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How to: Gelcoat Repairs

October 21st, 2015 by

A TuffStuff Expedition Prospector 17 with some bony rapids in the background. Photo by Jim Baird

As this paddling season comes to a close we’re taking stock of the feedback we have received about our new materials, TuffStuff and TuffStuff Expedition. We are happy to say that consumer reviews have been very positive and these new canoes have proven themselves as excellent options for flatwater and whitewater use.

B

ut it has become apparent that some paddlers who are used to plastic canoes will need to become more familiar with gelcoat. Gelcoat is the “paint” we use on our composite canoes. It is a resin that provides a smooth hard finish to a canoe. It protects the underlying cloth and acts as an abrasion layer. But in cases of hard impacts, pins or situations where the canoe is wrapped, gelcoat can chip and crack. The good news is that gelcoat can be repaired quite easily and if properly maintained your composite canoe will give you decades of use. Here’s our video showing how to complete a typical gelcoat repair.


While there may be more maintenance work involved with a gelcoated canoe, in the long-term composite hulls tend to outlast plastic ones. Properly maintained composite canoes last for decades because you can keep repairing them. In addition to gelcoat repairs you can easily add material patches to the inside of a composite canoe to stiffen or reinforce the hull where necessary. Eventually plastic canoes wear thin and repairs become unfeasible or cost prohibitive. As Royalex becomes increasingly scarce and TuffStuff/TuffStuff Expedition canoes become increasingly popular, we are confident that the paddling community will easily adjust to the simple requirements of maintaining the gelcoat finish of their canoes.

Gelcoat repair kits can be ordered from any authorized Nova Craft Canoe dealer. As mentioned in the video you may need to source one component (MEKP hardener) locally as it is considered a “dangerous good” and we can not mail it.

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