If you were a surfer, you would understand the pull of the water. You would know why surfers don’t ever give up on the sport even if the waves they live for do not come as often as they would like.
No matter how dangerous the sport is, how cold the water is or how infrequent great waves are, surfers will always go back to the water – and there’s no stopping them, except the wrong surfboard.
Your surfing equipment can spell the difference between high performance and life-threatening accident, which is why you should only opt for the best surfboard.
In order to do that, you need to understand surfboards and how they work. One of the most basic things you must understand is the kind of material used in your surfboard.
What’s in a surfboard? Let’s see. There’s plastic, some wood, foam but definitely no metal…or is there? How much do you really know about your surfboard’s composition? Let us look at the most common materials used in making surfboards.
The surfboard originated in Hawaii and was originally made of wood from different local trees. Surfboard makers would carve the wood to shape it and then stain and finish it with natural oils and juices from plants.
However, the first wooden surfboards were very heavy and difficult to transport from one place to another. As the technology developed and different materials were discovered, the wooden surfboard became smaller and lighter.
Still, there are surfboard manufacturers who use wood even up to this day. One of the benefits of using wood is that it is all natural. Unlike other materials that can be harmful to the wildlife in the water.
Wood can also heal itself, unlike dings in fiberglass or foam surfboards that need to be repaired.
PU foam is the most popular type of foam because it has been used to make surfboards since the 1950s. It is very popular among surfboard manufacturers because it is easy to shape.
Light, fine and brittle, polyurethane is a main ingredient in most custom surfboards. However, these foam types are highly toxic and have adverse effects not just on the people working with it, but also to the water and wildlife.
This material is also non-renewable which raises the harm done to the environment. Due to this, Clark Foam, the largest company that used to distribute Polyurethane foam blanks closed shop in 2005 paving the way for the use of different materials and construction methods for making surfboards.
This foam (also known as PS) is lighter than PU foam, but is a lot more difficult to shape. Workers have to exert two to four times more effort when shaping polystyrene.
It is also more brittle compared to polyurethane. What makes using it advantageous, however, is its recyclability. It is also more environmentally friendly.
While it is not as tough as polyurethane, polystyrene becomes more durable when mixed with polyester resin (which is an ingredient in making fiberglass) and coated with epoxy resin.
Polystyrene foam blocks are available for sale to those who wish to shape and make their own surfboards.
A derivative of polystyrene foam, Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is probably the most common foam material most commonly known. You know those light disposable coolers available in groceries and supermarkets?
Those are made of EPS. EPS is also used for protecting breakables in packages and boxes. EPS is a kind of foam made of super tiny balls compressed together with a kind of adhesive.
The downside to using EPS is that it is very difficult to shape by hand because it disintegrates easily. If you try to shape it with sandpaper, you will be ripping the foam and taking away chunks of the stuff.
This is why it is very difficult to find shapers who would be willing to work with this material. You can, however, have EPS go through a mold for perfect shaping.
In choosing a surfboard, you must know the difference between the materials used. If you want a lighter and more buoyant board, then you must choose one that is made of EPS, which is the lightest of foam materials.