Let’s get straight into it: this is a really, REALLY important topic for any surfer – whether you just picked up a used, beat up surfboard off craigslift for $50 or just bought a brand new custom surfboard. For new surfers, it’s something to be learned – but it amazes me how so many experienced surfers still don’t know how to properly care for a surfboard so it lasts a long time. The good news is, it’s really quite easy and simple. Here’s a super straight-forward guide on everything you need to know about how to PROPERLY care for your surfboard:
LIMIT THE EXPOSURE TO SUNLIGHT & HEAT.
Sunlight & heat are direct enemies of surfboard construction. All resin has what’s called a Glass Transition Temperature - which is the temperature at which the normally solid-state resin that is saturating the fiberglass cloth surrounding the foam core of your surfboard becomes so hot that it can become soft and malleable, and can therefore waffle, deform, delaminate (fiberglass seperates from the foam), etc. Once the resin cools back down below the glass transition temperature, it will reharden – however, to whatever deformed shape it became when it was too hot. While these temperatures will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, the approximate glass transition temperatures for polyester resin is around 140 degrees F and epoxy resin is only 120 degrees F. Those temperatures are EASILY REACHED inside a car on a hot summer day. So, simply put:
Do NOT leave your board:
- In your car
- On top of your car
- Laying in the sun
- Leaning against heat vents in your house
- Preferably not in an un-climate controlled garage
“Don’t leave my board laying in the sun? What about when I’m at the beach and I’m surfing my other board or take a nap for 3 hours?” Simple: KEEP IT COVERED. Lay a towel over your board to block the direct sun rays, or keep it under your board board, or in your board bag and leave it unzipped so it can breathe. Always do your best to minimize the heat and sunlight your board is exposed to, and your board will last much, much longer. UV rays from sunlight will also yellow your board faster.
Also, keep in mind that the darker the colors of your board, the quicker they absorb heat and the hotter they get. An all black board will get WAY hotter WAAAY faster than an all white board.
DON’T SURF A BOARD WITH OPEN DINGS.
Really should be self explanatory, but somehow it’s not! Always check your surfboard for damage. If you find a small crack, give it the fingernail test: if you can “catch” the crack with your fingernail, water can possibly find it’s way in – and that’s no bueno – fix it or get it fixed. If you can’t catch it with your fingernail, keep your eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get worse. Any water getting in your board is bad news, but salt water is extra corrosive and will eat away at your board, weaking it and – in combination with its best friend sunlight and heat – will reap havoc on your board. DO NOT EVER jam surf wax into an open ding – it does NOT keep water out, and just makes things worse when it comes time to repair it properly. Learn how to do ding repair properly yourself or take it to a reputable shop. If you don’t have time to do either of those and just absolutely HAVE to surf your dinged board: clean the area of wax and dirt and put duct tape or a sticker over the area as neatly as possible to keep water out for the time being. Remember that EPS/Epoxy surfboards MUST be repaired with an epoxy repair kit/epoxy resin – NOT suncure or polyester resin – it will melt the foam core on contact.
GET A BOARD BAG!
A board BAG!…not a board sock or anything of the like. A true board bag, and one with a lot of thick padding. Look for bags that have padding that’s 8mm to 10mm (or more) thick for good board protection. “Day” or “light” bags are only 5mm thick and really aren’t thick enough to prevent a ding or crack if you smack the board into a corner in your house or garage, or close the car door or trunk on it. Usually the 8-10mm bags are only $20-30 more expensive than their 5mm inferior counterparts, and it’s WELL worth the extra few bucks. And board socks? They really do nothing, they’re an absolute waste of money. Sorry board sock manufacturers, but you know it’s true. For a single board bag, depending on the brand and whether it’s for a shortboard, midlength or longboard, you can expect to pay between $100-200 for an 8-10mm thick board bag. That expenditure will pay for itself in how many dings and cracks it will prevent – let alone extending the life of your surfboard considerably. I CANNOT stress that enough!!! This is possibly the most important thing you can do as it’s a preventative measure to prevent dings, exposure to sunlight, etc. Which leads me to my next point…
BE CAREFUL TRANSPORTING YOUR SURFBOARD.
Most people ding and crack their boards OUT of the water. When you bump your board into a corner in the house or car, you’re focusing all that energy into one tiny focal point, and that’s bound to crack some fiberglass. If you have a quality 8-10mm thick board bag, you’re bound to prevent all or most of those potential damages, but you should still treat your board like a baby with or without a board bag to ensure it stays in great condition.
Be careful in the car, too – don’t rest a board that’s not in a quality board bag on any hard plastic parts in a car – if you hit a bump or pothole hard enough, that could potentially damage a board resting on hard plastic without a board bag. Also, don’t crank or wrench down too hard with straps if you’re putting your board up on roof racks. Make sure it’s just snug enough to not move or shift around. Excessive cranking can cause rail damage.
GET A CUSTOM SURFBOARD.
Now, now – you may think I might just be biased here…but the truth is: the VAST majority of big name brand off-the-shelf boards are built as “ultralight” boards, because they’re easier and cheaper to build, and they don’t last as long so you’ll have to buy another one sooner. Now, of course, you can order a custom board that has a light glassing as well – but when you order a custom board from a quality board builder and choose stronger materials, your board will be more durable and, assuming you follow the simple instruction above on caring for your board (!!!), it will last a long time.
That’s about it folks, that’s how to properly care for your surfboard – it’s really simple. Limit the exposure to sunlight & heat, don’t surf a board with open dings, take care while transporting and moving your board at all times and invest in a quality board bag that will easily pay for itself in prevented ding repair costs and extended surfboard life. Any questions, comment or email!