Patching Vinyl

I’m sleeping on an aerobed in Florida (the house is basically devoid of furniture while we prep it to sell). It was a fairly cheap one, just a double, low to the ground. It’s developed a leak (two, actually) and I’ve been waking up on a hard tile floor in the middle of the night. I tried patching it with a standard tire kit, and no joy. I went to Walmart to get a vinyl repair kit. No joy. Only thing I can try at this point is to try to clean it with acetone, then try once more, but I suspect that the glues simply don’t work on this material.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to purchase another bed at Walmart, so I guess that’s what I’ll sleep on for the next couple nights.

[Thursday-afternoon update]

OK, a tube of Loctite 60 and duct tape seems to have done the trick. I now have a double-thick mattress. Should be the most comfortable sleep I’ve had since I moved back in here.

[Update a few minutes later]

Oh, fun. I got glue on my index finger, and now my phone won’t recognize my fingerprint. #21stCenturyProblems

26 thoughts on “Patching Vinyl”

  1. The tire kit should have used RTV, but I would recommend buying a good size tube of black RTV to seal.

      1. As Mike points out, any automotive shop should have some, and around my parts Ace Hardware. Do note there are different kinds of RTV. Clear won’t work for you. Likewise white won’t do so well. Red is very high temperature, good for bonding thermal tiles to vehicles, but not so much for your application. Black is designed to work with Vinyl.

  2. Any automotive supply place or the automotive section of Wal-Mart.

    It’s make a gasket essentially.

    Last resort, I would try to carefully apply a piece of duct tape.

  3. no not rtv. RTV will not bond to vinyl (PVC). You can get a PVC vinyl repair it on amazon or pick up a tube of vinyl cement and a scrap piece of vinyl and make your own patch. Vinyl cement is not rubber cement, which would come in a tire patch kit.

        1. And it took me about one second to think that not everything on the Walmart site is on the shelf and that it says nothing about repairing air leaks.

          1. So you’re complaining that the free advice wasn’t worth any more than you paid for it? Ok, then.

  4. I highly recommend “HH-66 vinyl cement”. It makes a fantastic bond, and it is perfect for inflatables, everything from beach toys to vinyl-coated nylon hovercraft skirts which take a beating! You can easily find HH-66 on the internet. I purchase it locally in Chicago at an industrial textile place that makes truck tarps. For Boca Raton, I’d start with and see if they either have HH-66 or can suggest where to get it locally.

    1. We recently aquired two large RC blimps from eBlimp and eBlimp’s owner uses HH-66 to repair them or to add attachments to the envelope.

  5. My ex and I went through several inflatable beds during our move from CA to MD. It’s a testament to the amount of debt she was able to generate with no help from anyone else that we could never buy an actual mattress. The cheapest fix is always to buy a new inflatable bed. I’ve never been able to even find the leak, let alone repair it.

      1. Remember: In a space hab leak, you’re patching from the inside… As to the mattress, heave it out. They never fix right. Run, don’t walk, and find an INTEX ‘Dura-Beam’ self-inflating mattress. Not terribly expensive, has internal baffles so you aren’t doing the shimmy all night, and it has a built-in inflator/deflator motor so you’re not having to deal with badly fitted nozzles or blowing into a tube for a half an hour.

  6. Since you are in Florida, you could check a pool supply store or a boat supply store such as West Marine for a vinyl repair kit. Good luck!

  7. Ace Hardware had a useful glue-and-patch-sheet vinyl repair kit last time I needed one, but that was years ago. I just looked online and don’t see that one, fwiw.

    I was at a bike shop in the last year and tried to buy an inner tube patch kit. The counter guy told me that you just can’t buy useful ones anymore – they took the good solvents out of the glue lest idiot kids huff it, and now the patches just don’t stick. (I don’t know if even one of the good old ones would have stuck to vinyl though; they were designed for rubber.)

    Could the same thing have happened to vinyl patch kits?

    You might try roughing up the surface around the holes then working in a dab of Shoe Goo. That stuff seems to stick to just about anything. “Works on leather, rubber, vinyl and canvas.” And even if it doesn’t stick all that well to vinyl, if you can work it into the puncture you should have a decent mechanical seal once it cures.

  8. I too am dealing with inflatables. Mine were constructed of flocked vinyl, which takes adhesive fairly well–but you must apply an actual patch. I suggest cutting the patch from one of your discarded mattresses, or using a chunk of the fiberglass mat from an autobody repair kit or possibly from a hobby shop (the stuff is used to construct model bodies and wings). I was most successful with an epoxy marked for vinyl repair–although it took a full 24 hours to cure and stank horribly until it was cured.

    I’ve also found that the valve on the built-in air pump is often at fault. Intex, I love your mattress design, but your inflator sucks. (heh heh)

  9. Along the lines of Kirk’s suggestion, you can try a sporting goods store and look for patch kits for kick boats and/or float tubes. Usually not too expensive.

  10. Duct tape. Because if the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.

  11. As several have mentioned duct tape; when I was patching my sleep number bed (an air bed with a vinyl liner); I used a combination of RTV and duct tape. Duct tape alone wasn’t sufficient, because you couldn’t get a complete seal. The RTV gave a gasket and duct tape provided additional pressure support.

  12. A given Home Depot may or may not stock Shoe Goo. They do have it online, FWIW, and you can check stock at specific stores online. (Ditto Walmart.) Pretty much any hardware store should have it, as should any Walmart/Target/KMart.

    Main thing about Shoe Goo is it adheres to most things, and it cures both reasonably strong and permanently flexible. Designed for serviceable shoe repairs, which requires both. I’ve been keeping a tube in my toolkit since I first discovered it. Two or three times a year, it fixes something nothing else would.

    Only downside is a 24-hour nominal full-dry time. It’s non-tacky in a fraction of that, but no guarantees as to strength if you rush using a repair too much.

    1. As I just updated, Loctite 60 (for sixty seconds) did it with duct tape, in sixty seconds. OK, I let it dry a little longer, but it seems to have done the job.

  13. Oh, fun. I got glue on my index finger, and now my phone won’t recognize my fingerprint. #21stCenturyProblems

    Just wait, when you get older, your fingerprints will be extremely hard to read.

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