Guide to Kayak Hull Protection

You may have made a considerable investment in your brand new kayak. With loading or unloading your kayak on concrete boat ramps and parking lots, it can make you cringe, not to mention the times you feel the hull of your kayak hit something under the water.

Polyethylene kayaks or a canoe are easy to scratch and can be challenging for anything to stick to from the petroleum compounds inside the thick plastic.

In the most basic form, you can find, like other kayakers, layers of duct tape doubles as a skid plate and as keel guards to protect the bottoms of the kayaks.

In many places, such as parking lots and boat ramps, or even on the beach when paddling up the shore, you can cut strips for kayak keel guards for safety.

kayak hull

It can be trimmed to fit any worn areas and used as a skid plate as necessary. You can also find pre-cut models, particularly on the large front and back areas of the bottom found on many kayaks and big-bodied boats. (Learn How To Store Kayaks In Garage)

In our guide, you can learn much more about how to protect bottom of kayak and how to make sure you have the best kayak keel protection by fixing areas that could already see some damage.

By the end, you can deal with any rough surfaces and offer kayak bottom protection to deliver extra protection so your kayak won’t receive extra wear.

How Do You Protect a Kayak Keel?

Dragging your boats from the edges of water is not a good idea. The bow-to-stern ridge on the hull of your kayak is known as the keel and easily gets damaged if you drag it through earth roots or rocks or general outdoor use and also from UV radiation.

A kayak keel guard can’t help with UV radiation, yet it offers the keel a significant layer of defense from rogue roots and rocks when in the water and as you drag your boat along.

A sacrificial protector is a keel guard. A keel guard aims to give a layer of sacrificial protection. Put another way; its job is to protect your hull from damage caused by rocks and roots. The keel guard will wear down over time, at which point you will need to scrape off the old one (with the sticky adhesive) and place a new one.

Consider keel guard as a protective guard that is like hockey sticks that have been taped. It may not give long-term protection, yet it can offer a kayak bottom coating to reduce friction and receive extra wear for a few months of outdoor use.

Make sure the glue used to secure your keel guard is suitable with the material of your kayak.

Keel guard adhesives cling to fiberglass, composites, and most plastics, except for polypropylene. If you have a plastic kayak, double-check the material and make sure the keel guard you’re thinking about will fit. (Learn What Is The Main Advantage Of A Type IV PFD?)

Keel guards appear not to affect tracking. Following placing a keel guard patch, kayaks still appear to track straight. A kayak keel guard can be used on a fiberglass keel and a polyurethane keel.

bottom of kayak

How Do I Keep the Bottom of My Kayak From scratching?

It’s no secret that kayaking can be costly in terms of accessories, equipment, and travel. Once you spot any scratches, cuts, or dings, it quickly becomes upsetting.

So, how can you fix the damage on your brand new kayak from accidental contact if you aren’t using a Pereguard kayak keel guard or you have a skid plate fitted?

To start, stroll around your plastic or fiberglass kayak and analyze the number of dents and dings you can see. You can quickly repair minor scratches, and with a little more effort, you can fix deeper cuts.

Fiberglass takes a different repair approach, yet fiberglass boats are more durable against abuse than plastic.

Remove Small Curls

Curls of plastic need removing from all minor scratches and damaged areas you get from a sandy beach, launch ramp concrete, or tiny bumps against rocks.

Use a scraper blade or razor blade to cut away curls that would cause friction and slow your kayak in the water.

Focus on removing curls from the edges of scratches as the next steps concentrate on their repair.

Filling in Small Scratches

To begin, go to the store and purchase some marine wax. Clean the kayak with mild soap and hot water. Ensure you don’t skip this step because the wax coating won’t stick to your kayak if it’s dirty.

Fill minor scratches that sit beneath the waterline with wax, and wipe away the excess using a damp cloth or sponge. To avoid further scuffs and reduce friction, the wax product protects the entire hull of the kayak if you cover it.

However, while the product protects against minor scuffs, if you have to repair larger ones later, you’ll have a more challenging time removing the wax to repair these on your boat’s polyethylene.

Filling Deeper Gouges and Gashes

You’ll want to use a marine-rated gel coat to protect against deeper marks. Apply more coats until the scratches are filled and get rid of extra gel.

Wear the safety equipment at all times with heat-resistant gloves, and eye protection, as well as breathing protection. (Learn How To Get Back In A Kayak)

Run a low-heat heat gun or a high-heat hard dryer over the gel-filled scratches until they disappear. Be careful not to melt your kayak or cause additional damage. Allow 24 hours for the gel to set and adhere before using your kayaks or canoes.

Fixing Dents or Deformations

To deal with dents and deformations, place the kayak in the sun for 2 to 3 hours, being sure to add support on the inside to assist drive the dents out.

If this doesn’t work or it’s too cold outside, apply heat to the outside of the kayak with a heat gun and heat-proof gloves. To press the plastic back into its original shape, place your hand on the inside of the kayak.

Take special precautions to avoid melting the kayak or exacerbating the problem by using too much heat.

kayak hull with scratches

Fixing Large Cuts

These scratches and cuts are too wide or deep for wax or gel to fill (cuts through the hull). In situations like these, it’s better to leave the repairs to the specialists, but there is an option if you don’t have the funds. Again, if you’re not sure you can do it, it’s best to leave it to the specialists.

A razor blade cuts any material that sticks up from scratched surfaces.

Step one: Collect any leftover plastic from another kayak or similar plastic from which your kayak is made. Polyethylene is used to make in most kayaks.

Step two: Melt the other plastic with a melting pot or a heat gun on high heat and pack it into the scratches, removing excess plastic with a putty knife. In this case, the excess plastic is beneficial because it will establish a strong bond, preventing the weld from cracking under pressure.

The majority of hardware stores sell heat pistols for around $20. Polyethylene melts at 356 degrees Fahrenheit (248 degrees Celsius) (120 – 180 degrees Celsius). Avoid burning the plastic because this would damage it and make it unusable for repairs.

Step three: After the plastic has cooled and you are satisfied with the covering, sand it flush with the kayak’s hull. Start with coarser grit sandpaper, such as 300 grit, then work your way up to 800 or 1000 grain. Unless you plan to repaint the area, don’t remove any original paint from the surrounding area until it’s smooth.

Repainting A Newly Repaired Kayak

Choosing the right color for your kayak in a spray can or brushable paint may be challenging. Depending on the paint job on your kayak, painting the entire hull black or any other solid color may be preferable.

The paint must be waterproof and able to adhere to plastic. To ensure the best bond between the plastic and the paint, sand the region of the kayak you wish to paint with 220 grit sandpaper.

Apply at least four coats of paint to the area, either using a spray can or a paintbrush, and make sure you sand your boat between coats.

kayak keel

Tips for a Temporary Kayak Keel Guard

Scratches are ugly and reduce the resale value of a kayak. Keel protectors can shield the hull from the worst gouges where the bow curve meets the flat bottom.

With four layers of Gorilla Tape, you can create a simple keel protector that works nicely. Otherwise, you can purchase a Pereguard Kayak Keel Guard, although these cost more than a roll of duct tape for your keel protection when you have accidental contact with something hard or rough.

You can achieve a tidy, solid application by using a few strategies.

  1. Get the things you need—3-4-inch Gorilla Tape, Windex, rubbing alcohol, a spoon, and a sharp knife.
  2. To remove grime and protectants like 3M 303, clean the keel thoroughly with Windex or rubbing alcohol. Attach the first strip to the keel in the middle.
  3. Slice the outside one-third of the tape where it bulges out away from the curve of the bow so you can press the flaps down to overlap and make the tape sit flat.
  4. By rubbing each strip thoroughly with a spoon, you can remove bubbles and increase adherence.
  5. To expand and thicken protection where it’s needed most, apply second and third strips slightly to either side of the first but cover the keel’s center. The last strip runs straight down the middle. Allow the kayak to sit in the sun for a few hours with the hull up to get a little heat into the tape to help it stick.

The same methods can be used for SUP boards or a canoe; although sup boards won’t have the central shape of other vessels, they can protect against rough surfaces. (Read our Vibe Sea Ghost 110 Kayak Review)

How To Install Kayak Skid Plates

Most skid plate kits include an instruction booklet, but if you’ve misplaced yours, here’s how to replace it:

  1. Turn kayaks or canoes upside down.
  2. Boats should be thoroughly cleaned before carrying out fitting skid plates or keel guards or doing any repair.
  3. Measure 14 inches from the canoe or kayak edge of the rear deck to the bottom of your vessel with your measuring tape. Start at the back deck’s edge. Note the area, as this is where the narrow end of the path will start.
  4. Use two pieces of tape to secure it in place. With masking tape, make an eighth of an inch border around the skid plate.
  5. Remove it and use sandpaper from the package to sand the masked area.
  6. Tape the drip cover edge to the tape outline and ensure it doesn’t come into contact with the working area.
  7. Combine resin and mix with the provided stick until you have the desired texture.
  8. Apply the resin to the sanded surface using a paintbrush.
  9. Carefully place the skid plate in location on top of the resin and push down with equal pressure.
  10. Use as much resin as you need and make sure there is no air in the container. If there is any trapped air, use the brush to remove it.
  11. Remove the drip cover and tape outline after the resin gels.
  12. Allow 24-hours before using your vessel.

Guide to Kayak Hull Protection (1)