Your surfboard is more than a material item. It's a piece of you, the vessel of your voyage through the sea, the tool of your trade, and the maker of memories.
To maintain its efficiency in shredding and to curate the longest-lasting relationship of sheer stoke, surfboard care and maintenance is your second priority after catching as many peelers as possible.
Whether it's your first soft-top or your tenth shortboard, here is, quite literally, everything you need to know about how to take care of your surfboard.
- Wash it Off
The saltwater might be good for your skin, but it's not for your board, as it will increase the rate of board deterioration as the years go on.
After every session, ensure that you wash your surfboard off with fresh water to rinse the salt and sand. Make sure that you take extra time rinsing your leash and the tail pad, as well, and this also applies to your wetsuits and boardshorts. Every once in a while, remove the fins to give the fin boxes a good clean.
Dry off your board before placing it in a dark room or a board bag.
- Avoid Sunlight
Aside from those beautiful blue sky days in the lineup, you've got to keep your board out of sunshine as much as possible. This necessary surfboard care and maintenance applies to all surfboards- soft tops, epoxy, polyester.
The sunlight, and the resulting heat, are key players in board deterioration.
The UV rays and heat slowly expand the foam and damage the protective coat on the deck, weakening the surfboard and causing it to turn yellow at a much quicker rate. This is the leading cause behind soft-top surfboard delamination. And surfboard heat damage can't really be fixed…
To avoid sunlight and increase the lifespan of your shred stick:
- Store your surfboard inside or in a garage
- Always use a board bag or board sock
- Place in the shade when hanging at the beach
- Don't leave your board in your car
And overall, just remain cognizant of the consequences of surfboard heat damage, doing everything you can to avoid it.
- Repair Dings Immediately
If you notice a ding, it's your responsibility to repair it ASAP before surfing again. Neglecting to repair a surfboard ding will lead to further damage and a waterlogged surfboard. You should get out immediately if you notice the ding while in the water.
If you ding your surfboard, first, wash the entire board off thoroughly with fresh water, especially over the dinged area as to ensure all salt has been washed away. Then, allow the board to dry in the shade for a while to let any water held in the foam evaporate.
Next, take your board to a surf shop and have them handle the ding for the best results. These folks are pros at fixing boards and know the right way to take care of a ding. However, at-home ding repair is totally an option and usually what most surfers opt for, especially for minor dings.
Simply purchase your ding repair kit, follow the instructions, watch some videos, read this article on "Surfboard Ding Repair", and do your thing! To be safe, do remember:
- Epoxy resin can be used on all types of surfboards (epoxy or PU).
- Polyester resin can only be used on polyester surfboards.
- Polyester resin will melt EPS foam and is therefore not compatible.
- Surfboard Storage
Unfortunately, our boards spend more time in storage than in the water. Surfboard storage is your primary consideration when learning how to take care of your surfboard. And by storage, we do mean both short and long-term.
Short-Term Surfboard Storage
When you set your board down to rinse your feet or toss it aside to have a beer on the beach:
- Don't Lean Against a Wall: The pressure on the tail against concrete is a big no, and you never know when a burst of wind might take your favorite board tumbling.
- Set It Down Softly: Lay your board down softly with its bottom facing up, preferably on a soft surface. If you have to set it down on a hard surface, lay a towel down.
- Keep it in a Board Sock: Surfboard socks offer the ideal amount of UV and ding protection for short-term travel and storage.
- Avoid Sunlight and Heat: Again, find the shadiest/coolest place possible to set your board down.
Long-Term Surfboard Storage
Overnight, for a week, or a month, long-term surfboard storage is a big deal. Take these tips seriously:
- Always Utilize Surfboard Racks: Surfboard racks offer the optimal amount of safe storage. Horizontal racks keep the board entirely off the ground, whereas vertical racks will ensure the board's tail is protected. Horizontal racks are preferable to vertical racks.
- Clean and Dry your Board Thoroughly: Before placing your board into a board bag or a dark place, make sure to wash it off thoroughly and dry excess moisture. If storing your board for weeks-months, think about removing the current layer of wax and cleaning the deck with a surfboard cleaner.
- Remove the Fins: Pop your fins out and clean out the fin box when storing for the long-term. To make this easy on your hands, use a fin remover.
- Always in a Board Bag: If you want the epitome of board safety, a legitimate surfboard bag takes the win.
- Inside and Cool: Store your board inside and in a cool place when possible. Inside your home is best, and a surfboard shed/garage a close second, as long as it is temperature-controlled to avoid surfboard heat damage or soft-top surfboard delamination. Underneath your deck isn't ideal. Anywhere outside, and you're looking at serious damage from the elements. Soft tops are especially prone to wear, so take this surfboard care and maintenance equally seriously.
- Travel Protection
We spend plenty of time running around in our cars checking the surf or traveling on planes to faraway places. Travel protection is one of the most critical yet difficult aspects of learning how to take care of your surfboard.
Traveling by Car:
- Board Bag: See a common theme with board bags and surfboard care and maintenance yet? When strapping your board to roof racks, leave your boards in the board bag for extra protection against the straps, a flying rock from a tire, and the sun/heat.
- Use REAL Straps: Only use surfboard straps intended for this specific use. Rope and a fancy knot aren't going to do the trick.
- Use Rack Pads: Never place your board directly on your car's racks, and always use rack pads. If you have to use an old pool noodle, that's better than nothing!
- Locking Straps: Locking straps offer an extra layer of protection against human damage- aka, theft.
- Board Sock: If placing your board in the back of a car, keep it in a board sock. Something as simple as a water bottle can ding your rails during a sharp left turn.
Traveling by Plane:
- The Best Board Bag you can Buy: Airlines are renowned for breaking surfboards. Every aspect of surfboard travel care on a plane dials down to your travel board bag. Purchase the safest and strongest bag that you can find/afford, and make sure it fits your travel quiver perfectly (you don't want them to have room to move around).
- Remove the Fins: Always remove your fins before traveling by plane.
- Wrap the Rails: Wrap your rails in pipe insulation or a pool noodle for added protection.
- Secure it Tightly: Make sure your board is secured tightly by the straps inside the bag and that the outside of the bag is shut and locked. If you need, place a towel or two around your board or in the board bag to reduce space and movement.
- Research the Airline: Some airlines are better than others when protecting your equipment. Do your research, and think about buying luggage insurance if possible. It sucks, but boards break all the time.
- Spring Cleaning
Wax gets old, dirty, and traps bacteria and salt. Besides, a fresh layer of wax looks and feels amazing.
If you really want to look out for your board, then between seasons, give it a full-on cleaning.
Start by taking off your old layer of wax. Let the board warm in the sun for just a few moments, and use an old hotel card or wax comb to scrape the wax off. Next, wash the surfboard and clean it well with a surfboard cleaner.
If you didn't know, should you have a yellowing epoxy surfboard, you can actually take one of those reddish Scotch Brite pads and lightly (I'm talking lightly) give the board a once-over. This will remove a tiny layer of epoxy to give the board a fresh, non-yellow look. And don't worry, as long as you do this only once in a blue moon and with care, you won't damage the board. In fact, this does not alter performance at all-it's just about aesthetics.
Take out the fins, clean out the fin box, and wash the fins, as well. Give your leash and tail pad a good rinse.
Throw that fresh layer of wax on and drool over your shiny, 'like-new' surfboard.
- How to Care for a Surfboard Day-by-Day
Surfboard care and maintenance takes simple common sense to best approach it. When you're with your board or while you're surfing, just remain cognizant of potential hazards and do everything you can to avoid them. It's better to avoid damage than have to fix it, is it not?
This common sense-style surfboard care we are talking about manifests in many forms, but for a few "ohhh yeahhh"s:
- Don't swing the board while you're carrying it. Watch out for walls, light poles, cars, etc., as you're walking to the beach. If you've got to carry your board down a flight of stairs, pay special attention to your journey.
- Always do your best to avoid placing your board on its tail, and set it on soft surfaces only when possible.
- Don't surf in shallow water (unless you're willing to trade a closeout barrel for a broken stick), and don't ride your waves too close to the beach, or the fins might snag the sand and break your board.
- Only surf reef breaks when you are comfortable.
- Be careful in the lineup! Hitting another surfers board with your own because of a mistake will piss more than one person off.
- Always wear a leash, so your board doesn't end up in the rocks!
- Make sure you know how to use your surfboard racks before hitting the highways at 70mph.
- If you have questions, ask them! We're always here to help. Whether a question about surfboard care and maintenance or anything surfing-related, just drop by and shoot us a message.