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Are Foam Surfboards Good? We Tell You Everything You Need to Know
Published: July 15, 2021
Surfing is a water sport in which an individual uses a board to ride a breaking wave toward the shore. It can develop your balance, flexibility, and endurance. It also builds up your physical and mental well-being and increases your ability to absorb oxygen. Furthermore, it is a great overall exercise that works out your core muscle and upper body muscles. Besides, it is good for the heart and very therapeutic.
A foam surfboard, or “foamie,” is a soft surfboard made with an EPS foam core and wrapped with either fiberglass or synthetic wrap, like epoxy surfboards. However, the difference is that they replace the epoxy or hardened fiberglass’ top layer with a soft dentable Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) sheet. These are the same material used to make exercise mats, yoga blocks, and sneakers’ insoles. This EVA top layer, along with the compressed EPS core, make these boards lighter, less likely to rot, harder to ding, and more floatable than traditional hard-top surfboards.
Foam surfboards also allow for easier and more comfortable paddling and do not require any wax nor additional material for grip or traction. Thus, it does not imply extra maintenance. They also come in various shapes and sizes but are characterized as more stable, buoyant, and lightweight than most epoxy or fiberglass surfboards of the same size.
Foam surfboards, originally called “Boogie Board,” were invented by Tom Morey in Hawaii in 1971. Morey used a hot iron and polyethylene foam to model a round-nose, square-tailed board that was roughly 4 feet long. These boards were also used to catch waves while lying prone. In the 80s and 90s, they became a beach staple and a new go-to wave riding brand for young beachgoers, and in 2006, Matt Zilinskas, a former manager of the Boogie Board brand, teamed up with AGIT Global to make a new product sandwiching the bodyboard’s design of expanded polystyrene foam and plastic into a full-sized surfboard, which he called “Wavestorm.’
Foam surfboards are pleasant as they are lightweight, more stable, and more buoyant than hard-top surfboards, which is ideal for beginners and occasional beachgoers who just want to try their hand at surfing. If you want to learn how to surf or want to try foam surfboards, our guide below is filled with information to help you get started.
Foam Surfboards’ Features
Below, we have highlighted the most important features you should pay attention to when looking for good foam surfboards.
Foam surfboards vary in length, from 9′ to 4’10”. These surfboards can be very difficult to ride, especially for adult beginners. Therefore, beginner surfers should buy a soft top, which is at least 6 feet or longer.
The width of each board differs, but not to the degree of length deviations. However, you must still know that a wide-length surfboard will give you more stability in the water, making it easier to pop up and stand up in the water.
Foam surfboards can have one to five fin boxes, and you must understand how the number of fins affects the way the board rides. For beginners, it is best to choose a board with a standard thruster setup or tri-fin as this will provide you with a good combination of stability and speed.
- Surfboard deck
Soft top surfboards come with either one or two decks. They either have a standard deck, which is just the soft top layer material, or have an extra grippy pad, often called a “deck pad,” to provide more traction in an area.
Some boards have no traction pads, and thus, can be used with wax, while others can be ridden without wax. However, it all depends on the foam construction.
If fiberglass boards are too expensive or difficult to ride, then you’ll want to consider a far more durable and dependable alternative, such as foam surfboards, which are far less susceptible to damages from normal use due to materials like polyethylene foam.
If you just want a board to use for fun in knee-high shore break or head-high surf, consider a foam surfboard. These soft-top surfboards offer the best of both worlds thanks to their great buoyancy, which comes from their molded EPS cores, and their ability to swap fins from industry-leading brands.
If you’re not competing and want to maximize your fun in the water, then the rail-to-rail performance offered by modern foam surfboards will blow you away.
If spending close to $1,000 on a surfboard doesn’t sound ideal, then a foam surfboard is your cost-effective alternative. You can find a wide range of worthy foam surfboards for around $300, which is way better than paying the same price to rent a board a few times.
For kids, the choice of beginner surfboards largely depends on the kid’s age. For instance, start kids up to 12 years old on a soft-foam surfboard because the material is soft and doesn’t really hurt when it bumps them in the surf or when they fall on it. Also, remember to tell them to only surf waves they are comfortable with. It will help them build confidence and make them feel more secure in the sea.
We suggest having something around 7′ for kids of average size up to the age of 12. As they improve, they can switch to something around 6’6“ or 6’2” in a fish shape as it will be easier to turn and aid their progression.
Remember to choose a board that offers enough float to make paddling and surfing fun. Besides, it should not be so big that it’s hard to control in the white water. Finally, a board that is relatively easy to carry always helps.
Size chart for kids
Below is just an approximate guide as there is always room for some variations, and weight becomes less of a factor as the surfer progresses. However, this guide can be a good starting point for those who are unsure about what size of foam surfboard is best for their children.
|Surfer’s Weight/Age||Foam Surfboard Size|
|< 66 lbs. (30kg) / 8 years old||5’5” – 5’8”|
|66-88 lbs. (30-40kg) / 10 years old||5’8” – 6’2”|
|88 to 110 lbs. (40-50kg) / 12 years old||6’2” – 7’0”|
|110 to 132 lbs. (50-60kg) / 14 years old||7’0” – 8’0”|
|132 to 154 lbs. (60-70kg) / 16 years old||8’0”|
|165 lbs. (75 kg)||x|
For adults, the ideal beginner surfboard depends on your weight, height, fitness level, and how often you’re likely to go surfing. Without this information, it’s hard to determine an accurate guide as to which board will work for you.
Size chart for Adults
This chart is just an approximate guide as there is always room for some variations, and weight becomes less of a factor as the surfer progresses. However, it can be a good starting point for those who are unsure about what size of foam surfboard is best. If you are in between sizes, opt for the biggest size.
|Surfer’s Weight||Foam Surfboard Chart|
|110 to 132 lbs. (50-60kg)||6’10” – 7’6”|
|132 to 154 lbs. (60-70kg)||7’4” – 8’0”|
|154 to 176 lbs. (70-80kg)||7’10” – 8’5”|
|176 to 198 lbs. (80-90kg)||8’4” – 9’0”|
|198 to 220 lbs. (90-100kg)||8’10” – 9’6”|
|220 lbs. (100 kg)||9’6”|
You should be able to find a board that will provide you with enough volume to help you float and make wave-catching and paddling relatively easy.
Should I buy a foam surfboard?
Yes, you should buy a foam surfboard as it offers a lot of fun for surfers of every skill level due to its stability and durability. If you have determined a budget, how often you are going to surf, and whether or not you are a total beginner, then foam surfboards are the right choice.
Keep in mind that most foam surfboards in surf schools are thicker and heavier than those sold in surfboard shops because the former have to endure the rigors of the months and surfing seasons and being used and abused many times per day. Surf school boards are designed for the very basics of getting to your feet in the white water, and also, surfing in a straight line, and heading for the shore.
Most manufacturers sell lighter foam surfboards that have a more refined shape but still perfectly suit the absolute beginner or occasional thrill-seeker.
Buying foam surfboards for beginners
Foam surfboards are the safest way to learn how to surf as you do not have to worry about falling onto a hardboard, colliding with another surfer, or getting hit with your epoxy or fiberglass board in the whitewash. Therefore, they are the safe choice for a complete beginner, and improved, modern foam surfboards make those an even better investment.
Buying foam surfboards for intermediate surfers
For intermediate surfers, buying a foam surfboard is the easiest way to start experimenting with different shapes and designs that work best for you, as well as the waves you are comfortable with.
Buying soft top for advanced surfers
If you are obsessing over some minor details regarding the wave selection and riding, foam surfboards can bring you back to a time when surfing wasn’t about that. It can help you take a break from overthinking and allow you to just have fun on your foam surfboard.
Is it easier to surf on a foam board?
Yes, it is easier to surf on a foam board if you are a beginner for the following reasons:
- The high volume of foam surfboards makes it easier to paddle through waves and pop up on the board.
- Foam surfboards can catch whitewater/foam waves much more easily than hardboards.
- Foam surfboards can ride anything from seven-foot waves to small whitewash waves.
- Foam surfboards inspire confidence and will help you progress and transition to fiberglass or epoxy surfboards.
- Foam surfboards do not hurt as much as other boards when they hit you or other people.
How long do foam surfboards last?
Foam surfboards last 5 to 10 years depending on the material, how often they are used, and the types of waves you are riding.
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 different surfboards should last.
|Type of Surfboard||Years|
|Standard Fiberglass Polyurethane||5 – 10|
|Epoxy Surfboards||15 – 20|
|Hybrid Composite Construction||5 – 10|
Keep in mind that this is just an estimate as many key factors can contribute to the lifespan of your surfboard.
Do I need to wax a foam surfboard?
Yes, it is best to add a layer of wax to add extra grip on your board as some foam surfboards appear rubbery but become slippery when wet. However, many high-quality foam surfboards do not require extra wax since the deck’s material already provides enough traction.
If you think you need to wax your foam surfboard, here is how to do it.
- Start with a clean surface and use any non-toxic degreasing solvent.
- Apply a base coat wax that is more solid to help the regular wax or top coat wax stick better. Cover the whole surface, especially where your hands and feet might touch the board.
- Apply a surf wax appropriate to the water’s temperature. Apply the wax and do some cross-hatching to create some patterns, like a grid pattern.
- The wax might wear off over time, get dirty, or turn greyish, so you might consider scraping everything off and giving it a new coat of wax.
To remove wax from a foam surfboard, follow the steps below.
- Melt the old wax using a hairdryer, but do not overdo it as too much heat and sunlight will damage the material.
- To scrape off the top coat, use a wax comb.
- Use a cloth to wipe pieces of wax that are hard to remove. You can also use a non-toxic degreaser to do so.
Our Top Pick
The South Bay Board Co 7′ Ruccus Soft Top Foam Surfboard is our top choice when it comes to the best overall foam surfboard.
It is a high-performance foam surfboard with rugged construction. To provide better traction and grip, it is made of HDPE slick, an affordable material that is relatively durable, and features a triple stringer setup for versatility and an EPS core. Along with these is a heat-release system to avoid any heat damage.
The South Bay Board Co. Ruccus foam surfboard features a rubber bumper to allow for vertical storage, a carry handle, an action camera mount, and a lengthy leash. It also has a rounded nose and a concave bottom and deck to allow for smooth locomotion, while the rocker prevents pearling.
It is a maneuverable and stable foam surfboard backed up by a thruster fin setup. Available in four colors, it is beginner-friendly. Its only drawback is that it is quite heavy. But all in all, it is one of the best foam surfboards as it will allow you to enjoy more stability and maneuverability, making it a good choice for beginners, intermediate, and advanced surfers alike.
Foam surfboards are great because they provide tons of fun for surfers of all levels. They are stable, allow you to paddle fast through whitewater, and make catching waves and standing up super easy. Besides, foam boards enable people to experience the joy of simply riding the waves.
They are also less likely to suffer any real damage that might make them unusable, which makes them an ideal choice for anyone who needs a board for catching waves occasionally without having to take too many risks.
The right size and design of foam surfboard depend on your weight, height, level, and intentions when surfing. If you only surf occasionally, for instance, it is best to start with a foam surfboard than a regular fiberglass/epoxy longboard.
The biggest threats to a foam surfboard are water, heat, and sunlight absorption. Therefore, you should avoid getting in contact with a direct heat source, keep your board in the shade as much as possible, and store it in a board sock or board bag when not in use.
All in all, if you are a complete beginner, occasional surfer, or someone who just wants to enjoy a day at the beach riding waves, a foam surfboard is a great option, simply because it will be stable enough to allow you to catch as many waves as you can and will inspire you to practice and progress.