How to Protect the Bottom of Your Kayak: Tips for Preventing Scratches and Damage

Inevitably, you will eventually scratch and damage the bottom of your kayak. Damage can be caused by dragging it over rocks, running it into shorelines, or scraping it against submerged logs.

While some scratches and scrapes are unavoidable, there are ways to protect the bottom of your kayak and minimize the amount of damage done.

This article will discuss some tips for preventing scratches and damage to your kayak hull.

Red, Green and Orange Kayaks

What to Do if You Get a Scratch on Your Kayak

If you find yourself with a scratch on your kayak, you can do a few things to fix it. First, you can use a rubbing compound or polishing compound to buff out the scratch for minor scratches. If the scratch is more significant, you may need to use automotive paint or boat paint to touch up the area. Finally, if the damage is extensive, you may need to look into repairing the hull.

How to Prevent Scratches and Damage on Your Kayak

To prevent any costly repairs, it is crucial to take measures to avoid scratching and damaging your kayak in the first place. One way to do this is by using a hull protector. Hull protectors are adhesive strips that you can apply to the bottom of your kayak. They provide a barrier between your kayak and any obstacles that it may encounter.

Another way to prevent scratches and damage is by being careful when transporting your kayak. Use a padded carrier or dolly when moving your kayak around on land. When loading your kayak onto a roof rack, use straps, and other tie-downs to secure it.

Lastly, another way to protect your kayak is by ensuring that you always paddle in calm waters. Paddling in rough waters can lead to your kayak hitting rocks or other objects, which can cause scratches and damage.

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By following these tips, you can help to prevent any scratches or damage to your kayak.

What Equipment Do You Require to Maintain the Keel of Your Kayak Hull?

Don’t walk your kayak to and from the water. The bow-to-stern ridge of your boat’s hull is known as the keel. Dragging it across dirt, roots, and pebbles will damage it. Instead, try to pull up to shore using the kayak’s side rather than dragging it overland when feasible.

Consider utilizing a keel guard. A keel guard is a piece that is attached to your keel and provides it with a substantial layer of protection against rogue roots and rocks in the water (not on land).

A keel guard is a sacrificial protective shield. A keel guard’s goal is to provide a layer of sacrificial protection. In other words, its purpose is to take the impact from rocks and roots so that your boat does not get damaged. The keel guard will wear down over time, at which point it will be necessary to scrape

Consider a keel guard to be hockey tape on a hockey stick: it’s there for a fun time, not for eternity.

Ensure that the adhesive used to attach your keel guard is suitable for your kayak material. Keel guards bonds are generally incompatible with fiberglass, composites, and plastics except for Polypropylene (commonly used in inflatables and less-expensive pool toys). Check the material of your plastic kayak and make sure

Keel guards don’t seem to affect tracking. Following a keel guard patch application, kayaks still appear to track straight. Perhaps a racing boat would be significantly impacted, but anything in the recreational or touring categories thrives under the protective strip.

Person Riding on Gray Kayak

How to Keep Your Kayak Hull in Working Order with Regular Maintenance

Keeping a kayak in good shape is an essential element of its longevity. At the very least, if you want your kayak to live a long, useful life, you must care for it. On the other hand, if you are purposeful and constant about maintenance, your kayak can have a long life.

Consider a kayak maintenance plan that includes a spring-time preparation and an autumn hibernation at the very least. Then, if you paddle all year, your boat will appreciate some care every three to four months.

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How to Prepare for Spring Weather and Kayaking Season

Place your kayak on sawhorses. Create two sawhorses that are about under the boat’s bulkheads. Inspect the ship deck hardware, including perimeter lines and bungee cords, for damage from this position. Search for any damage that might have been caused by UV radiation or friction.

If your bungee cords begin to fray, use a dab of silicone or hot glue to repair them. Then cut a short sleeve from electrical heat-shrink tubing and attach it to the bungee ends. Heat the tubing until it shrinks.

Examine your rudder/skeg for wear and damage. Both of these components impact the kayak’s hull, and they both require regular maintenance. Examine stainless steel wires, deployment lines, and pedal hardware for signs of wear and tear.

Apply a spray of WD-40 or a dry lubricant to the main pivot points, pedals, and sliders. Also, shoot a sufficient quantity of lubricant down any cable housings (usually most effectively done while the kayak is upright).

Examine the shell of your Polyethylene or Royalex boat for signs of wear and tear. These are both soft and heavy, yet they are incredibly robust in the face of powerful and blunt impact. Unfortunately, tiny, topical scratches are known to form on these materials in the same manner that some people collect postage stamps.

When it comes to repairing scratches, there isn’t much that can be done to the minor ones. Your plastic kayak may occasionally sustain a deeper gouge, resulting in a raised burr. If you’re interested, take a razor blade or a flexible X-Acto knife and shave down the offending strip of plastic that is pointing up into the

Examine the surface of your fiberglass, Kevlar, or composite kayak for signs of damage. Polyethylene boats have a relatively thin outer gel coat that is easily dented and scratched. It is frequently evident when an impact is made on fiberglass or composite hull. The good news is that even significant damage to fiberglass or composite kayak can be repaired by a professional.

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If you’re interested in learning how to do this repair work yourself, consider taking a fiberglass and composite boat repair course. These are available at many community colleges and technical schools.

Dents or Deformations in Your Kayak

Place the kayak in direct sunlight for 2 to 3 hours, flipping it over if necessary to cure dents and curves.

If this doesn’t work, or if it’s too chilly outside, use a heat gun and heat-proof gloves to warm the outside of the kayak. Then, place your hand on the inside of the kayak to press the plastic back into its original form.

Take special precautions to avoid melting the kayak or exacerbating the condition by using too much heat.

Fixing Large Cuts on Your Kayak

These scratches and cuts are too long or deep for wax or gel to repair (through the hull). If you don’t have the money, there is a solution if this is the case. It’s still better to hire professionals in cases like these because you can’t tell whether you can do it until you try.

A razor blade will cut any material that protrudes from scratched surfaces.

Step one

Collect any remaining plastic from an earlier kayak or similar plastic from which your kayak is constructed. In most cases, polyethylene is utilized to make kayaks.

Step two

Fill the scratches with the remaining plastic using a melting pot or a heat gun on high heat, removing extra material with a putty knife. In this situation, the excess plastic is beneficial since it will form a strong bond, preventing the weld from shattering under stress.

Heat guns are readily available at most hardware stores for around $20. Polyethylene melts at 356 degrees Fahrenheit (248 degrees Celsius). Be careful not to burn the plastic since doing so would damage it and render it unusable for repairs.

Step three

After the plastic has cooled and you are happy with the covering, sand it smooth with the kayak’s hull using fine-grit sandpaper with 400 or 600 grit.

Step four

Finish the repair by applying a new coat of gel or wax to the entire kayak bottom. The gel will act as a barrier, protecting your kayak from future scratches, and the wax will make it easier for you to clean the hull.


Kayaks can be scratched and damaged quite easily if not properly managed. In this article, we have provided tips on preventing scratches and damage from happening in the first place. We also suggest what to do if your kayak is already scratched or damaged. By following these simple steps, you can keep your kayak looking good as new!