Kayak Maintenance – Polythene / Plastic Boats…

A few folk have asked me of late how I keep the hulls of my kayaks in tip-top condition, so I’ve pulled this post together…

Repairing Scratches on a Kayak

Kayaking over sharp rocks, shallow stream beds, and shells, can cause scratching and other unsightly damage to your kayak. Remember that any significant cracks and grooves should be inspected by a professional. But if the damage is minimal, you can repair it yourself with a steady hand and a little heat to get your kayak looking new again.

Things You’ll Need:

  • Polish
  • Polyester gelcoat paint
  • Hair dryer
  • Blow torch
  • Gloves and protective clothing


1. Assess the damage of your kayak. Light scratches should be left alone and don’t require complex repair.

2. Rub your kayak down with a coat of polish to remove superficial scratches.

3. Apply a light coat of polyester gelcoat paint to deeper scratches according to the product instructions. Test a small area to see if it matches the color of your kayak. Ask the paint retailer if it will work with the color and material of your kayak.

4. Take a hair dryer and run hot air over the scratches until they diminish. This technique replaces the need for paint or polish.

5. Run a blow torch flame across the scratches on a polyethylene kayak until scratches fade or disappear.

6. Be careful not to scorch or deform your kayak and take frequent breaks to reassess the scratches.

7. Heat up the end of a metal spoon on kayak with deep scratches and grooves that need more concentrated attention.

8. Gently apply the tip to the scratch and weld the surface. Work slowly and do not overheat the area you’re working on.

9. Let your kayak cool off and settle for at least 24 hours before hitting the open water.

For more advice and for other types of build material, you might want to try here: http://www.kayaknevada.org/maint2002.pdf

Restoring Colour to a faded Kayak

Small boats come in various shapes, sizes and colors, and all need routine maintenance to keep them looking and performing well. UV rays can damage or fade the color of a plastic or fiberglass kayak over time with minimal exposure. Properly cleaning and reapplying protective gel coats can increase the life and durability of your kayak. While abrasions and holes must be patched and resurfaced, restoring the color of a plastic kayak is a relatively simple process. With a few easy to follow instructions anyone can restore the color to a faded plastic kayak.

Things You’ll Need:

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Towel
  • Gel coat
  • Plastic protectant 303 or GB-60
  • Colored automotive polish


1. Clean the surface of the kayak with soapy water to remove any dirt, debris or mildew. Dry the kayak thoroughly with a towel.

2. Apply a colored automotive polish that matches the color of your plastic kayak. Follow the polish manufacturer’s instructions for applying the polish. This will restore the color or your kayak and prime it for applying a protective coating.

3. Apply a plastic protective gel coat with a GB-60 or 303 protectant. This will seal in the color and protect the hull from harsh UV rays.

4. Allow the kayak to dry for three days before use. Ensure that the kayak is completely dry and doesn’t feel sticky to the touch before attempting to use.

I also found the following useful-looking advice, but I’ve yet to try it yet:

1. Get a basic silicone tire shine (Black Magic) and smear “tire shine” over the boat. This will help restore oils that were sucked out of the plastic by the sun, causing the fading. This is a temporary fix and will need to be re-done from time to time (sometimes weekly).

2. Go to B&Q and get a 500ml of “boiled linseed oil” and 500ml of paint thinner. Get home, mix them 60:40 (thinner:linseed), stir. then while wearing gloves, dap, dip or squirt the mix onto a clean, lint free towel or a wax/foam pad and then just wipe it all over the plastic parts as if it were tire shine.  If this  mix doesn’t change it, and leaves a gray/white look still, then the plastic has been bent as well and the hazing you are seeing are actual molecular stress marks. Only fix besides paint would be a new boat. Otherwise most sun fading has no chance standing up against my mix. after the 5th application, you should be done applying it (over weeks).


One thought on “Kayak Maintenance – Polythene / Plastic Boats…

  1. Pingback: Kayak maintenence | Sejapago

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