How to Repair PVC Inflatables

Written by rebekah smith
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How to Repair PVC Inflatables
Lengthen the life of your inflatable by learning to repair the holes and leaks. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) inflatables include unsupported PVC, bladder construction, supported fabric with PVC coating and supported fabric with Hypalon coating. Unsupported PVC is made without fabric, and is made with welded PVC film. Bladder construction boats are made with a urethane bladder covered in a heavy polyester fabric. If the fabric is on the inside of the boat, this is a supported fabric with PVC coating or supported fabric with a Hypalon coating. PVC inflatables are easily punctured, but easily repaired. If the boat splits along the seam, it may be due to a manufacturing defect, and the boat should be returned to the manufacturer under the warranty.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Rag
  • Glue brush
  • Solvent
  • Watch
  • Scissors
  • Patches or patch material
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Glue
  • Masking tape
  • Rags
  • Old tablespoon

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  1. 1

    Deflate the boat and remove the floor boards in your boat.

  2. 2

    Locate the rip or tear in the boat and mark it with masking tape. Tape off a square that is 1/2 inch from each side of the hole.

  3. 3

    Cut your patch so that it overlaps 1/2 inch on each side of the hole, making it 1 to 2 inches larger than the hole or tear in the inflatable. Round the corners of the patch.

  4. 4

    Prepare the patch and boat. Scrub the boat and the patch with the solvent to ensure that it is clean. Scrub only the location where the patch is going because it may discolour the boat. Wait for 5 minutes and scrub the patch and boat again. Repeat this again after waiting 5 minutes and let the boat and patch sit for 10 minutes.

  5. 5

    Glue on the patch. Apply the glue to the back of the patch and to the tear area on the boat. Work the glue into the fabric of the boat and patch using a natural hair paint brush cut to 1/2 or 3/4 inch long. Only glue inside the masking tape and do not get glue on the rest of your inflatable. The glue will look very thin when it is ready. Let the glue dry for 5 minutes. Repeat this step three times so that you have three layers of glue on both the boat and the patch. Wait 10 minutes after the final layer of glue is applied.

  6. 6

    Apply the patch. Lay the patch slowly over the hole or tear inside the masking tape starting from one end and carefully moving around the patch. Remove all of the air bubbles and creases in the patch as you put it in place. Press the air bubbles out of the patch using the back of an old tablespoon. Move from the centre to the edges of the patch to remove all of the air between the patch and the boat.

  7. 7

    Wait at least 48 hours for the bond to seal between the patch and the boat.

  8. 8

    Seal up any pinholes. Remove the air from the boat. Inject an air sealant or liquid sealant through the valves in the boat and inflate the boat. Move the liquid around the boat by turning it over and around so that the entire inside of the boat is covered with the liquid. Allow the sealant to dry completely before deflating the boat.

  9. 9

    Test for additional holes in your boat. Inflate your PVC inflatable and make soapy water with the dish soap in the bucket. Take a rag soaked in soapy water and wash the boat down completely. Search for areas where the water bubbles up and take note of each small leak or hole. Pay close attention while you are washing the boat because some holes are small and may only have tiny bubbles.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear a carbon filter respirator and safety gear to protect yourself from the glue. Repair your inflatable in an area where the humidity is less than 70% and the temperature is between 64 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Make repairs away from sunlight and on a hard, flat surface.
  • Do not smoke while you are repairing inflatables because the glue is highly flammable.

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