Do you really need to wait and let your board “cure” right after glassing before you surf it?
This is going to be a touchy subject for some as the opinions vary depending on who you talk to. Also, we will note that we probably won’t be able to come to our own conclusion or the “truth” by the end of this article, but at least it is food for thought and may give you something to consider before you head straight to the beach from the glass shop with your new board.
The debate has been going on since the dawn of surfboard glassing and using resins, and to be honest the real answer will likely vary depending on the type and or brand of resin used, as well as the quality of the fiberglass and blanks used when your board is built.
Do you really need to let your board properly cure before you surf it? Simple answer is we don’t know!
Let’s break down the various resins though, as well as go over a few thoughts about other factors that could lead to pressure dents, etc like the blank, and cloth used.
To keep things simple with regards to resin, we will focus more on general polyester resins and epoxy resins instead of the brands of the resins themselves (which could have some affect).
Polyester Resin and full Cure Times
Poly has been the staple resin since the use of Balsa wood to build surfboards to help seal the wood and make it water tight. To this day it has more competitors like Epoxy for example, but still remains the industry standard for the majority of surfboards produced around the world.
Most, if not all, polyester resins are thermosetting, which means that they need an added chemical to heat them up so they can set hard. This is know as Catalyst, or MEKP (methyl ethyl ketone peroxide). Glass shops also have to be aware of the ambient temperature in the room they are working in as well. The optimal room temp to get the best cure and results is around 78 degrees. With the optimal amount of catalyst which is usually around 1 to 1.5 percent ratio and the 78 degree room temp, a glass job should be about 98% cured in around an hour and a half.
But to show how critical the environment and your chemical ratios are, a room at 68 degrees can take somewhere between 2 and 7 days for a board to cure. So, assuming your catalyst ratios on on the spot and your ambient temp is optimal at 78 degrees, you should be able surf your board the same day is has finished being glassed.
Some people argue this however and claim that you still need to wait a few days or even weeks before you surf your board, or until it stops smelling :). We are not saying that they are wrong, but maybe they are not taking into consideration other factors involved int he build of your board like the foam and glass…
You can get blanks of various densities depending on what you are looking for. There are the ultra lightweight blanks usually reserved for competition boards where even oz of weight matters, or super heavy high density blanks commonly used in traditional style longboards. Obviously the high density blanks are going to be more resistant to pressure dents, etc.
The ounce, style and finish of a fiberglass cloth can play a factor too. Your super lightweight glass jobs like single 4oz deck and bottom are not going to hold up as well as a board glassed stronger with either a combination of 4oz and 6oz, straight up 6oz or even using 8 and 10oz cloths. And the finish on the cloth can matter. You can have two 4oz weight cloths, but one is finished as an S cloth (structural cloth) which will be a little more resilient than your standard E cloth. Feel free to check out articles like What to Know About Glassing a Surfboard if you would like to read up a little more about surfboard glassing and fabrics.
So unless these guys are taking the time to test all the variables involved by making a number of boards with different combos of everything mentioned above, I am more than happy to run straight down tot he beach from the glass shop.
Epoxy resins are a little different, and a lot more critical to get your measurement ratio’s and ambient room temperatures correct. They are not as forgiving as Polyester resins to work with, so people who have had issues with uncured or simply poorly constructed boards may have to look back at when their board was glassed, by who and what the environment was like.
Generally speaking, most epoxy resins take about 5 days or so to fully cure. But you have to keep in mind that by the time you actually get your board from you shaper or the glass shop, way more than 5 days would have passed by since it was laminated. So you should be able to head straight down for a surf.
If it is cooler out though and the room the board was lamed in was cooler too, your board will need some cure time. Many shops that specialize in epoxy boards use temperature controlled rooms and will have a post cure room as well where they crank the temp up, put your freshly finished board in there, and can get a full cure in a matter of hours as opposed to days.
And of course you face the added elements as you would with a Poly glass job…the blank density and type/style of fiberglass used, etc.
Some guys prefer to get a little denting going on though. A few shapers we know have team riders who will take their board out right away, creating the foot dents when they surf, and then go and post cure the board again after. Perfect little foot wells to help assist with airs, etc.
When it comes down to it, the reality is that by the time you are handed your board by most shapers or glass shops, your board is more than likely fully cured. There is not conclusive evidence that we have found to tip the scale in favor of one notion or the other. We have seen plenty of people who have waited a long time to surf their fresh board due to there being no waves or an injury, etc, and they still get pressure dents everywhere. On the flip side, we have seen plenty of people surf board the same day they were glassed and have yet to put a pressure dent on any board they own.
And when you add in all the other factors involved when making a surfboard it is hard to pin point what could be the cause of pressure dents, snapped or buckled boards or even crushed rails. Some people are just heavier footed surfers than others, some take pristine care of their equipment and some are happy to just throw their board in the back of a hot car and go get some lunch.
We would love someone to really step up to the plate and do the proper experimentation, but building surfboards is expensive and that is hard for many to justify. Even if it means they could have a consistently superior product.
Make sure you check out the Board Engine to find a range of boards all made in America by professional shapers at the top of their crafts. Email [email protected] with your details for a detailed report of board recommendations for you.