How to Repair a Canoe

A damaged canoe should be repaired as soon as the crack or a hole happens, as this will make the canoe last as long as possible. Doing it yourself is a great way to save a bit of money that would usually go to a very expensive repairer. Correcting a minor fracture takes less time than filling in a giant hole on a fiberglass canoe, but it can be an easy task if you make a plan.


Here’s how to repair a canoe:


  1. Prepare the damaged area.
  2. Measure the damaged area and repair material.
  3. Put the fiberglass mat over the hole.
  4. Mix the resin with the hardening liquid.
  5. Apply resin over the fiberglass mat.
  6. Apply several more layers of resin on the new mat.
  7. Smooth out the fixed area and paint it over.


This article will explain how to fix a fiberglass canoe yourself and make it durable and usable for a more extended period.

1. Prepare the Damaged Area

Any part of the canoe that suffered damage needs to be thoroughly examined and cleaned.


You’ll want to use sandpaper to remove the scratches, dents, and holes, and smooth the surface. The sandpaper area should be wider than the actual damaged area to prevent hidden cracks from widening.


Clean the surface with acetone to be sure that part is clean from glue, dust, and dirt.


If there’s a larger hole in the canoe, you should completely smooth it out and make the hole more even to prepare it for the new material. It’s vital to sandpaper both the outside and inside of the damaged area.


Some craftsmen even recommend making a giant hole in the canoe from the small one because it’ll be easier to repair if the gap is completely smoothed out. And, you might end up ruining your tools while trying to repair a smaller hole.


Here’s a video in which a repairer is making a larger hole in the canoe than the actual hole to smooth the surface and make the process of reparation easier:

2. Measure the Damaged Area and Repair Material

Measuring the area and material you’re going to use to fix the hole in the canoe is a crucial step to reduce the waste and maximize efficiency.


Put the transparent plastic over the scratch or a hole and mark the area an inch (2.54 cm) around the hole with a removable sharpie. Use this plastic to cut out the materials like fiberglass cloth or mat and use it later for other purposes.

3. Put the Fiberglass Mat Over the Hole

The fiberglass mat cut out should be in the shape of the hole or a scratch and a little bigger than the hole itself, so it doesn’t fall through it when you start applying the resin mixture. Put it over the hole from the inside and leave it there until the other materials are to be applied.


If it keeps slipping, you can use a little duct tape to secure it until you’re ready to apply the resin mixture. However, you want to remove the tape before you apply the mixture, or it might not set properly.

4. Mix the Resin With the Hardening Liquid

Measure the resin, add the hardening liquid, and stir the mixture with the wooden stick. There should be no air bubbles in the mix because it won’t be as efficient. Avoid putting too much hardener liquid in the resin because it’ll make it weaker.


Therefore, it won’t help you repair the canoe the right way.


Resin is an excellent tool for the reparations like these because it’s durable and dries out quickly, making the reparation time shorter. Because of that, a canoe can be fixed in just one day instead of wooden boats, for example.

5. Apply Resin Over the Fiberglass Mat

Take a large brush, dip it into the resin mixture, and start applying it over the fiberglass mat from the inside of the canoe.


Start with the edges first, and slowly move to the center of the mat. Apply the mixture generously all over the fiberglass mat, and use a tapping technique to cover the whole area. Leave it for 20 minutes to dry.

6. Apply Several More Layers of Resin On the New Mat

Put the fiberglass cloth cut out over the treated area and start applying resin with the strokes of the brush. Be generous with using the mixture because you want to ensure that it’ll get into the cloth.


While the area is still wet, use a wooden or a plastic spatula and slide over the fiberglass cloth to smooth it out and push out any air pockets. After making sure there’s no air between the mat and cloth, leave it out to dry for 15 minutes.


If one fiberglass cloth isn’t enough, put more cloths over the area, one by one and with the same technique, and let it dry overnight.

7. Smooth Out the Fixed Area and Paint It Over

Smooth out the patch from the inside until the surface is flat as the rest of the canoe. Clean the surface with acetone, and apply marine varnish from the inside and outside to protect the patch from water and sunlight.


Finally, paint over the patch with a waterproof canoe paint of your choice. It’ll be best to use a similar color to the canoe if you don’t want to paint the whole canoe.

Key Takeaways

Repairing a canoe isn’t a difficult task, but it can be a handful if you don’t have the proper guidance or tools.


Make a plan and get all the needed tools from the article, be precise with measuring the materials like resin, hardener liquid, fiberglass mat, and cloth.


Sandpaper is a crucial substance when preparing the area, and don’t be afraid to make holes or scratches a bit bigger if needed. Any hidden cracks or damages can cause leakages, and therefore the repairing won’t be done correctly.

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