Repairing and Re-Coating an Inflatable
Don’t bother posting that I should have a hard dingy, I agree hard is better. I have a 12ft Carolina skiff that I tow. I also have an inflatable that sits on deck.
Previously, I had a rigid bottom PVC Bombardier for the past 15 years. PVC is ok, in that the tubes hold up well as long as the seams are ultrasonically welded. The problem is that most dinks have a strip that attaches the floor which is glued on. PVC GLUES DO NOT LAST. Out of the box, the floor on my boat was detaching after 5 years. It was reglued under warranty and lasted another 3 years. After that, I reglued it with extra wide strips of new PVC fabric placed over the original seams. I have been getting about 2-3 years before it needed some reglueing.
The best glue for PVC I have found is Clifton’s UR 1087 Urethane Adhesive from Jack’s Plastic Welding Inc. Jack’s is easily found on the internet. This is a two part glue that is sort of like contact cement. You paint the stuff on each piece you want to stick together, let it dry then put the pieces in contact with each other and apply heat with a heat gun or heating iron. If you have a PVC boat that is falling apart, it can be fixed with Clifton’s. With all these glues and paints, low humidity is best. If you live in the south, plan your major overhaul during the dry months.
Last year, I also recoated the PVC boat with Tuff-Coat paint. I used both the base coat and the top coat. It made the boat look much better and seemed to hold up pretty well, though this paint does scrap off with abrasion. West Marine also sells an inflatable paint. A friend used it on his boat and it seemed to have done ok.
Recently, I acquired a 20 year old Hypalon AVON. Hypalon is basically rubber coated fabric. Since DuPont is no longer making Hypalon, you can find now Hypalon glue and fabric under different names. The AVON needed some regluing and also recoating. NRS is the place to go for “Hypalon” fabric and glue. Basically there are single part and 2 part contact type rubber cements. Both work well and seem to last. The two part Hypalon glue from West marine is the same as the stuff that NRS sells (though more expensive). Glued seams on Hypalon boats hold up better than glued PVC seams.
I also recoated the AVON with Inland Marine Liquid Rubber Paint. It was a bit of a project, but not too difficult. The Avon does not look “new” but does look decent for a 20 year old inflatable. The recoating was worth the effort.
If you have an older inflatable (PVC or Hypalon), it can be fixed and painted without too much effort. If you are buying a new boat, go with Hypalon.