Sealing Rivets on Aluminum Boat

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Key Take­aways:

  • Impor­tance of Seal­ing Riv­ets: Seal­ing riv­ets on an alu­minum boat is cru­cial to pre­vent leaks, main­tain struc­tur­al integri­ty, and extend the lifes­pan of the boat. Neglect­ed riv­ets can weak­en over time, allow­ing water to infil­trate the boat and poten­tial­ly caus­ing cor­ro­sion or dam­age. Ensur­ing a prop­er seal helps to main­tain the boat’s strength, keep occu­pants dry, and save on poten­tial repair costs down the line.

  • Steps and Mate­ri­als for Seal­ing Riv­ets: The process of seal­ing riv­ets requires iden­ti­fy­ing leaky riv­ets, clean­ing the area, prepar­ing and apply­ing a marine-grade sealant suit­able for alu­minum, and allow­ing it to cure prop­er­ly. The tools and mate­ri­als need­ed for this task include sealant, a caulk­ing gun, soap, water, clean­ing cloth or sponge, dry tow­el, and gloves. Reg­u­lar main­te­nance and reap­pli­ca­tion of the sealant is key to ensure con­tin­ued effec­tive­ness.

  • Replac­ing Riv­ets with Bolts: While seal­ing riv­ets is a com­mon main­te­nance task, per­sis­tent leaks might neces­si­tate the replace­ment of riv­ets with bolts. This is a more com­plex pro­ce­dure requir­ing drilling, sealant appli­ca­tion, and care­ful instal­la­tion of the bolts to avoid caus­ing dam­age to the boat’s hull. Using marine-grade stain­less steel bolts is advis­able for their dura­bil­i­ty and resis­tance to rust.

They’re light, easy to han­dle, and let’s face it — they look pret­ty sleek on the water. But every boat, no mat­ter how well made, needs a lit­tle TLC now and then. And if your alu­minum boat has riv­ets, lis­ten up because today, we’re div­ing into the world of seal­ing those tiny but mighty fas­ten­ers.

Why? Because a leaky riv­et can turn a fun day on the water into a damp mess. Or worse, it could have you doing some unex­pect­ed swim­ming. If you’ve spot­ted a trick­le or just want to make sure you nev­er do, this guide is for you. It’s all about keep­ing the water where it belongs – out­side your boat!

How do you seal a rivet on an aluminum boat?

To seal a riv­et on an alu­minum boat, you will need to drill a hole in the alu­minum, insert a riv­et into the hole, and then use a riv­et gun to secure it in place. To ensure a water­tight seal, you should apply a bead of sil­i­cone sealant for alu­minum around the riv­et and smooth it down.

  1. Iden­ti­fy the Leaky Riv­ets: Start by iden­ti­fy­ing which riv­ets are caus­ing the prob­lem. Fill the boat with water and look for where it’s leak­ing out or, sim­pler yet, go boat­ing and look for where it’s leak­ing in!
  2. Clean the Area: Before you begin, ensure the area around the riv­et is clean and dry. Use a bit of soap and water, then let it dry or wipe it down.
  3. Pre­pare the Sealant: Get your marine-grade sealant ready. Make sure it’s suit­able for alu­minum boats. This isn’t the time to cut cor­ners, so opt for qual­i­ty.
  4. Apply the Sealant: Apply the sealant around the riv­et, mak­ing sure it’s ful­ly cov­ered. A caulk­ing gun can help apply it even­ly.
  5. Let It Cure: Leave the sealant to cure for the rec­om­mend­ed time on the pack­age. Patience is key here.
  6. Check Your Work: After the sealant has ful­ly cured, check the area to ensure it’s com­plete­ly sealed. You can do this by repeat­ing the first step – we’re look­ing for no leaks this time!
  7. Main­tain Reg­u­lar­ly: Reg­u­lar main­te­nance is cru­cial. Check for leaks often and reap­ply sealant as need­ed.

You will then need to use a riv­et buck­ing bar to flat­ten the riv­et head and cre­ate a tight seal around the riv­et shaft. If nec­es­sary, you can then use a file to smooth down the riv­et head and ensure a smooth sur­face. You will need to apply a coat of paint or primer to the area to pro­tect it from cor­ro­sion.

Also we have found this Youtube Video which we think is very help­full:

What Materials Are Needed?

There are a few mate­ri­als that you will need in order to seal the riv­ets on your alu­minum boat. The first is a riv­et seal­er. This is a spe­cial type of sealant that can be applied to the riv­ets to help pro­tect them from water and dirt. You will also need a riv­et gun, which is used to actu­al­ly seal the riv­ets. You will need a drill and some drill bits.

Seal­ing those pesky leak­ing riv­ets on your alu­minum boat does­n’t require a whole garage full of tools. In fact, you can prob­a­bly fit all the nec­es­sary items in a small tool­box. Here’s your shop­ping list:

  • Marine-Grade Sealant: This is the star of the show. Look for a sealant specif­i­cal­ly designed for marine use and suit­able for alu­minum.
  • Caulk­ing Gun: This tool will make apply­ing the sealant a breeze.
  • Soap and Water: Essen­tial for clean­ing the area around the riv­ets before apply­ing the sealant.
  • Clean­ing Cloth or Sponge: For scrub­bing away any grime or residue.
  • Dry Tow­el: To dry the area after clean­ing it.
  • Gloves: Sealant can be sticky and a bit messy. Plus, keep­ing it off your skin is a good idea.

To seal rivets on a boat, you will need some type of sealant, such as marine sealant, a sealant applicator or a caulking gun, and a putty knife or oth­er scrap­ing tool. You may also need some sand­pa­per and a wire brush to clean the sur­face before apply­ing the sealant.

How do you seal a rivet on an aluminum boat?

Why Is Sealing Rivets Important?

Ah, the hum­ble riv­et! It might not get a lot of atten­tion, but it plays a cru­cial role in keep­ing your alu­minum boat togeth­er and, most impor­tant­ly, afloat. You see, riv­ets are like the unsung heroes of your boat’s struc­tur­al integri­ty. They fas­ten pieces of the alu­minum hull togeth­er, help­ing it main­tain its shape and strength.

So, why is it essen­tial to seal these mighty lit­tle war­riors? Well, while riv­ets are pret­ty darn good at their job, they’re not immune to wear and tear. Over time, the forces of nature, com­bined with reg­u­lar use (and the occa­sion­al bump or scrape), can weak­en the bond between the riv­et and the sur­round­ing alu­minum. When that hap­pens, you’ve got your­self a poten­tial water­way right into your boat. Cue the sog­gy sand­wich­es and damp clothes.

The most impor­tant rea­son is to pre­vent water from get­ting into the boat. Water can cause cor­ro­sion and dam­age to the alu­minum, which can lead to cost­ly repairs and even the need to replace the boat. It also helps pre­vent dirt and debris from get­ting into the boat, which can cause oth­er prob­lems. It can help pro­tect the boat from UV rays, which can cause the alu­minum to fade and become brit­tle.

It pre­vents water, dirt and oth­er con­t­a­m­i­nants from enter­ing the hole cre­at­ed by the rivet and caus­ing dam­age to the mate­ri­als it holds togeth­er. It also helps ensure that the joint is strong and secure and forms a tight seal around the rivet. This pro­vides long-term pro­tec­tion against cor­ro­sion and ensures that the con­nec­tion is durable and reli­able.

What Materials Are Needed?

How To Seal The Rivets

To seal rivets, you need to use a spe­cial­ized sealant that is designed specif­i­cal­ly for use on met­al. Clean the area around the rivet with a damp cloth to ensure that the sur­face is free of dirt and debris. Apply the sealant to the area around the rivet, being sure to cov­er the entire cir­cum­fer­ence.

  • Iden­ti­fy the Leaky Riv­ets: The first thing you need to do is fig­ure out which riv­ets are caus­ing you trou­ble. You can do this by fill­ing your boat with water and look­ing for leaks, or go boat­ing and pay atten­tion to where water might be seep­ing in.
  • Clean the Area: Any suc­cess­ful seal­ing job starts with a clean sur­face. Use a mix of soap and water to clean the area around the prob­lem­at­ic riv­et, then let it dry or wipe it down.
  • Prep the Sealant: Get your marine-grade sealant (the kind that’s suit­able for alu­minum) ready. Don’t skimp on qual­i­ty here – it can make all the dif­fer­ence.
  • Apply the Sealant: Use a caulk­ing gun or a sim­i­lar tool to apply the sealant around the riv­et, ensur­ing it’s ful­ly cov­ered. Go for a smooth, even lay­er.
  • Let It Cure: Once you’ve applied the sealant, it’s impor­tant to let it cure prop­er­ly. Refer to the sealan­t’s pack­age for the rec­om­mend­ed cure time, and don’t rush this part.

Allow the sealant to dry for the amount of time spec­i­fied by the man­u­fac­tur­er before repeat­ing the process to ensure that the entire area is prop­er­ly sealed.

Prepare The Area

The first step is to pre­pare the area around the riv­ets. This includes clean­ing the area and remov­ing any dirt or debris. You should also use some sand­pa­per to rough up the sur­face of the alu­minum around the riv­ets. This will help the sealant stick bet­ter.

Apply The Sealer

Once the area has been pre­pared, you can apply the seal­er to the riv­ets. Use a brush to apply the seal­er to the riv­ets, mak­ing sure to cov­er them com­plete­ly. Allow the seal­er to dry, and then apply a sec­ond coat.

Use The Rivet Gun

Once the seal­er has dried, you can use the riv­et gun to seal the riv­ets. Place the riv­et gun over the riv­et and press the trig­ger. This will cause the riv­et to expand and seal the area around it.

Drill The Rivets

The last step is to drill the riv­ets. This will help ensure that the sealant is secure­ly in place and that the riv­ets are prop­er­ly sealed. Use the drill and the appro­pri­ate drill bit to drill through the riv­ets.

Common Problems With Sealing Rivets

Common Problems With Sealing Rivets

There are a few com­mon issues that can arise when seal­ing riv­ets on an alu­minum boat. The most com­mon is that the sealant may not stick prop­er­ly, or may come off over time. This can be caused by not using the cor­rect type of sealant, or not prepar­ing the area prop­er­ly. Anoth­er issue is using the wrong size riv­et gun or drill bit, which can cause the riv­ets to be sealed incor­rect­ly.

Even the most sea­soned boater can face a few hic­cups when seal­ing riv­ets on an alu­minum boat. It’s not always plain sail­ing, but know­ing the com­mon prob­lems can help you nav­i­gate them. Here’s what to watch out for:

  • Not Iden­ti­fy­ing All the Leaks: Some­times, mul­ti­ple riv­ets can be leak­ing. Make sure you iden­ti­fy all the cul­prits before you start the seal­ing process.
  • Improp­er Clean­ing: If the area around the riv­et isn’t cleaned prop­er­ly, the sealant may not adhere well. Make sure you clean and dry the area thor­ough­ly.
  • Choos­ing the Wrong Sealant: All sealants are not cre­at­ed equal. Make sure you’re using a marine-grade sealant suit­able for alu­minum.
  • Inad­e­quate Sealant Appli­ca­tion: Apply­ing too lit­tle sealant may not effec­tive­ly seal the riv­et. Don’t skimp, but also be care­ful not to over­do it to the point of cre­at­ing a mess.
  • Not Allow­ing the Sealant to Cure Prop­er­ly: Dif­fer­ent sealants have dif­fer­ent cur­ing times. Make sure you allow the appro­pri­ate amount of time for the sealant to ful­ly cure before test­ing it.
  • Ignor­ing Reg­u­lar Main­te­nance: Sealant can wear out over time. Reg­u­lar­ly check your riv­ets and reap­ply sealant as need­ed.

Seal­ing rivets often presents issues due to the nature of the mate­r­i­al. If the rivet is not prop­er­ly lubricated before instal­la­tion, it can cause cor­ro­sion or rusting of the mate­r­i­al. If the rivet is not installed prop­er­ly, it can leak, result­ing in water or air enter­ing the sealed area. Expan­sion and con­trac­tion of the mate­r­i­al due to tem­per­a­ture changes can cause the rivet to become loose, lead­ing to fur­ther leak­age.

Benefits Of Sealing Rivets

Seal­ing the riv­ets on your alu­minum boat might seem like a chore you could do with­out, but trust me, the ben­e­fits are worth the effort. Here’s why:

 A leaky riv­et can let water into your boat, which last time I checked, isn’t the best place for it to be. So, seal­ing your riv­ets is cru­cial for stay­ing dry and keep­ing your boat buoy­ant.

  • Pre­vents Leaks: The pri­ma­ry ben­e­fit is keep­ing water out of your boat. That means a dri­er, more com­fort­able boat­ing expe­ri­ence.
  • Main­tains Struc­tur­al Integri­ty: Sealed riv­ets help main­tain the struc­tur­al integri­ty of your boat by ensur­ing there’s no weak­en­ing water intru­sion.
  • Extends Boat Lifes­pan: Seal­ing riv­ets can pre­vent the onset of cor­ro­sion, poten­tial­ly extend­ing the life of your boat.
  • Ensures a Dry and Com­fort­able Ride: No one likes a sog­gy boat ride. Seal­ing riv­ets means avoid­ing unwel­come water in the boat.
  • Saves on Repair Costs: By pre­vent­ing leaks before they become a major issue, you could save on more expen­sive repairs down the line.

Seal­ing your riv­ets also helps main­tain the struc­tur­al integri­ty of your boat. Each of those riv­ets plays a cru­cial role in hold­ing your boat togeth­er. A sealed riv­et is a hap­py riv­et, and hap­py riv­ets mean a sol­id boat.

Few things can put a damper on a day at the lake quite like a leaky boat. Hav­ing to con­stant­ly bail out water is a work­out you did­n’t sign up for, and sog­gy sand­wich­es aren’t any­one’s pic­nic ide­al.

It can help extend the lifes­pan of your boat. Sealed riv­ets mean less oppor­tu­ni­ty for water to get in and cause cor­ro­sion or oth­er dam­age.

It keeps you dry, your boat stur­dy, your pic­nic dry, and your boat around for longer. Sounds like a win-win-win-win sit­u­a­tion to me! Now, where did I put that sealant…?

It is a com­mon method used to join two pieces of met­al togeth­er. It is an effec­tive way to cre­ate a secure, watertight and cor­ro­sion-resis­tant con­nec­tion. Sealing rivets also helps to pro­tect the struc­tur­al integri­ty of the joint, as the sealant pre­vents mois­ture and oth­er con­t­a­m­i­nants from get­ting into the joint and weak­en­ing it over time. It ensures a smooth, even sur­face that looks more aesthet­i­cal­ly pleas­ing.

Replacing aluminum boat rivets with bolts

There’s a par­tic­u­lar sound that can make any boater’s heart sink faster than an anchor — the tell­tale drip-drip-drip of water sneak­ing its way into your alu­minum boat. And while we’ve chat­ted about seal­ing those leaky riv­ets, some­times, you need a more robust solu­tion. That’s when the idea of replac­ing your boat’s riv­ets with bolts might bob to the sur­face.

But before you dive head­first into the bolt bin, there are a few key things to know. Let’s unrav­el this nau­ti­cal knot togeth­er.

Replac­ing riv­ets with bolts can indeed be an effec­tive solu­tion for those per­sis­tent leaks. Bolts can pro­vide a tighter seal and are less like­ly to loosen over time. But — and it’s a big ‘but’ — this isn’t a job you want to tack­le with­out some seri­ous prep.

While riv­ets are gen­er­al­ly installed dur­ing the boat’s man­u­fac­tur­ing process, using a hydraulic tool that applies a great deal of pres­sure, bolts are a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. Installing bolts requires drilling holes, apply­ing sealant, and ensur­ing the bolts are tight­ened just right — not too loose (hel­lo, leaks) but not too tight (you don’t want to warp your boat’s hull).

Con­sid­er the type of bolts you use. Marine-grade is a must (no rust­ing allowed), and stain­less steel is typ­i­cal­ly the way to go.

Keep in mind that bolt heads will be more promi­nent than flat riv­ets. They might snag fish­ing lines, clothes, or even toes. A smooth, flat fin­ish is always a plus on a boat.


What kind of sealant should I use for sealing rivets on an aluminum boat?

The best type of sealant for this job is a marine-grade sealant that’s suit­able for use with alu­minum. It should be water­proof, flex­i­ble, and durable to with­stand the marine envi­ron­ment. Pop­u­lar choic­es often include sil­i­cone-based or polyurethane-based sealants.

How often should I check and seal the rivets on my aluminum boat?

Reg­u­lar checks are key to keep­ing your boat in ship­shape (pun intend­ed!). It’s a good idea to check the riv­ets at the begin­ning and end of boat­ing sea­son, and any time you notice water where it should­n’t be. If you spot a leaky riv­et, seal it up as soon as you can.

Can I seal the rivets myself, or should I hire a professional?

If you’re com­fort­able using basic tools and fol­low­ing instruc­tions, you can def­i­nite­ly tack­le seal­ing riv­ets your­self. It’s a fair­ly straight­for­ward task that does­n’t require spe­cial train­ing.


Seal­ing riv­ets on an alu­minum boat is an impor­tant step in keep­ing your boat in good con­di­tion. The process is rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple and can be done with just a few mate­ri­als. By prop­er­ly seal­ing the riv­ets on your boat, you can help ensure that it will last for many years to come.

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