This method of plugging old screw holes is effective, and will save you needing to get a boat builder involved. Whether you’re changing a through-hull accessory or just maintaining an old boat, it may be necessary to plug old screw holes.

Screw Hole Plugging Tutorial

Naturally, any time you’re working on something below the waterline you need to be careful. You certainly don’t want to allow water intrusion, nor do you want to expose any coring in the hull or transom to water. Fortunately, it’s a pretty easy job - tune in for this short Boating Tips video, to see how it’s done.


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Remember, using 3M 5200 adhesive sealant is the key. This sticky goo cures into a hard rubbery material that’s water-tight and super-strong. Be sure to use both the screw-dip and the squeeze methods of getting 5200 into the holes. You want to be 100 per cent sure every space not occupied by the screw itself is filled.

The best case scenario is, of course, to avoid having to plug those holes in the first place. This could have been accomplished in this case by using the right screws for the job. As mentioned in the video, manufacturer-supplied hardware often isn’t quite up to the job. Even if it’s stainless steel it may not be 316L (or A4) grade (the very best, when it comes to resisting corrosion). The safest move is to always source and supply the hardware yourself.

Why not try fibreglassing over the holes on your own? It’s quite difficult to do a perfect patch job this way, and when it’s below the waterline, only perfect will do. It’s not at all like doing simple backyard fibreglass repair, because the constant exposure to water is likely to result in delamination if the glass work isn’t just so. Leave this job to the professionals. But just plugging a screw hole or two? That can be handled quickly and easily on your own.

Written by: Charles Plueddeman
Charles Plueddeman is's outboard, trailer, and PWC expert. He is a former editor at Boating Magazine and contributor to many national publications since 1986.