All About Repairing Plastic Kayaks

There is no question about it, the advent of plastic has changed the sport of kayaking forever.  This wonder material is durable, flexible, and inexpensive.  The qualities that make plastic perfect for making kayaks out of are the same properties that make it extremely difficult to repair.  While repairing plastic kayaks may not be easy, it certainly isn't impossible either.  Here's a guide to determine how to repair and even plastic weld your kayak.

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Can Plastic Kayaks Be Repaired?

Many kayaking outfitters don't want to get involved with repairing plastic kayaks.  They often advise their customers that repairing plastic kayaks isn't worth it or won't work and it might be time to buy a new kayak.  Of course they worry about liability.  It is also a messy process that doesn't end up looking like new and they don't want to deal with that.  And, of course, they're in the business of selling boats, not repairing them.  

While it might be time to retire your kayak, you should still know your options.  This article will help you understand why plastic is so difficult to fix and give you ideas on how to proceed with repairing your plastic kayak.

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Different Ways to Repair Your Plastic Kayak

 Not all damage to your plastic kayak are equal.  The location, size, and type of hole, scratch, gouge, or crack are all factors that play into how you should repair your kayak.  This guide will help you assess your damage and give you advice on how to proceed.  

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Determine if Your Plastic Kayak Can Be Welded

Plastic Welding Materials. © George E. Sayour

 Once you determine that plastic welding is the necessary fix for a crack in your kayak, you'll need to determine if your particular kayak can be welded.  Plastic kayaks are made of polyethylene.  However, not all polyethylene can be repaired.  Linear High Density Polyethlyene (HDPE) can be plastic welded.  Crosslinked Polyethylene (XLPE) can not.  Lucky for kayakers most kayaks nowadays are made out of HDPE, but you still need to make sure.  Here's how to know if your kayak is made of HDPE and can be plastic welded.

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Plastic Welding Supplies

Ligher, Screwdriver, and Plastic Scrap to complete Plastic Welding a Kayak. © George E. Sayour

Most experts will say you need a plastic welder and plastic welding rods to repair the crack in your kayak.  However, if you don't want to invest in this highly specialized equipment and supplies, you still have options.  The basis for plastic welding is heat and plastic and both are readily available in your home.  Here's a list of supplies you'll need to plastic weld your kayak on budget.  

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How to Plastic Weld Your Kayak

Location for Kayak Hatch
A flat spot designed for a kayak hatch to be installed. Photo © by George E. Sayour

Once you know that you can plastic weld your kayak and you gather the necessary supplies, you're ready to put heat to plastic and fill in that crack.  This is no doubt a scary proposition for kayak owners.  Here is a guide on how to plastic weld your kayak with common supplies you have around the house. 

Kayaking Gear Repair

Kayaking gear isn't cheap. We also usually love the equipment we use. Both are reasons to properly maintain our kayaks and the equipment we use while out on the water. Kayaks naturally develop scratches, gloves and wetsuits develop holes, and plastic and rubber can dry out. All of this is natural. But none of them are reasons to throw gear away if caught early enough. Here is a list of repair items that every kayaker should have on hand to repair and prolong the life of their kayaks and gear.