How To Repair A Fiberglass Canoe

While fiberglass canoes can be very durable, just like most things, they can still suffer damage. Whether your hull has been accidentally damaged while in use or it’s simply down to wear and tear. If your fiberglass canoe has seen better days then it can be helpful to know how to fix it.

Repairing it yourself can often be less expensive than having professionals do it for you. Plus, if you know how to repair a canoe, you can even benefit from buying a used canoe and fixing it up to look like it’s brand new.

In this guide we’ll walk you through the process and let you know what you might need in order to get the job done correctly.

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What You Need To Get Started

  • Sandpaper
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic wrap
  • Fiberglass cloth
  • Polyester resin
  • Hardener 
  • Acetone
  • Clean cloths
  • Disc Sander
  • Masking tape
  • Brush

You will also find that you can get fiberglass repair kits, which will have many of the items required included within the kit, as well as instructions on how to use each item.

How To Repair A Fiberglass Canoe

Step 1: Prepare It

Before you start, you will need to prepare the area for repair. First, clean it, using acetone to remove any oils or dirt.

If the damage is a hole that goes right through the hull, cut away the area using a disc sander to enlarge the hole. This will help to remove the area around the hole that may have been weakened with the impact that caused the hole. Taper the edges so it levels out on the outside of the hull.

If there is no hole, use sandpaper over the damaged area. After this, clean the area again using acetone.

Step 2: Cardboard Can Help

If you have a hole in your canoe that goes right through and you’ve now created a bigger hole by sanding it away, the next step is to cut cardboard to fit the hole. The cardboard should extend beyond the hole by around 2 or 3 inches.

Then, with your plastic wrap, cover the cardboard. Keep the plastic smooth and tight over the cardboard or you could be left with a lumpy fiberglass surface.

Using the masking tape, tape the cardboard over the hole on the inside of the hull, so that the plastic wrap is over the hole and visible from the exterior of the hull.

Step 3: Mix Your Resin

In a clean container, mix your resin with the hardener, using the resin instructions. Remember to stir it gently so that there are no bubbles. Also keep in mind that it will not last long, so don’t mix more than you need, as it can start to harden after around 15 to 30 minutes.

Video: How to Mix Polyester Resin

Step 4: Paint Your Fiberglass

Now that your resin is mixed, you’re going to want to work fast. Paint the resin onto your fiberglass cloth that’s cut into an appropriate size for the hole you’re covering. Make sure the fiberglass is completely covered.

Step 5: Repair The Damage

With the soaked piece of fiberglass cloth, cover the hole on the exterior of the hull. You’re going to need several layers of fiberglass cloth soaked in the resin mixture. Around five layers will usually be sufficient to fill in the hole.

If there is no hole and you’re simply repairing minimal damage, you may not need as many as five layers of fiberglass.

Step 6: Wait For It To Dry

Once it’s dry you can then remove the cardboard from the inside of the hull. You should find your fiberglass is now molded to the correct shape of the hull. You can sand both sides to smooth it out if necessary.

The repair should now be complete and you can paint the canoe or cover it with an enamel coating if you choose.

Video: How To Restore A Fiberglass Canoe

Conclusion

Repairing your own fiberglass canoe can be rewarding, as well as cost effective, so we hope you’ve enjoyed our tutorial and can soon get started on your own repairs.

If you’ve got experience repairing canoes or if you have any advice for others, please let us know in the comments. And if you think your followers might benefit from this, don’t forget to share it with them. 

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