Dealing with scratches

I have a rotomolded kayak whose plastic is rather soft. After many trips there are quite a few scratches on the bottom and sides - some deeper than others and some in unexpected places. Can these scratches be removed or minimized? Any type of repair kits available? Any abrasive pads that help? Anything that won’t make situation worse or harm colors? Any way to heat, smooth surface, then recool without deforming? This is all pretty new to me and information seems scarce. Thank you in advance. Kim

Searching the archives here, try phrasing the search in different ways.

Here’s one I pulled up…

How I deal with them is to keep repeating ‘I didn’t buy this thing to hang it on a wall.’

I’ve heard some awful noises coming from the hull of my kevlar boat, but no signs of anything more than LOTS of scratches.

My poly boats have a few digs from whitewater over granite that go kinda deep. But my butt’s still dry, so no experience in repair here.

OH YEAH, long ago, an obnoxious teenager took a small chunk out of the nose of my old poly boat with a lawnmower (He swears he didn’t).

I tried to melt a plastic into the wound, it just kept getting worse. Finally, with pressure applied from clamps, I heated and squeezed the nose of the boat until the hole was gone. I used a propane torch.

This is not recommended, but it did work.


Embrace the scratch. Be the scratch…
A scratched boat is a happy boat.

As tjalmy mentioned, most scratches are nothing to worry about; unless they become so deep as to be holes. :slight_smile:

I don’t have any plastic boats, but my glass and wood/glass boats have plenty of scratches; each one lovingly acquired during happy days on the water.


here here Melissa
Just remember when you got those scratches you were on the water relaxing arrrrrrrr serenity

There is controversy over whether
poly scratches affect performance. My impression is that the effect, if it exists, is small.

I have found that a hot tacking iron will smooth some scratches, but I wonder the local heating and cooling might leave internal strain in the poly that could cause earlier appearance of cracks with age. (Cracks… I had them in one boat, an early poly boat, and they were not due to sun.)

Some scratches leave some flash, a sort of tiny rim of pushed-aside plastic. You can scrape these off with a metal edge. Just don’t lay into it… you don’t want to remove plastic that is still serving as part of the hull.

Very fine scratches with ridges
You can scrape off the fine ridges just using a thumbnail. Or try a plastic scraper, available from Lee Valley. I used the latter to scrape park stickers off my windshield without fretting about scratching the glass, as a metal razor might.

400 Grit Wet/Dry Sandpaper
works well too. For deep oyster-shell scratches (over 1/8 inch deep) I lightly pass a butane torch over the ridges immediately followed by a putty knife. Then I use the sandpaper.

Any day on the water is a great day.

Teflon wax
It won’t remove your scratches boat your boat will be more slippery and you’ll get less of them. I used to worry about scratches too, but I promise if you’ll just keep using the boat another 10 years and keep it out of the sun you scratch worries will go away.

For the last 4 years or so I have been worring about the little marks on my boat that look like hairline cracks. Fortunately recent whitewater bashings have shown the plastic to still be strong. I’m betting the sun will do your boat in before the scratches do.

Hadn’t known there was such a thing.
Will have to watch for it.

If you must do something
Get a 1/2" drill bit and clamp the drilling part in vice grip pliers. Heat the smooth end of the bit with a torch. Run the hot drill bit over the hull in circular motions. I would never do this but it does work.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I am using 303 protectant and I suppose the boat won’t last forever and trying to fix scatches won’t return the boat to it’s pristine condition so I’ll take the advice not to worry about it. Kim

It will …
last longer than you think. My poly boats turn 30 either this year or next.

Store them properly, and they’ll outlive you.