Keel strips

I was in Campmor yesterday and I was looking at the P&H kayaks they have displayed. They had a Cetus and a Quest. P&H, by the way, IMHO makes a top notch boat. They’re thought out very well and have features on it that I was impressed with.

My question is, the Quest had a Keel strip, running from the bow all the way to the stern. It appeared as if it was brushed on, wasn’t a clean installation, but was functional. Anyone know what material it is?


Carbon powder
If it was black, it was prolly carbon in a epoxy resin.

My choice would be the Cetus, YMMV


It was white
Not looking for a new boat, like the ones I have just fine.

gelcoat?? NM

most keel strips are gelcoat
majority of keel strips are done by masking and “painting” some gel coat on the keel most times adding a layer of fibreglass tape between the coats.

Gel coat usually finishes a bit wavy and rough but it’s OK since it is supposed to only protect the keel .

If you want a tougher/nicer finish than you can use epoxy (with UV stabilized hardener) and add pigment to the mix (any color you want).

Alternatively if black is your color, you can use powder graphite mixed into the epoxy. Epoxy will cure smooth and the graphite will add abrasion resistance and be a bit “slippery” so when hitting hard surfaces will slide off easier.

A Kevlar strip (instead of glass) might offer more abrasion resistance but once the surface epoxy is worn off it “fuzzes up” badly looking like a rag.

Glass on the other hand will juts abrade away smooth.

There is plenty of material on the net on how to DIY.

Thats what it looked like. It was “wavy” and didn’t have a finished look.

Been thinking about putting one on my Millenium. The hull is white.



Waxed Gel Coat
It’s not the same gelcoat, seams and keel stripes have waxed styrene added to them which kills the gloss factor of the gelcoat, but also makes it easier to apply outside of a mold. They are done by hand, with a brush. If you use a boat hard enough to need a keel stripe, then cosmetics are not important.

too true
but wear on the gel coat is something to watch once it reaches the glass/fabric beyond the protective layer.

Surely just about all british expedition kayakers don’t add a keel strip just to protect the “shine” of the hull’s gel coat :slight_smile:

duller finish is not because of waxed gel coat…it’s because many keel strips are a mix of the gel and micro balloons to act as a thickening agent so it doesn’t just run off after being applied and before it kicks.

if the deck seams and the keel strip are shiny, then the person could have used cabosil instead of micro balloons.

Best Wishes


better thickener?
Why would microballoons be used for a wear strip? Their main purpose is to thicken epoxy and make it really easy to sand, isnt’ it? I’d think something harder like colloidal silica or carbon would be a better choice.

wife’s 161
has a factory P&H keel strip that is a very thick and tidy run of glass tape from bow to stern. Clear coat to show fibers. My prior Valley had same but with green gel to match seat, coaming and hull strip.

actual Keel strip is usually glass or in the case of Valleys, Diolene. (not sure if Valley is still using micro baloons since Peter and Jason took over, but that’s what was used in the past)I believe Diolene is still being used.

The gel is a sacrificial layer to cover a sacrificial layer…

The question was actually what made the dull look on a keel strip and on the hull seam…the answer is the micro balloons in the mix. not wax.

cabosil would be harder, adds a more glossy color.

use whatever your comfortable with…they actually both work just fine.

the actual keel strip is the layer added before the gel that you see is added.

everything wears and has to be re done periodiocally.

use what you like the looks of or what your familiar with.

Best Wishes


the problem with that
is that just like adding one on a wood kayak is that the most wear is right at the ends over a 1/2"x8" stretch and whatever wear that occurs in the middle of the kayak is kind of spread around and not just confined to a 1 1/2" wide strip down the middle.

It would make more sense to put a cord of some kind of abrasion resistant material in the ends of the mold when the gel coat goes on or a notch for a replaceable section of UMWPE to be installed. A thick strip of glass really isn’t much better than a little thicker section of gel coat and glass.

On my last s&g I made the ends thick with an epoxy putty mixture of high density filler/cabosil with a suface coating of graphite. It’s about 1/4" thick right at the very ends where the wear is greatest.

Having a strip go down the middle only makes sense if a person regularly pulled their kayak over things like concrete walls or barnacle encrusted logs where there’s concentrated wear right along the keeline.

Seems to me the gouges that occur in the middle of the kayak occur when landing and your weight is resting on whatever is poking up,which is rarely a narrow strip down the middle.


– Last Updated: Jan-29-09 1:36 PM EST –

Best as I can tell so far the keel strip that came with my new Capella is only forcing the scuffs to happen in the nice shiny areas.

A strip would probably make more sense with a boat that has a more defined V-hull the entire way. My previous Caribou would have benefitted from one, it took several scuffs right on the keel line.


Keel strips
Some people are using LineX or other similar truck bed liner as a keel strip.

okay, not waxed gelcoat
Waxed gelcoat is used to seal the gelcoat for curing purposes. Gelcoat with waxed styrene, what I mentioned in my post, is how keel stripes and seams are constructed. So I really shouldn’t call it waxed gelcoat because that is something different. No one uses micro balloons. Adding micro balloons would make it impossible to tint them black as the the best that you could do would be a gray between the white micro balloons and black gelcoat. Waxed Styrene is what dulls the finish and it is also a thickening agent. I do these kind of repairs all the time and am quite familiar with the process.

addition of parifin disolved in stryene to the Gel adds as a seal for the curing of the gel (seals out the air)it ffloats to the top at time of cure and remains as a layer on the surface of the gel layer and The gel, after curing, can be buffed to a high gloss.

In itself the parifin doesn’t really make the gel thicker.

I prefer PVA to the parifin mix and never use waxed gel…so your experiance varies from mine in the use of gel.

I do not use waxed gel when I install a keel strip, never felt the need.

Best Wishes


P&H currently
offers an option of a keel strip color matched to whatever you want that is Kevlar reinforced. Don’t know about any fillers or additives that they add to the gel coat itself but is has more of a wavy effect than the polished clean surface of the hull. Just unwrapped a Cetus and a Capella 167 that are going into the Instructional Fleet and opted to have this option added to them. Figured it couldn’t hurt with Instructional boats.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Caulk Strip

I’ve not tried it, but read somewhere about using bathroom caulk strip. Clean, cheap, removeable (with Goo Gone for adhesive) and fairly benign appearance.

Line-x or Durabak keel strips feedback?
If anyone has used materials like these for their keel strip, do they have any feed back to offer?