What Are Surfboards Made Of?

  What Are Surfboards Made Of - Things You Should Know

Each day life is evolving, and surfboard science is no exception! Sure, we’re all accustomed to the standard look and feel of a shiny and smooth board, but when production starts scaling, innovation is required! Let’s take a look at all the ‘inside’ info that you would need to know beyond the look of your wave-riding gun. Discover more about what are surfboards made of.

What Materials are used to make a surfboard

Back in the day, you might only have had the option to ride wooden boards out on the water. However, modern conversations around surfboards will always have the terms “fiberglass” or “epoxy.” What do these terms mean? Well, it’s not just one or the other, there’s a lot more to the composition of a board, and often there is a combination of materials used to give you the end result!

Fiberglass and Foam
Polyurethane (PU) Foam
Polyurethane foam was the ultimate way to shape a surfboard in the fifties! This material allowed shapers to carve blanks with extreme precision. Shaping aside, PU boards are highly flexible in the water, resulting in big wave maneuvers with power, hold and speed.
In the center of a PU board, a stringer is featured through the center of the board. This thin piece of wood is great for managing a person’s weight while maintaining flexibility in the waves.

PU, unfortunately, has adverse health effects when used on a large scale of production especially. It’s due to that reason Polyurethane has been shifted to the curb, and Polystyrene has stolen the crowd!

Polystyrene (PS) Foam
Polystyrene foam is the most popular choice in modern surfing for several reasons. They are far more environmentally friendly and much lighter in weight. When these boards are shaped, it’s done using the hot wire technique. A copper wire is heated and slices through the PS like hot butter! Heat and PS allow for smooth and clean shaping.
Not to mention that we have now reduced the amount of toxicity polluting the air through this process, and in most cases, it is a machine doing all of the work.

The surfboard is finished off with epoxy resin, hence the term “epoxy board.”

Epoxy Resin and Polyester Resin

Groms – this is for you! Epoxy-resin boards are great for beginners because they weigh 10-30% lighter than polyester. A lighter board makes for an easier paddle. Floating and buoyancy are other key benefits of going with epoxy resin when you’re learning to ride waves. Epoxy also means that your board is more likely to keep nasty dings away from those wipe-outs you might have in the beginning.
But it’s not only the novice surfers that opt for this type of board material. Skilled surfers often prefer an epoxy board for the same reasons. You can maximize your performance on small waves while still performing aerial tricks due to the light weight.

Polyester resin
Polyester surfboards are made with fiberglass cloth and polyester resin skin. This hand-shaped, polyester board has an amazing look and feel in the water, and the slight weight increase is a good thing for skilled surfers.
Windy and choppy conditions call for a little extra weight to keep the surfboard steady in the water. Turns on big waves are also easier to manage, and being able to hold the board down through the speed and power of a barrel is essential. In a nutshell, a polyester board is the go-to in bigger surf with more skilled surfers.

The Surfboard Manufacturing Process 350
There are many ways to skin a cat. Wait, are we still saying that? There are many ways to craft a surfboard when it comes to materials, but the process pretty much follows the same manufacturing process!

1. Constructing the form core
This stage, commonly referred to as “blowing the blank,” is where the foam core of the board is formed. Foam is placed into a mold made of two halves, and it’s kept from sticking to the mold by a layer of special paper lining the inside. The molds are clamped together and heated while liquid polyurethane chemicals are poured into the mold. The heat triggers a chemical reaction, and the result is a dense, white foam. After 25 minutes, the mold is unclamped, and the foam core is removed to harden to complete the process.

2. Attaching the stringer
Now that the core is hard, it is hardcore! Well, yes, it is, but it is also split in half from the nose to the tail. A thin stringer (a piece of wood) is glued between the two halves, and the core is clamped together again to dry. Stringers provide stiffness and keep your board from snapping in half.

3. Forming the blank
Reach for the saber saw, we’re about to cut! The outline of the complete board is now traced onto the rough core using a wooden template as a guide and cut. Starting with the bottom, reaching for the power planer now, the surface is contoured to its final shape. This part is done purely with the naked eye and experience. The board is flipped, and the same is done from the top. A power sander removes any ridges, and the stringer is contoured with a hand plane. Using rough grit sandpaper, the rails are shaped, and the board is given final light sand. The fin position is marked, and the designer leaves his mark, too, in ink.

4. Coating the outer shell
Cue fiberglass and resin! These materials will form the hard outer shell of the board. To start, the blank is blown clean with compressed air. Any paint design is applied directly to the foam. When the paint is dry, the fiberglass cloth is laid over the surface of the surfboard and cut to fit. The deck is laminated with a polyester resin, which is mixed with a second chemical referred to as the catalyst. The resin hardens in 15 minutes and is poured over the fiberglass and spread evenly with a rubber squeegee. Ensure that the fiberglass is evenly coated – also known as “glassing.” The board is flipped, and the process is repeated on the other side. It’s flipped once more – even though I'm getting dizzy - and the deck is laid with a second layer of fiberglass and resin for added strength.

5. Putting on the filler coat and attaching the fin
The filler coat is applied next, filling any imperfections left from the laminating resin. The deck is coated, and the board is flipped over. The fin should be secured with fiberglass tape and laminating resin. As soon as the fin resin is dry, the bottom of the blank and the fin receive a filler coat. When the board is completely dry, a tiny hole gets drilled through the tail for attaching the leg leash. Every surfer knows why a leg leash is crucial in the waves. Hint - “wipeout”! Yip, the leash keeps the board from drifting off into the ocean when you resurface after bailing.

6. Rasping the board
Excess resin is sanded away with a power sander on the broad surfaces, but the rails and other sharp edges and surfaces are hand sanded. This protects the fiberglass layer.

7. The final touch
The board is blown clean, removing any last sanding dust. Board decals are added, and a final coat of gloss resin is brushed onto the board. The final gloss coat is also mixed with a catalyst and hardens within 15 minutes. The board is now put aside for 12 hours to allow the gloss coat to harden completely. Lastly, rub, buff and polish, and ogle!

Connect With South Bay Board Co. Services Now
Moving forward, surfers will continue to desire custom-built boards at affordable prices. Hundreds of small surfboard crafters will build boards one at a time to keep up with this demand, but for all other information on what are surfboards made of, reach out to us at South Bay Board Co. and let’s craft together!