Fiberglass kayak makes me & family itchy

I picked up an old Easy Rider Scout 13 kayak/canoe recently, in seemingly fantastic shape.

We sat in it in the yard, and soon after my daughter got a painful rash on her thighs. I didn’t immediately think it could be the kayak (kids get rashes from lots of stuff) but then I noticed later, after washing it out, that my hands were itchy. I thought maybe it was the soap or something, so the next day I ran my bare hand over the un-gel-coated interior and sure enough, it got itchy immediately. I could even see tiny glass fibers in my palm.

So, a few questions (and keep in mind I’m a total beginner to fiberglass anything…)

  1. Is this safe to use as-is? E.g., if we put some camping bedrolls in the bottom so that our bare skin isn’t against it?

  2. What’s a long-term fix? I have read epoxy or paint, but which? And what kind?

Any other thoughts?


Shouldn’t be any glass fuzz. Should be smooth with resin. If its new its a mfg defect and I’d return it. If not maybe someone sanded it or did a poor repair job? In which case you’d have to clean the surface with acetone and coat with resin, not paint.

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Your problem is not unusual.

A lot of manufacturers do not completely fill the weave of the cloth on the interior of hulls to cut down on weight. Completely filling the weave of the fabric with a good epoxy resin will add a bit of weight but will stop the hull from shedding glass fibers. You may not need to coat the entire interior, just the areas you are likely to come in contact with.

Thanks for the replies.

It is maybe 30-40 years old, but the fiberglass looks great, visually. No repairs, no visual fraying or anything.

So if I use epoxy resin, what kind of product might you suggest?

Since it’s not “damage” and just a limited number of glass fibers, would topside paint do the trick?


Paint might work but I think epoxy would be a more permanent fix as paint is basically a surface treatment. The fiberglass fibers that have become exposed from age will hopefully actually take up resin if you clean the surface well.

There are lots of good epoxies available from West Systems, MAS, System Three, RAKA or the Total Boat epoxy sold by Jamestown Distributors. You probably won’t need that much so I would check around and see if you have a friend who you can beg or borrow a small amount of epoxy from.

If you put a coat of epoxy on you will need to “paint” that with an UV inhibitor, varnish or automotive clear coat like covering. Or just take your chances.

The interior of a canoe that sees normal use and storage really does not see all that much UV exposure. Some makers will paint a “football” shaped area on the bottom of the interior of the canoe hull that is most exposed to sun when the canoe is being paddled but others do not.

Thanks all.

Sounds like a football-shaped layer of epoxy might be exactly what I need. Especially with the weird gunwales on the Scout, I doubt people will be touching the sides much.

That epoxy is pricy… but like you say, my neighbor seems like the type of guy who might have some epoxy lying around that I could “borrow,” as I wouldn’t need a lot…

[EDIT] A friend at work actually has a gallon that they’re letting me borrow and then return! Victory!

Thanks again!

Kind of low tech, but apparently FlexSeal spray sealant is safe to use on fiberglass (no solvent conflicts) and even powerboat pros say it’s OK for temporary patches on them. In your case it would not be exposed to wear and would be an easy way to seal up the fibers more permanently. You can get it in clear and white (and grey, I think). I did use some of the clear to seal leaks in an old motorhome I used to have and don’t recommend the cleat since it is harder to see what areas you have covered, The stuff is cheap enough, stocked virtually everywhere and easy to use so you could try a patch of it first.

A couple of coats of polyurethane paint should work. It will also hold up for a long time.

It will be a little bit more expensive, Interlux Brightsides is like $50 per quart, but it will be cheaper in the long run.