Surfboards hold a special place in the heart of surfers worldwide. Our trusty steeds help us ride walls of water; for this, we’ll be forever grateful!
But how do we return the favour? How do we look after our surfboards to ensure they live their longest life and save ourselves money along the way?
We’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide on how to look after your surfboard and make the most of your stick for years to come.
Don’t leave it out in the sun
The cardinal rule of surfboard care! Leaving your surfboard in the sun for prolonged periods of time can cause all sorts of issues for your board.
It doesn’t matter how you look after your surfboard if it’s slowly yellowing away like an unwanted nicotine stain!
Loss of flex
High temperatures will reduce the flex of your board over time leading to cracking in your fibreglass. Loss of flex will also start to affect your board’s performance, flex helps you spring into your turns with more power, particularly your bottom turn.
Prolonged exposure to the sun can also cause delamination. Delamination is the unwanted separation of the outer protective layer of resin on your board and the inner foam core. The initial range of Firewire surfboards was well known for common delam issues that they quickly fixed moving forward.
Delamination signs include small air pockets on the deck of your board which grow and spread over time. Eventually, the whole outer resin layer of your surfboard will separate from the foam blank making it unsurfable.
Repairing delammed boards is an expensive process that requires cutting away the outer skin of your board and adds considerable weight, often a repair will only be a short-term fix before another area starts to go and replacing the board may be a better option.
While this issue doesn’t affect performance it’s a guaranteed way to make your board look much older than it is. Long periods of time exposed to the sun’s rays will start to turn your lovely white surfboard into a less attractive shade of yellow.
This will happen naturally over time with the nose of your board yellowing quickest due to its constant exposure to the sun while you’re surfing.
But leaving your board out while the sun beats down on it will speed up the process considerably making for a rather unattractive nicotine-stained look, you’ve been warned.
Give it a rinse with fresh water after each use
Desalting your sled after each use will help maintain your board and keep it newer for longer. Salt is a corrosive substance and after time even fibreglass will start to suffer.
Leaving salt water on your board can also play havoc with your fins. As the salt water dries and evaporates it leaves behind salt crystals that can wedge themselves between your fins and your fin box treating a seal of sorts.
Trying to remove a fin that’s been crusted over with salt can be a painful process so skip the drama and give your board a rinse at the same time as your suit after every session.
Look after your surfboard by staying on top of dings and damage
Every little ding on your board is an entrance for water. As your board slowly saturates you’ll start to lose buoyancy making paddling and catching waves harder and you’ll start to bog your rails through turns you previously glided through perfectly.
If you surf regularly or surf consistently over reef then dings are unavoidable but that doesn’t mean you can forget about them.
Stopping any dings before they can let in much water is key to ensuring the lifespan of your surfboard, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can stay on top of your repairs.
Solarez is the perfect way to repair your board on the go. This pre-mixed repair gel comes in a small tube that you can leave in your car.
If you have a ding you can simply remove any damaged glass and foam, give the area a good roughing up with some thick grit sandpaper and apply the Solarez gel to the ding.
As the name suggests Solarez uses UV rays to activate and dry the gel, in full sun it can dry completely in as little as three minutes but you can get it dry in an hour or two on overcast days.
*Pro tip – Cover your repair with some plastic film to avoid unnecessary sanding and create a smooth finish right from the start.
Here’s a helpful video to help you out with your Solarez repairs:
Surfboard repair kit
Surfboard repair kits give you all the tools you need to make large repairs to your board including fin repairs and rail damage.
Each kit includes the following at the minimum:
- Resin Hardener
- Fibreglass cloth
- Plastic mixing pot
- Wooden mixing sticks
Unlike Solraez you won’t need any sun to dry your repair, just a clean outdoor area to get to work.
Always make sure to check that you’re buying the right repair kit for your board. PU and Epoxy boards require different resins and using the wrong resin can damage your surfboard over time.
Ding putty is not a traditional surfboard repair tool but it’s amazing for quick fixes when you’re at the beach or on a surf trip.
It comes in a stick that you can tear small chunks off, simply mix it together at your fingertips then apply liberally to your repair until you’ve created a seal across the damage.
It won’t look pretty but it will prevent any water intake before you’ve got time to do a proper repair or take it to the local surf repair shop.
Professional surfboard repair
There’s no avoiding the fact that looking after your surfboard requires repairs and they’re not easy, it’s fiddly and living in colder climates can make drying your repair a nightmare.
If you want to focus on surfing and leave your surfboard to the pros I suggest looking up your local surfboard repair specialist, sometimes operating out of surf shops or a garden shed these fibreglass wizards will be able to repair your board just as strong as before and can colour match repairs to ensure your board looks as good as new.
Try heading over to Google and typing ‘surfboard repair near me’ to see who you can turn to in your local area.
Protect your surfboard with a board bag or a board sock
Prevention is always better than treatment and that’s why getting a board bag or sock sooner rather than later can be critical to looking after your surfboard and keeping it newer for longer.
Better yet they’ll save you from the nightmare of surfboard wax melting in your car.
Between being unceremoniously thrown in the boot of your car to unwanted damage at home, having a protective layer across your delicate fibreglass or epoxy will stop all those pesky little dings that seem to appear from nowhere.
A board bag is a padded bag that’s shaped to the size of a surfboard. Day bags typically have less padding than travel bags which we’ll cover shortly.
A board sock is a piece of material shaped to the size of your surfboard. Good board socks have some padding on the nose to protect the most vulnerable part of your surfboard.
If you’re into DIY then you can make your own board sock with some old towels, bed sheets and other unwanted materials. Check out the video below with a simple guide on how to make your own board sock.
Get a travel bag if you’re going on a surf trip
Surfboard travel bags are heavy-duty board bags designed to deal with the heavy handling of airports and long-distance travel.
Coming with a range of helpful extras for travel like wheels and extra storage these bags are a surefire way to keep your board damage free when you’re heading overseas for a surf trip.
Store your surfboards safely when not in use
If you’re guilty of storing your boards in a messy pile in your shed or back of the car then you could be doing untold damage.
Boards stacked on top of each other can create pressure marks and even crack fin boxes if you’re unlucky. Using a surfboard rack can help you store your board ding free and reduces the risk of non-surfers knocking over a carefully stacked pile of sticks.
Personally, I’m a big fan of wooden board racks and they’re quick and easy to assemble. If you’re a bit of a whizz with woodwork you can knock up a simple replica yourself, the main goal here is creating a safe, ding-free space.
Not sure what the best storage solution is for your surfboards? Head over to our guide on surfboard racks for the full low down on some of the best storage available today.
Now you know exactly how to look after your surfboard on a day-to-day basis and all the steps you can take to prolong the life of your magic stick.
Check out some more of our helpful surfing guides below for tips and advice on how to surf better and smarter.