The Straightforward Guide to Vinyl Repair

Fix that inflatable, tarp, tent, boat, bounce house or whatever else.  It’s simple.

How to Use This Guide

Vinyl, or PVC, is one of the most common plastics in the world. It’s used for awnings, inflatables, upholstery, tarps, pool liners, sports mats and a whole lot more. Those products can last a long time – if you know how to repair them. This guide shows you just that.

We’re RH Adhesives, the manufacturers of specialized glues since 1949. Our vinyl cement, HH-66, is a market leader – but it’s not the only way to patch a hole or mend a rip in something made of vinyl. We created this guide to help you choose your method and walk through repairs in minutes, without worry or uncertainty.

Whether you’re a pro driver looking to mend the tarps on your truck or a parent just trying to get through a holiday weekend with the pool intact, this guide should set you straight. You don’t even have to read the whole thing! Skim section titles first – or click the chapter list below to find the part that’s most helpful to you. Each section has a list of resources that offer more detail or let you watch a video of a vinyl repair that applies to you.

Contents

1. Assess the Damage

Before you can repair your vinyl product, take stock of the problem. Lay your object flat and go over it carefully on every side, both by eye and by hand if you can. Identify any rips, tears, or holes. Ask these questions:

Some objects made of materials like polyethylene, polypropylene, or nylon get mistaken for vinyl – but they’re not. Watch this video for help understanding the difference.

Small holes in vinyl can be fixed with a new vinyl patch, and rips can sometimes be mended the same way.  If you’re dealing with a larger tear, however, it may be time to cut your losses.

If you’re mending vinyl that needs to be watertight or airtight, check for holes that aren’t quite visible to the eye.  Try the soap bubble test:  spray or spread soapy water on your vinyl object’s surface, then watch for small bubbles to appear at the leak site.

Once you’ve determined where and in how many spots you need to mend your vinyl object, you’re ready to choose the best vinyl repair approach.

2. Choose a Vinyl Repair Method

There are at least four ways to bond vinyl, and we’ve catalogued them in the video at right. Before you can make your repair, you’ll need to choose the method that works best for you and for your product.

Welding

Welding

If you’re a pro, then you could consider welding your vinyl back together – especially if the damage is substantial.  That takes time and equipment, though, so it certainly isn’t for everyone.

Vinyl Tape

Vinyl Tape

The simplest fix is vinyl tape, which is fast and cheap and easy to use on the go.  It’s just not all that durable.  If you’re patching an inflatable item halfway through a trade show, vinyl tape might get the job done.  If you’re mending a boat or a pool liner or anything else that needs to withstand pressure long-term, however, then vinyl tape is not a particularly reliable choice.

Adhesives

Adhesives

Using adhesives is a simple fix that also lasts – as long as you use the right glue.  Since vinyl cement is our specialty, the rest of this guide will focus on adhesive uses and solutions.

3. Choose Your Materials

Patching a vinyl product might not make it look quite new, but it can perform just as well and last just as long as when you bought it!  To get that result from your repair, you’ll need two things:  the right glue and one or more pieces of vinyl of the same type as the object you’re repairing.

From RH Adhesives

  • HH-66 Vinyl Cement

    $13.00$88.00
    HH-66 is the world’s most effective waterproof PVC vinyl adhesive.  It bonds with a single application, and it doesn't let go.  Prices start at $13.
    Qty in cart 0
    $13.00$88.00

    Added to cart

  • HH-66 Toluene Free Vinyl Cement

    $9.00$92.00
    HH-66 is the world’s most effective waterproof PVC vinyl adhesive.  It works underwater, sets in minutes, and holds fast at extreme temperatures.  It bonds with just a single application, and it doesn’t let go.  Plus, this version is toluene-free, which means it is safer for the environment and for the user.  Prices start at $9.
    Qty in cart 0
    $9.00$92.00

    Added to cart

  • HH-66 Toluene Free Vinyl Cement - 1 oz. Tube

    $9.00
    HH-66 is the world’s most effective waterproof PVC vinyl adhesive.  It works underwater, sets in minutes, and holds fast at extreme temperatures.  It bonds with just a single application, and it doesn’t let go.  Plus, this 1 oz. tube is toluene-free, which means it is safer for the environment and for the user.  Prices start at $9.
    Qty in cart 0
  • Vinyl Patch Kit

    $21.00
    HH-66 is the world’s most effective waterproof PVC vinyl adhesive.  It bonds with a single application, and it doesn't let go.  Vinyl Patch Kit prices start at $21.
    Qty in cart 0
    $21.00

    Added to cart

You can buy these products separately – or get them together in a patch kit.
Here’s a look at how to make each choice.

Choose a Glue

This video delves into the differences between different kinds of adhesives. For lasting repair, don’t choose a water-based glue – they’re affordable but not particularly durable. Instead, you’ll either want a solvent-based adhesive or perhaps a cyanoacrylate (AKA “super glue”) that’s made for general use.

The downside of cyanoacrylate or “super glue” products is that they cost a lot per ounce of glue. That’s not a problem if you’re mending a child’s toy or making a quick fix around the house – but patching vinyl often requires a larger volume of glue spread over a larger area. That means solvent-based adhesives are definitely the more affordable route!

Our product, HH-66 Vinyl Cement, is solvent based. It’s also engineered specifically for vinyl, so it actually forms a bond that’s stronger than the material itself. It bonds with just one application, and it also works underwater. Learn more about it in this video.

While you’re picking up an adhesive, pick up a thinner too – they’re great for cleaning the materials you need to patch, and they also can be helpful with spills. We make a thinner specifically for our vinyl adhesive.

Choose a Patch

If you’re patching a vinyl product, vinyl cement is only half of the equation. You’ll also need one or several pieces of vinyl that match your product.

The easiest way to get this right is to contact the company that made your vinyl product! Many can provide a patch kit or send you spare scraps for mending.

If you’re buying your own patch, ask these three questions to make sure you get the right kind of vinyl:

Some vinyl is treated for mildew and UV-resistance, while some isn’t. If the vinyl object you’ll be mending is made for outdoor use, you’ll probably need a treated vinyl.

Reinforced vinyl has another fabric, usually polyester, behind it or inside of it.  Unreinforced vinyl is just flexible PVC – without other fabrics included.

Reinforced vinyl is measured by weight (in ounces); whereas unreinforced vinyl is measured by thickness (in mils).

Are these details confusing? The video above breaks things down, with examples of typical vinyl weights and which objects are usually made using treated or reinforced vinyl.

Choose a Patch Kit

You can save yourself some search time if you buy a vinyl patch kit that includes the right glue and the right kind of patch already paired. Some manufacturers and suppliers sell these – but if you can’t find one from the maker of your vinyl product, check out RH Adhesives’ Vinyl Patch Kits on this page.

Technical Details on Vinyl Patches

4. Prep, Apply, Attach

You’ve found your hole, you’ve got your adhesive, and you’ve got a patch. Now all you need is a thinner and a rag, plus – for the neatest result – a small roller.

Performing a vinyl repair with HH-66 takes minutes. Our standard directions are below, or you can watch the video on the right to see a repair happen.

Before you work with any adhesive, it’s worth reviewing safety information. Read the safety guide for HH-66 here.

1.  Prepare

  • Cut patch to appropriate size, ensuring a two-inch overlap on all sides.  Round corners to minimize peeling.
  • Clean surfaces with HH-66 Thinner.  Sand any glossy surfaces lightly.

2.  Apply

  • Apply an even coat of HH-66 to both surfaces to be joined.
  • Allow cement to set until tacky, typically around two minutes.  Cement will remain tacky for just a few minutes.

3.  Attach

  • Press patch on firmly while tacky.
  • Apply even pressure throughout to remove air bubbles.
  • Allow to bond for at least an hour before use.  Strongest hold achieved after one day.
  • Remove any excess adhesive.

5. Avoid Common Problems

As the steps above show, patching vinyl is a simple task. But there are three potential problems to avoid.

As we mentioned above, sometimes users think they’re mending vinyl – but they’ve actually got a piece of nylon or polyethylene.  Those materials won’t work with a vinyl cement, so you’ll need another approach.

Sometimes, people let the adhesive sit too long before they attach their patch. Sometimes, they just don’t use enough vinyl cement to start with.  These mistakes aren’t common – but they happen.

To make sure you’re applying your patch correctly, review the directions first.  Or, try watching one of the videos on the bottom of this page to see an example of your repair.

We hate to brag, but not every glue is as great as HH-66.  Make sure you’re buying quality.  Some manufacturers have quality-control issues, and any glue can expire if it’s just been sitting in the cabinet or on a workbench for too long.

Check the “best by” date on your glue.  With HH-66 Vinyl Cement, you’ll find the date of manufacture written on the white sticker atop the can.  Apply HH-66 within 18 months of this date for best results.

6. Watch Demo Videos

RH Adhesives has a number of videos available to show how to use our products for specific repairs – and we’re always making more.

Check below for a video link to your particular repair, or watch our general vinyl patch video right here.

Commercial Tents

Commercial Tents

Make seasonal repairs to rental inventory.
Trucks

Trucks

Fix your truck tarp with the industry’s preferred glue.
Onsite Tarp Repair

Onsite Tarp Repair

Repair a vinyl tarp onsite.
Combining Tarps

Combining Tarps

How to combine tarps for customized site protection.
Spa & Hot Tub Covers

Spa & Hot Tub Covers

Learn how to repair your vinyl hot tub cover with HH-66 Vinyl Cement. Ripped spa covers will be a cinch to patch!
Vinyl Paddleboards & SUPs

Vinyl Paddleboards & SUPs

See how to repair a vinyl paddleboard with HH-66 Vinyl Cement. Get your punctured SUP back on the water with a durable PVC patch.
Fence Post Caps

Fence Post Caps

Secure your vinyl fence post caps with the industry’s leading PVC adhesive - HH-66 Vinyl Cement.
Field Repairs

Field Repairs

Patch a party tent anywhere with the Vinyl Patch Kit.
RFID Installation

RFID Installation

Add RFID chips in minutes to improve your inventory tracking.

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