11 Tips for the Best Wetsuit Repair
Wetsuits aren’t exactly the cheapest items to replace. Produced to retain heat while remaining as flexible as possible, lots of research, time and money is invested into creating a durable wetsuit. Hence why, if they tear, it can feel pretty devastating!
Luckily, before you completely disregard the wetsuit you have spent a lot of money purchasing, there are some steps you can take to fix your suit and keep it alive for longer!
When You Need Professional Help (or a New Suit)!
What you can fix will entirely depend on where the tear is and how large it is. For example, if it is on the zip or covering a vast expanse of the seams, you may be better off investing in the expertise of a local wetsuit repairer. Any tears that are larger than one inch regardless of location on the suit should be looked at professionally.
Investing in a repairer may be slightly more expensive than doing it yourself, but it is cheaper than buying a completely new suit so may be worth it if you’re on a budget.
Check the Warranty
Individual brands may have a warranty on their wetsuits. It means if your suit becomes faulty before the warranty has ended, the company will repair your suit for a small charge, in some cases free of charge, or depending on the extent of the fault, may offer you a new wetsuit. There may be a slight wait, but it is worth checking!
Of course, this will also depend on how the suit becomes faulty. For example, a rip in the neoprene of a suit from a fin isn’t going to get you a free repair. However, a clear manufacturer's fault will obviously receive a replacement or repair.
Invest in the Appropriate Equipment
When fixing your wetsuit, you must purchase the correct equipment. Unfortunately, you can’t just use anything to fix your suit.
Standard glue can’t be used as this can damage the suit further. Instead, you must invest in specific wetsuit adhesive or cement. There are many brands out there, so it is up to you to do your research on what you think would be best for your suit. In general, glue tends to take slightly longer to dry in comparison to cement.
A little piece of neoprene may be required for the broken areas which may need reinforcement.
A small piece usually comes with a new suit and is attached to the zip of the wetsuit. The small section of neoprene is intended to protect the suit from zip dents during transportation. However, it is a good idea to keep hold of it (if you remember) in case you need it for future use!
Alternatively, some wetsuit repair kits include a small section of neoprene. If you are super desperate, asking nicely in a surf shop might get you that little piece of neoprene you need.
Get to Work Straight Away
Ideally, you want to start the repair as soon as you can to prevent the rip from increasing in size with more wear.
Dry the Suit
The wetsuit must be thoroughly dried before the repair begins. It is essential to dry the suit as any glue that is applied will find it difficult to dry while the surface is still moist.
Apply the Glue
When applying the glue, it is vital that you check the instructions of the glue manufacturer before you begin. We offer a general guide in our blog; however, applications may vary from glue to glue.
Start by applying the glue to each section of the damaged wetsuit. You may want to use some form of applicator for more accurate results, such as a lollipop stick.
Depending on the glue, let it get tacky for a minute and then push the two sections together and hold. Apply force for a minute or two.
Depending on the advice provided with the glue, it is best to allow the glue to dry for five to ten minutes.
Apply the Glue Again
Depending on how thorough you want to be, you may want to apply a second application over the top of the repair. Again, leave the glue to dry. It may need longer to dry as more glue has been applied on the second application but check with the instructions.
For bigger holes in the wetsuit, you may need the extra support of additional neoprene. In this circumstance, you need to turn the suit inside out and cut the neoprene to size just slightly bigger than the tear itself. Then glue the neoprene patch to the hole as previously instructed. Use a form of weight to press on top of the suit to reinforce the glue as it dries.
How long you leave the glue to dry will depend on the instructions on the packet.
For open water swimsuits especially, it is best to avoid trying to sew your suit. For thicker surfing wetsuits, people have been known to sew up seams for larger rips with dental floss.
However, if you have no experience in sewing, this can be a risky business! You must be extra cautious not to tear any rubber as you pop the needle through the neoprene as this will only enhance the damage to the suit.
Additionally, you are only ‘blind stitching’ which means you only push the needle one-quarter of the way through the neoprene of the suit and then gluing the rest of the repair. For the best results when sewing, it is advised to use a curved needle.
If you do decide to sew with dental floss, you must apply two layers of glue to the rip before sewing. Once the suit has been stitched, another layer of glue must be applied and left for a minimum of eight hours to dry.
Apply Glue-On Seam Tape
To finish off the job, glue a seam tape on the inside of the suit where the original damage was located for additional security.
No matter how great your suit is, nails, rocks and reef can always pose a threat to your beloved suit! Hopefully, we have given you some useful tips should you ever find yourself in this unfortunate circumstance!
With more sun during the summer months, you might be ready to swap your full-length winter suit for a thinner one! Here at Wetsuit Centre, we stock a wide range of suits including ladies and men’s shorty wetsuits ready for the warmer weather!
Having a bad day and need help with a broken surfboard? Take a look at our guide on repairing a surfboard!