Epoxy surfboards started gaining popularity in the 1990s. Throughout the last 40 years or so, everyone had been using traditional fiberglass [...]
Surfboard Waterlogged? Here’s What to Do
Published: September 9, 2021
There is no doubt that surfboards can take a beating. However, there are still plenty of chances that it gets damaged due to reefs, rocks, the way it is transported and stored, or even due to people out on the water.
Surfboards’ dings or cracks can allow water to seep into the board if left unrepaired, causing it to get waterlogged. Once water gets into the board, it can sink your board and lead the foam to rot.
Waterlogged surfboards can lead to irreversible damages if left untreated. Hence, it is crucial to take the necessary steps to keep using your board and riding waves again. If your surfboard is waterlogged, you need to let it dry by placing it in a cool, dry area for some time. Once it is dry, you then have to look for the holes or cracks and seal or repair them.
Fixing waterlogged surfboards may sound super simple, but it can get very complicated. That is why we have created this guide to help you restore your surfboard and get back out on the water fast!
Once your surfboard gets dinged or cracked, water can easily start seeping inside it. Then, two things start happening. First, the surfboard gets heavier and stops floating well. Second, it starts discoloring and delaminating, and if you leave it unrepaired, it will rot. Eventually, this waterlogging will force you to invest in an expensive replacement.
How do I know if my board is waterlogged?
The simplest way to know if your surfboard is waterlogged is to determine if it got heavier than its original weight, and then look for any cracks, holes, or water leaks after your surfboard has sat for a day or two.
- Weigh your board after a surf session, and repeat afterward to determine if it got heavier. If it is heavier than usual, it may be waterlogged.
- Let your surfboard dry completely by placing it in a cool, dry space. Check after a day and look for any accumulation of moisture or water, as well as any salt crystal formation along the board.
- If you see a crack on your board, try applying pressure to this area and see if any water comes out.
What happens if your surfboard is waterlogged?
A waterlogged surfboard can result in the following:
- A heavier weight than usual
- Discoloration or yellowing can occur
- Foam rotting if left unrepaired
How do you fix a waterlogged surfboard?
To fix a waterlogged surfboard, let us first determine what materials your surfboard is made of. Then, we must find the cracks or dings and repair them using materials that are compatible with the surfboard.
- Determine the Surfboard’s Material
- Fiberglass Surfboards
This is a classic, high-performance construction method for shaping surfboards wherein a shaper takes a foam base with a wooden stringer for rigidity and flex, and then wraps it in a fiberglass-weaved cloth before smothering it in resin. These boards can be somewhat fragile. Therefore, they should be treated with care when out of the water and kept in a protective bag or cover, if possible. Although denting on the deck is somewhat normal as your body weight and foot pressure can compress the foam, cracks need to be cared for or repaired to prevent waterlogging, which results in killing the board’s buoyancy.
In exchange for the fragility is the most beautiful surfboard construction with great flex patterning and exceptional performance.
- Epoxy Surfboards
Epoxy boards are the most common substitutes for traditional fiberglass boards. Epoxy boards, instead of a thin resin coating, get a hard epoxy treatment. As a result, it dampens the board’s ability to flex in its maximum capacity but handles bouncing around in your car quite a bit better.
- Foam or Cork Surfboards
Foam surfboards are made of durable soft, closed-cell foam to wrap their decks and rails and are great for keeping your chest from chafing while providing heaps of buoyancy. These boards are also low-maintenance as they do not require waxing nor polishing.
- LibTech Surfboard Construction
The LibTech’s team also happens to be composed of cold water fanatics, hence why they have taken what they know from the snowboard world and interestingly applied it to surfboards. They are using eco-friendly construction to create ultra-durable versions of Lost Surfboard shapes.
- Fiberglass Surfboards
- Fixing Cracks or Dings
Once you’ve identified any dings to your surfboard, it is time to repair them.
If your surfboard has been heavily damaged, it is best to bring it to a surfboard repair shop and let the professionals take care of the repairs. However, if you want to do it on your own, we’ve listed down the steps you can follow to repair your waterlogged surfboard.
Step 1: Gather supplies
Before anything else, you need to gather all the necessary supplies or buy a ding repair kit.
What you will need includes:
- Safety mask and goggles
- Sandpaper – 80 or 100 grit and 220 grit
- Fiberglass cloth
- Wax comb
- Q-cell (for large holes)
- Resin and catalyst
- Wax remover
- Paint brush
Step 2: Drain and let it dry
Lay your surfboard in a way where the waterlogged area is pointing to the ground. Doing so will allow better drainage.
Place the surfboard in a cool, dry, and shaded area. Although an adequate amount of time under the sun is fine, leaving your surfboard out in direct sunlight for an extended period will cause damages.
Draining and letting your surfboard dry will take a few hours to several days depending on the amount of water it has taken up, so be patient.
Step 3: Remove the damaged and rotten area
If it is a new ding or crack, you do not have to remove much. However, if the ding happened in the past, you may want to check for rotten areas that you need to remove.
Step 4: Clean the surfboard
Use the wax comb to scrape the wax off. The wax remover can also be used to remove any remaining particles. Once you’re confident that the wax has been fully removed, wipe down your surfboard with a damp cloth to remove any salt residue. Next, use sandpaper to sand down the damaged area.
Step 5: Cut some fiberglass and foam
You may need to cut away some of the fiberglass or foam to fill the hole with the Q-cell.
Step 6: Protect the surrounding areas
Once the area is sanded, use masking tape to protect the surrounding areas to prevent further damages.
Step 7: Fill gaps with Q-cell
Once your board is prepped, you may need to fill in the gap with Q-cell to prevent it from warping.
This process is only necessary if there are large holes in your surfboard. Mix an ounce of sanding resin in a mixing cup and slowly stir in the Q-cell. Once you have a thick paste, add ten catalyst drops. Stir again and then apply to the area. This mixture will serve as foam replacement.
Make sure you pour the mixture slowly to prevent air bubbles from forming. Use the stick that you used to stir the mixture, then fill the area and make sure every crevice is covered with the mixture.
Pour the mixture so that it sits slightly above the area that you’re working on, and then, wait for it to harden.
Step 8: Sanding the Q-cell
Once the Q-cell has hardened, sand it down until it is flat and leveled with the board’s surface.
Step 9: Glassing
Cut two circular pieces of fiberglass cloth, with one of them a little bit bigger than the other. Both should be slightly bigger than the area you are working on. Mix an ounce of sanding resin and then add 10 catalyst drops. Stir well until it begins to warm up.
Step 10: Apply mixture
Put the smaller fiberglass sheet straight on the area and use the paintbrush to add a bit of the resin mixture. Allow the fiberglass to absorb the resin and follow the same steps for the bigger fiberglass cloth patch. For this step, you have to make sure the fiberglass sheets are firmly pressed and the resin is spread out evenly.
Step 11: Sanding the area
Once the resin has hardened, sand the area again, making sure there’re no bulges. Smooth down the edges but do not sand too forcefully to avoid burning through the fiberglass.
Step 12: Hot coating
For this step, simply add another layer of resin and a few more drops of catalyst.
Step 13: Sand and polish
Next, wet sand the area with high grit sandpaper, from 320 up to 600 grit, until you match the finish of the rest of the board.
For a gloss finish, you can use a polisher and some diamond cut compound to get that shine you’re looking for.
Step 14: Let it sit
Wait for it to cure for 24 up to 48 hours. Make sure it is fully cured before heading out to surf again.
Make sure you use materials that are compatible with your surfboard. To determine if your surfboard is 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 consisting of small veins or round-looking beads, it is a PU surfboard. On the other hand, epoxy surfboards have a smooth surface. During a repair, you can determine if yours is an epoxy or PU board by cutting a sample of the damaged part and adding a small drop of polyester resin. If the foam melts, it is an epoxy surfboard and should not be repaired using polyester resin.
- Keep your surfboard out of direct sunlight/heat
UV light can damage and discolor your board, not to mention your wax will melt. 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 your board is not working anymore.To prevent your epoxy surfboard from turning yellow, do not leave it under the sunlight after surfing. Instead, rinse it with fresh water, cover it, and place it in a surfboard sack or board bag. Finally, store it in a dimly lit corner.
- Do not store your surfboard in the car
The inside of your car can get really toasty, especially during sunny months. Thus, leaving your surfboard inside it can bake it and cause some serious damages as it can melt the foam and warp your board. So, unless it’s raining in mid-winter, look for somewhere shady and leave your windows slightly open.
- Be aware
You need to be aware of your surfboard, especially when carrying it around. Your board extends far behind and in front of you, hence why it is important that you pay attention when turning through corners or looking back to avoid accidentally smashing your board on a wall, tree, or railing.
- Clean your board
Salt water can deteriorate the resin on your board over time. To help prevent this, hose your board down after every surfing session. You can use the garden hose in your yard if you head straight home or the showers at the beach. In addition, you also need to remove your wax if it’s old to avoid skin irritation and replace it to provide maximum grip. Here’s how:
- 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.
To re-apply new wax:
- Start with a clean surface and use any degreasing solvent that is not toxic for your hands or the foam.
- Apply a base coat wax that is more solid to help the regular or top coat wax stick better. Cover the whole surface, especially the areas your hands and feet might touch.
- Apply a surf wax appropriate to the water degree of your board. Apply the wax and do some cross-hatching to create some patterns, like a grid.
- The wax might wear off over time or become dirty and greyish, at which point you might consider scraping everything off and giving it a new coat of wax.
- Use a board bag
You should also consider getting a board bag to store your board. While it may seem unnecessary, keeping your surfboard in a bag will protect it from dings related to transportation.
Plus, a board bag can provide a cushion around the surfboard to help prevent avoidable damages.
- Properly use your leash
Loosely wrap your leash around your surfboard when transporting it and do not let it drag on the ground because not only is it filthy but it can also cause damages. Thus, it would not be able to do its job of tethering you to the board.
- Consider investing in ding tape
Ding tape is an awesome product made with marine glue to create a watertight seal on minor dings or cracks on your surfboard. Although it is not a replacement for the actual repair, it can hold you over until you fix your board. Keep some ding tape with you in your bag in case you need it during a surf session. Some surfers also use duct tape. However, the strings in this kind of tape are water-absorbent and may leak more water into your board.
Can you still surf a waterlogged surfboard?
It is possible to surf using a waterlogged surfboard, however, it is not advised because the cracks or dings on your surfboard will allow water to get into the foam and damage your board. It can also delaminate and ruin it permanently. Hence, if you notice any crack on your surfboard, it is best to clean, let dry, and repair the damages as soon as possible. Doing so will save you a lot of money as you won’t have to get a new surfboard and will allow you to get into the water as soon as waves are firing!
How long does it take to repair a surfboard?
Properly repairing a board for the first time will only take you a couple of hours. However, if you include the amount of time spent to dry your surfboard, it will take you about 2-3 days to fully repair the dings.