Stop those leaks!

One of the fastest ways to ruin a boat is to allow water to leak into the core. Properly bedding hardware is a simple procedure and can prevent expensive damage.

There are two basic types of sealant, polysulfide and silicone. Polysulfides are great for most deck applications however they will melt Lexan and ABS plastic. Silicone is more flexible and is useful for all deck applications, especially in areas that flex. It is a little harder to clean up when it's time to re-bed a fixture. Our strictly personal preference is to use polysulfide except on plastic and areas that flex like around the chain-plates.

The very first step and most important is to clean everything. Remove all of the old sealant from the deck and hardware. Then clean both with acetone. Relax, take your time. A little extra care, a little extra attention to detail will add years of waterproof service to the job.

Now here is the simple secret to a great looking job. Put everything back together (dry fit) and then put masking tape around the hardware. The masking tape makes it easy to remove the excess sealant and get a clean professional looking installation.

Ok, now take it all apart again and apply a 1/16 to 1/8 inch coating of sealant. Go all the way to the edge of the tape. It's better to apply too much than too little. If you don't get an even coating it will leak and then you get to do it over and over until you get it right. Apply too much and you just have a little more clean up, but the tape makes clean up a snap.

Reassemble everything. Only tighten the screws enough to just squeeze the sealant out the edges. Don't tighten the screws all the way. You are creating a gasket with the sealant so you want 1/16 inch or so of space under the hardware filled with sealant.

Let this stand overnight. Don't rush it, let the sealant cure. Silicone will set in an hour or two but you can leave it for 24 hours without any problems.

After the sealant has cured tighten the screws. If you see sealant squeezing out the sides like toothpaste you're rushing it. Wait a while longer.

Finally for a great looking job carefully cut the sealant down to the tape all the way around the hardware with a sharp knife or razor blade. Pull the tape off and clean up with a little soap and water. You're all done and you have a great looking installation that should last for years.

Tape around the hardware

Apply sealant

Clean up
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