The first step is knowing how to avoid things that can damage your wetsuit. When putting on your wetsuit, avoid standing on hard or rough surfaces as they can damage the neoprene. Instead, place down a towel or board bag. While putting on or taking off your wetsuit, be careful with rings, fingernails and watches as they can easily damage the neoprene. Some wetsuits come with gloves, which are ideal.
Inspect your wetsuit for tears after each use, as they’re easier to fix when small. Small tears (up to a couple of cms) can be repaired at home (see below); tears bigger than a few inches may require professional repair services. Right, onto the fix…
- Clean the area around the rip. Ensure there’s no dirt, sand or wax around the ripped area. If the area isn’t cleaned, the repair might not heal correctly. Then open up the rip to reveal both sides of the tear.
- Apply a first coat of neoprene adhesive to both surfaces (find online). The glue can be applied with a short bristle brush. Do not press the sides together.
- Let the glue dry for about 1-3mins (depending on room temperature and humidity), keeping the two sides apart. The glue normally looks glossy when wet and matte when dry; it should feel slightly tacky and not stick to your finger.
- Once the first coat is dry, apply a second coat to both sides and begin to dry.
- Firmly bring the two sides of the rip together, doing your best to keep the seam in a straight line.
- Use a weighted object to keep pressure on the tear while it fully dries and seals.
You should find that the seal dries within 2-3mins, but the seal will form more fully if you allow it to dry for at least 6hrs. The best option would be to allow it to dry overnight to allow the strongest seal possible to form.