What is my surfboard made from?
Since the 1960’s surfboards have been constructed with one viable method, fiberglass, resin (PE) and foam (PU). This was adopted from the aviation sector but new materials have been explored over the last decade. Before fiberglass and foam surfboards were made from wood. Balsa wood being the easiest to work with but boards have been made from redwood and pine. The most popular surfboard construction on the market today is polystyrene resin, fiberglass and polyurethane blanks with a plywood stinger.
Here's a breakdown of the main materials used in surfboard construction:
- Foam Core: Most surfboards today use a foam core, which provides buoyancy and lightweight properties. The two main types of foam cores used are expanded polystyrene (EPS) and polyurethane (PU) foam. EPS foam is lighter and more buoyant, while PU foam is denser and has better flex properties.
- Fiberglass Cloth: Fiberglass is used to reinforce the foam core and provide strength to the surfboard. Fiberglass cloth is typically layered over the foam and laminated with resin. It comes in various weights and weaves, with heavier fiberglass providing more durability but adding weight to the board.
- Resin: Resin is used to bind the fiberglass layers together and create a hard shell around the foam core. Polyester resin and epoxy resin are the two main types used in surfboard construction. Polyester resin is more commonly used as it is less expensive, while epoxy resin offers higher strength and lighter weight.
- Stringer: A stringer is a thin strip of wood or composite material that runs through the center of the surfboard from nose to tail. It adds strength and helps control flex in the board.
- Fins: Fins are usually made of composite materials such as fiberglass, carbon fiber, or a combination of both. They are attached to the bottom of the surfboard and help with stability, maneuverability, and control.
It's worth noting that there are alternative materials and construction methods being explored in surfboard manufacturing, including bio-based foams, recycled materials, and sustainable resins, as the industry strives to reduce its environmental impact.
The use of carbon fiber, basalt and kevlar have been explored over this time and some shapers and manufacturers use these materials exclusively as a point of difference but also as they believe in the superiority of the product.