Removing Adhesive-Back Closed Cell From Boat?


I am planning to buy a boat today, unfortunately the previous owner has slapped a lot of adhesive closed cell foam on the deck. I would like to remove all of it, without damaging the gelcoat. I am hoping that the only adhesive used was the adhesive backing, and nothing stronger and more damaging like a contact cement.

I have a plastic scraper and some goof off. However I am anticipating that the foam will be more likely to tear into tiny pieces than to come off in a single sheet. Hoping someone has done this before and can offer some advice.

I got one like that. A lot of elbow grease and acetone. The acetone got most of the glue, and Goo Gone got the rest, with s plastic scraper. No scratches.

A blow dryer\heat gun might help loosen it up… then goo gone.

Assuming this is minicel foam and contact cement, acetone works marginally in some cases (with lots of elbow grease as described) , but for really bad cases (like heel pads), I usually have to resort to Xylene. It’s extremely nasty stuff, wear gloves and a respirator. That said, I have never used it on gel coat, only for pads glued inside the kayak, so can’t comment on use on gel coat. Due your due diligence and research Xylene on gel coat and if you use it, test in a small area first. It will actually dissolve small bits of the foam that are still adhered.


Stupid question, but why not leave the foam as is? Are you getting rid of it for cosmetic reasons only? I took the pads off of my thigh braces and that was inside where I didn’t care about scraping things up a bit. That was enough fun for me for a while.

Yes I’m mostly removing it for cosmetic reasons. I used to have this same boat in black and I picked this one up because it was cheap and because of the nostalgia. All the foam is falling off and I’d rather not look at the PO’s nasty customization job.

I will start with light heat and a plastic scraper. haven’t started yet so I don’t know what adhesive was used.

There are also some lines epoxied to the inside of the cockpit (why???) so I will probably be chiseling away at those too.

I went about yanking most of the foam off on a hot sunny day. Luckily about 90% came off in large pieces, with some corners stuck to the deck of the boat. Also lucky, the large butt pad aft of the cockpit was no adhesive backed, meaning the previous owner had used a pretty benign adhesive sparingly around the borders.

I remembered that I have a rubber sticker/decal removal tool, so I will hopefully be able to use that to make short work of the remaining foam bits. It worked great on my motorcycle.

With the foam on its way out, and no foreseeable way to undo the fiberglass “keel strip” (besides maybe painting over it), I am focusing on removing the epoxy deposits inside the cockpit. Below is a diagram: there are three of these 1’-0" lines epoxied to the boat.

Unfortunately there are a lot of epoxy removal tips out there that don’t consider that the material you’re removing it from is also epoxy… anyways right now I am considering a chisel. Any tips would be appreciated.

Newbie kayaker but I do work with adhesives. A hairdryer will work well on contact adhesive. The foam will insulate the heat so you need to start at a corner and work your way in. Not sure if the heat will do anything to your kayak though. Most adhesives weaken/loosen with a bit of heat.

I ended up finishing the job off with the 3m decal removing wheel. It’s like a huge pencil eraser in the shape of a disc that you put on a drill. Pretty pricey but now I have been able to use it for two projects so that’s nice! A little goo gone and it was ready to go.