How to Smooth out Scratches on a Rotomolded Kayak

Eventually, the hull surface on the seemingly bomb-proof, roto-molded kayaks (including the popular fishing models)  gets scruffy enough that it may need a shave – literally! That same poly plastic that is so good at rebounding off rocks and logs or other impacts without breaking does take its toll in the minute skin abrasions that eventually mar the surface on even the most tenderly treated crafts. A good winter’s  repair project is removing scratches from the hull of your favorite plastic watercraft.

Most minor blemishes or dings in a rotomolded boat are in the form of scratches and the occasional chipped chunk gouged from its surface. Since such plastics are nearly impossible to get anything to adhere to it (fillers, glue, paint!), about the only thing you can do to keep your abused surface smooth is to minimize the protrusions from its surface. And, like a stubby cheek, the easiest way to do that is to shave it!

Rubbing your hand over the surface of your hull at summer’s end will usually reveal “fuzz” or little curls of plastic that snag your skin or otherwise feel particularly ragged. Fuzz is the result of a roughed-up plastic surface due to abrasions and minute scratches along the surface. Larger spurs are the result of scratches made along the hull that literally tear strands or chunks of plastic away from the smooth surface. The easiest way to way to remove them is to cut them away.

Small, random spurs can be carefully sliced flush to the surface with a sharp razor, either with an X-Acto blade type tool or by simply shaving with a skin razor. The former works best on larger or linear snags while the razor is great at shaving away fuzz (think of it as beard stubble).

Larger abrasions or extensive scratches might best be repaired by using a surform, a rasp/grater-type tool that scraps away roughage using a series of cutting/scrapping edges. You’ll be reducing a mis-matched network of scratches and snags down to a smaller dimension of uniform “scratches” that will at least minimize the drag on this section of your hulls overall smoothness.

Once you’ve cut away the protruding spurs and spikes, your hull is good to go, hardly any worse for wear!  Deeper gouges, cuts, and holes are an entirely different matter requiring more extensive repair work.

It is important to know that this particular type of repair technique is pretty much limited to rotomolded hulls and not applicable to thermoforms or other synthetic or composite materials. It’s best to contact your dealer or the manufacturer before you start any kind of repair work on your watercraft.

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