Everything You Need to Know About Epoxy Surfboards

Epoxy Surfboards

Published: September 9, 2021

Epoxy surfboards started gaining popularity in the 1990s. Throughout the last 40 years or so, everyone had been using traditional fiberglass surfboards.

Like a foam surfboard, an epoxy surfboard is also made of an EPS foam core and then wrapped with either fiberglass or synthetic wrap. The difference is that its top layer is made of hardened epoxy instead of a soft EVA (Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate) sheet.

The first models that featured EPS and epoxy materials were stand-up paddle boards (SUP) and longboards, before modern shortboards arrived. The massive shortage of fiberglass for board making also made epoxy surfboards more popular. Furthermore, a lot of beginners prefer using epoxy surfboards because they are easier to handle and lighter than fiberglass ones.

If you are looking to purchase an epoxy surfboard, let us walk you through everything you need to know about this type of surfboard.

 

Epoxy Surfboards

Advantages

  1. Beginner-friendly

Epoxy surfboards float better and are easier to handle and lighter, giving beginner surfers a better chance of catching a wave. Beginners will also appreciate the fact that because those are lighter boards, they allow less impact and injury in the event of a collision.

  1. Lightweight

Epoxy surfboards weigh less than traditional fiberglass surfboards, which weigh around 30 lbs. This can make a huge difference when traveling or lugging your board down the beach.

  1. Float better

Because epoxy surfboards are lightweight, they also float better due to their foam core that provides better buoyancy than fiberglass surfboards.

  1. Less prone to damages

The epoxy resin used to make these boards long-lasting and extremely tough, which means they are less prone to dings, cracking, and erosion.

  1. Less prone to waterlogs

As mentioned above, epoxy surfboards are extremely tough and durable, so they cannot get cracked or dinged easily, unlike fiberglass surfboards, which are more prone to waterlogging.

  1. Long-lasting

An epoxy surfboard will ensure that you do not have to get a new board from time to time, because thanks to its excellent durability and proper care, you can enjoy a single one of those for a long time.

  1. Travel-safe

Surfers who fly around the world to chase the perfect wave do not have to worry about accidents or damages with these because epoxy surfboards will survive flights and traveling due to their lower weight and durability.

 

Disadvantages

  1. May be more expensive

An epoxy surfboard may cost a little more because of the materials used and the construction. However, because they are durable and long-lasting, it is an investment that could last for many years. A lot of surfers also prefer paying a little more for long-term use.

  1. Lightweight

Many surfers do not like how light epoxy surfboards are, as well as their added buoyancy. However, it is a personal taste, and for beginners, a lighter weight is actually beneficial.

  1. Modern Technology

This also comes down to personal choice. However, many surfers prefer surfboards made traditionally with traditional materials.

  1. Machine-shaped

Epoxy surfboards are generally shaped by a machine, which means that customizing yours to suit your style or specific requirements will cost you more. For less experienced surfers who are still developing their skills, it is usually not a problem.

  1. Tougher to repair

If you are unlucky enough to damage your epoxy surfboard, you will find that they are difficult to repair due to the materials used. However, a good surf repair shop or shaper may be able to fix your board with no problem.

  1. Responsibility

Although epoxy surfboards may be indestructible, that doesn’t mean you can ride this surfboard any way you want. Remember to always make sure that your surfboard will not hurt anyone, no matter what it is made from.

 

 

How long do foam surfboards last?

Epoxy surfboards usually last 15 to 20 years. However, this depends on the types of waves you ride and how you maintain and care for your board. Indeed, high-quality surfboards do not come cheap, but you can expect them to last many years with proper care and maintenance.

 

The table below will give you an idea of how long other surfboards should last.

 

Type of Surfboard Life Expectancy
Standard Fiberglass Polyurethane  5 – 10 years
Epoxy Surfboards 15 – 20 years
Hybrid Composite Construction 5 – 10 years

 

However, this is just an approximate estimate due to the many key factors that can contribute to the lifespan of a surfboard.

 

Are epoxy surfboards any good?

Epoxy surfboards are good for anyone who is starting out with the sport. They are especially good for beginners because they can handle the general day-to-day impacts, bumps, and dings you may incur in the learning phase. Epoxy surfboards are also easier to paddle, catch a wave, and turn with. However, more experienced surfers find a slight loss of control when doing more radical moves.

 

Things to Consider When Choosing an Epoxy Surfboard

  • Size and Type of Wave
    The type of wave you are comfortable riding often has a lot to do with what board you should be using. Thus, you need to understand what kind of conditions you’re going to be heading out on before choosing a size and type of surfboard.
  • Level
    Finding the right balance for yourself is important, and because board shapes often trade stability with maneuverability, you have to choose or get an epoxy surfboard customized based on your skills.
  • Fitness
    Surfing is one of the most physically demanding outdoor sports, and board designs can either hinder or help you progress depending on your fitness level. Generally, the longer and more voluminous a board is, the easier for you to paddle. However, getting past whitewater may be difficult.

 

Epoxy Surfboard Characteristics

  • Buoyancy
    This is how well your board floats and is generally referred to by the volume of space (in liters) it takes up. It is important because volume will provide the lift a board needs whenever it gets up to speed. It is also key in catching unbroken waves. High-volume surfboards paddle better because the buoyancy lifts the board and then gets it planing out of the water faster, which also reduces drag quickly.
  • Thrust
    Thrust is what comes into play when you start surfing down the line of an unbroken wave. It is a characteristic of the board that redirects water coming across its base toward the tail of the surfboard. Some of the major features that provide thrust are the fin configuration and base channeling. By redirecting water and pushing it toward the tail of the board, it propels the board and the surfer forward.
  • Drive
    This feature refers to the ability of the surfboard to turn the wave and rider’s input into a forward motion. The different characteristics of this feature include the grip of the fins, the rail engagement, and the flex of the board, which all contribute to how much drive a board can provide.

Epoxy Surfboard Design

  • Rails
    The rails are literally the edges of the board that run from the tail to the nose. They have a direct influence on the way a surfboard rides and affect the way it floats, paddles, and turns in the water.
    1. Soft Surfboard Rail
      This type of rail is smooth and rounded. It has an oval shape when viewing the surfboard from its side angle. A soft rail has more room for the foam, which will result in more buoyancy when floating in the water. Soft rails are common for beginner’s surfboards, longboards, and fun shapes due to the increased floatability, stability, and hold.
    2. Hard Surfboard Rail
      This surfboard rail type has a far more aggressive and sharp curvature to the edges. It looks less symmetrically oval, which allows the board to slice through the water easily. Plus, it provides an increase in performance and turnability and allows for more control in large, powerful waves.

 

Surfboard Rails

 

  • Rocker
    A surfboard’s rocker refers to the curve of the board from the tail to the nose. In general, surfers whose skill levels are below intermediate, including beginners, opt for boards with flatter rockers, while more advanced surfers prefer to ride steeper and bigger waves using surfboards with a good amount of rocker.The rocker allows a surfboard to fit steeper parts of a wave’s face. Without it, dropping into waves would be very hard and would cause the board’s nose to dive in the wave, resulting in a wipeout.
    A rocker also provides maneuverability to help surfers execute turns and tricks in critical parts of the wave.

 

Surfboard Volume

Here is how to determine how much volume a surfboard should have based on your level and body weight.

 

Level Waves/Style Surfboard Volume
Beginner Whitewater, learning the basics 2L
Beginner to Intermediate Paddling out, straight riding 3L
Intermediate Shallow turns, trimming down the line 4L
Advanced Aggressive top to bottom surfing 5+ L

 

Epoxy Surfboard Nose Shapes

The front half and the nose of the surfboard indicate how the board will perform when paddling because the nose of the board is the first thing that comes in contact with incoming water. Thus, a board with a pointed nose shape helps reduce drag by cutting through the water when paddling and reduces swing weight when performing turns.

  • Rounded Nose
    • Boards with this nose shape are more buoyant and allow for more efficient paddling.
  • Pointed Nose
    • Boards with a pointed nose reduce the drag and lower the swing weight.

 

Rounded and wider noses are meant to increase the overall volume and buoyancy of a board to lift the surfer and their board out of the water and allow for more efficient paddling.

 

Epoxy Surfboard Tail Shapes

The tail and back half of a surfboard indicate how the board will surf once you are up on your feet and riding. The shape of the tail dictates how much the board’s rail is in the water while you are standing. Therefore, when a board has lots of rail engagement, it will benefit from great stability and lift. However, it also means that it will be difficult to initiate a turn.

In addition, wider tails are more voluminous, providing lift in the wave, which can be great for small waves. Meanwhile, in larger and more powerful surf, a narrower tail is preferable. Furthermore, the width of the back half of the board contributes to the board’s rail-to-rail maneuverability.

 

All in all, this will give you an idea of how to think of tail shapes.

  • Surfboards with pin tails are likely to have less volume and less rail engagement. This translates to more control in powerful waves and poor performance in weak waves.
  • A wide squash tail helps generate lift and speed in weak waves and will not provide optimum maneuverability on big and powerful waves.
  • Swallow tails are somewhat a hybrid because they have the rail profile of a wider tail, but a cutout that provides a volume closer to that of a pintail, which allows you to dig into a wave and pivot your turns.

 

Epoxy Surfboards Types and Shapes

  • Longboards
    • 9’0 and above in length
    • May have a fin setup of single fin, tri-fin, and even thruster
    • Very stable and stylish
    • Suit beginners best, but also anyone looking to improve their surfing ability
    • Mostly used for trimming down the line, making smooth arcing turns rather than pumping and aerial maneuvers

 

  • Midsize or Funboards
    • 7’ to 8’6” long
    • May come in any kinds of fin configurations, including quad or thruster
    • Stable and have a high volume for high wave counts
    • Best for small, weak swells and suitable for anyone looking to get more maneuverability than with a longboard

 

  • Hybrid, Fish, and Grovelers
    • 5’ to 6’11 long
    • May come in a thruster, quad, or twin fins setup
    • Short and maneuverable boards that suit smaller, weaker waves. Regardless of how weak the waves are, these shortboards are still a good option
    • The traits of these boards improve their performance in small, mushy waves
    • Great daily drivers for anyone looking to fit in a few sessions before or after work

 

  • Shortboards
    • 4’8 to 6’6 long
    • Come in thruster or quad fins
    • Thin and short with a pointy nose for maximum maneuverability in high-quality waves
    • For advanced riders in powerful and high-quality waves
    • For aerial maneuvers, tube riding, and competitions
    • For anyone who wants maximum maneuverability and control
    • Difficult to manage in less ideal conditions and for first-time riders

 

  • Step Up Boards and Gun Surfboards
    • 6’6 to 11’ long
    • May come in thruster or quad fins setup
    • Similar to performance boards, but longer, to allow more stability in massive waves
    • Similar to midsize and longboards in length and resemble shortboards
    • More suitable for monster swells

 

What is the difference between epoxy and fiberglass surfboards?

The difference between epoxy and fiberglass surfboards is the materials used in their construction. An epoxy surfboard is made using a polystyrene core with an epoxy resin coating, whereas a fiberglass surfboard is made with a polyurethane core and then covered with fiberglass cloth. As a result, epoxy surfboards are stronger, float better, and weigh less than fiberglass surfboards.

 

Do epoxy surfboards turn yellow?

A white epoxy surfboard turns yellow because of exposure to UV radiation. Indeed, the surfboard’s epoxy resin and foam can slowly turn yellow if it has been under the sun for an extended period. However, most poly resins have a UV filter additive to protect the board and foam from UV damages. But, even if the resin features this additive, the board’s foam can still turn yellow eventually, and prolonged exposure to the sun can speed this up. Although the board’s resin can also turn from white to yellow over time, it doesn’t happen as fast as when the foam is exposed to direct sunlight.

Exposure to heat and sunlight can degrade all surfboards over time, with or without UV stabilizers and inhibitors. Although it does not look pretty, yellowing does not necessarily mean that your board is not working anymore.

To prevent your epoxy surfboard from turning yellow, do not leave it under sunlight after surfing. Plus, rinse it with fresh water, cover it, place it in a surfboard sack or board bag. Finally, store your board in a dimly lit corner.

How to tell if my board is PU or epoxy?

To determine if your surfboard is made of PU (polyurethane) or epoxy, you have to check the manufacturer or shaper’s logo on the board since most of the time, they write whether the board is epoxy or not. However, if you do not find any information written on the surfboard, one way to tell if you have a PU or epoxy board is to look at the surface of the surfboard. If it has a texture to it, like small veins or round-looking beads, then it is a PU surfboard, since epoxy surfboards have a smooth surface. When repairing a board, you can determine if it is an epoxy or PU board by cutting a sample from the damaged part and adding a small drop of polyester resin. If the foam melts, it is an epoxy surfboard.

 

What are the pros and cons of epoxy surfboards?

Here are the pros and cons of epoxy surfboards that were not mentioned above:

  • Pros
    1. Epoxy resin is up to 33 % stronger than any standard resin usually used in polyurethane-fiberglass surfboards.
    2. Epoxy surfboards have more air in their core, and thus, float better than PU boards.
    3. Such boards are easier to paddle and will enter a wave faster than fiberglass surfboards.
    4. The epoxy formula allows thinner rail construction while maintaining excellent flotation.
    5. A surfboard made of polystyrene foam is lighter than a traditional surfboard with a polyurethane foam base.
    6. Epoxy boards are an excellent choice for tall and heavy surfers.
    7. It’s a good option in mushy waves.
    8. Ideal for older surfers or anyone out of shape or getting back to the waves after a long period off.
    9. This type of surfboard doesn’t deform the foot placement area because the deck is dense and strong.
    10. These boards are easier to get through flat sections.
    11. An epoxy-made longboard will give you an easy-going feeling while on a wave.

 

  • Cons
    1. Epoxy surfboards are generally more expensive than fiberglass ones.
    2. They offer more buoyancy, which means it is harder to duck dive and might be too light for most surfers.
    3. An epoxy surfboard’s construction involves more technology or machine than human touch. Hence, they are often mass-produced, so customizable options are not always available.
    4. It is harder to find someone who can fix a damaged epoxy surfboard than a fiberglass surfboard.
    5. These boards have less flex and memory than PU surfboards, resulting in a stiffer and rigid feel and making it more difficult to turn.
    6. Most epoxy boards are pressed into a mold and may not meet the minimum quality standards.
    7. They tend to chatter more and bounce in choppy or bumpy waves.
    8. Epoxy resin takes twice as long to harden, which means it takes more time to finish.
    9. They do not cut through the water as well as PU surfboards because they are lighter and create less momentum.
    10. An epoxy surfboard has less hold on the rails than a fiberglass surfboard.

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