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How Do I Restore Sticky Vinyl?


Donna G ​asked:

My vinyl cabin interior wall covering is tacky to touch. The walls are not damaged, just tacky.

How can I remove leeched plastic glue residue and then rejuvenate or seal? Boat is a 1994 SeaRay 330. I don’t want to paint, just restore.

Thank you.


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Hi Donna,

Tacky vinyl is an indicator that the wrong cleaners or protectors have been used on the vinyl. Over time, the plasticizers in vinyl leach to the surface and I suspect that there was some interaction with a cleaner or polish. This is a very common phenomenon on unprotected PVC (vinyl) inflatable boats and water toys. The usual culprit is suntan lotion and the process is accelerated by exposure to the sun, although alkali cleaners will also cause damage.

Depending on how long the vinyl walls have been tacky and how deep the damage is, you may or may not have success restoring them.

Many PVC boat owners have had good success with the following formula, but as you can appreciate, each situation is different so there are no guarantees:

  1. Wash the vinyl with EZ Vinyl Cleaner. It’s a water activated cleaner so wet the vinyl first and then spray some EZ Vinyl Cleaner and scrub well. I suggest using a Marine Power Mitt for the scrubbing as it will save you time and effort and you’ll get better results.
  2. Scrub the walls with Speed Clean, restorer and a Marine Power Mitt, and rinse or wash clean. This should get rid of the tackiness.
  3. Apply 2 coats of Vinyl Guard to prevent the tackiness from coming back.

If you’re successful, this will be an annual or semiannual application. Before tackling the entire project, do a test first in an inconspicuous area. When you’re happy with the results then you can do the rest of the boat.

Vinyl Guard will give you a nice semi-gloss shine and each application will restore the lost plasticizers to keep the vinyl supple. I recommend applying in the spring at the beginning of each season and then again in the fall before winterizing to protect the vinyl against mold damage during storage.

Thanks for your question,
Captain Aurora
Richard Kittar

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