How to Care for Your Surfboard
Surfboards are way too expensive to treat like an old hat; couple that with the fact that they’re far from indestructible and you’ve got plenty of reason to take great care of your sleds. A surfboard’s lifespan is unavoidably finite (assuming it’s actually seeing some use), and the moment a new board hits the water is the moment it begins its path towards destruction.
It’s up to you, the owner, to make sure that path is as long and fruitful as possible. The bottom line is the greater care you take of your boards, the greater performance and lifespan they’ll give back in return.
Before we get any further into various board-caring techniques, here are a few glaring rules of caution that need to be presented:
- Avoid extreme heat and temperature change. Translation: do to not leaving your board in a roasting car or truck bed on a hot summer day. A board expands and contracts under extreme temperature change, delaminating in the process.
- Don’t keep surfing your dinged-up board. The more water it takes in, the faster it will turn into a water-logged version of what it once was.
- Don’t leave your board unsecured in a truck bed on the way to the beach. It might get dinged bouncing around or worse yet, air will get under it and it’ll take to the skies – in the middle of the freeway.
- Use a leash at breaks where rocks or cliffs lurk.
- When belly-riding into the beach, be cautious of shallow reef and rocks. There’s nothing worse than finishing a good session and then mortally wounding your favorite surfboard.
Bag Your Board
It’s easy to get lazy and not worry about board bags, but the reality is that the longer you go without protecting your board, the more likely you are to inflict unnecessary damage. Invest in a board bag or a board sock. Generally, board bags are a bit more expensive than socks, but they’re equipped with a shoulder strap – perfect for those breaks that require a quick hike to the beach. Spend a little more and you can get an insulated board bag, which offers protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
Hot Tip: DIY Board Sock
Feel free to get creative and make your own board sock out of fabric, canvas, or an old comforter. Dust off mom's sewing machine and see if you can't get thrifty and make a custom board sock for yourself.
Storing surfboards can present a few problems, especially if you live in a small house or apartment and don’t have a lot of space to work with. Surfboards should always be kept indoors, away from the elements. Prolonged exposure to sun, rain, and even morning dew will compromise a surfboard’s structural integrity over time.
Avoid stacking surfboards. Stacking boards will obviously not be kind on the boards near the bottom of the pile, and you’ll end up getting wax on the bottom of the boards as well. If you have the space, try building a simple board rack using wooden dowels. Place a towel or rug under the bottoms of the surfboards so you don’t have to worry about scraping them on the garage floor.
Unfortunately, every surfboard will eventually meet the day when it suffers some type of ding. Small dings are relatively common, and can easily be fixed – at least temporarily – with a bit of solar resin. UV solar resin is available at any surf shop, and is pretty easy to use. Buy a tube and pick up a sheet of sand paper at a hardware store. Here are the steps for fixing a simple ding:
- Wait until the board is completely dry before you begin work; use a hair dryer if necessary.
- Sand the damaged area, smoothing out a nice clean pocket.
- Working out of the sun or indoors, fill the smoothed-out depression with solar resin. Let the resin dry by placing the board in the sun.
- Once the resin has hardened, sand the dinged area until it is flush with the surface around it.
Long May You Run
Ideally, a surfboard should last you a handful of seasons depending on how regularly you use it. Experimentation with new materials is giving way to stronger, more durable surfboards, but basic maintenance will always be important in ensuring longevity and performance from your wave riding crafts.