How To Repair A Puncture In An Inflatable Boat

Although inflatable boats offer so much versatility, they do have a crucial weakness in that they tend to get punctured easily. Inflatable boats can be carried anywhere, but when the environment is especially tough, and you encounter sharp objects on the water, the boat can deflate, which will throw a wrench on your plans. However, with a bit of DIY and knowing how to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat, you can easily get your plans back on track because your inflatable boat will be useful and safer once more. You will find that how to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat is super easy and will only require basic tools and materials found in your household.

How To Repair A Puncture In An Inflatable Boat

How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat—Repair of Different Types of punctures

Pinhole Leaks

Pinhole leaks tend to occur on your boat, and how to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat of this type will only take about five minutes. You will be spending most of your time in locating where the holes are exactly. Follow these instructions on how to fix pinholes.


  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Scissors
  • Water-filled bowl
  • Soap

Time to repair: 5 minutes.

Step 1

How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat? Find out where the leaks are. Once you have located the leak, you can patch it. However, if you can’t locate the hole, one easy way to locate it is to put dish soap on a water-filled bowl. Inflate the boat and pour the solution all over the inflatable. When you push and squeeze the boat, you should find a bubble appearing in the damaged area. Once you have located the hole, mark it with masking tape or pen.

Step 2

It is now time to patch the leak. How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat? To start this process, you have to dry the inflatable and wash the leaky area with isopropyl alcohol to clean it. Ge a piece of tape specifically for patching inflatable boats such as the Tenacious Tape and affix it over the hole and make an overlap of about ¼ inches. Once you have done this process peel of the tape’s backing and put some pressure on the spot to allow the tape to stick.

Small Holes and Tears

How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat? If you find a small hole or tear on your inflatable boat, you don’t have to panic. Don’t think you have to replace it entirely. You only need a short time and a few materials to fix it. Follow this instruction to fix small holes and tears quickly:


  • Repair Adhesive
  • Patches of Tenacious Tape
  • Isopropyl alcohol

Time to repair: 5 minutes

Step 1

The first step is to deflate and clean your boat. Deflate it completely, once you are done clan the spot of the hole with alcohol.

Step 2

The next step is to patch the leak or tear. How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat? You can do this process effectively by applying a quick curing adhesive to the spot, which will cover the material. Do this process in a shaded area and apply the adhesive. Make an overlap of about one-fourth inches from the hole or tear.

Once you are done applying the adhesive, take the inflatable out under the sun to cure the adhesive. When the adhesive has solidified, add some or protection by affixing a mini patch on the damaged area. Peel off the back of the patch and apply it over the seal and put some pressure to make sure it sticks.

Large Holes and Tears

Again, large holes and tears may get you thinking that it is time to replace your inflatable. How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat? Be assured that your boat can still be saved. It should be noted, however, that it will take a longer time to fix larger holes compared to small ones, but it can be done. In about twelve hours, you can be using your inflatable again like new.

Follow these instructions in fixing a large hole:


  • Seal repair kit
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • masking tape

Time to repair: 5 minutes to fix and 8-12 hours to cure

Step 1

How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat? Deflate and prep the surface. Clean the damaged area with isopropyl alcohol. For more effortless adhesive repair, put some masking tape over the hole and press it to make sure it sticks.

Step 2

How To Repair A Puncture In An Inflatable Boat

How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat? Apply some sealant over the hole and wait a few minutes. Once the backing of the tape has been removed, apply a urethane adhesive that comes with the repair kit. Cover the hole with this adhesive allowing for a one fourth to one-half overlap. Allow the glue to dry overnight. Make sure you put the inflatable on a level surface for 8-12 hours. Allow adhesive to set, and your boat will be ready for use.

For faster repair, allow 30 minutes to pass after applying the seal. Place a tenacious tape patch over the hole with the adhesive. Ensure that the tape affixes on the dry portions of the inflatable since it won’t stick to a wet adhesive. For extra durability, brush additional sealant material over the patch’s edges.

How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat—9 Steps

Step 1

How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat? The first crucial step on how to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat is to inflate it. There are tons of inflation blowers on the market for different inflatables. These blowers can come as low as 2 dollars per unit, and they even come with alligator clips for 12 volts.

Inflatable boats will often come with a deflation hole and a smaller inflation portal. It is advisable to sue the bigger cap. The boat will inflate much more speedily if you blow at the bigger hole instead of the intake. The air of your blower pushes surrounding air along with it into the inflatable.

Step 2

The next step is to cap your inflatable. How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat? Once your inflatable has ben sufficiently puffed up, you can use your thumb to lock in and hold in the air temporarily. You can do this method while you reach for the cap. Most inflatables will come with a rubber plug with a lip feature and a screw cap.

Since an inflatable boat has a lot of surface area, you will only need a minimal amount of psi or pounds per square inch to inflate it properly.

The next step is to find the leak or hole. One effective way to locate this hole quickly is by applying soapy water on the inflatable. The parts where big bubbles form is usually the area where the hole is located.

Step 3

Once you have located the leaks, use a Sharpie to mark the location with arrows. It is crucial to make sure that the surface is slightly damp. After this, you will be ready to patch the inflatable. Dry out the inflatable completely and put it out under the sun.

Step 4

You can cut patches from a similar material to your inflatables such as a shower curtain or inflatable mattress. Cut the patches and roughen it using sandpaper.

You also need to degrease the patch, especially if it is new. To degrease the patch, scrub the material with detergent. Plastic materials have an oil coating, so it is crucial to degrease it to keep things from sticking together. 

If water settles on the surface, you should degrease it further. When water sheets out on it you have done enough degreasing. You can make this process faster by wiping the surface off with alcohol or a greaseless solvent of your choosing. Never use gasoline since it is extremely oily.

Some patch materials you can use are damaged air mattresses, shower curtains, raincoats, or a sheet of PVC. Urethane won’t stick to PVC, so PVC is a good versatile material to use.

It should be noted that patches should be cut in a circular shape since they are easier to affix. Patches with corners will tend to stick out and eventually peel up. One thing you can do is to thin out the edges by sanding them down so it would stretch and taper with the surrounding material. This process affixes the patch more efficiently, and it stays in place longer.

Step 5

Use sandpaper to roughen the area surrounding the leaks. Sand the surface until you reach the plastic area. Once the layer of plastic is exposed, degrease it like in the previous steps, apply detergent on the surface to remove the oils.

Step 6

The next step is to apply PVC cement. The product you should use must have “flexible” on the label. The consistency of the material of the PVC should be chewy instead of brittle.

If you want to get a new product for your patching project, gets the HH-66. The material used in this product has truck tarps. The directions differ from PVC cement in that you have to let it dry first and then reactivate it with heat.

If you choose PVC, follow the inductions on the label. Some PVC products require wiping with a solvent fist. Solvents react to the plastic and help it expand and soften.

Your PVC cement will often come with a brush that can be handy to use. Use your mask as you apply the cement since the fumes can be toxic. Wear protective gear such as gloves and keep it off your skin.

Step 7

The next step is to apply glue. Paint some glue on the patch and on the surrounding area of the leak. It should be noted that what works for inflatables will not work for tires and inner tubes of bicycles. A separate kit should be bought for such projects. 

Step 8

Apply the patch while wet. Press down the patch while the inflatable is still wet with glue. Squeeze it down hard until the bubbles blow out. Use your knuckles to smoothen and press on the surface with force.

Step 9

The next step is to clamp down some weight over the patch. You may use some C-lamps or even G-clamps. These clamps maximize contact while things dry and cure. You may also stack some books over the inflatable in the absence of clamps. Allow several hours to pass and bring out the inflatable boat to dry. Allow the fumes of the solvent to evaporate under the sun.

After this process, your inflatable boat should be holding air and working fine.

If your patch accidentally leaks, you can heat it up with a flat iron or hot air gun and press it down. The cement’s melting point should be lower than the sheet materials.

If this emergency fix fails, you may have to start the process over again or patch a new patch over the old one.

What is the life of an inflatable boat? — how to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat


When you have invested in an inflatable boat, you expect it to serve you for a long time. Indeed, if you purchased a high-quality boat, expect a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. However, the maximum lifespan of your boat will depend on several factors and how you use it. The age of the boat, the material used on the boat, how it is stored, as well as the amount of harmful UV exposure, are all variables. You should also take note of the method of manufacture, whether it used a hand-glued process or machine welded seam. These are all factors in determining whether your boat will attain its expected lifespan.

In most cases, boats of Hypalon material will withstand more abuse compared to materials made from PVC. However, if you neglect maintenance and fail to care for your inflatable boat properly, it may accrue damages that will be harder to fix, resulting in a boat that needs to be replaced.

Final Thoughts

Your inflatable boat is your dependable equipment in your adventures in the wild and open waters. An inflatable is a considerable investment you will grow to love because of the easy storage and transport it requires. However, it is easy to be neglectful and forget that your boat needs proper care and maintenance. Punctures and holes may damage the material of your boat, and this needs to be fixed promptly. How to repair a puncture in an inflatable boat is easy, so don’t let damages panic you. Salvage boats with holes and leaks in easy steps and affordable material, and your investment will be working like new in no time.

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