How To Smooth Out Scratches On A Polyethylene Kayaks

Kayaks are expensive. That is why seeing scratches to it is enough to make you worry. Whether you’re navigating through small rivers or paddling along sandy beaches, shallow rocks, your kayak’s hull is bound to get scratched.

While most scratches are cosmetic and have no bearing on your kayak’s functionality, if there are enough of them, having friction with the water can eventually occur, reducing the efficiency of your paddle strokes. This is due to the kayak not gliding as smoothly as through the water.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is used to make many plastic canoes and kayaks, and it isn’t easy to repair. But don’t worry because, at this moment, we will give you tips on your kayak repair and how to smooth out scratches on your polyethylene boat.

Polyethylene Kayaks

Steps in Smoothing Out Scratches On A Polyethylene Kayaks

1. Taking Out Curly Whirlies

Some of the polyethylene is displaced when your hull is pushed against something. Frequently, this will not come completely off, leaving stringy fragments of plastic on the kayak’s bottom. First and foremost, they must be removed.

For the first step, you can do this with a ‘razor scraper,’ which can be purchased for a few pounds on Amazon or eBay. Slide it across your hull gently until the curly whirlies are gone.

sand paper

2. Removing the Minor Scratches with Sandpaper

The next step is to remove the plastic’s shallower scratches. You’ll need medium grit sandpaper for this. With a circular motion, sand the bottom of the hull until only the deepest scratches are visible. This is a lengthy procedure, but the result will be well worth it.

3. Filling in the Deep Scratches

Some scrapes will be too large to sand off without jeopardizing the hull’s integrity. We’ll need to patch up these scratches with some extra polyethylene. You’ll need to get scrap polyethylene in the same color as your kayak from Amazon or eBay. (Read Storing Kayaks In Garage Guide)

Next, pick an old pan you don’t mind destroying, put it on low heat on your stove, and pour in the polyethylene to melt it. Take note that too much heat can damage polyethylene.

Once the plastic has melted, apply it to the scrape with a putty knife, making sure to level it out. Give it a few hours for it to dry and solidify once you’ve completed all of the scratches.

4. The Filling is Being Sanded Down

You’d have rough bumps if you applied filler unless you’re excellent at spreading with the knife. With the use of medium-grit sandpaper, sand these down.

5. Last Sanding

Now sand the hull with a finer grit sandpaper one more time. Apply circular motion until the hull smoothens to the touch once more.

6. Putting the Wax On

Finally, you’ll want to wax your hull’s bottom. You may get specially manufactured kayak wax on Amazon for a reasonable price. It’s designed for hulls made with fiberglass, but it’ll also work on plastic.

Apply a small amount to your rag and rub it into the hull in a circular motion. You can also paint your repaired kayak. And that’s all there is to it! It is less expensive than purchasing a new kayak.

Other Ways to Repair Scratches on Your Kayaks

1. Kayak Hull Scratches and Deeper Gouges

Scratches and gouges most commonly damage plastic kayaks. Kayaks are pulled along the shoreline and paddled across shallow rocky outcroppings. They also collide with various objects as we transport them from our house’s storage to the roof of our car.

Superficial scratches are a natural aspect of owning a kayak and are mostly unavoidable. Some of the scrapes are caused by plastic peeling or tearing. However, these plastic shavings are also not a problem. If any heavy scratches are peeling back the plastic, clip them with a razor blade. (Read Is Kayaking At Night Legal?)

At times, the gouge may be deeper than a usual gouge and significant enough to cause alarm. The fissure can be filled in by using a heat gun or a hair dryer in dripping melted plastic into it in some circumstances.

  • The finest plastic you can use is that which came from the kayak itself, such as any cutouts or other previous repairs.
  • Many paddling shops sell HDPE weld rods if you don’t want to make your own. You can even utilize HDPE-based containers, such as milk cartons.
  • Place a heat gun on the plastic, and it will drip as it melts. Allow the drips to fill up the gap left by the scrape. Smudge it into the groove with a spoon or a screwdriver. Any surplus should be sanded or trimmed away, and the repair should be smooth.

2. Kayak Decks with Holes

While cracks in the top of your kayak are uncommon, holes are rather prevalent due to the numerous items that are bolted into them. As screws or accessories are lost or removed, a hole is created, and water might enter the kayak when it splashes up. A kayak would not be scrapped in these circumstances.

  • Water may be kept out with something as basic as duct tape. It’ll need to be replaced regularly, but it’s a good workaround in the meanwhile. In this case, a UV-resistant silicone that is waterproof can also be employed.
  • These are often branded for ‘marine’ usage and can be obtained at hardware stores. Use duct tape to create a temporary foundation on the side of the hole, then fill it in with silicone from the top.

3. Kayaks Made of HDPE Have Cracks

Cracks are one of the most catastrophic damage a kayak can sustain, and location is crucial. Many cracks on your kayak can be repaired with duct tape or silicone in the same way a hole can be. Although it cannot fix the crack, they will both keep water out of the kayak.

If the crack is on the underside of your kayak, it’s a different matter. This side bears your weight, smashes rocks, and prevents the boat from submerging. Unfortunately, this is where the cracks most appear, necessitating immediate repair. You should not paddle a kayak until it has been looked out and dealt with permanently.

A crack under the seat and footpegs is the most dangerous. This is where the paddler’s weight and force are most typically distributed unevenly. Cracks that run from the bow to the stern are less harmful. These sections do not bend as much as the seating area, but they are a source of concern.

Regardless of where the fracture is located, the crack’s ends must be drilled to avoid a bigger problem, and the cracks must be plastic-welded. If you hire someone to do it, let them handle the drilling.

experts in kayaks

4. Consult Experts

Consult a kayak shop or a rental company for advice on the following steps. They’ll evaluate the crack’s severity based on its size and the damage located. When assessing the size, they have to consider the crack’s length and how broad it is open. A huge hole is more alarming than a hairline crack. (Read How to Use A Bilge Pump For Kayak)

  • If you’re planning to repair yourself, make a small hole at every end of the crack using a tiny drill bit, so it doesn’t expand.
  • To finish the repair, plastic weld the crack. A plastic welding kit consisting of HDPE welding rods is required, and it functions similarly to a glue gun.
  • A lighter or torch, as well as plastic scraps, can be used to repair plastic.

You risk more damage to your kayak if you attempt to repair a significant break on your own. It’s also possible that a pro won’t fix anything you do. Consider your options carefully before beginning and proceeding or taking the risk.

If you are into kayak sports, it is best to take care of it with scratches. This includes checking your kayak on a regular basis to look for damages and fixing it. If you cannot fix the damage yourself, it is best if you consult an expert.

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