gel coat repair

My fiberglass kayak has stress cracks in the gel coat and several scraps that can be felt when cleaning. How can this be repaired to smooth the surface and maintain the color. Thanks for the advise.

Gelcoat Repair Kit
from West Marine, includes 4 basic colors. However, it’s really hard to make an exact match for color, even for something like white.

In my opinion, if the cracks are not exposing fiberglass underneath, it’s not worth repairing. The gelcoat is intended as a protective covering for the structural glass underneath. Seeing spider cracks may be unsightly but not structurally threatening.



– Last Updated: Apr-26-06 1:19 PM EST –

can groove the gel so that the crack is open enough for the gel to get to the root of the crack.(Dremel works well) mix some gel with the pigment of choice. set boat so that the gel when dripped into the crack it lies level. drip however much gel into the groove that you opened....then if you have gel with wax in it you can just walk away for a day...if the gel you have doesn't have wax added, you can either cover with thin plastic and seal out all the air, smooth the gel with the plastic on and then walk away or spray it with PVA to seal out the air....then walk away

if you choose to add your own wax to the gel it takes acetone/benzine and parafin like used for canning and sealing jellies and jams.

I prefer to just use the watersoulable PVA in a cheap(inexpensive) airbrush

depending on which method chosen depends on if you need to sand the gel slightly afterward or just go paddling

if sanding, use 600 grit wraped around a wood block then buff with 1000 grit. don't get too carried away...color probably won't match if the boat is more than a few years old...and if you paddle it'll have a few more spots in a little while anyway.

it's quite simple to do, just takes a little practice

Best Wishes

One thing to note about fixing cracks

– Last Updated: Apr-26-06 1:24 PM EST –

from stesss vs. gouges .... simply fixing the crack that occured from overbending the glass is time better spent doing something else .... the ( fresh) gelcoat is only going to crack again unless some glass is in there.

Fixing a gouge is o.k. for cosmetics.

Roy, PVA ......

A how to is here. Havta scroll down to "How to touch up a minor surface scratch"

same fingers typed PVC as sometimes type PDF instead of PFD…fixed it so that if someone looks later , they don’t try using PVC

Best Wishes


what they said
I’ll confess I’ve only done one gel coat repair and it didn’t quite match,later I saw what people had to do to make it look good and it’s a fair amount of work. I’d only do it for holes and gashes that break the glass.

Like someone above said, if it’s flexing of the hull,and you intend on using the kayak so it flexes in the same way,it’ll crack again.

On my Express it developed a LOUD crack from the aft deck during a vigorous pf rescue in bouncy waves. It was a part of the deck where the inside sheer tape ended in the middle of the inside bend of the deck above the deck/hull seam. There was a 14" long hairline crack along the edge of the deck. The other side of the deck had the seam tape up and past the bend so it didn’t have the same stress riser. I didn’t bother fixing the gel coat crack, I sanded the inside and layed another piece of tape over that inside bend and it stopped flexing at that point. The cracks in the hull gelcoat I haven’t bothered fixing, the glass is fine.

On the first run Chatham 18 I got it’s got some heinous cracking and pieces of gel coat that have fallen off around the skeg box,and it’s obvious someone already patched the gelcoat there when the gel box was installed. But I’m not bothering fixing it.