Wetsuit tape

Is there any such thing as good wetsuit tape?

My suit is in good shape, otherwise other than a couple spots where a seam is starting to split.

I’d like to know what the best way to repairing it would be.



Ummm, a few things. I may be telling you stuff you know already, bear with me. I used to fix suits where I worked, our rental suits took a beating and then I’d fix customer’s suits for fun and profit.

First, you have wetsuit or neoprene cement. It’s what was usually used to put the suit together in the first place. The very cheapest suits are  put together with just overlock stitching, but we’ll ignore those. Better suits are blind stitched and glued.  Generally you can just reglue the seams ( follow the directions on the neoprene cement can ) and you’ll be fine. Sometimes you will need to add a little stitching on the inside, use dental floss or very fine monofilament fishline as standard thread will chew into the rubber. Stitch through the fabric on the inside of the suit after gluing but not all the way through the rubber, use a ‘loose’ zig zag or cross stitch because the area will be stretching and a tight stitch prevents that and it tears again, worse. Do wait until the cement has hardened, a little glue sticking to whatever you use for  thread saws right through the foam neoprene, making the stitching useless. 

Now, if you go up a grade in suits, some of the inside seams may be taped (not blindstitched) , usually in areas that don’t flex or stretch a lot. There are two kinds of tapes they use, the one you’ll see most often is an iron-on nylon fabric tape that reinforces the nylon inside the suit, which is presumed to be stuck to the rubber well. And again, you iron it on, following the directions for that particular tape as regards how hot you set the iron and so on. But you will need to re-cement any open seams before you do that and only after that go with the tape. This stuff- it comes loose fairly often in high flex/stretch parts of the suit, the hot-melt adhesive doesn’t necessarily deal well with stretching. 

Okay, on highest end suits, pro diver’s neoprene dry suits and such, they use a second sort of tape that is made of neoprene, one side is curved and the other is flat. It goes on the inside with ( no surprise) wetsuit cement on the flat side and on the suit, which in theory penetrates the nylon knit fabric and bonds with the rubber underneath, making a very strong, durable ( and not all that flexy or stretchy) seam. I say ‘in theory’ because they don’t always do a perfect job of gluing it and it comes loose. But when that happens, well, you’re a pro diver, you spent over $1000 US on the suit, it’s got a warranty,  you send it back express mail and have them fix it or replace it and you use your spare suit, 'cos you’re being paid a couple thousand a day to dive and you have a spare backup suit along with spare regulators, spare masks and so on. 

Way back when, I had two O’Neill Supersuit dry suits, made for surfing. I was young, stupid and sort of a crash test dummy for the things, I got them cheap ( didn’t hurt that my boss was the O’Neill rep for the area at that time) . One was 1/4" and done with the neoprene tape, the other and later one was 1/8" and done with they nylon tape. The rubber tape definitely held up better and on a 1/4" suit, a little less flexibility at the seams wasn’t really noticeable. The nylon tape, not so much. 

So, and what was probably your real question, is there some sort of tape you can just slap on a seam like duct tape and you’re good? Nope, sorry about that. Also, the wetsuit cement that you will need has a limited shelf life (it goes off/goes bad in the can, typically within a year) , especially after it’s been opened, so that most stores and especially surf shops don’t stock it, order the stuff online from somebody who has a good stock turnover.

hope that’s of use 


Thanks for taking the time to explain so thoroughly.

I’d be looking for whatever tape/adhesive combo makes the most permanent repair… The neoprene on my suit is  fine and has some time before it will be worn out so I’m interested in whatever it takes to address them leaks in the seams.

I see that seam tape is improving and there’s some glue that’s applied to the neoprene and then tape over that. Maybe even applied with heat… Not sure about that, however. Whatever it is I’d like to get some of the stuff that newer suits come from them factory with. Because that seems to be the best. I don’t mind doing some stitching to help it out either.


‘(chuckling) explain so thoroughly’ or ‘beat it to death’ Your call. 

In any event, the tape is a seam reinforcement, it’s not the primary strength of the seam. That’s in the rubber to rubber gluing with the appropriate cement. You apply glue to both sides, a clean, dry rubber to rubber seam, let that coat dry completely. That’s your bond coat, it has solvent in it so it gets into the rubber quite well. You then apply another layer, both sides, let that go until it’s barely tacky and then stick the rubber carefully together -it will stick immediately-  and wait until it’s gone off. Then you can stitch the inside, not before. 

Now, I mentioned that seams like that used to be blind stitched. That takes a specialised heavy duty commercial sewing machine and considerable skill and experience. For instance, most blind stitch machines are for hemming things like the bottoms of trouser legs, much much thinner material. The nylon fabric iron-on tape and such, well, these days most suits are made by folks on the Pacific Rim who get paid a dollar three eighty a day on piecework rates, don’t have much training and don’t need it to run an iron. Also, they are using tape by the mile- if some comes through that was made a bit light on the hot melt adhesive, well, they are not gonna stop and get a new roll, they need to do production. 

And unless the fabric on the inside of the suit is in perfect shape, I wouldn’t expect it to stick too well or do a particularly good job of reinforcement. The strength of said reinforcement is all in the cloth-cloth bond, it doesn’t hit the rubber. If the existing cloth isn’t in good shape and still stuck to the underlying rubber real well, it’s not gonna do much.    

The rubber tape, that’s stronger and more likely to work as a reinforcement, even on a used suit, but you can’t teach a chimpanzee to do it in fifteen minutes. .That’s why pro divers suits cost so much, in part. You do the same thing with two coats of wetsuit cement on each side before applying, apply the tape carefully, don’t use a roller lengthwise on the seam to get it down well. 

Now, again, suits are made on a production line these days, piecework rates. It’s entirely possible the seam was glued a little light at the factory… I would reglue and maybe hand stitch carefully before looking to tape  reinforcements. 

hope that’s of use



So what glue should i be looking for?

this stuff, linked below, neoprene wetsuit cement. I would go with the tube rather than the can, it may last longer and it’s certainly cheaper.  There is even a how-to video. You won’t use up all that’s in the tube, let alone as much as is in  a can, unless you’re attacked  by a  savage walrus or something and you have to repair your suit after.

Get a 35 cent metal handle brush at the hardware store to use with it- they sometimes call those acid brushes, I have no idea why, plumbers use them for soldering flux among other uses.


hope that’s of use