Repairs to Inflatable Boats Requiring Abrading and Applying Adhesive

Work outside in the shade and a well ventilated area. Wear eye protection, chemical resistant gloves and wear a fresh air respirator if one is available. If one is not available, use a fans to provide a fresh air flow to and from your work area. If you inflatable is leaking here are a few things you do before embarking on any repair:

  1. Soap your boat up with a dish washing soap – leaky spots will quickly present themselves – don’t forget to check your valves also. Once the areas are identified and marked, you must thoroughly rinse your inflatable to remove all remaining soap. Then clean your inflatable with toluol (for hypalon boats) or MEK (for PVC & urethane boats). Never use mineral spirits or turpentine – only these listed solvents are appropriate for your inflatable.
  2. Deflate the chamber(s) needing the repair. Buff or abrade the surface of the area to create a micro texture for the adhesive to adhere to. Adhesives will not stick to a surface that is slick and/or shinny. The boat as well as the repair material will need abrading. We sell abrasive wheels that you can put in a variable speed drill or you can use sandpaper and buff by hand. You want to have a light touch as to not expose the base cloth of your boat while abrading enough to create a texture.
  3. Blow or wipe the dust away. If you want a clean straight edge, apply 2″ masking tape or painters tape. Adhesives vary based on whether your boat is PVC or Hypalon as due to accelerators needed. If in doubt, contact your inflatable manufacturer to determine your boat’s material composition.
  4. If the tear is larger than an inch or two, you should apply both and inside patch and an outside patch. Make sure your inside patch is not leaking BEFORE you put an outside patch over it.

We recommend two part adhesives because they provide the strongest bond. Two thin coats are required – the first coat should completely dry before applying the second coat. Find the right adhesive product

  1. When this second coat is less tacky than duct tape, it’s time to put the repair material to the inflatable.
  2. Applying pressure to the entire surface of the patch is necessary – pay attention to not allow any bubbles of air to get trapped beneath the patch.
  3. Having a board under the patch area will give you a hard surface to roll the patch down on.
  4. Then very softly inflate the chamber and check for leaks.
  5. If any leaks are found either roll & press that area together some more or separate and re-glue.

Once your repair does not leak you can clean the excess adhesive around the patch with our Clean-Up Wheel for a professional looking job.

Let us know how your repair went! Email us at raftrepair@rivergear.com.