Kayaks can be difficult to repair, in part due to the HDPE plastic they are constructed from. That being said, it is definitely possible if you have the right tools. Let’s find out the best glue for Kayaks, and how to use it.
In a rush?
No time to read? No problem! Here are the best glues for Kayak repairs and modifications:
Best Glue for Kayak Hull Repairs: JB-Weld Marine Epoxy
(or use a heat gun for more serious/structural damage)
Best Glue for additions/modifications above the waterline: Weldwood Contact Cement.
Best Glue for Kayak seats or foam pads: 3M 90 spray contact adhesive.
Best Glue for Inflatable Kayaks or emergency repairs: Flex Tape rubberized tape.
Best Glue for Kayaks
Kayaks are quite difficult to glue because they are typically made from HDPE (Polyethylene Plastic), which is not porous, meaning most regular household glues won’t work on it.
Kayaks take a lot of abuse, being constantly subjected to water and assorted underwater collisions, any repair has to be completely watertight and extremely durable.
Most household glues will not work on this type of plastic, the best option is to use a marine-grade epoxy like JB-Weld Waterweld, (for hull repairs) or a strong contact cement like Weldwood Contact Cement for adhering to anything above the waterline. (seats, fishing pole holders, etc)
In addition, for very large holes or cracks, you might opt to use a heat gun instead, which can be used to melt the plastic hull and fuse it with replacement plastic. HDPE plastic has a low melting point, so it’s easy to mold and shape when heated, and you can add additional plastic too, if necessary to fill any major damage.
You can buy extra HDPE plastic online, or use common household items created from HDPE.
Best glue for repairing kayak hull
Are you spending more time pumping than paddling? If your bilge pump is groaning from overuse, you may have damage to your hull.
Whether it’s a small crack that has gone unnoticed or a massive gaping hole from the rapids you rode at the weekend, you will want to get any hull damage fixed up as soon as possible.
The best adhesive option for repairing hull damage for your kayak is to use a marine grade two-part epoxy like JB-Weld Waterweld.
It’s waterproof, adheres well to plastic, and dries extremely strong.
For best results, plug any holes from both the outside and the inside, so that the adhesive can stick to itself to create a permanent plug.
How to glue Kayak hull:
- Thoroughly clean the affected area. Make sure it’s free from any dirt, grease or dust.
- Lightly sand the area to increase adhesion.
- Break off a part of your JB-Weld Waterweld epoxy material, enough to fill the damage.
- Thoroughly mix the two part epoxy until it’s a solid, uniform color.
- Push the Waterweld in to the crack, hole or gouge, until it starts coming through to the inside of the hull.
- Smooth out the putty on both the outside and outside, so the putty extends slightly beyond the damaged area.
- Allow at least one hour for the putty to cure.
- If necessary, the dry Waterweld can be sanded to be more streamlined.
How to repair kayak hull with a heat gun:
If you don’t have any glue to hand, but you have a heat gun, or if you have a major repair or crack which is too large to be left to adhesives, you can use a heat gun to melt the hull back together.
Kayaks are most often made from HDPE plastic, which has quite a low melting point, meaning you can melt some additional plastic and fuse it onto the hull, repairing any damage permanently.
You can pick up a cheap heat gun on Amazon if you don’t already have one.
- Use a heat gun to heat the affected area on the surface of the Kayak
- Heat some donor plastic, either salvaged from household items or purchased online
- Donor plastic should be HDPE (recycling code 2) – commonly found in plastic household containers
- Force the molten plastic in to any cracks or holes in the hull.
- Ensure some plastic makes it all the way through to the inside of the hull to form a plug.
- The plastic will chemically fuse and become indistinguishable form the original hull plastic.
Best glue for Kayak modifications & additions above the waterline
If you’re attaching something to the top or inside of your Kayak (like a fishing pole holder), the best option is to use a strong contact cement.
On GlueReview, when a project calls for a contact adhesive, I recommended Weldwood Contact Cement, because it’s a great contact adhesive for a fraction of the cost of some of the more expensive brands.
It’s water-resistant once it’s dry, it’s incredibly strong, and it adheres well to plastic.
I also recommended this product for other marine applications, including installing hydroturf on boats and personal watercraft.
Best glue for Kayak seats and foam pads
You have a few options for installing seats and foam pads to your kayak.
Weldwood contact cement will work well, but it’s kind of overkill for most situations, and it takes a long time to dry. If you already have some, it’s not worth buying anything else, but if you don’t then I would recommend picking up a contact adhesive spray like 3M 90 Spray Adhesive.
It becomes tacky in only one minute. It’s easy to use, you just spray both surfaces with a thin layer of adhesive, leave them apart for a minute, then press them together and they will be very strongly bonded.
It works on foam, leather, plastic, metal, wood, and neoprene.
Best glue for Inflatable Kayaks
If you have a small tear in your inflatable kayak or canoe, the best option isn’t to use glue at all. Instead, pick up some weatherproof tape like Flex Tape.
Flex Tape is a rubberized, flexible weatherproof tape, which will instantly seal any small tears, so you can use your boat again.
Although Flex Tape is extremely strong, it will deteriorate eventually with constant exposure to UV and water, so be sure to keep an eye on it.
To sum up, the best glue for small hull repairs is JB-Weld Waterweld. It’s strong and durable and will easily fix any cracks or small holes in your Kayak hull.
If you have major damage, you will be better off using a heat gun to fuse new plastic material into the damaged area.
The best glue for any additions or modifications above the waterline is usually contact cement. Either as a paste in the form of Weldwood Contact Cement or as a spray in the form of 3M 90 Contact Adhesive Spray.
If you need to make a quick repair to your inflatable kayak or canoe, use Flex Tape for a strong, instant repair that even works underwater.
Hope this helped! Happy paddling.