Accidents happen. Don’t worry, it’s easy to repair a wetsuit tear or rip. Keep your gear performing with these easy steps.
Wetsuits are made of neoprene, which can be mended in three ways.
- Quick repairs with neoprene contact (seal) cement
- Permanent repairs with Aquaseal
- Additional strength with Iron Mend repair fabric
A partial tear, cut or rip in a wetsuit can generally be repaired in the field or at home using one or more of these techniques. Contact cement is used in the field for quick repairs. More permanent repairs using Aquaseal and possibly Iron Mend fabric can be made at home when you will have more time for adhesives to cure and access to other tools.
Wetsuit Repairs Using Neoprene Contact Cement
If you have a small tear or rip, but don’t have 4-24 hours to wait for adhesives to dry, you can usually make the repairs using neoprene contact cement. Contact cement is formulated specifically for rapid tack and bonding. We recommend Seal Cement by Gear Aid. It cures to full strength in only 15 to 30 minutes and creates a strong, durable, flexible bond. Here’s how:
- Apply Seal Cement on both edges of the repair area. Allow for drying time of 5 minutes.
- Apply a second coat to both edges and let it dry for 10 more minutes.
- Press and hold edges together until dry (approximately 5 minutes).
- It is best to wait four to six hours to use the suit. But, it can be used right away.
Permanent Wetsuit Repairs Using Aquaseal
Aquaseal is a urethane repair adhesive and is excellent for permanently repairing small holes, rips, tears, and cuts in wetsuit neoprene. It will fix just about ANYTHING and if done properly, your wetsuit repair will make your suit even stronger than before.
Aquaseal can be used directly from the tube with a cure time of 12-24 hours or mixed with Cotol for a faster cure time of 2-4 hours.
Here are some of the ways to use it:
Aquaseal can be applied directly to failed or failing seams on wetsuits; and neoprene gloves and boots. Brushing it evenly into and along the seam. Once it dries you will have a seam that is stronger than it was when new.
Abraded Knee and Elbow Repair
If an area has started to wear away or is becoming threadbare, create a tough, flexible knee or elbow patch with Aquaseal to protect from abrasion damage. Simply apply a thin coat of Aquaseal with a disposable plastic knife. Dry level overnight.
Rips, Tears, and Cuts
Aquaseal is the best and permanent way to repair a tear. To do so, get some removable tape such as painters tape to hold the area together during drying. Push the two edges of the rip together and tape it in place well on the one side of the suit. Next flip the suit over carefully. Paint a thin layer of Aquaseal along both edges of the rip (you may need to bend the suit to pucker the tear open). Once all edges are coated, push the edges together. Be sure there are no voids between the two edges, then tape together. The tear will now be taped together on both sides of the suit. Make sure it cures flat and untouched
Holes in Wetsuits
Aquaseal is also ideal for repairing holes and tears in wetsuits. For holes larger than a pinhole, create a backing with removable tape. Fill the hole and 1⁄4” beyond with adhesive. Remove tape after Aquaseal has fully cured.
Additional strength wetsuit repairs with Iron Mend repair fabric
For large wetsuit tears or tears in high wear or stress areas, you may want in addition to using either contact cement or Aquaseal to also add a patch over top for extra strength and abrasion resistance. Iron Mend is a self-adhesive patch that is heat applied, and specifically designed for wetsuits. It can be cut into any shape, is highly abrasion resistant and stretches. All you need a pair of scissors and a clothes iron.
- For tears, be sure to repair them up using either the contact cement or Aquaseal method and that they are fully cured before applying Iron Mend.
- Pre-heat your clothes iron to acrylic, low or delicate setting. For irregular surfaces, including sleeves and legs, insert a piece of wood to create a firm, flat ironing surface.
- Cut Iron Mend to overlap damaged area by 3/4”. Round the corners of your patch as they will be less likely to peel back with use. Place Iron Mend over damaged area with the urethane coated side down and cover with a full sheet of heat shielding paper (included).
- Using the preheated iron, press Iron Mend down with firm, even pressure for 10 seconds. Lift and rotate iron; apply for another 10 seconds.
- Allow repair to cool for a few minutes before testing adhesion. Apply more heat if needed.
Images courtesy of Gear Aid