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Canoe Repair: Kevlar, Royalex, Fiberglass, ABS Canoes

We’ve compiled some tips and links to get you started on some of the most common canoe repairs. Just remember—a call or visit to the manufacturer’s web site is always a good place to start.

Canoe Seat Replacement

Bench-style wood-cane canoe seats work with any canoe. Untrimmed seats (available as wood-cane or wood-webbing) range from 32" to 41" depending on the manufacturer, but can easily be cut to fit your canoe using the old seat as a template. For the ambitious, re-caning and re-webbing your seat are also options, but be prepared for the project to take longer than you expect—especially replacing the caning. 

Replacing a canoe seat >

Re-caning a canoe seat (pdf) >

To purchase seats, check with your canoe’s manufacturer or the following vendors:

Northwest Canoes Canoe Seats >

Campmor Canoe Seats >

REI Canoe Seats >


Skidplates extend the life of your Kevlar, Royalex, fiberglass, composite hull or polyethylene canoe (like the Old Town Discovery series) by protecting it from scraping on rocks. If a lighter color, fabric or foam have been exposed on the bottom of your canoe, it’s time for skid plates. Don’t worry about drag. Davidson says that hull shape and wetted surface area have more impact on glide and efficiency than skid plates, and unless you’re a marathon canoe racer you probably won’t notice any drag.

Learn to size and install skid plates >

Purchase a kit:

Northwest Canoe Skid Plate Kits >

Wenonah Canoe Skid Plate Kit >

Old Town Canoe Skid Plates >

REI Skid Plate Kits >

Repairing Wooden Gunwales

Gunwales contribute to the integrity of the canoe—Davidson calls them the bones of the canoe. Keeping them in good shape keeps your whole canoe in good shape. Mad River Canoe recommends oiling wooden Gunwales twice a year, more if you store your canoe outside. If the gunwales are already grey and peeling, or even cracked, Davidson would call them a" blue run" repair.

Oiling Wooden Gunwales - from Mad River Canoe >

Installing wooden gunwales - from Northwest Canoe >

Replacing Gunwales - from Old Town Canoe (pdf) >

Purchase replacement aluminum or wood gunwales >

Or check directly with the manufacturer of your canoe.

Repainting Gelcoat Canoes

Painting a gelcoat isn’t as simple as picking out your color and going to town—it’s best to use a one-part polyurethane marine paint, available at most marine stores. You can also apply a gelcoat with a color finish mixed in.

How to paint and refinish gelcoats from Old Town Canoes (pdf)>

Gash Repair For Your Canoe

Don’t despair if you crack or tear your Kevlar or fiberglass canoe. Davidson calls these some of the most repairable canoes around. Even a Royalex canoe is very fixable. The key is to make sure you clean that boat before you begin repairing.

How to repair gashes >

How to clean a Royalex canoe from Old Town >

Fixing small dings >

Find gelcoat repair kits, a composite repair kit and a Royalex repair kit >

Canoe Repairs on the Trail

Of course, gashes, nicks and scrapes rarely happen close to home, and many a paddler has made fine use of duct tape for on-the-water repairs. Davidson recommends bringing a CanoeFix Patch instead. Heat activated, it adheres to aluminum, Royalex, fiberglass, Kevlar and gelcoat canoes. (In the field, activating the patch is as simple as boiling water, and placing the patch and hot water in a heavy duty zip lock bag).

CanoeFix Patch >

More Canoeing Feature Stories
Explore the latest in canoe design and prominent canoe makers. More >
User-Submitted Canoe Reviews
Read our newest reviews and submit your own. More >
How to Choose a Canoe
Learn about choosing a canoe by: Types > Design > Materials >


> Patching a Coleman Canoe

> Bulk Repair Kits at Oak Orchard Canoe Kayak


> Installing Skid Plates from Novacraft Canoes

> Overview by Great Outdoor Provision Co

> Skid Plate Canoe Repair by Piragis

> Repairing a small hole in Kevlar, fiberglass canoe

> Replacing the cane seat

> Re-webbing a seat

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