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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

32 Models Considered
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best repair kits for inflatables

Inflatable boats, beds, toys, and other items are an ideal solution for many. They are lightweight, versatile, affordable, and, when deflated, most are small enough to be stored on a shelf. The only drawback to owning an inflatable is air leaks, and for those, you need a repair kit. If you have a repair kit on hand, getting a leak doesn’t mean you have to discard your inflatable. And in most instances, the repair will be just as durable as the original product.

When shopping for a repair kit, you need to find one that is designed for the material that needs to be patched. The best repair kits for inflatables are versatile enough to work on a wide variety of materials.

Keep reading to learn what to look for when shopping for an inflatables repair kit, how to find a leak, how to make a general repair, and more. If you just stopped by for a few recommendations on the best repair kit to purchase, consider the products we've spotlighted on this page.

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Sometimes a leak is a problem with the air valve. Before searching for a hole, check that the core of the valve is sitting properly in the stem. Also, tiny grains of sand or debris can get stuck in the stem and cause a slow leak. This type of leak doesn’t require a patch to repair.

Key considerations

The top two elements to consider when shopping for an inflatables repair kit are the type of material that you want to repair and the type of repair you want to do.

Material

Inflatables are manufactured using a wide variety of materials. Some of the possibilities include rubber, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), neoprene, vinyl, polyester, and canvas. Unfortunately, not every repair kit can be used to repair every type of material. Before purchasing, make sure the repair kit that you’re considering can repair the type of material your inflatable is made of.

Repair

Not every repair kit can repair every type of damage. If you have a small pinhole that is slowly leaking air, then any type of repair kit will work (as long as it’s suitable for the material). If you have a small tear or larger hole, some of the repair kits might not be effective. Even fewer repair kits can handle a long slash or tear. The worst damage for an inflatable to sustain is a split along the seam because there’s nothing to stop the entire seam from opening up. It is rare to find a repair kit that can fix a split seam.

How repair kits work

Not every repair kit functions in the same way. There are three ways to repair an inflatable: direct application, a glued-on patch, and a peel-and-stick patch.

Direct application: This type of repair is performed by simply gluing the edges of the hole together. You apply a dab of sealant on the damaged portion and keep the edges together until the sealant dries. This works best on damage where the material is not missing, such as a pinhole or small tear.

Patch: This is the most common repair method and is suitable for most types of damage. In essence, you’re gluing a patch in place using a very strong adhesive that bonds the patch to the inflatable.

Peel-and-stick patch: This method is very similar to the previous method but is much more convenient. No adhesives are needed for this method. You simply peel the backing off the patch and stick it on the inflatable.

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Did You Know?
Most repair kits are useful for repairing many things, including shower curtains, pool covers, air mattresses, fishing waders, and even canvas.
Staff
BestReviews

Features

Drying time

The drying time of the adhesive can vary greatly from product to product. Some repairs can be accomplished with just a few hours of drying time while others may take up to 24 hours to cure.

Special qualities

Nontoxic: If you prefer a repair kit that uses nontoxic materials, that is an option. Be sure to check the label and read the fine print before purchasing to know exactly what you’re getting.

Odor: The adhesive in most repair kits has a strong, unpleasant odor. If you’re sensitive to certain smells, look for a repair kit that has a more tolerable odor.

UV resistant: UV rays break down most plastics and cause colors to fade. If your inflatable will often be exposed to the sun, look for a repair kit that helps protect against UV damage.

Underwater application: Most repair kits require the surface to be clean and dry before applying the patch. In some instances, this just isn't possible. If you have a leak that’s underwater, you need a repair kit that is specifically designed to perform repairs when the material is wet.

While some claim that duct tape is a handy hack for fixing leaks in inflatables, it doesn’t work. The glue on the tape eventually dries out and allows air to escape again.

Staff
BestReviews

Repair kit prices

Inexpensive: For around $5, you can purchase a repair kit that can fix one type of material. The tube of adhesive will likely be small and the number and size of patches may be limited. However, if this is all you need, it's a cost-effective purchase.

Mid-range: Most repair kits cost around $10. These tend to work on a wider variety of materials and are formulated to dry more quickly. There is usually enough material included to perform several repairs.

Expensive: Repair kits that cost more than $15 are usually formulated for heavy-duty repairs or specific applications. Some may be designed to be applied while in the water. The average consumer should be able to find an acceptable product in the mid-range bracket, but if additional peace of mind is important, you can buy it for a few extra dollars.

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Did You Know?
Unfortunately, many repair kits are only effective on holes and small tears. If the seam starts to split, you might not be able to fix it.
Staff
BestReviews

Tips

Finding and permanently stopping a leak might seem daunting, but it’s pretty simple. In fact, you probably learned all the skills you need while in preschool: it's just a matter of cutting and pasting. Although each type of repair kit involves a slightly different process, the steps are generally the same.

  1. Find the leak. Since that’s often more difficult than repairing the leak, we've outlined how to do that in the FAQ section below.
  2. Clean and dry the area around the leak. This is very important because any grease or dirt that isn’t removed from the inflatable will prevent an airtight seal, which may require you to patch the patch.
  3. Prepare the patch. Cut a patch that sufficiently covers the hole. It’s best to round the corners because rounded corners are less likely to get caught on something and tear the patch.
  4. Apply the adhesive as directed. Typically, this requires applying a thin but thorough layer of adhesive on both the inflatable and the patch.
  5. Let the adhesive set. If necessary, let the adhesive set for the designated period of time before applying the patch.
  6. Place the patch on the leak. Press the patch down, working from the center out to the edges to ensure a good seal.
  7. Place a heavy object on the patch. Let it sit until the adhesive is completely dry.
  8. Add extra adhesive. For extra protection, some people run a small bead of adhesive around the edge of the patch, but this isn’t necessary if you’ve applied the patch correctly.
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Since most repair kits for inflatables contain flammable adhesive, it’s important to store the repair kit away from any heat source.

FAQ

Q. How do inflatables get damaged?

A. There are several ways this can happen. Dragging an inflatable, such as a kayak or boat, over a sharp object or rugged terrain can damage it. Climbing on an inflatable, such as a pool, when wearing a sharp object like jewelry or a belt buckle can also cause damage. It’s possible to get a leak from improper storage, roughhousing (pulling, tugging, or jumping on an inflatable water slide, for example), or by leaving an inflatable, such as a paddle board, out in the sun for extended periods of time. Additionally, an inflatable can develop a leak simply from normal wear and tear.

Q. Are there any hazards associated with using a repair kit for inflatables?

A. It depends on the product. Some of the stronger, commercial-level repair kits have a warning on the label that designates the adhesive as being hazardous to your health. The instructions warn about taking precautions to protect against contact with skin and eyes, as well as breathing in any vapors. Additionally, the liquid or gel in these repair kits is usually flammable, so the manufacturer provides specific instructions on how to use the product, usually in a well-ventilated area that isn’t near an open flame. However, there are repair kits available that use nontoxic materials.

Q. How do you find a hole in an inflatable?

A. Finding the hole can be more difficult than repairing it, especially if it’s a large inflatable. The easiest way to find a leak is to listen for the sound of the air rushing out. Unfortunately, if it's a slow leak, there's a good chance you won't be able to hear anything. If that’s the case, wet down small sections of the inflatable with water, spray the wet areas with a household cleaner, and smear the water and cleaner around the surface of the inflatable. If there is a leak, even a tiny pinhole, you’ll see a bubble or bubbles forming wherever air is leaking out of the inflatable.

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