How to Seal Kayak Bulkhead ?

Kayaking down a river is a wonderful experience. Cruising down the wilderness gives Kayakers memories of a life time. Kayaking is a popular pastime for many and a sports activity as well. It requires a Kayak and a few other articles to get started. In due course of time, a Kayak has to be repaired and maintained. One of the common Kayak damage is a leaking Bulkhead. You may wonder – how to seal a leaky Kayak Bulkhead.

You can seal a leaky Kayak Bulkhead using a marine-grade sealant. It will close any damages in the Bulkhead. You will first need to determine the damaged area using a flashlight. After cleaning the area and removing any debris from it, add a small bead of the sealant to the opening. Smoothen it out with your finger and let it settle down. After a few hours, you are good to go.


Maintaining a Kayak is important for the safety of its user. It also increases the Kayak’s life. Sealing a damaged Bulkhead is of prime importance and should be done at the earliest. In this article, we bring to you a detailed discussion on sealing a Kayak Bulkhead.

What is a Kayak Bulkhead ?

A Kayak Bulkhead is a sealed, vertical compartment in a Kayak. It is an internal, empty, air-tight compartment that provides buoyancy to the Kayak. Hence the Kayak Bulkheads allow it to stay afloat. One can access the Kayak Bulkheads through its sealed hatches on the deck. Usually, Kayaks have Bulkheads on their bow and stern.

All sealed Bulkheads have a vertical wall. It runs from the deck to the hull of the Kayak. It is sealed with a strong adhesive to make it air-tight. This ensures that the Bulkhead remains dry even when the Kayak cockpit takes in water. This allows the Kayak to remain afloat.

 If the Kayak cockpit takes in water, the sealed Bulkhead keeps the Kayak floating. However, with time and wear & tear, the sealed Bulkheads get damaged. They may no longer be airtight and take in water. This is a dangerous situation and needs to be fixed in the first instance.

Advantages of resealing a Kayak Bulkhead

By now, you would have understood the importance of Kayak Bulkheads. With time, these sealed compartments do get leaky. They must be resealed. Here are a few pointers to encourage you in the direction:

Safety: Kayak Bulkheads keep a Kayak afloat. In turbulent waters, the Kayak cockpit gets filled with water. In such times, the Bulkheads keep the Kayak going.

Kayak life: If you reseal a Kayak Bulkhead in time, you can use your Kayak for a longer duration. Remember the old saying – a stitch in time saves nine.

Load-carrying capacity: At times, you may want to carry your camping gear on your Kayak. A properly sealed Bulkhead will allow you to carry the optimal load on your ship.

Keeping stored articles dry: Several Kayaks allow the Bulkheads as storage compartments. A leaky compartment may wet your stored articles.

Tools needed to reseal your Kayak

You will need several tools to reseal your leaking Bulkhead. We enlist them here so that you can collect them before you start repairing your boat.

  • Marine-grade sealant: You need to get yourself a good quality sealant to close your leak. Usually, silicone-based sealants are easy to work with. You will find it in any sports shop.
  • Utility knife: To clean away the sections of the old sealant. This is important otherwise the old sealant will not allow the new sealant to effectively lock the gap.
  • Vacuum cleaner: To remove the chipped-away sealant from the Kayak.
  • Acetone: To clean the leaky area before closing it with the sealant. This improves the grip of the sealant on the Bulkhead surface.
  • Gloves: To handle the sealant, acetone, etc. These chemical-based substances may otherwise harm your skin.
  • Marking pen: To highlight the leaks on your boat.
  • Flashlight: To check the internals of your Kayak and find the broken seal. This helps you to quickly identify the leaks.

Process for sealing a Kayak Bulkhead

There are several steps to seal a Kayak Bulkhead. It is an easy process and takes an afternoon to repair a damaged Bulkhead. The steps are as follows:

  1. Inspection: Check the Kayak from the cockpit side and the Bulkhead side for any damages. Use a flashlight for proper scanning. Mark the leaks with a marker pen.
  2. Removing damaged sealant: Remove any old and damaged sealant with a utility knife. You need not remove the entire sealant; just the damaged portion is fine.
  3. Vacuum the debris: Remove all damaged particles with a vacuum cleaner. Otherwise, it may interfere while the new sealant is applied.
  4. Clean the damaged area with acetone: This is to do away with any dust particles on the leaks. It enhances the bonding between the Bulkhead surface and the sealant.
  5. Apply the sealant: Using gloves, apply the sealant to the leaks. Make a small bead out of the sealant and put it on the crack. Use an optimal quantity to do so. If required, apply the sealant in several steps.
  6. Smoothen the sealant applied: With your gloves on, smoothen the applied sealant with your finger to avoid any lump later on. Press a little to effectively fill in the cracks.
  7. Allow the sealant to dry: Wait for the sealant to dry. Check the sealant packaging on how long you need to wait for the adhesive to dry.


In summary you should seal you Kayak Bulkhead

Always remember to test your repaired Kayaks before you start using them. Take them in shallow water to see if the leaks have been properly sealed. If you find water seeping in, repeat the steps to reseal the unrepaired part.

Sealing a Kayak Bulkhead is an easy process. It is fun and with friends, you won’t realize how quickly you have repaired your damaged Kayak. With our step-by-step guide, we hope that you will be able to repair your Kayak and enjoy using it for a long time.


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