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The Definitive Wetsuit Repair Guide

how to repair your wetsuit

It’s no secret that wetsuits take a beating. Whether it’s getting snagged on a fence or a chance encounter with a sharp section of reef, wetsuits get damaged from use. Extend the life of your wetsuit (and stay warm) with this wetsuit repair guide.

Note: Before you undergo any wetsuit repair, check the status of your warranty – there’s a chance the damage on your suit is covered or you may void your warranty by beginning a repair. Reach out to the manufacturer for more information first.

What Can Be Repaired?

Patching a wetsuit can seriously lengthen the life of your suit and when done well you’ll forget there’s even a repair on your suit. It’s easier to fix a small tear than a big one, so if you notice a rip in your wetsuit, fix it right away. However, not all repairs can be done at home.

A rip in your suit that's longer than five inches, a complete shearing of a zipper, or an arm or leg ripping all the way off, are all repairs best left to professionals.

Before You Start Your Wetsuit Repair

before you start wetsuit repair

  1. Clean your wetsuit thoroughly – make sure there’s no sand or salt buildup around the repair zone.
  2. Dry your wetsuit. Adhesives won’t work on wet neoprene or rubber.
  3. Assess the fix. Any rips on your wetsuit longer than five inches might require help from a pro.
  4. Turn your wetsuit inside out after you’ve located the area you’re going to repair and let it dry.
  5. Assemble your wetsuit repair kit.

Wetsuit Repair Kit: The Tools You’ll Need for the Job

First off, make sure you’re working in a well-lit, ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Wetsuits don’t like UV rays and when working with neoprene glue (also known as neoprene cement) you’ll want a shaded place for the adhesive to dry with plenty of fresh air.

With your wetsuit completely clean and dry, it’s time to assemble your wetsuit repair kit. Here’s what you’ll need to fix a rip in your wetsuit:

  • Neoprene glue – There are many types of neoprene adhesive on the market and they all do the trick. Pick up a tube at your local surf shop.
  • Rubber gloves – Grab a pair of rubber gloves to keep your hands clean while working with neoprene adhesive – you’ll thank us later for this one.
  • Paintbrush – The finer the better – comes in handy for spreading the neoprene adhesive with precision and ensures that your wetsuit repair is a work of art.
  • Heavy round weight – This helps keep things in place and makes painting the neoprene adhesive into split seams and tears easier.
  • Nylon string –To patch small tears or splits. Nylon string is stronger than normal thread and easier to work with on neoprene.

How to Patch and Sew a Wetsuit

  1. Use a weight to hold the tear open. This makes it easier to precisely apply neoprene adhesive and helps create a better bond.
  2. Apply your first layer of neoprene glue along the inside of the edges of the tear. The two edges shouldn’t touch each other yet.
  3. After five minutes, apply another layer of neoprene glue to the tear. Don’t use too much glue – just enough to coat the surface of the tear.
  4. Wait another five minutes. Carefully remove the weight and join the edges of the tear slowly and carefully.
  5. Hold the fix in place and gently press the two torn edges together for a minute or until the glue feels like it has taken hold.
  6. Leave the wetsuit for at least an hour to make sure your fix is solid.
  7. If the rip or tear goes all the way through, turn the suit right side out and repeat the process.
  8. To finish, paint a thin layer of neoprene glue over the fix on the outside of the wetsuit.
  9. Wait at least an hour (the longer the better) and you’re good to go.

Need to Patch a Big Rip in Your Wetsuit?

Note: For tears larger than 5 inches, it's best to consult your local wetsuit repair professional

  1. For larger repairs – between two-five inches – you’ll need a sewing needle and nylon string to patch your wetsuit.
  2. Clean up loose or rough edges around the tear with scissors.
  3. Thread your needle.
  4. Start at the narrower end of the rip and cross stitch all the way across the rip.
  5. Think of it like lacing up a shoe – with even spacing and tension between stitches.
  6. Tie a knot in the end of your stitch and admire your handiwork.
  7. Finally, use your neoprene glue on both sides of the repair (explained above). Put an additional coating of glue on the outside for a stronger seal.

A Clean Zipper is a Happy Zipper

clean zipper is a happy zipper

One of the main causes of a malfunctioning zipper is when debris like sand or salt buildup clogs the teeth. The best way to keep your zipper in working order is to keep it clean and rinse it regularly with fresh water. If you’re still having problems with a sticky zipper, special zipper lubricants are the answer. We recommend wax-based boat zipper sticks as they’re biodegradable and formulated for use in and around saltwater.

In the event of a major zipper failure, it’s worth consulting a professional wetsuit repair service. For this, you’ll need to make sure your wetsuit is clean and dry before any repairs.

Discover Quiksilver Wetsuits.