PVC or Hypalon?

We are often asked how to tell the difference between Hypalon and PVC?

For the novice it is not obvious at first.  But with a few tips you can become quite good at making the disctinction.

Here is my best attempt to answer this.


– Seams on hypalon boats are glued.  They appear much flatter in profile than PVC boats.  The seams are simply overlapped and glued.  Check around the seams and you will most likely see traces of excess glue that has seeped out.  Hypalon boat manufacturers use a ‘contact cement’ type of glue in their seams.  PVCs are not glued.


– Seams on PVC boats are heat welded.  They are ‘thicker’ in profile than Hypalon boats.  Often the seams are covered with a strip of material which makes it difficult to see the heat welded seam.  But look around to other areas of the boat and you will most likely identify the heat welded seams.


This is a PVC Seam

– UV Damage appears brownish and often sticky to the touch


Find a small area on the boat that is hidden from view and apply a small amount of Acetone or Xylene on a rag and rub the test area.

If area becomes sticky, if the top color rubs or runs, then the material is most likely  PVC.


If your chandlery or marina cannot identify the material, search the web for the boat manufacturers site.  They will often carry technical specs that identify the material used to manufacture your boat.


1 comment so far

  1. allinflatableboats on

    I have to disagree with you on how to tell the difference. There are many brands of PVC inflatables on the market that all have glued seams. Many of the Chinese brands are glued. I think the best way is the feel of the fabric. The Hypalon material boats have a lot more of a rubbery feel especially when rolled between your fingers. PVC boats also have a chemical smell to them even after a couple years of use. The older they get the stiffer the fabric gets.

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