We haven’t updated the guide on top choices among air mattress repair kits in about 6 months, and for good reason, we’ve been working on something special to present.
We tested the TOP 5 best-rated (according to Amazon ratings) vinyl patch kits over a period of 6 months to see how well they behave and what you can expect if you are trying to fix your air mattress – we present the results below.
Here’s exactly what we did in the “study”
We tested these 5 vinyl kits: Tear-Aid Type B, Coghlan’s 8800, Boxer vinyl adhesive, Blue Magic and Airhead Ahrk-1.
- we punctured a Fox airbed (which is one of the most durable beds out there) and made 50 pinholes
- we used each adhesive on 10 leaks (so that the test is statistically accurate)
- waited for a day and then burdened the mattress with weights to its listed capacity
- sealed the parts around the patches with plastic freezer bags and industrial-strength Gorilla tape (so that we can see if a leak re-develops)
- we made notes on the re-occurring leaks after 1,2,3…10 months
The results are in the table below
Commentary of the results
Don’t kill the messenger, but a leaking air mattress is hard to fix long-term, that’s the simple conclusion.
The overall success rate of the repair is a pitiful 6 % – only the Tear-aid and the Boxer had respectively 2 and 1 leak that didn’t redevelop. The rest of the kits are sitting low with a 0% success rate over 10 months.
Choices you have
The obvious choice would be getting an air mattress that doesn’t develop leaks in the first place (we’ll show stats on that in a minute).
The other two choices are trying to fix your inflatables despite the chances or, if your airbed is still under warranty, make sure that the company honors their word and replace your airbed.
THE airbed with the lowest reported leak %
We keep tabs on over 200 air mattress models and the two beds below are the two models with lowest % of reported air leaks.
THE FIRST BED is the best air mattress overall – the SoundAsleep Dream Series. According to our data, it has by far the lowest reported leak percentage of 0.78% within 1 year of purchase.
This means that 1 in 128 beds will develop a leak within 1 year,
which is how long its warranty lasts.
Click here to read what owners
of the SoundAsleep
are saying about
it on Amazon >>>
THE budget solution
THE SECOND BED is the best budget solution on the market – it’s by far the best “cheap” air mattress.
It’s current ratings are 86/100 with a solid 9/10 in the category of “air retention” – Intex Comfort Plush Durabeam.
Reported leak % is 2.12 which means that 1 in 47 beds will develop a a leak within 1 Year.
There’s nothing even close to it in its price range.
See what owners
of the Intex Plush
about it on Amazon here >>>
Air mattress repair & patch kits – why the low success rate
The short answer is – the chemical structure and surface finish of PVC.
Here’s a slightly longer answer to why vinyl patch and repair kits don’t work so well on airbeds
The kind of vinyl used in airbed contain oils that react with the adhesives found. The peak of this chemical reaction is 3-4 months after application.
If you go back to the table, you’ll notice a spike in re-occurring leaks just around that time frame.
It is this chemical reaction that cause the bond to become weaker and, over-time, start leaking again. Some of the companies (like Tear Aid), are adding chemicals to the surface of their airbed repair kits to try and prevent that reaction.
We’ve seen how well that’s working out in the results of our research.
In the rest of the guide we’ll go over some tips on using an air mattress so that you don’t need an airbed patch kit in the first place:
- what are the different uses – this is actually just an introduction, so if you are in a hurry you can just skip that
- what is the reason behind the air mattress loosing air – a leakage or a drop in temperature
- what are the causes of leakage and how you can spot the puncture should you decide to try and fix it
- if you choose to do it yourself – these will be the tools and items that you will need
- what are the best repair kits – this are the ones that I was most satisfied with and found to be the most efficient – I have included pros and cons and best use for each
- and finally a FAQ section to speed things up and offer a quick answer to the most common questions you might have when thinking of repairing your leaking mattress
Using an air mattress
Air mattresses are some of the most important inventions of the last hundred years or so. Really, they can be used for so many things and in so many situations that you won’t believe it.
For example, when you go camping and you want to sleep in comfort, an air mattress or two might save the day.
After all, not everyone is equipped to handle the wilderness with nothing more than a blanket and some dry food. Some like to enjoy nature in style.
Before you go thinking that air mattresses are too much effort to lug around in some national park somewhere, remember that the better quality ones are rather small when not inflated and that they come with travel cases and all sorts of travel – friendly accessories.
Let’s say that you have a modest two bedrooms, two bathrooms, one level house and too many relatives coming over for Thanksgiving. Where do you put everyone?
You could relocate your children to their friends’ houses, but you still don’t have enough beds, couches or settees to offer an excellent sleeping experience.
This is where the mattresses come into play: just pull out a couple of them, have everyone help inflate them and let the guests choose wherever they want to sleep in your overcrowded house.
If you prefer a sleeping pad to a bulky air mattress, you can find our guide on best sleeping air pads here.
Does your mattress leak or is it just a temperature change?
But what is going on when your air mattress doesn’t feel as comfortable as it used to? Well, the answer is rather simple: the mattress is leaking air. Or, in the most fortunate cases, there was a sudden temperature change, which led to a serious modification of the air pressure inside the mattress in relation to the air pressure on the exterior.
This imbalance can make the mattress feel less firm and even somewhat knotty. However, the most common reason for the air mattress suddenly losing firmness is the fact that it is leaking air, which is not all that hard to determine: if you hear a low, but constant hissing sound, compressed air is leaving your mattress when it shouldn’t.
PS. The bed in the image is an Insta, you can see the full review of the Insta Raised with a Never-flat pump here.
Causes of leakage and how to find the puncture
Obviously, once you decide what is making your mattress deflate, you must take some measures to fix this. If we’re talking about a temperature change, the solution is obvious: try using the tools that come with the mattress and pump some more air inside it, until it is as firm as you want it to be.
However, if your mattress is leaking air, the problem gets a lot more complicated, because the only way to repair it is to find the leak and patch it up. This is where it gets really tricky, because the puncture is usually very small, caused by a pet or by your children playing around on the mattress and poking it with pens or crayons. To better understand everything we’re talking about here, you can consult our guide on what are air mattresses made of.
Inflating the mattress without fixing the leak is useless, therefore you must take the time to find the annoying rupture:
- Take the off the bedding and move it to an area of the house that is large enough that you can turn and flip over the rather large mattress.
- Fill the mattress with as much air as you can, without it seeming to burst at the seams. Use the air pump that came with the mattress or your own lungs to inflate it, not an air compressor.
- Once it is fully inflated, start listening and look very carefully. The air makes a persistent, if low, hissing sound. You might not see the leak, but you’re going to hear it or feel it, if you slowly move your hand on the surface of the mattress.
- To make sure you got it right, pour some soapy water on the incriminated area and watch to see if the soap starts to form bubbles. If it does, you got yourself a winner. That is the leak. Hopefully, there is only one in the entire mattress.
Tools and items you will need for a DIY kit if you decide to repair your airbed
Fixing the leak can be done by yourself, with materials you have around the house, if it is small enough to do it yourself, or with the help of special repair kits, either delivered with the mattress when you bought it or that you can buy of the Internet or at your local store. If you want to do it by your lonesome and not spend the extra dollar, you should have some of the following things around:
- Something made of thick plastic, like a tarp or a high quality shower curtain.
- A pair of scissors.
- Glue of some kind.
Now, if the leak is located on the textile part of the mattress, you can’t just apply a piece of plastic and glue it into place. You need to sand down the fluffy part of the material until it reaches the plastic beneath it. Therefore, you have to have some sort of sandpaper around.
The glue needs to be able to keep two pieces of plastic or of vinyl together, so it better not come from your children’s kindergarten kit.
Try the kind of glue that you can get at a convenience store or at your local supermarket. Also, duct tape is not recommended for fixing leaks in your mattress, as convenient as that might be.
The glue on the tape is not designed to hold plastic materials in place for long and it will, eventually, dry out and fall off.
Air mattress repair kits we looked into
What happens when your own attempts at fixing your air mattress fail or you just don’t know how to go about it?
The answer is a professional repair kit. Of course, there are so many of them out there and not all of them are the best quality for their price range. Here is a look at a few of the more popular repair kits on the market:
Vinyl Waterbed & Air Mattress Repair Kit: it is fairly cheap, a peg over ten dollars and it contains a tube of professional quality glue and about 21 square inches of vinyl for patching the mattress. The instructions are simple: find the leak, cut a piece of the vinyl that comes in the kit and glue it on the mattress to stop the air leaving the mattress. However, does this kit work on the part of your mattress that has textile material? Some users say yes, others say no. It’s mostly hit and miss in this case. Also, the glue doesn’t seem to perform as well for all the buyers, some choosing common house glue over the one from the kit.
Tear – Aid type B: this repair kit can be used only on the vinyl parts of your air mattress, so if the leak is on the textile area, you’re out of luck. For under ten dollars, you get an instant adhesive and a patch that won’t pull off when stretched. According to the manufacturers, this repair kit stops tears from spreading throughout the material. Also, it won’t lead to discoloration over time and, more importantly, they glue is solid, not liquid, so it won’t run all over the place when you use it. On the downside, the process of using the Tear – Aid is rather complicated, requiring a thorough cleaning of the area before applying the glue and the vinyl patch, which won’t stick to your air mattress otherwise. However, customers have reported and we’ve seen it in testing that even after cleaning the problem area multiple times, the glue won’t work properly.
No Heat! Liquid Leather & air mattress repair and patch kit: no heat kits are all the rage right now on the market of air mattress repairs, because the less heat you use around a vinyl – covered object, the less likely it is to melt or deform easily. However, the heat should be substituted with an excellent adhesive, preferably one that works fairly fast and that holds two pieces of vinyl together rather well. Unfortunately, this kit doesn’t do that. The adhesive is really weak and the patches that it comes with are too small for them to be truly useful. On the plus side, you can pick and choose from a lot of colors of patches, which is always a good thing. Of course, if you need to fix a tear that is bigger than a couple of inches, you should consider ordering more than one patch, even if it’s in the color you need.
Tear – Aid Repair 3 inch x 5 foot Patch Kit: one of the newer kits on the market, this version of the classical Tear – Aid kit is leaps and bounds ahead of the old one. It works faster, has one of the strongest glues on sale today and the patches are of extraordinary quality. Also, they are transparent, unlike other patches out there, which can ruin the aspect of an air mattress. Very thin, but durable and solid, the Tear – Aid Repair patches are made of a special kind of vinyl, one that doesn’t come apart at the seams when exposed to heat, doesn’t deteriorate when it comes in contact with UV light and doesn’t tear under pressure. However, it doesn’t come with larger patches than the standard ones.
Sevylor airbed Repair Patch: very simple to use and rather cheap, being a little over ten dollars, this repair kit is very popular for its quick – and – easy solutions to urgent problems. It comes with three patches of a standard dimension, which are coated on one side with a pressure triggered – adhesive. The patches are transparent, they go on really fast and the adhesive tries to a perfectly smooth finish in a couple of minutes. The area needs to be cleaned with some sanitary alcohol or with a mild soap, but that is not uncommon when repairing a vinyl mattress. However, the patches are rather small, being only about three inches over three inches and the glue tends to dry if exposed to sudden changes in temperature.
Therm-a-Rest universal repair kit: it’s a classic repair kit, useful only for owners of a Therm – a – Rest mattress. It contains two type A patches, made of vinyl, an alcohol cleaning wipe and two pouches of adhesive that needs heating before working. On the plus side, once the patches are in place and if all the steps are followed correctly, it’s unlikely that the mattress will leak air again from that same spot. On the downside, the repair process is rather complicated and it requires a certain technique that not everybody has. Also, you cannot pick and choose a certain color of patch or a certain dimension.
Therm-a-Rest permanent home repair kit: works both on smaller and larger tears and it has round patches that you can customize to your hearts’ desire. It only has three colors that you can choose from, but that doesn’t seem to be problem for most users. What is interesting about this kit is the fact that it doesn’t use hot glue, but rather a wet kind of adhesive, which can hold up pretty well for long periods of time if not exposed to extreme conditions. The downside to this wet glue is the fact that it takes up to four hours to set to a completely budge – free finish. If the mattress is moved or used during that time, chances are that the patch won’t be perfectly glued on and it could fall of at any time.
FAQ about air mattress repair and patch kits:
1. How to patch an air mattress?
It usually depends on what kind of mattress you have and if the manufacturer already included a repair kit with the mattress you purchased. If you have one, use it according to the instructions. If not, buy one that you can afford or just create one out of materials that you have around the house. You only need some pieces of vinyl, a pair of scissors and some heavy – duty glue.
2. How do I choose the correct air mattress?
Well, you need to take into consideration what you are going to use it for. If you want to just have it around the house for when guests arrive in exceeding numbers, than a terribly expensive one is just a waste of money. However, if you are the more outdoorsy type and you intend to take the mattress with you when you go camping, you might want to invest in a more costly one than something like the Intex Classic Downy for camping.
3. How do I know the mattress is leaking?
There are cases in which there is no way you will hear your mattress leaking air. For example, if the puncture is in a really hard to access place, covered in layers of vinyl, but somehow still readily available to a sharp object, there are chances that you won’t be able to hear the air leaving the mattress. However, you will see it deflate rather quickly. If you do hear the leak, then you’re in luck. It’s easy to fix a rupture when you know where it is.
4. What quick fixes could I try if I don’t have an airbed patch kit?
You have no repair kits around, but your mattress is leaking air like crazy and you need to do something about it. Take a piece of duct tape, cut it to size and just put it on the rupture. It’s not going to hold for long and it won’t withstand pressure, but it will hold your mattress inflated for some time.
5. Hot glue vs. normal glue?
A lot of the classical air mattress repair kits contain hot glue, which is glue that does its job only when heated at high temperatures. It usually sets in a couple of minutes, once it cools. Normally, the hot glue kits are known for being the most reliable ones, though not the easiest to use. Normal glue has been introduced in kits more recently and it requires more time to set, from about half an hour to about four hours, but it does do the job splendidly.
If you have further questions please add them in the comments below and I will answer each and every one of them, this way we can actually grow the FAQ section and cover more issues.