Watertight riveting in kayaks and boats

Pop rivets are widely used in the construction of boats, canoes, and kayaks.
Sealing rivets can be useful as a measure of extra precaution in case they come in contact with the water through which your kayak or boat goes.

How to better seal the rivets

Here are some tips for watertight riveting of kayaks and small boats made from Polyethylene –

  1. Polyethylene is the most widely used polymer resin (namely “plastic”) in kayaks, and it’s softer than aluminum and fiberglass used to produce other small boats. For this reason, it is recommended to use special aluminum rivets designed for riveting jobs in kayaks. These special rivets split in three, which increases their grip. You can get these rivets in outfitters stores, and online.
  2. Drill holes of exactly the same diameter of the rivet that you use (3/16″), and if possible, even slightly smaller holes (5/32″).
  3. Before you insert the rivet in the hole, coat its end with Goop, which is a powerful watertight adhesive used for plumbing and marine projects. As you push the rivet into the hole, some of the Goop will coat the inside of the hole, and some will come out on the other side and get squeezed

    A rivet dipped in Goop watertight adhesive

    onto the inner surface as the rivet splits in three and presses against the inner surface. Excess Goop that will not come out on the other side or coat the sides of the hole, will remain on the outer surface and get squeezed by the rivet’s head. This way, the rivet’s parts that come in contact with the plastic will be coated with Goop, which would improve their water tightness.

  4. After riveting, coat the rivet’s head and the surface area around it with a generous amount of Goop. This will prevent water from touching the rivet, and in case of saltwater, it would prevent corrosion.

1 Comment

  1. fish

    PS —
    If you don’t happen to have special rivets, you can increase the grip of a common rivet by using an aluminum washer (using steel washers could result in corrosion).
    Needless to add that using a washer is possible only if you have access to the other side 🙂

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