How Do You Fix a Thermoformed Plastic Kayak?
A blue thermoformed kayak next to three yellow kayaks

So, you’re having some trouble fixing your good ol’ thermoformed plastic kayak? If you’re silently nodding your head in reconciliation, we’ve got a little surprise for you. That’s right, today we’ll show you how to fix your thermoformed plastic kayak without much hassle!

Okay, and what exactly is a thermoformed kayak? A thermo-what? Needless to say, we’ll cover that subject too. In the text that you’re about to read, we’ll show just about everything you should know about thermoformed kayaks, besides, of course, showing you how to fix them. As always, stick around to hear some useful stuff.

If you’re sporting a Hurricane thermoformed plastic kayak, simply drill a tiny hole at both ends of the crack, so it won’t become larger. Once you’re done with that, obtain some plastic weld at your local hardware store and cover the crack from the inside. 

If you’re interested in reading only the snippet, that’s no good. We’ll have to inform you that reading the whole thing is something you’d call a necessity!

What is a thermoformed plastic kayak?

Before we dig our hands deeper into the repair process, first we’ll have to define the main term of this article: His Majesty, the thermoformed plastic kayak. By now, we guess you’re used to our sometimes corny humor, here at Go Extreme Sports.

First things first, we have to find out what thermoform is. According to the standard definition: to thermoform (something) is to give (something: a material, just like plastic) its final shape using heat and, usually, pressure. That being said, here’s how thermoformed kayaks are produced:

  • The process of thermoforming, which utilizes the heat & pressure combo, converts sheets of plastic into kayak hulls and decks. It’s done by using heavy gauge molds. Afterward, the kayaks are seamed together, while the whole “ordeal” lasts about a couple of minutes.

So, yeah, you can say that thermoformed plastic kayaks are kayaks made in a process that involves using heavy gauge molds to convert sheets of plastic into hulls and decks of the vessel in question. Just until some time ago, kayaks were produced by using a process known as rotational molding, or by using some lamination methods. The special thing about thermoformed being so popular today is that they’re durable and pretty resistant to scratches. Not to mention that they’re pretty lightweight, which is almost always a good thing.

Also, here are a couple of other facts about the way these kayaks are manufactured: the production of thermoform kayaks usually involves using high-quality plastic. The polyethylene pellets are shaped into a flat sheet only to be sandwiched later into a multi-layer fabric. Typically, the exterior, outer layer of thermoformed kayaks is acrylic. Therefore, it provides your kayak with some not-to-be-messed-around-with UV resistance and gives your vessel a glossy, nicely colored exterior surface.

The pros and cons of thermoformed kayaks

There’s something else we’d like to show you before we move on to the how-fix-a-thermoformed-plastic-kayak section! Here we’ll talk a little more about the type of vessel known as the thermoformed kayak. Anyway, you might want to know that thermoform kayaks are usually mid-range in terms of price. They’re quite easy to repair (something we’re “yet to find out”, though). Also, folks say they’re almost as lightweight (and stiff) as composite kayaks.

Okay, let’s see those lists. We’ll start off with the pros:

  • Thermoformed kayaks have fantastic UV protection. 
  • They’re usually lighter and stiffer than so-called rotomolded kayaks. 
  • Also, they offer more abrasion resistance than their rotomolded counterparts.
  • They’re less expensive than composite kayaks. 
  • Thermoformed kayaks won’t distort in the sun. 
  • They possess a hard, glossy exterior.
  • Thermoformed kayaks are not so hard to repair.

Now let’s consider the cons:

  • Thermoformed kayaks mightn’t last you as composite kayaks would. 
  • Also, they’re not as stiff or light as their composite counterparts.

Alright, since we’ve talked a little about some basic thermoformed-kayaks info, let’s tackle the main issue. Without further ado, here’s how you’ll fix a thermoformed plastic kayak!

A person inside a thermoformed kayak.

How do you fix a thermoformed plastic kayak?

So, here we are! First of all, we’ll show you the simplest guide to taking care of a Hurricane thermoformed kayak crack:

  • You can drill a tiny hole at both ends of the crack. That way, you’ll prevent the crack from getting larger. Afterward, you’ll want to use plastic weld from your local hardware store in order to cover the crack right from the inside. 

Since this mightn’t work on all thermoformed kayaks you’ll find on the market, let’s see if there’s a more universal approach to fixing a thermoformed plastic kayak!

A step-by-step guide on how to fix a thermoformed plastic kayak

To make things a bit easy on you, we’ve prepared this “little” step-by-step guide on how to fix your cracked thermoformed plastic kayak. So, shall we begin?

Step #1: Gather the tools

First things first, you’ll need to obtain & gather all the necessary tools for the ordeal that’s ahead. So, here’s the stuff you’ll need:

  • 4-inch putty knife. Opt for a cheap, plastic model. 
  • A piece of cardboard that you’ll use as a work platform. (You’ll want to cover it in clear packing tape.)
  • Some isopropyl alcohol. 
  • A pair of rubber gloves. 
  • Safety goggles. Speaking of which, here’s what happens when you skydive without goggles.

Got everything? Let’s continue!

Step #2: Pay a visit to the local hardware store

Your next task is to visit the local hardware store and obtain some of these items:

  • Peel ply. You’ll want to buy just enough of it to cover the crack area (with an overlap of about 6 inches). 
  • Fiberglass cloth. Don’t confuse this with a fiberglass mat. Speaking of fiberglass, here’s whether your canoe is fiberglass or Kevlar
  • Some adhesive. Permatex, anyone?
  • 2-inch roll masking tape.
  • Another roll of clear packing tape.
  • 80 grit sandpaper. 

Step #3: Let’s get to work

Before you start, keep in mind that the part of your thermoformed kayak you’re trying to fix will need to be totally dry. Okay, so first you’ll need to line up the crack with some tape on the outside. Also, you’ll want to tape off the inside of the section you’ll be working on. That way, you’ll prevent splatter or glue globs.

Use some of the 80 grit sandpaper to sand the area that’s to be glued. Next up, you’ll need to cut the fiberglass cloth the size of an inch past the crack. You’ll want it to be in three layers. Wet all those layers together, and wait for them to dry out. Once they’re dry, glue the crack area and place the fiberglass flat on it.

The next thing you’ll do is to put the peel ply on top of the fiberglass cloth. Simply hold one end of it and use the plastic putty knife as a squeegee to smoothen out the area. Lastly, wait for a whole day and peel off the peel ply afterward. That should’ve done it! 

How to properly store your thermoformed plastic kayak?

Now that we’ve gone through the guide on how to fix it, let’s see what are some tips on storing your thermoformed plastic kayak.

#1 Store your kayak away from heat

That’s right, you’ll need to store your vessel in a cool & dry place that’s protected from natural elements. We’re talking about a garage, an outside shed, or a spare room inside your home. Also, once you figure out the storage area, make sure your thermoformed plastic kayak is placed away from heat sources and windows.

#2 If there isn’t an indoor storage option, then…

Here’s the thing: if you absolutely must store your thermoformed plastic kayak outside, you’ll want to pick out a shaded area. Why kayaks don’t like the sun? Well, it’s because prolonged sun exposure will most probably weaken the plastic. Therefore, your vessel will become more susceptible to cracking.

Also, make sure you store it in an upside-down manner, and cover the cockpit. That way, you’ll make sure that rain or snow won’t do any harm to your vessel. Additionally, you’ll protect it from various critters and bugs.

If you’re storing your kayak for a longer period of time, make sure you use a weather-resistant tarp to cover it. However, you’ll somehow need to avoid placing the tarp directly on the kayak. Because? Because that can lead to the formation of mold & mildew.

#3 Keep your kayak off the ground

If possible, make sure your kayak is off the ground while in storage. Since there are a lot of DIY and pre-made storage devices designed to keep your kayak off the ground, we’ll take a guess and say you’ll have no trouble choosing one that suits your storage area.

#4 Make sure the kayak’s dry before you store it for the off-season

Last but not least, make sure that your vessel’s completely dry before you store it for the off-season. That’s because the expansion and contraction of freezing water will most probably result in some issues. Oh, and since we’ve mentioned freezing, are you wondering what it feels like to use an inflatable paddleboard during winter? If so, follow that link.

Also, if you’re thinking of using turtle wax on your kayak, we don’t recommend you do it.

The bottom line

Okay, folks, so that’s about all there’s to say on the how-do-you-fix-a-thermoformed-plastic-kayak-and-other-useful-info bundle of topics. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed reading this piece as much as we’ve enjoyed writing it. For more tips and info about your favorite water-related activity, visit this page.

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