On use of pop rivets

I will probably be installing a sliding seat and foot brace in the back of my kevlar canoe.

I haven’t used a rivet tool on a boat yet.

Should I use silicone sealant with it, or will the holes be sealed enough without it.

I hope I am spelling “rivet” correct.


an opportunity to use a ‘gap-filler’, use it.

Because rivets are permanent, you might actually want to consider using a ‘kevlar-friendly’ (non k-corrosive) cement if you think the area won’t undergo excessive flexion. The rivets are ‘there to stay’, so so should the glue. But foot braces probably will undergo flexion as you alternate pressure on them with your strokes.

But I’d say if it doesn’t corrode (chemically interact with) the hull, add the goo.

You’ll be that incremental bit more leakproof as you

Paddle on!

-Frank in Miami

I’m with Frank
I’ve done a bit of pop rivet work recently and in one case had to drill out and replace a rivet that wouldn’t pull up tight. Something that won’t harden and become rigid seems in order. Dow silicon RTV rubber is great and can be had at NAPA under the Permatex label. Kind of a funky blue but if it is imbedded in the joint and wiped clean it won’t be too noticable.

use silicone
I have always used it when installing canoe and kayak foot braces and have never regretted doing so. It may or may not be necessary, but it won’t hurt anything and it will ensure that you have a good seal.

What they all said!
Use the silicon sealant! My 'yak came with some factory installed hardware riveted in place without sealant - they leak! I installed additional hardware with rivets AND sealant - they DON’T leak!

blind rivets
I assume you won’t have a backing plate on the outside - how about adding a few layers of fiberglass on the inside at the attachment points? Seems like a pop rivet is going to be a rather small area to transfer the load.

Rivet heads
There are larger head pop rivets out there, I have about 6-10 somewhere. They spread the load some more on the exterior of the hull. Either use the matching pop rivet washers, or larger washers to spread the load on the inside. If you have fiberglass, another 2"x2" patch on the inside will help prevent long term problems. Call if need. SAR

Star rivets spread in a star pattern. The kind that bunches up will do you no good. Check the sit on top site for info on these you can also buy them off the sight. I bought mine from a company called fastenall.


Rivet tool
Be sure to use a GOOD rivet tool, not the cheaper units. Sometimes they fail to grab and it really sucks to have one halfway.

I was putting carry handles on a glass SOT (into blind holes), and the cheap hand pop riveter failed to fully seat a couple. I left them that way and went and bought a better tool. Slid it on and pulled them the rest of the way no problem.

Also I used long rivets that have legs that extend out as it compresses (like wall anchors). Make sure they are non-corroding. Go slow if you use them.

These are what I used (scoll down, come in black and silver) - my local hardware home stores did not carry them:


To get these in, the hand riveter should be like this, not the junky folded sheet metal things:


Tips on that site to, mainly geared to plasic SOTs that are much easier to work with, but still good info. Shows how the rivets spread out.

Was nervous about adding the handles (Kim’s boat) as the boat is has Surf Ski type thin FG layup, but they have held very well. (did add a blob of silicone too). No washers, but handle ends were molded plastic parts that served that purpose - otherwise I’ have added them.

Not familiar with canoes - or what is behind the plate you are attaching to. So don’t know if these would work for your application. If you can get behind it, consider SS machine screws/bolt and nylocks, w. washers.

Naw don’t bother
I bought rivets from Wenonah and questioned them about sealant. Good wide head rivets used on my foot brace. No need. Never saw any leakage in my Jensen so I went with their recommendation on my solo. She isn’t leaking now. It doesn’t seem right but they make thousands of boats so I guess they know what they are doing.


North Carolina

use stainless steel rivets…
…and at least the 1/8" size. And it is better to dab the silicone on before setting the rivets. Alcoa actually has a patent on this simple technique…they call it “rivseal.”

SS Rivets
Where can you find SS Rivets? The local hardware or home improvement store is lucky to carry aluminum ones.Without trying to special order 5 pounds of rivets where do you get them?


why do you need
SS rivets? Do the alum. rivets rust in salt water? I like to seal my rivet holes too.

maybe its not a big deal…
…but the stainless ones are stronger and will not pit & otherwise deteriorate. If you do a lot of salt water paddling, it attacks the aluminum (judo style…ahhhhhHOYA!)I thought Ace hardware & Home Depot had the SS ones.