home use of glues. Because of the wide variety of conditions and critical procedures, we. assume no responsibility for failure of glued bonds or any consequence thereof. We always recommend repairs be done by trained professionals. If you mess it up, it's costly time to clean the fabric and rectify the problem and it can greatly exceed the cost of the original repair.

PVC fabric Gluing Instructions (Most modern Zodiac brand boats are PVC) Here


Fabric Differences
A quick discussion of the differences between "PVC" and "Hypalon" (rubber) fabrics.


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