There are many types of adhesives out there, but which one will be the best for the job. More importantly what type of adhesive do I use for my inflatable.
First question you have to ask yourself – Is the fabric PVC or Hypalon. Basically the PVC fabric is plastic and the Hypalon is rubber, but having two boats side by side it’s still sometimes hard to tell the difference.
Common PVC boats are Zodiacs, Swifts, Aquapro, Island. Whereas Hypalon craft manufacturers are Avon, Achilles and also Zodiac who manufacture Surf Club inflatables for the Australian clubs.
In a nutshell hypalon is a heavier duty fabric and lasts longer in high UV environments. Generally hypalon craft will have a life of around 15-20 years whereas the pvc craft are generally around the 10-15 year mark before the glue and fabric start to break down under the harsh Australian sun.
The following are suggested adhesives to use. We have been repairing inflatable craft for over 30 years so we know what works and what doesn’t.
This PVC Adhesive from Bostik can be used on both PVC and Hypalon based craft. For PVC Inflatables the Bostik 1669 Adhesive is by far the strongest and easiest glue to use and apply. Simply because it’s heat activated (35 Deg C) and instantaneous. This adhesive can be used for all repairs, from small pin holes to large tears. A simple repair can be completed and the boat can be back on the water in just 10 minutes after activation of the adhesive. For Hypalon craft we recommend that this adhesive be used for small and medium repair work only.
For small pin size (fish hook) holes another solution is to use a product called VLP. This simply provides an additional layer of PVC to the craft (no patch required). This is a medium term solution – repair should last a season. This adhesive works particularly well on Towable PVC products as it provides a flexible and more importantly quick repair when you’re on a weekend away.
For Hypalon craft the repair process is completely different. Due to the fabric being rubber, any surface to be glued will be required to be roughened up with sandpaper, otherwise the adhesive will not bond to the surface.
Bostik 2402 is a general purpose contact adhesive and we’ve been using this adhesive for general repairs for many decades.
SC2000 is a heavy duty adhesive with superior bond strength but is quite costly.
All contact adhesives require that both surfaces must be coated and left for a set amount of time (usually around 5-10 minutes – depending on ambient temperature) before being bonded together. Patches should never be applied with air in the tubes. Always apply patches with tubes fully deflated. Never use silicone adhesives or epoxies to repair an inflatable. Epoxies become brittle and will not flex with movement. Silicones will bond to an inflatable but only offer a short term repair solution and to remove silcone from the fabric is near on impossible. Also contact adhesives will not bond to silicone, so any future repair work will be very costly. Most people tend to use silicone to plug gaps near the transom and tubes. What this suggests is that the original glue is failing and thus causing water ingress. Not the end of the world as this type of repair is not uncommon. Just requires patience and time to rebond the layers of fabric with the appropriate contact adhesive.