Pressure dings are compressions in the fibreglass or epoxy of your surfboard, severe pressure dings may cause cracking and water intake if not repaired promptly.
Small dings are unavoidable, whether it’s surfing, transporting your board to and from the beach, surf trips or damage in storage.
But left unchecked they can start to affect surfboards in all the wrong ways, from yellowing to a reduction in buoyancy and your ability to catch waves.
Let’s take a look at what exactly pressure dings are, how you can stop them from affecting your board and ways to prevent them in the future.
So what are pressure dings on a surfboard?
When a lot of pressure is applied to the fibreglass or epoxy of your surfboard it will begin to ident as it crushes the foam just below the hard resin that makes up the outer layer of your board.
You’ll typically see pressure dings on the deck of your surfboard where you place your front foot because of the repetitive pressure when you pop up and perform surf tricks and manoeuvres.
*Interesting fact: Now retired pro surfer Taj Burrow from Western Australia used to ask his surfboard shaper to create his new boards with a concave in the deck to emulate his older, more battered surfboards.
How much pressure needs to be applied to create a pressure ding will vary based on what your surfboard is made out of.
PU or polyurethane boards tend to suffer the most from dings and damage, particularly as they age and the fibreglass starts to become more brittle.
Common places to find pressure dings on your surfboard
The deck of your board – The top surface of a surfboard or deck is going to be where you find the majority of your pressure indents and dings.
The rail of your surfboard – Surfboard rail dings are a greater risk for a few reasons:
- They suck in water as your board flexes while you’re up and riding on a wave
- Repairing dings on your rail is notoriously hard and is best left to the surfboard repair pros
- They can quickly cause cracks to spread to the deck and bottom of your board
Bottom of your board -You’d think the bottom of your board would survive most of the dings but transport, shallow reef breaks, sandbanks, others boards and even surfboard fins can quickly put an end to that.
Should I be worried about my dings?
It’s hard to know if you should worry about the dings on your board so we’ve put together some clear signs you should look for that indicate serious problems.
Cracking in the fibreglass of your board
Unfortunately cracking will happen to any board after long enough but there are a few cracks you need to look out for.
Cracks that reach from one rail to another are often a sign of weakness in your surfboard and could be an early sign that a snapped board is very close in the future.
Cracks around your fins need to be closely observed because they can often get worse very quickly due to being a stress point as the fin moves and flexes when you surf
Yellowing around a pressure ding or crack
If you’ve got damage on your board and you can see a small yellow or brown coloured dot starting to appear around it then you’ve got a clear indicator of water ingress.
Small amounts of water entering the foam of your surfboard isn’t a huge problem but over time your board will start to lose buoyancy and float.
Over time, paddling for waves and even surfing will seem harder as your board slowly bogs down under the weight of the water inside it.
Lots of dings on the bottom of the board
Surfboard dings on the bottom of the board can affect how water travels across it when you’re up surfing a wave.
The rocker, concave fins and rails are all carefully shaped to work in unity to provide you with the best performance possible.
If the bottom of your surfboard looks like the surface of the moon then chances are it’s probably holding back your performance on the eave in terms of speed, drive and manoeuvrability.
What causes pressure dings on your surfboard?
The most common way to get pressure dings is simply by surfing, just by moving around on your surfboard you’ll be transferring your weight and slowly compressing the surface of your board.
The next culprit for dings is transporting to and from the beach.
Whether it’s unceremoniously throwing your board down onto the pebble-littered sand or flying over speed bumps on the drive home there’s a whole load of ways you can unintentionally damage your board.
Last but not least is the possibility of a collision with another surfer or their board. With more people learning to surf every year, lineups around the world are getting busier so accidents and surfing injuries are bound to happen.
*Pro tip – The size of a ding and its location is normally a clear indicator of how it happened.
How to repair pressure dings on your board
Now you’ve assessed the different parts of your board for damage you’re all set to start repairing any nasty dings before it’s too late.
There are two options here, do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you. Let’s take a quick look at both
Repair dings yourself
Thankfully there’s a load of off-the-shelf options to fix your dings at home or even at the beach in between surf sessions.
Solarez is a quick and easy fix. As the name suggests it’s UV-activated meaning it can dry in as little as a few minutes on hot, sunny days.
Apply Solarez to your dings sparingly with just enough to cover the ding.
The next steps require you to flatten the gel down to reduce the sanding later and produce a clean finish on your board.
I like to use a layer of cling film or plastic wrap to place over the repair but you can use a popsicle stick to flatten it if you have one to hand.
Once the repair is dry you can sand to finish, this is perfect for little dings and holes but may not hold up for large dings or repairs.
Epoxy putty stick
Probably the easiest solution if you’ve got an epoxy surfboard, putty really is as simple as breaking some off and working it into your ding.
It’s more of a temporary fix but it does give you some piece of mind if you want to head back out in the water on the same day.
Surfboard repair kits
Surfboard repair kits come with epoxy or PU resin, a hardener, a plastic or paper cup, sandpaper, fibreglass cloth and popsicle sticks.
By carefully combining the resin and the hardener you can create a putty that will dry and harden over time.
For large holes, you can cut up the fibreglass cloth and add it to the repair.
Check out the video below showing you exactly how to deal with dings on your board:
Go to the local ding/surfboard repair shop
Sometimes a home repair job just doesn’t cut it and you need to seek the help of a surfboard repair pro.
As long as you use a reputable repair shop or specialist you’ll have fewer problems in the future than a DIY repair (at least in my experience).
This and the fact that surfboard repair is a hard messy job mean that professionals are in high demand and you may have to wait a few weeks for your board to be repaired.
How to prevent dings on your board in the future
Now you know exactly what to look out for let’s walk through some of the steps you can take to prevent pressure dings on your precious stick.
Tail pads can help save the fibreglass under your back foot from bearing the brunt of your snaps and carves and creating pressure dings in your board.
Although tail pads aren’t always an option for larger boards they’re highly recommended for shorter shapes, particularly shortboard, with the raised foam tail kick offering helpful support for your back foot.
Our recommended tail pads
Putting a front grip or traction pad on the deck of the board adds a layer of protection and gives you a better grip.
Lots of surfers aren’t a big fan of the front grip and prefer the look of a cleanly waxed deck.
Learn more about the arguments for and against traction pads in our read on traction pads vs wax.
Our recommended front grips
Board bags help stop dings when you’re heading to and from the beach.
You can get a whole range of day bags from top-of-the-range models from the biggest surf brands to homemade versions sewn together from unwanted beach towels.
Ideally, you want a bag with some good protection and some added padding for the tail and nose which are vulnerable in the boot of the car.
If you’re heading overseas then you’ll need to contend with the perils of surfboards and air travel.
Flight companies are notorious for dinging boards as they’re thrown around with heavy luggage.
Travel bags are surfboard bags heavy duty cousin with good models offering heavy rubber guards and thick outer padding covered in a durable material.
With the right prevention, you can stop a large degree of surfboard dings before they happen and if all else fails you can fall back on a surf shop to do some repairs, leaving you with fewer worries.