How to Do Surfboard Ding Repair
Dinging your surfboard is as inevitable as a weeklong flat spell: it will happen sooner or later, and it’s best to be prepared for when it does. Of course, there are preventative measures you can take to avoid damaging your board. Keeping your stick in a board bag or a sock will minimize the chances of you smacking a rail against the corner of your garage, but many dings – in and out of the water – are basically unavoidable. Head to your local surf shop to pick up all the supplies you’ll need to fix your surfboard, and keep these tips in mind.
High and Dry
The most important rule of ding repair is: once your board’s foam is exposed to the elements, keep it out of the water. Your overall goal is to keep as little water from getting into the board’s foam core as possible, so after it’s been dinged, let it dry before you begin fixing it. A hair dryer may be used to speed up the process. There are more than a few surfers who’ve learned the hard way, and sealed a bunch of water into a board only to watch as their trusty sled slowly rots from the inside out. Delaminated fiberglass, added weight, and ultimately, decreased performance are all byproducts of a water-logged surfboard.
Cut it Out
The first step in the ding repair process is excavating the damaged area of the board. Your goal is to essentially clear out the board’s damage so that you can easily rebuild it. Use a razor blade to carefully cut out and around the damaged area. Create a nice smooth crater in the board, and keep in mind that you’ll be filling the entire area in with foam and glass, so don’t hesitate if it feels strange to be making the actual damaged area larger than it was in the first place. After your ding has been replaced by an even-tapered depression, you’re ready to sand.
By far the most time-consuming portion of the ding repair process is sanding. For large repairs, ding repair specialists will use mechanized sanding machines to cut down on labor time, but for the average surfer, applying a piece of sandpaper by hand is the only option. Start with a heavier piece and work your way to a finer grate. You want the depression to be as smooth as possible. Leave no gaps between foam and glass.
Look the Part
It might seem obvious, but keep in mind that fixing a surfboard is a bit messy. Wear clothes that you'd wear to paint a house or do yard work. By the end of the process, you'll be covered in fiberglass dust and sticky resin.
After you’ve put your time in sanding (hopefully while listening to a ball game or some good tunes), you’re ready to begin the fun part: filling in the ding. Follow these steps:
- For larger dings, you may want to use a piece of cloth for added strength. Most surf-repair kits contain several large pieces of cloth. Cut out a piece that will be large enough to cover your ding.
- Carefully cut the damaged area out with a razor blade. Create a nice, clean depression.
- Sand the dinged area until it is smooth and there are no small crevices or cracks.
- If your ding is quite large, use a small paper cup to mix liquid resin and Q-cell (finely ground foam) as directed by your surfboard kit instructions.
- Fill in the ding with your mixture, using a popsicle stick to direct the liquid into the depression. Place the cloth cutout over the ding and let the cloth absorb the liquid resin.
- If you used Q-cell, apply a layer of resin over the dinged area. Depending on the type of resin you use, you may need to mix in a drying catalyst.
- Wait a few hours until the area is completely dry.
- Sand the resin until your dinged area is completely flush with the surrounding area of the board.
Learning how to do your own ding repair will save you time and money, although for serious dings beyond your comfort zone, don’t hesitate to seek out an expert. As mentioned earlier, the most time-consuming phases are sanding and dry time, but that’s nothing compared to the average two-week turnover time at a surf shop. If there’s a swell running and you don’t want to lose water time, use solar resin to fill in a ding relatively quickly. Sooner or later you’ll need to re-do the fix, but keeping a tube of UV resin in your surf kit isn’t a bad idea.