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Fall is perfect time to restore your Inflatable

The Pacific Northwest boating season for us “fairweather yachtees” is drawing to a close. Before you shut it all down, the Fall is a perfect season to restore your dinghy/tender. The pressure we all feel in the spring to get ready for boating is not at all present, so you can take time to prepare, clean and allow adequate curing. Even the ‘trades’ you may wish to contract seem to have more time and often better rates. Get a jump on next season by restoring your inflatable in the Fall.


ECO-TUFF has Arrived!

Tuff-Coat has released a new product line that is a one part water based acrylic vinyl paint. The ECO-TUFF RENEW products now allow an inflatable boat to be restored in one step. Synergy SRC announces that this product is for ‘simpler restorations’ for boats that need to be ‘freshened up’.

ECO-TUFF renew

Eco-Tuff Renew can be purchased in 5 popular colors and is available now from the Tuff-Coat online store here.

Cleaning Rub Rails

I was recently asked by an inflatable boat owner how to clean the rub rails on his inflatable boat.
Often in a restoration project, the rub rails, which protect the boat pontoons from abrasion, look as tired and worn out as the boat material.
Tuff-Coat boat paint is NOT to be applied to these rub rail areas. The material is usually made from a high impact rubber or plastic composite and unlike Hypalon or PVC, the Tuff paint will not bond to rub rail material.
In extreme cases, if the rub rail is severely damaged, you may be looking at a costly repair – by a certified repair shop. But usually a very simple cleaning trick is all that is necessary to ‘restore’ life to the rub rails.

Simply apply a small amount of Xylene to a rag, and with a little elbow grease, you can rub the rub rail back to a lustre, that actually looks very decent. Make sure you do not use too much Xylene and that you do not abrade the rub rail material with too much aggressive rub/friction action. You will find a little will do just fine.

Clean Rub Rail with Xylene

My Rub Rail Half Cleaned

Tuff-Coat Project creates a ‘HOT’ market.

“It looked good enough to steal … so they did!”

Ken's Tuff-Coat Boat - Attracted Thieves

Ken's Tuff-Coat Boat

Fortunately for inflatable boat owner Ken H. of White Rock, BC, he  had already sold his beautifully restored dinghy to the eventual  unfortunate victim, a fellow member of his local yacht club.

“The dinghy appeared terrific … like brand new” which apparently made  it a target to boating crooks casing the yacht club’s dock, Ken  explained.

In fact, the restored second-hand inflatable looked so good that Ken  sold it for a better price than he first thought possible. “I advertised  the dinghy several hundred dollars higher than I originally planned and  got it. I was obviously quite pleased at the final price I got.”

So what made this used Zodiac Yachtline 310 so desirable to both  thieves and buyers alike? Two fresh coats of Tuff-Coat Inflatable Boat  Repair in a Can.

<img title=”Kens boat” src=”images/stories/projects/ken1.JPG” border=”0″ alt=”Kens boat” hspace=”6″ width=”350″ height=”232″ /> The process started mid-2005 when  Ken decided to “spruce up” his aging dinghy. He was already the Zodiac  inflatable’s second owner, having bought the used PVC boat several years  earlier. The 10-foot inflatable was starting to show wear and tear from  extensive Pacific Ocean usage. It was time for a full boat makeover.

“But I didn’t fully realize when I started this restoration project that  PVC is potentially trickier than Hypalon when it comes to repairs,”  noted the avid boater.

Originally trying to match his Zodiac’s bright white exterior, Ken  choose matching white paint as part of the Tuff-Coat two-stage  restoration process. Following the clear instructions for application of  the Tuff-Coat synthetic rubber coatings, everything went well until the  new topcoat started blistering. “Quite frankly it was a bit of a mess,”  he recalled.

So Ken immediately called Tuff-Coat inventor Mike Fry, who also  happens to live in White Rock. Mike was keen to see the situation  first-hand and remedy the problem.

It turned out an earlier generation of white top-coat has been  susceptible to some blistering on PVC so Mike immediately gave him a  free replacement repair kit, suggesting Ken switch to the popular and  original grey top-coat.

The second attempt went well. Because there was no underlying damage  to the boat, Ken choose to go with two top-coats instead of the normal  two-stage process using separate bottom and top coats. After masking off  the areas he wanted protected, Ken brushed on the first coat, and then  rolled on the grey finish coat for a smooth like-new appearance.

“It turned out just the way I intended!” he exclaimed. “Not only did  my dinghy look great, but it was restored to last and stand up well to  the elements.”

So although the restoration project had a few hiccups, Ken noted that  the Tuff-Coat owner stood behind his product 100 per cent. “As the  inventor, Michael clearly wants his product to be the best on the market  and is willing to back it with actions not just words.”

Better still, this story has two happy endings. The new owner also  recovered his restored Zodiac inflatable – putting it back in the water  where it belongs.

So while Tuff-Coat can’t promise the recovery of every stolen  inflatable it’s restored, it will deliver on the promise of perfection  when you restore your dinghy using Inflatable Boat Repair in a Can.

I love to ‘see’ Tuff-Coat restoration project boats

The most remarkable part of a restoration project is seeing the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots.  The results are often so remarkable that the in-between photos of the boat restoration are needed to prove that the finished boat is in fact the original.

One of my favorite restoration projects was taken on by the TUFF team when they actually hauled a PVC Zodiac out of a dumpster – the finished result was amazing. See the entire restoration project here.

Zodiac Yachtline PVC boat before Tuff-Coat

The day after boat was pulled from dumpster. Washed and Inflated.

The After Picture - Boat Restored

The fully restored Zodiac Boat. Hard to believe it came from a Dumpster!

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.