How to Patch an Inflatable Boat in 6 Quick Steps

white and blue inflatable boat on body of water

When you buy one, you’ll want to know how to patch an inflatable boat. After all, it’s better to know how to patch an inflatable boat and never need to, than to not know how when your boat gets a hole.

A hole in your boat could leave you out of commission for a long time if you aren’t prepared, but if you do your research, you can fix it quickly.

You should always start with the best inflatable boat and materials.

An inflatable boat can have a hole in it, but that doesn’t mean you need to throw it out. You can still fix it if you follow the proper instructions carefully. It may seem like a difficult task, but it’s simple.

However, before you can get started learning how to patch an inflatable boat, you need to know when your boat needs a patch.

How Will I Know That My Boat Needs a Patch?

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You will need to patch your boat when it gets a hole in it. However, not all breaches are significant, and it may be challenging to know if your boat needs a patch.

One of the most significant indicators that your boat needs a patch would be if you notice it taking on water. That means there’s a hole somewhere on your boat where it’s submerged. As a result, water will get into the boat.

Furthermore, if you notice your boat losing air quicker than usual, that may be an indicator that your boat has a small hole. If the hole is small, the boat still may lose air slowly, but it will be faster than it would normally. As a result, you’ll be able to assume that your boat needs a patch.

Once you determine that your boat needs a patch, you’ll need to find the hole before learning how to patch an inflatable boat. Additionally, you need to buy the materials for repairing the boat.

What’s the Best Material for Patches?

Several materials will be sufficient for patching an inflatable boat. However, the best would be PVC pipe cement. Specifically, you’ll want the cement that has a “flexible” label.

Since your boat will be moving a lot, you’ll want a material that is flexible and won’t get brittle and break. As a result, flexible PVC pipe cement is your best option.

Additionally, you will need materials such as masking tape, cloth, and smoother. Once you’ve assembled all the materials you require, you can start working on patching your boat.

How to Patch an Inflatable Boat: 6 Steps

Here we’ll go through the steps of how to patch an inflatable boat. When you’re repairing the boat, you’ll be using a material like glue and cement that could be toxic. As a result, you’ll want to make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area.

Furthermore, with all hazardous material, you should read all the instructions on the product before putting it to use. Failing to do so could be harmful to your health. With that said, we’ll start teaching you how to patch an inflatable boat.

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1. Inflate and cap the boat

Before you can find the leaks, you’ll need to inflate the boat. You can use inflation blowers to do this. If you don’t have a way to inflate your boat, you can purchase air mattress inflation blowers from a thrift store.


Once the boat is fully inflated, you need to cap it. Your boat should have a rubber plug that you insert into the hole that you inflated the boat from. Once the plug is in you can screw the cap over it.

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2. Take it out on the water and find the leaks

Once you’ve inflated your boat, it’s time to find the leaks. You’ll do this by bringing it out on the water so you can try to identify where water is entering, or air is leaving. When you go out on the water, you should bring a sharpie.


However, since you know there’s a hole in your boat, you should wear a lifejacket in case your boat sinks. Additionally, you shouldn’t go too far off the shore.

Once you’re out on the water, you should try to push as much of your boat underwater as possible. That will cause water to cover most of your boat, and hopefully, it will submerge the leaks. Once you’ve submerged most of your boat, you should start looking for bubbles.

Bubbles will indicate that water is getting into the area where the boat is inflated, and the air is leaving. When you see bubbles, you’ll know where the leak is.


Once you find a leak, you should use the sharpie you brought with you to mark the leak with arrows. Draw arrows pointing to the leak on all four sides, so you know exactly where the hole is.


Once you’ve found all the leaks, you can bring your boat back to shore. Before you can start patching, you’ll need to hang it up and let it dry out.

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3. Cut out the patches

Now that you’ve found the leaks, you need to make the patches. You can use material found in a shower curtain for patches. However, you can also use material from broken air mattresses or a raincoat.


Once you’ve cut out a patch big enough to cover the hole, you’ll want to rough it up using sandpaper. You’re roughing it up to eliminate any possible traces of water from the patch. You need the patch to be completely dry, or you’ll risk the patch coming off. The glue also sticks better to a rough surface.

When you cut your patch, you should make it circular. Round patches are easier to get to stick than square patches because they don’t have corners.

It can be challenging to cover the corners of a patch in glue; as a result, round patches are better options.


You roughed up the patch using sandpaper, and now you’ll need to do the same with the area around the leak. Like with the patch, you need the area around the leak to be completely dry. Otherwise, you risk the patch not sticking because water could get mixed in.

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4. Buy and apply PVC cement

Now that you have your patches prepared, it’s time for you to apply the patches to the boat. To do this, you will need PVC cement.


There are several brands of cement or glue that will be effective for applying a patch. However, no matter the glue or cement that you purchase, you should read the instructions on the product carefully.

We mentioned it earlier, but we’ll say it again; glue and cement can be toxic, so, it’s essential to use it with caution.

Failing to follow the instructions on the product could result in adverse health effects for you. Additionally, you should wear gloves to protect your skin, and wear a mask if you can.


Once you’ve read the instructions and taken the proper precautions, you can apply the cement. You do this by painting it on the patch and the area around the leak.

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5. Apply the patch

Once you’ve painted the glue or cement onto the patch and the boat, it’s time for you to apply the patch. To apply the patch, place it on the hole and press down hard. Apply pressure to all portions of the patch to eliminate all the bubbles.


You can apply pressure using your hand, a hammer, or anything you can think of that will apply evenly distributed pressure to the patch. You want the entire patch to stick, not just portions of it, so, you need to apply pressure to the whole of the patch.

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6. Clamp the patch

If you’re extra concerned about your patch sticking, you can use C-clamps to maximize contact while setting things up. That will ensure that the patch stays on for a long time. You can also use a stack of books and leave it on the patch for an hour or so.


At this point, you should have succeeded in learning how to patch an inflatable boat. However, if you find that your patch is leaking, you can heat it with a hot air gun and squish it down again. Worst case scenario, if that doesn’t work, you can remove the patch and try again.


Regardless, that’s the process of how to patch an inflatable boat. It may take more than one try if this is your first time, but this method should be effective if you follow the instructions thoroughly.

Do You Understand How to Patch an Inflatable Boat?

Now that you’ve read through our instructions on how to patch an inflatable boat, we hope you are much more comfortable with the process.

We understand that not everyone is great at fixing things, but fixing an inflatable boat is something that doesn’t take a lot of experience. If you follow the instructions, you shouldn’t have a problem.

If you own an inflatable boat, it’s best to have some PVC cement at home in case of an emergency. The last thing you want is for your boat to get a hole when you’re at the cottage and needing to drive an hour away to get the materials to fix it. Being prepared will save you a headache in the future.

Did your inflatable boat get a hole, or are you learning how to patch it as a precaution? Do you understand how to patch an inflatable boat? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Photo by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash

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