DIY Wetsuit Repair
A few months ago I tore my wetsuit. Big time.
The swell was pretty big and I was surfing a lot better than I usually do. I was catching wave after wave and getting pretty decent rides and then got overly confident and tried to do an aerial. In fact, I tried to do a 360 aerial. Did I know how to? I thought so. Did I succeed? Heck no. Not even close. What occurred instead was a gnarly wipeout and a two inch gash to my wetsuit near my calf muscle. That’s what I get for trying to be cooler than I really am…
So for the past few months I’ve been surfing with a gaping hole in my protective warmth suit. The cold ocean water has been relentless in invading my lower leg to make surfing in the winter time a miserable experience. The fact that I have been too lazy to repair this has allowed for the frigid ocean water to shoot up through my leg and refrigerate my crotchular region and that makes surfing pretty unpleasant to say the least.
The 2 inch gash and another 1 cm hole that needs repair
McNett neoprene cement ($9), scissors, dental floss, needle, toothpicks (not shown), neoprene patch (which I didn’t need) and some kind of clamps
Repair #1: Smaller Tears
Let’s do the easy fast repair on the smaller tear first. I trimmed away some of the little frills along the rip with the scissors and the put the cement on a piece of paper. I then used the toothpick to apply the cement to the inside edges of the rip.
A big shout out to Mira Costa Community College who have been sending me their course catalog for the past ten years…
I only put it on the inside edges for now. You don’t need to use a lot of the cement…just enough to cover the inside edges.
Also, a good idea is to put some kind of paper inside the wetsuit so you don’t accidentally glue to the other side of the suit. After I put the cement on the inside edges of the little tear, I clamped it and waited for five minutes.
Make sure the clamp does not touch the neoprene cement.
After five minutes, remove the clamp and put the edges together. You can use your fingers to push the edges together to make sure they get a good stick and then use more cement from the toothpick and apply it on the exterior of the wetsuit.
I’ve only applied the cement halfway along the exterior in this picture to show you what it looks like.
Then you let it sit for ten minutes and you’re done with that.
Repair #2: Bigger Tears
So the method is pretty much the same except for the need to stitch up the tear because its so big.
I clamped both sides and then applied some of the cement using a toothpick…
After five minutes, I removed the clamps and pressed the edges together.
During the five minutes that you are waiting for the cement to cure, you can thread the dental floss through the needle and tie it off. You may need all five minutes because it is difficult. It only took me one try because my ninja fingers never screw up. But then I had to wait for 4:55 for the cement to cure…
When you stitch, don’t go all the way through. Go about halfway into the suit. That way you don’t have floss sticking out the other side when you have your wetsuit inside out.
After you tie off the dental floss, apply one more layer of cement over the stitching. I used the brush this time instead of the toothpick because it was covering up a larger area and the floss too.
The completed repair
Both of these repairs took me about forty minutes total from the time I put my wetsuit down on the work table to the time I threw all the trash away. I would say the difficulty level would be about a 2/10 or if you did not know how to stitch, maybe a 3/10.
Here’s a recap of the steps:
1. Put paper on the inside of the tear to prevent cement from getting all over the inside of the wetsuit.
2. Apply cement to the inside edges of the tear. Use a clamp to hold it open for five minutes.
3. Remove clamp and push the inside edges together.
4. If it’s a big tear, use dental floss to sew it up.
5. Apply cement to the exterior of the tear. Wait ten minutes for it to fully cure.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll try to help out but I think it is pretty straight forward. I’ll definitely post an update after I take the suit out tomorrow in my afternoon session.
Until next time…cheers.
The good news: the wetsuit held up really well. I guess I did a pretty good job on the repairs and was pretty impressed with the results.
The bad news: there seems to be multiple tiny holes around some sensitive areas of my body.