How to Repair Your Wetsuit: Helpful Guide (with photos)


Wetsuits are one of the most important pieces of surfing equipment.

Wetsuits provide warmth and comfort for surfers in the ocean. Because surfing is an active sport, wetsuits become worn over time and develop cuts, tears and holes.

If your wetsuit becomes damaged it will not perform as designed and the cold water will seep into your suit and make you cold.

It is important to repair your wetsuit right away so that you can stay warm, get back in the water and prevent further deterioration of your wetsuit.

Learning how to patch your wetsuit is easy and will save you time and money in the long run.    

A simple step by step guide to repair minor cuts in your wetsuit is as follows:

How-to Repair a Cut in Your Wetsuit

  1. Clean and dry your wetsuit
  2. Apply wetsuit cement to both edges of the cut
  3. Let it dry for 5 min
  4. Apply second coat of wetsuit cement
  5. Let it dry for 10 min
  6. Press and hold the edges together
  7. Dry overnight and then go surfing!

In order to give you the confidence to tackle your own wetsuit repairs, I have created a How-to Guide to walk you through how to fix your wetsuit.

Read on for more detailed step-by-step instructions with Photos!

What are The Most Common Types of Damage?

There are many ways wetsuits get damaged.

Most often, your wetsuit will become torn, cut or ripped when you surfing as a result of contact with your surfboard, surfboard fins, rocks, barnacles, reef, logs or other surfers.

Wetsuits will also slowly deteriorate over time and seams will separate or holes will develop.

The most common types of damage:

  1. Ripped Seams
  2. Cuts or Tears
  3. Holes

It is important to note that not all damage occurs in the ocean when you are surfing.

Many surfers have damaged their wetsuits doing the following activities; taking it off/on, improper storage, falling on the trail to the beach or animal encounters.

Quick story: The start of my wetsuit repair journey occurred many years ago.

It all started when I bought a brand-new wetsuit.  I packed the car and went surfing with two good friends.  It was a beautiful day and I was excited as we drove to the beach together because I was going to try my new wetsuit for the first time.  

When we arrived at the beach, I jumped out of the car and quickly changed into my new wetsuit. 

I was super excited, and I wanted to be the first person in our group to get to the beach, so I set off running across the parking lot.  As I was nearing the trailhead, I noticed a large white dog out of the corner of my eye. It seemed strange and weirdly interested in me.  As I was passing by, it lunged towards me. 

It all happened in slow motion.  I recognized that it’s open mouth and exposed teeth were propelling towards me and I wanted to avoid any contact.  

At the last second, I jumped up and turned away (this was probably a mistake).

As I was turning in the air, I felt the dog’s teeth sink into my right butt cheek.  I let out a howl and the dog let go.  But the damage was done. 

The dog’s teeth tore three small holes in my brand-new wetsuit.  Are you kidding me!

My friends thought the whole encounter was hilarious and they still talk about it to this day. 

I was so choked.  I was so mad.  But I went surfing anyway.

During that first session in my new wetsuit, cold ocean water seeped in through the three small holes. 

A few days later, after I got over the disappointment, I was forced to buy some wetsuit cement and teach myself how to repair the damage.

Regardless of how we damage our wetsuits, the first step in the repair process is to gather the necessary supplies.

Supply List

This supply list is for all the small repair jobs that will be reviewed in this article.

You may not need all of these supplies for every scenario but for a total cost around $20-$30, you will be set up for most repair jobs that you will encounter. You may need to borrow a clothes iron!

  • Applicator Brush (ex. small children’s paint brush)
  • Piece of cardboard (4 inches x 4 inches)
  • Small Piece of Wood (3 inch x 3 inch)
  • Neoprene Wetsuit Cement
  • Neoprene Repair Patch (Iron on)
  • Scissors
  • Clothes iron

About Neoprene Wetsuit Cement and Neoprene Repair Patch

In this Step-by-Step instructional guide, I will be using AQUASEAL Neoprene Cement. Wetsuit cement is a flexible, liquid adhesive that is formulated to permanently bond neoprene and other coated materials.

I will be following the manufacturers directions on the back of the tube. If you want to know more about this product, check out my Recommended Gear page by clicking here .

*If you are using a different Neoprene Cement brand, be sure to follow the directions on the back and adjust the drying times accordingly.

In addition, I will be using IRON MEND (Iron-on) Neoprene Repair Patch (now called Tenacious Tape), check out my Recommended Gear page by clicking here for more information about the product.

Clean & Dry Your Wetsuit First!

It is super important to make sure your wetsuit is clean and completely dry before attempting to make repairs. Most people skip this step. I have made this mistake before and it didn’t turn out well.

It’s understandable that you want to get back in the water as soon as possible but the wetsuit cement and iron on patches will work better on dry neoprene.

Wash your wetsuit in a tub with soapy water for 2-3 minutes, rinse it with fresh water and hang it on a wide plastic hanger in the shade. Don’t dry your suit in direct sunlight because the UV rays will break down the neoprene. Let it hang and drip dry. Flip it inside out and hang dry the other side.

Make sure the wetsuit is completely dry before starting the repair job. This may take 12-24 hours depending on the temperature.

1. Wetsuit Damage: Ripped Seams

Ripped, torn or separated seams are one of the most common types of wetsuit damage.

The seams of a wetsuit are the joints between the different panels of neoprene. During the making of the wetsuit, seams are joined several different ways: sewing/stitching, gluing, taping or a combination.

The seams are one of the weakest points of the wetsuit and the area that is most likely to wear out.

Step-by-Step Instructions: How to Repair Ripped Seams

Step 1: Clean and Dry Your Wetsuit

Your wetsuit needs to be clean and fully dried. I am going to repeat myself often on this important step.

For every wetsuit repair discussed in this article starting with a clean and dry wetsuit before you begin will improve the longevity of your repairs. Dry both sides of your wetsuit (inside and out).

Step 2: Gather Supplies for Seam Repairs

You will need the following supplies:

  • Applicator Brush (ex. children’s paint brush)
  • Piece of cardboard
  • Neoprene Wetsuit cement

Step 3: Assess the Damage & Prepare the Area

Assess the damaged area. Line up the edges of the seams to make sure they will create a uniform bond.

Step 4: Open up Seams

Fold or bend your wetsuit over an object so the seams in the damaged area remain open. I will usually place my wetsuit on a flat surface like a table (or the ground) and fold it over an object and use some weights (dumbells) or rocks to hold it in place.

This will be your work surface so make sure you are comfortable.

As well, consider doing this outside, away from direct sunlight or in a well ventilated area. Make sure to follow the manufacturers recommendations.

Step 5: Put a Small Amount of Wetsuit Cement on a Piece of Cardboard

This may be my own personal preference, but I prefer to squeeze a small amount of wetsuit cement onto a piece of cardboard or thick paper and use a small brush to apply the cement to the wetsuit.

When I first started, I would squeeze wetsuit cement straight from the tube onto the damaged area but it was messy and hard to control the amount that came out.

I would always end up squeezing out more cement than necessary and the cement would get all over my hands and other areas of the wetsuit, which wasn’t good.

Step 6: Apply the First Application of Wetsuit Cement

Use the applicator brush to apply the first coat of wetsuit cement thinly and evenly on both edges of the two seams.

You need less wetsuit cement than you might think. When I first started, I would apply way more cement than necessary.

Keep the seams open for this step and let the first coat of wetsuit cement dry for 5 minutes.

Step 7: Apply the Second Application of Wetsuit Cement

Use the applicator brush and apply the second coat of wetsuit cement thinly and evenly on both edges of the two seams.

Keep the seams open and let the second coat of wetsuit cement dry for 10 minutes.

Step 8: Push the Seams Together

Remove whatever was holding the wetsuit seams apart, line up the two seams and press them together. Use your fingers to hold the edges of the repair together for 60-90 seconds. Let it dry for 30 minutes.

Step 9: Let it Dry and Then Go Surfing!

For lasting repairs, place the wetsuit on a flat surface so the seams aren’t under any tension and leave it to dry for 8-12 hours.

Many surfers will want to get back into the water right away but it’s important to follow the manufacturers recommendations.

By allowing the wetsuit cement to fully cure, your repairs will hold together over the long term!

2. Wetsuit Damage: Cuts or Tears

Cuts or tears are a common type of wetsuit damage and could be caused by a lot of different things including: fin slices, wear and tear, stress tears while taking it on/off or damage while not in use.

Damage while not in use could mean a lot of different things and you would be surprised by all the ways that wetsuits are cut or torn when not in use.

Step-by-Step Instructions: How to Repair Cuts or Tears

Step 1: Clean and Dry Your Wetsuit

As mentioned previously, make sure your wetsuit is clean and completely dry.

Step 2: Gather Supplies for Repairing Cuts or Tears

You will need the following supplies:

  • Applicator Brush (ex. small children’s paint brush)
  • Piece of cardboard (4 inch x 4 inch)
  • Small Piece of Wood (3 inch x 3 inch)
  • Neoprene Wetsuit cement
  • Neoprene Repair Patch
  • Scissors
  • Clothes iron

Step 3: Assess the Damage & Prepare the Area

Assess the damaged area. Cut away (carefully) any loose/hanging material. Line up the edges of the cut to make sure they will create a uniform bond.

Step 4: Open up the Edges of the Tear

Fold or bend your wetsuit over an object so the edges of the damaged area remain open. I will usually place a small piece of wood inside my wetsuit so that any extra wetsuit cement doesn’t stick to the inside of my wetsuit

As well, I will put my wetsuit on a flat surface like a table (or the ground) and use some weights (dumbells) or rocks to hold it in place.

This will be your work surface so make sure you are comfortable.

As well, consider doing this outside, away from direct sunlight and in a well ventilated area. Make sure to follow the manufacturers recommendations.

Step 5: Put a Small Amount of Wetsuit Cement on a Piece of Cardboard

This may be my own personal preference, but I prefer to squeeze a small amount of wetsuit cement onto a piece of cardboard or thick paper and use a small brush to apply the cement to to the wetsuit.

When I first started, I would squeeze wetsuit cement straight from the tube onto the damaged area but it was messy and hard to control the amount that came out.

I would always end up squeezing out more cement than necessary and the cement would get all over my hands and other areas of the wetsuit, which wasn’t good.

Step 6: Apply the First Application of Wetsuit Cement

Use the applicator brush and apply the first coat of wetsuit cement thinly and evenly on both sides of the cut.

You need less wetsuit cement than you might think. When I first started, I would apply way more cement than necessary.

Keep the cut open for this step and let the first coat of wetsuit cement dry for 5 minutes.

Step 7: Apply the Second Application of Wetsuit Cement

Use the applicator stick and apply the second coat of wetsuit cement thinly and evenly on both sides of the cut.

Keep the cut open and let the second coat of wetsuit cement dry for 10 minutes.

Step 8: Push both sides of the Cut/Rip Together

Remove whatever was holding the two sides of the cut apart, line up the two edges and press them together. Use your fingers to hold the edges of the repair together for 60-90 seconds. Let it dry for 30 minutes.

* For small cuts/rips, you may not need to proceed any further in this step-by-step instruction guide. Sealing small cuts/tears with wetsuit cement will provide a lasting repair.

For larger cuts/tears, proceed to the next step to find out how to install wetsuit patch for added strength.

Step 9: Turn Your Wetsuit Inside Out

Turn your wetsuit inside out and put the small piece of wood inside your wetsuit beneath the repair to provide a solid backing for the pressure of the iron.

Step 10: Size the Wetsuit Patch

We will be using an Iron on Wetsuit Patch on the inside of the wetsuit to add strength and rebuild the interior backing which will provide additional strength.

From your Wetsuit Patch material (it usually comes in a large rectangle), cut a circular patch to cover the damaged area. You will want to cut a patch slightly larger than the damaged area.

Cut a circle or oval patch because square patches are prone to peeling up at the corners.

Step 11: Apply Wetsuit Patch

Lay the wetsuit patch on the damaged area and cover with a the IRON MEND heat shielding paper (you can also use a cotton cloth). Use the clothes iron (set on low) and press down firmly on the patched area.

Make sure not hold it on your wetsuit too long because it may cause damage.

Make sure the patch is sealed. Let it cool down for 30 minutes to create a strong bond.

Step 12: Let it Dry

For lasting repairs, place the wetsuit on a flat surface so the repair isn’t under any tension and leave it to dry for 8-12 hours.

Many surfers will want to get back into the water right away but it’s important to follow the manufacturers recommendations.

By allowing the wetsuit cement and iron on patch to fully cure, your repairs will hold together over the long term!

3. Wetsuit Damage: Holes

Small holes or abrasion damage can occur to the outer layer of your wetsuit. I usually get this type of damage from rocks etc. Typically, the damage isn’t all the way through.

Even though the hole may be small in size, it’s important to fix it before it becomes a bigger problem.

Step-by-Step Instructions: How to Repair Small Holes

Step 1: Clean and Dry Your Wetsuit

Make sure your wetsuit is clean and completely dry.

Step 2: Gather Supplies for Small Holes/Abrasion

You will need the following supplies:

  • Neoprene Wetsuit Cement
  • Neoprene Repair Patch
  • Scissors
  • Clothes iron
  • Small Piece of Wood (3 inch x 3 inch)

Step 3: Assess the Damage & Prepare the Area

Assess the damaged area. Cut away (carefully) any loose materials. Do not go crazy, just trim any small hanging bits of material.

I will usually place a small piece of wood inside my wetsuit beneath the repair to provide a solid backing for the iron and so that any extra wetsuit cement doesn’t stick to the inside of my wetsuit.

Step 4: Apply Wetsuit Cement in the Hole

Use the tube of wetsuit cement and apply a small amount to act as filler in the hole.

Step 5: Size the Wetsuit Patch

From your Wetsuit Patch material (it usually comes in a large rectangle), cut a circular patch to cover the damaged area.

Cut the patch slightly larger than the damaged area so that the patch material can overlap the hole and bond to the surrounding wetsuit material.

Cut a circle or oval patch because square patches are prone to peeling up at the corners.

Step 6: Apply Wetsuit Patch

Lay the wetsuit patch on the area of ripped seams and cover with the heat shielding paper provided by IRON MEND (a cotton cloth works as well). Use the clothes iron (set on low) and press down firmly on the patched area. Make sure not hold it on your wetsuit too long because it may cause damage.

Make sure the patch is sealed. Let it cool down for 30 minutes to create a strong bond before you move your wetsuit.

Place your wetsuit on a flat surface and let it dry for 8-12 hours (or overnight) for long lasting results.

Conclusion: Wetsuit Repair

Congrats on repairing your wetsuit! It is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make sure your gear lasts longer.

Trial and error is the best way to learn. Don’t be discouraged if you repair fails, just clean & dry your wetsuit and fix it again.

Good luck and get back in the water!

Johny

I am the person behind Surfers Footprint. Thank you for taking the time to read through the post! If you want to know more about our story, scroll down and click on ABOUT SURFERS FOOTPRINT at the bottom of the HomePage.

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